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Here's a sampling of what we've been hearing from members since the coronavirus hit our region:
"I have a closing scheduled on March 25, but we need a re-inspection and the borough office just closed."
"The township just told me they are not conducting U & O inspections."
"Since they won't inspect, they want my buyer to sign a waiver saying she'll be responsible for any repairs they require after the sale."
Here are examples of municipalities finding a way to get the job done, even during the crisis:
“We are continuing with external inspections of properties, but we would love to see pictures if possible for the smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, hand rails and relief valve on the water heater. If needed, we will issue a conditional U&O for the property.”
“We are continuing our inspections, but will only enter buildings if they are unoccupied in an effort to protect our staff and avoid spreading the virus.”
Many municipal government offices have shut down or drastically reduced their operations during the public health emergency that is the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. Where does that leave Realtors® and their clients? Because municipalities have different regulations and are reacting to the public health emergency in different ways, each case is unique. If you're involved in a transaction being held up by a municipal closure, your best sources for guidance right now are your company’s broker and counsel, as well as suggesting that sellers and buyers consult with their personal attorneys.
The Alliance has been in contact with individual municipalities when a settlement issue has been brought to our attention (with mixed success), and we are actively coordinating with the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® to find a broader solution to this unprecedented situation.
Here's what we know:
Municipalities can't do use and occupancy inspections if their codes departments are shuttered.
That leaves several possibilities that we have heard:
Of course, municipal inspections are just one part of the more complex process of buying or selling a property, and other areas may be similarly affected by the ongoing public health emergency. We will continue to coordinate with our leadership, our shareholders and the state association to find resolutions for these issues.
Please continue to keep us informed about your experiences with local, county and state government during the coronavirus outbreak. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.