As president of two Ontario brokerages with 450 salespeople serving several Ontario centres, let me emphasize that during the COVID-19 crisis, we want our people to STAY HOME and STAY SAFE.
But we don’t think it’s enough to just protect our agents’ health and that of their clients. We believe our brokerage also has a responsibility to help our agents protect their businesses and serve their clients.
Despite the slowdown in the market, there may still be circumstances where essential “in-person” showings and appointments must be held.
Along with our leadership team, I have developed a variety of documents to protect not only the health, safety and livelihood of our Keller Williams Realtors when transacting essential ”in-person” showings and appointments, but also a much more comprehensive Schedule ‘C’, to be inserted in all newly written Agreements of Purchase and Sale, with an additional emphasis on inserting the Schedule ‘C’ in all previously accepted Agreements of Purchase and Sale, by way of Amendment to the Agreement in order to better safeguard the upcoming closing of the transaction.
I strongly urge all Realtors to consult with their real estate brokerages, and if necessary their brokerage’s advisors, before adopting our Schedule ‘C’ or any of the COVID-19 forms or practices that I am about to discuss. We have opted to be proactive and use these forms, but your brokerage may deem that they should not be used by you.
We believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is not a two-week or brief concern, but rather one that will linger for some time. As we come out of the pandemic, consumers will likely continue to look for assurances that their health and overall well-being will be protected…which is just another reason to be using our COVID-19 forms.
This is a much more comprehensive schedule than those that are currently being circulated in the industry. It addresses and safeguards against many more potential scenarios that may occur. It accounts for an extension of both the requisition date and the closing date as a result of:
- A service interruption regarding the land registry office
- A service interruption or closure of the banking system
- A party to the agreement contracting COVID-19
It also covers an extension of the closing date as a result of the inability to obtain title insurance due to the closure of title companies.
In typical fashion, the majority of the schedules being circulated account for an extension of the closing date, but do not account for the possibility of the requisition date needing to be automatically extended as well.
There are numerous scenarios that could potentially occur, whereby a buyer’s solicitor may have conducted their searches and submitted their requisitions to the seller’s solicitor prior to an unforeseen requirement to extend the closing date (due to the aforementioned circumstances). This would result in the need to not only extend the closing date, but also to update or conduct new searches, requiring an extension of the requisition date as well.
In addition, the Schedule ‘C’ we have developed addresses a more comprehensive method of transferring the keys to the buyer on closing, accounting for the provision of one or more lockboxes if necessary; that the keys are properly labelled; and also accounting for the lockboxes potentially being located somewhere other than the property, such as the seller’s lawyer’s office (which is becoming a far more common practice).
The schedule also accounts for paperless closings in accordance with the Electronic Commerce Act 2000, s.o. 2000, C.17.
COVID-19 forms protocol
We have developed five COVID-19 forms. Form 1 is used on MLS or exclusive listings for all sellers/occupants. Form 2 is used on MLS or exclusive listings by the listing brokerage. Form 3 is uploaded to MLS and used by a co-operating brokerage or in multiple representation when requesting a showing via MLS or exclusive. Form 4 is uploaded to MLS and used by a co-operating brokerage or in multiple representation for all buyers requesting a showing via their Realtor. Form 5 is to be used by all third-party service providers (home inspectors, appraisers, home stagers) when requesting an “in-person” appointment through the listing brokerage.
All of the forms essentially have the same representation(s), being that:
- The party executing each form, to the best of their knowledge and belief, is in good health in relation to COVID-19
- They have not travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days, nor been in close contact with someone who has
- They acknowledge and agree to a strict and prescribed method of viewing the home or attending the home as a third-party service provider
While protecting the confidentiality of each party, their personal contact information is retained by their representative for 14 days after an “in-person” showing or appointment, so that they can be contacted if it’s later determined that they are potentially at risk because someone they were in contact with may have contracted COVID-19.
Although best efforts are made to verify health and showing procedures, neither the Realtor nor the listing brokerage has the ability to confirm the accuracy of the health representations, or that the showing procedures will be fully adhered to. As such, the forms confirm that the Realtor and Listing Brokerage stand fully released from any claim or claims resulting from the contracting of COVID-19 due to an “in-person” showing of the property.
Currently, there is huge liability for all “in-person” showings being conducted with no documentation attesting to the health of each party in regard to COVID-19, or the agreed upon procedures for attending the home. We believe these forms comprehensively protect our Realtors, our brokerage and our clients, while instilling greater consumer confidence for essential “in-person” showings and appointments.
For more information or if you would like copies of these forms, feel free to contact Gary McGowan, our general manager in Newmarket at [email protected], or Andrew Ouellette, our team leader in Ottawa, at [email protected].