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Legal updates from Three Rivers Association Attorney

By Gary S. Mueller, Mueller & Associates, LTD

Phone:  815-725-7300                        e-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Gary Mueller resized cropped CopyRealtor RPAC Sterling no colour 2020 reduced

April 2020

Clearly, I am a wonderful prognosticator.  If you examine my last few submittals, I have managed to get less than ¼ of my predictions correct. Additionally, I totally missed the whole COVID-19 thing.  My apologies to anyone who actually considered my fortune telling worthy of any space other than the base of your local bird cage.

So……I have not been doing this real estate industry business for as long as some, but have been doing this real estate stuff longer than some.  I have NEVER witnessed anything like what we are suffering through.  I have never seen a situation where the information and the reporting has been so wildly disparate in a relatively short amount of time.  At first some thought this was a hoax, then it would be over “quickly”, and then it would be gone in only a little while, and then a vaccination would be ready in a week or two, to now we have people staying in place in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.  Wow……..As you know, I harp on business plans and working to make them relevant.  In the past three weeks, my personal business plan has changed ten times (and there are still things that should be tweaked further).

All I DO know is that, of all the professions in the world, the real estate industry is typically at the forefront of each and every major development that comes to fruition.  Under the current pandemic, what has the real estate industry done?  The industry has evolved as quickly as the news stories change almost on the hour.  For example, in the last few days alone, I have witnessed closings evolve from the typical get together (with buyers, buyers’ attorney, lender, REALTOR®, title closer, Seller, and Seller attorney ----and then, sometimes family and friends) to drive-by closings----with title company agents securing closing docs from the awaiting car of a party and then processing the paperwork so that the closing can still be done.  These times are very unique.  In my opinion, it is highly likely that some of the changes that are being implemented right now may remain even after COVID-19 has passed (if that is possible).  I can see a future where essential people will be the only ones attending closings. If that happens, brokers will need to update their marketing plans; the last “contact” and celebration of the closing actually closing may no longer include the REALTOR ® who brought the whole transaction together!  How will you try to replicate that exhilaration of the actual closing so that your involvement will remain memorable to the immediate client and important enough to that client that the client refers you to a friend, family member, or co-worker?  If you have some down time now, you may want to start crafting your revised marketing plan to address life during and after COVID-19.

In an effort to stay at the forefront of COVID-19, your Association Board crafted, reviewed, and approved an addendum that can be used in conjunction with the 7.0 contract.  The Addendum is intended to keep the parties to a deal informed about delays to a transaction that may occur due to COVID-19 related concerns.  The Addendum makes it clear that the Parties acknowledge the effects of COVID-19 on a deal and then provides an extension to the deal.  If, after the extension, a party no longer wishes to wait any longer to push forward with the deal, that party may declare the contact null and void.

As always, be careful for COVID-19 related scams.  The scams started just as the virus was being understood and labelled a pandemic.  The real estate related scams that I have read about concern sterilization services that “guarantee” your safety after the company sanitizes the residence.  In addition to many other reasons to wonder about this claim, note that, even after a place in sanitized, once A PERSON enters that home, the sanitation has been compromised.  So…..though a sanitization sounds great and comforting, make sure it actually lives up to its hype.

The Governor just issued another Executive Order concerning Remote Notaries.  Note that such a proposal has been in the works for many years and often has been either voted down or not passed from committee. Nonetheless, in these trying times, well-intended measures are going to be promulgated and pushed to try to make all safer. So….Executive Order 12 now allows for remote notarizations of documents. The procedure can be summarized as follows:  a) the notary and the signatory must both be in Illinois, b) two-way video communication technology must be used so that the notary and the signatory can communicate about the document being notarized, c) the video recording of the notarization must be retained for three years, and d) the signatory must affirmatively state on the video what he/she is signing---each page.  One of the main arguments against prior iterations of this proposal has concerned fraud and how does one guard against fraud. In the procedure outlined in the executive order, the video recording of the procedure and the requirement of audio capabilities so that the signatory and the notary can communicate throughout the process are intended to address this prior concern.  In my opinion, this may be another in a long line of changes that are being implemented now due to COVID-19 that may remain after the pandemic subsides (if ever).

So….be careful out there.  Remain vigilant to stay healthy and safe. Do not take unnecessary risks.  We will ALL get through this.  Stay informed. Stay focused.  As the saying goes, this too shall pass. 

Take care