COVID-19 – Our Response & Real Estate Recommendations

Hutch Law is committed to protecting the health and safety of its team, clients and community. The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic poses a serious risk to our community. In response, our entire office is now working from home. We are fully operational and have implemented procedures to work closely with our clients, bank and other service providers. While there may be delays, we are committed to working with our clients towards completing their real estate transactions.

Closing a real estate transaction or refinancing?

We understand that clients who are amid a real estate transaction or refinancing, presently have other important obligations to take care of. We want to ensure our clients are focused first on their health, loved ones, and their business during these uncertain times. As a tech-forward firm, we are committed to making every transaction accessible and flexible from the start through to completion.

Signing documents

Rules have been loosened by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) with regards to ID verification. Alternative means of verification such as face-to-face verification via video conference will be permitted. We can meet with you in any video capacity you choose (Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc.…) in order to follow the ID verification requirements, and for signing documents. Once complete, clients will then be able to scan/photograph their signed documents and forward those to us via email. The original physical copies will be collected at a later date.

Transferring funds electronically

As our office is now working entirely from home, we are asking clients to send us funds for their closings electronically. Funds can be sent to us via wire transfer or through direct deposit into our trust account. We provide our clients with all the necessary details at the time funds are needed.

Delays should be expected

While the Land Registry Offices (LRO) and banks remain open, for now, conditions remain uncertain with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the LRO and banks are expected to remain open, there is always the possibility of that changing. As with many other businesses, both the LRO and banks may be working with reduced staffing causing delays in which transactions are being completed. We are remaining on top of all transactions in order to ensure they are completed in due course.

Real Estate transaction risks

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the general nature of in-person real estate transactions, there are some risks to be aware of.

Sellers

You can request from both potential buyers and their agents about any recent health and travel information. Buyers can be truthful or decline to answer. If you are uncomfortable showing your property, you do have the right to refuse in-person viewings.

Offer virtual video tours via Facetime or Skype to potential buyers. This allows you to speak directly with potential buyers and to assess who is serious about purchasing the property. You can also use this virtual tour to determine whether the potential buyer poses a risk for an in-person viewing.

If you do decide to show the home in the normal course, it is important to ensure you are cleaning and sanitizing the home before and after every single open house or viewing. This is for the safety of both potential buyers and you.

Check with your real estate board to find out whether you can temporarily pull your property from the market.

If you or someone you live with tests positive for COVID-19, it is important to discuss this with your broker.

Buyers

You can request from both potential sellers and their agents about any recent health and travel information. Sellers can be truthful or decline to answer.

Request a virtual video tour from the seller. This will allow you to speak directly with the seller and determine whether you are truly interested in the property.

If viewing in-person, limit the amount of touching you expose yourself to. Use hand sanitizer before and after every viewing and avoid shaking hands with potential sellers or their agents.

Discuss with your agent and the seller about postponing the purchase process until a later date.

What should you do?

It is important that you are practicing safe social distancing and remain home, wherever possible. Therefore, we recommend virtual tours, with a promise to view later. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands frequently. If you don’t have tissues on-hand, use your sleeve to cover your sneeze or cough.

If you or someone you live with begins showing signs of COVID-19 (fever, tiredness, continuous cough, and breathing difficulties), it is important that you make the decision to self-isolate and stay home for 14 days. Symptoms may not appear for a week and so it is important you do not put others at risk. If symptoms do appear, call your local health authorities for directions on what to do.

If you need legal advice, we will be able to assist you in any electronic capacity that is convenient and accessible for you.

http://kellysantini.com/articles/covid-19-and-residential-real-estate-transactions

https://lso.ca/news-events/news/corporate-statement-re-covid-19

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.ccla-abcc.ca/resource/dynamic/blogs/20200317_094054_27734.pdf

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51711227

COVID-19 and Real Estate

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