There is no denying that the COVID-19 global pandemic has affected almost every area of commerce in the United States in some fashion. The real estate market which can often times seem to yo-yo from one extreme to another, is a market which was not been left untouched. From the way buyers view homes, to the way closings are handled, the world of real estate has changed.
The way people buy and sell homes is a bit different now as the world has been forced to adjust to COVID-19. In the past, open houses were a way for a seller to show their home to multiple people in a single day. Real Estate brokers were able to mingle and showcase the property to a wide range of individuals in hopes of selling the home. After the stay at home order was entered in Illinois in March of 2020, much confusion about essential businesses arose. On or about April 1, 2020, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) issued statements which help clarified the order and how it pertained to real estate. In the April 1, 2020 language, three main clarifications shaped real estate: (1) No more open houses; (2) Showing occupied rental properties was prohibited; and (3) Showing of vacant or owner-occupied units are permitted if necessary and scheduled in advance with a limit to no more than 4 people.
As one can imagine this put a strain on all parties. Landlords who needed to show their properties were not able to do so, often causing tensions between Landlords and Tenants. Seller’s and real estate agents who benefited from open houses were forced to show the homes virtually. While the way in which homes are marketed and the way in which buyers are able to view homes has changed, houses are still being sold during the pandemic and during the statewide closures. Realtors, title companies, lenders, and real estate attorneys have adjusted their procedures to meet these new demands and allow buyers and sellers to continue to engage in the sale of real estate during this time.
The closing table at a real estate transaction also looks a bit different. The days of large groups of people at the closing table supporting and waiting for the transaction to be completed have faded. Now, title companies offered drive-up or “curbside.” Anyone who is “not essential” to the transaction is not allowed at the table. This has left many real estate brokers waiting in their cars while their client’s signed documents. Many attorneys have chosen not to attend as well, often preferring to read documents over the phone, or attend virtually. An attorney’s absence at closing could pose potential issues if something went wrong at the closing table. For many people, your home can be one of the biggest investments of your life. It is imperative, especially in a time of virtual closing, to have a trusted and experience attorney by your side. As Illinois moves into phase 3, restrictions hare being lifted on real estate transactions. If you are considering buying, selling, or renting your home, it is vital you speak to a qualified real estate attorney, who can help you each step of the way.