Pennsylvania Revises Rules for Residential Real Estate Transactions

Earlier in April, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State issued a guidance letter for appraisers, notaries, title companies and home inspectors with regards to agreements of sale for residential properties entered into prior to March 18, 2020.  This week, the Secretary of State revised her guidance letter to allow more in-person activities for the real estate industry, but with safety and social distancing restrictions. 

In-person activities will now be allowed for:

  • any residential real estate transaction for an existing home in which the agreement of sale was executed prior to March 18, 2020;
  • for new construction in which the contract was previously executed with a closing or delivery date of after March 18, 2020;
  • where the buyer can demonstrate that, prior to March 18, 2020, the buyer had entered into the agreement of sale for their prior residence or given their landlord a binding notice that they would vacate a rental property serving as their residence;
  • and where the property subject to sale, home equity loan, or home refinancing is located in a region of Pennsylvania deemed to be in the “Yellow Phase” of reopening. 

These in-person activities are required to be arranged by appointment and limited to no more than 2 individuals on-site at the same time.  Wherever possible, closings must be performed via remote notary or powers of attorney.  If it is not possible to conduct a closing remotely, attendance in-person must be limited to required signatories only and steps to preserve social distancing to the maximum extent possible must be followed. 

All in-person activities must be performed in conformance with all of Governor Tom Wolf’s previous Orders on Covid-19 related safety issues and applicable guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”). 

All individuals engaging in in-person activities at showings, appraisals, closings, inspections, final walk-throughs, and title insurance activities are required to wear masks, gloves, and foot coverings at all times. 

Regardless of location, any real estate transaction which may be executed remotely is permissible, as are drive-by appraisals which do not require physical entry onto a property.

Failure to adhere to these governmental guidelines may result in disciplinary action, up to and including license suspension.

Also, earlier this week, the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives passed a bill to allow all real estate activities to resume.  However, in order to become law, it still needs to pass the Pennsylvania State Senate and be signed into law by Governor Wolf.

If you have a question about these newly issued state guidelines as they pertain to residential real estate transactions in Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact us at contact@nochumson.com and an attorney at Nochumson P.C. will immediately reach out to you to schedule a free consultation.

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