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Coronavirus FAQs

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Stay Home MN Executive Order

How does the Stay Home Executive Order impact Realtor® activities?

Realtors® and their clients may still conduct the activities necessary to facilitate real estate transactions in Minnesota during the time period covered by the order as long as they comply, to the maximum extent possible, with COVID-19 Guidelines including social distancing and hygiene and other requirements in the order.

  • OPEN HOUSES – Refrain from conducting open houses during this period. It is counterintuitive to be conducting an open house activity during the “Stay at Home” directive. 
  • SHOWINGS – Please consult with your seller clients regarding their wishes for showings.  If you will be conducting showings, limit your showings until the consumer expresses interest, and prioritize virtual showings and other non-person-to-person activities.  Utilize the virtual tours and photos available to pre-screen homes you personally visit.
  • UNDERSTAND – the Governor can pull this essential services tag at any time. If we don’t act within the spirit of the Order, we will be in jeopardy of not being able to service our Minnesota real estate clients and customers.
  • PLEASE NOTE - You must conduct business within the COVID-19 MDH social distancing guidelines. Minnesotans may leave their homes or residences to engage in the following activities, provided that all persons follow the guidelines set forth and maintained by the Minnesota Department of Health (“MDH Guidelines”), including but not limited to social distancing, to the maximum extent possible. This list of Activities may be clarified, as deemed necessary by the Governor, to ensure the health, safety, and security of all Minnesotans. Clarifications will be available for public review at: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/

 Additional information can be found in the MNR Memo on Realtor® Activities During Stay At Home Order

How are closings impacted with the Stay at Home Order in effect?

Please see the Q&A regarding Governor Walz’s Stay at Home Order (Q: What real estate services are allowed as addressed in the Stay Home MN Order?) to determine whether your closing may proceed. Minnesota counties allow for electronic recording of real estate documents, including deeds and mortgages. Numerous closers will be equipped with the ability to e-file. For documents requiring a notary, some services can come to a residence to sign paperwork, and remote notaries have been available in Minnesota since 2018. Remote notaries must specifically register to perform acts remotely and e-sign documentation. The process is laid out in Minn. Stat. § 358.645 and in  . Please ask your closer to find out more about how to plan your closing within the guidelines required in Governor Walz’s Stay at Home order.

What does the eviction suspension and execution of writs of recovery mean?

Governor Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-14 to take place at 5:00pm on March 24 2020, which suspends evictions and writs of recovery on residential property for the duration of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency or until the order is rescinded. According to the Order, “Restricting evictions is a vital tool to keep Minnesotans in their homes to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota and nationwide.”

Q: What does Emergency Executive Order 20-14 do?
A: The order suspends evictions, the execution of writs of recovery, and requests a moratorium on housing foreclosures on residential property during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency or until revocation of the order, except in specified circumstances. The order directs the following restrictions:

  1. Places a suspension on the ability of a person to file an eviction action who is entitled to recover residential premises after March 1, 2020 when a tenant remains in the property after any of the following occurrences:
  2. Notice of termination of lease;
  3. After termination of the redemption period for residential foreclosure;
  4. After a residential lease has been breached; or
  5. After non-payment of rent
  6. Prohibits landlords from terminating residential leases during the pendency of the emergency, with certain exceptions.
  7. Prohibits all officers who hold a writ of recovery of premises and order to vacate to cease such writs, with certain exceptions.
  8. Requests financial institutions holding home mortgages to implement an immediate moratorium on all pending and future foreclosures and related evictions when the foreclosure or foreclosure-related eviction arises out of a substantial decrease in income or out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also strongly urges financial institutions to refrain from imposing late fees or other penalties for late mortgage payments related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: What are the eviction or lease exceptions to this Executive Order?
A: This suspension does not include eviction actions based on cases where the tenant seriously endangers the safety of other residents or for violations (Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 504B.171, subdivision 1).

Q: What is a writ of recovery?
A: When a judge rules in favor of a property owner in an eviction proceeding, a writ of recovery orders officers of the law to restore that property to the owner. These orders are lawful means by which landlords can physically remove tenants upon approval of an eviction by a judge.

Q: Are tenants required to pay rent and are homeowners to make mortgage payments through the duration of this Executive Order?
A: Yes. Executive Order 20-14 does not relieve tenants from their obligation to pay rent and does not suspend a borrower’s obligation to make payments on their mortgage.

Q: What happens if a landlord or lender violates Executive Order 20-14?
A: Any person who willfully violates this order is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction may be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days. The Attorney General’s office may also enforce the order using any of the remedies under Minnesota Statute. 8.31.

Please seek an attorney for further guidance on this Executive Order if you have additional questions to ensure proper conduct during this peacetime emergency.

What real estate services are allowed as addressed in the Stay Home MN Order?

We have heard from many of our members asking questions about the application of Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-20 to Stay at Home, including questions from real estate agents, photographers, inspectors, title and closers, and more. Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-20 in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota.  Minnesota Realtor® members should all be doing their part to assist the Governor in this effort for the good of our communities. Governor Walz has ordered that all Minnesotan’s stay at home or in their place of residence except to engage in certain necessary activities and Critical Sector work as defined in his order.

Governor Walz added Real Estate Transactions as “Critical Sector work.”

  • Real Estate Transactions: This category is limited to workers who facilitate and finance real estate transactions and real estate services; including appraisers and title services. “

“Workers” and “personnel” are broadly defined to include employees, contractors, vendors, and volunteers. 

Thus, all employees, contractors, vendors, and volunteers who are facilitating and financing real estate transactions and real estate services, including appraisers and title services, who are performing work that cannot be done at their home or residence through telework or virtual work and can be done only at a place of work outside their home or residence are exempt from the prohibition to Stay at Home. The order does not restrict virtual or telework.

Restrictions to the Exemption:

  1. Travel Restriction: These critical exemptions apply ONLY to travel to and from an individual’s home or residence and place of work;
  2. Can’t Be Done At Home: They also apply ONLY when an individual’s performance of work duties CANNOT be done at their homes or residence;
  3. Must Follow Guidelines:  Any facilitation of real estate transactions must done, to the maximum extent possible, in a manner that adheres to the MN Occupational Safety and Health Standards and the MN Department of Health (“MDH Guidelines”) and CDC Guidelines related to COVID-19.The MDH Guidelines state that events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual. 

What happens if I don't follow the Stay at Home Order and its exemptions?

The Governor has the ability to “make, amend, and rescind the necessary orders.”  There is a real possibility that further restrictions on real estate activities could be implemented if COVID-19 continues to spread in our Communities.

Additionally, any person who willfully violates such an order or rule is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days.

If I have a client or customer who is in a vulnerable population and is scheduled to vacate their residence during this order, can they stay in a hotel for purposes of the Stay at Home Order?

Yes.  For purposes of the Executive Order 20-20, home or residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units, shelters, and similar facilities to the extent they are used for lodging.

How are home inspectors addressed in the Order?

Home inspectors were not addressed in the Order.  MNR has a meeting scheduled with the Department on Monday and plan to ask for clarification on a number of positions that are related/affiliated to real estate services.

Additional clarification can be found in the Stay Home MN - Executive Order 20-20: Employers Seeking Guidance Memo

Business Practices

Will license renewal be impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic?

The real estate license renewal application window opens on May 1 and applications are submitted online. The deadline is June 30. Commerce strongly urges real estate licensees to work with your broker to complete renewal requirements and renew your license at your earliest opportunity. Please refer to the Department of Commerce website for the latest information for licensees and regulated entities.

Should Realtors® continue to hold open houses?

Minnesota Realtors® is strongly recommending that open house activities be suspended as governments across the globe address the health issues from the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not issue this direction without having conversed and researched how this aspect of our profession may spread the virus.

For the well-being of clients, customers and communities, we strongly recommend that all real estate licensees stop conducting open houses until the pandemic warnings have ended. Now is a great time to leverage alternative marketing opportunities and let your clients know that you will continue to service them and can continue to market their home using virtual tours, Skype or Facebook, in addition to using virtual staging to showcase a property.

How should Realtors® handle showings?

Recommendations for Private Showings

Discuss with your clients whether they would like to conduct showings during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person by close contact (less than 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is believed that a person can be a carrier of COVID-19 without showing signs or symptoms.    

Virtual showings and tours are a great alternative to show consumers the features of a home. Many Realtors® are using virtual-showings technology to take buyers on a virtual journey and confirm serious interest in a property before ever walking in the door in person. Others are providing detailed smart phone videos or using live video chats to walk buyers through a property. Options that minimize or eliminate person-to-person contact are the safest choices.

If you decide to show homes, there are precautions Realtors® can consider taking during private showings to try to reduce, not eliminate, the chances of spreading or contracting the virus.  

Please consider taking these additional precautions for showings: 

  • Be mindful of high-risk populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised individuals. This group is better served through virtual activities.
  • Licensees can inquire with clients who want to view a property that they are not sick, have not traveled to other countries, or come in contact with someone with the virus. You must ask every client/customer these questions to avoid potentially violating discrimination laws.
  • Anyone that shows signs of illness such as sneezing, cough, or fever may not attend the viewing, including the agent(s). Note however, that this disease can be spread by individuals who have COIVD-19 but do not have symptoms.
  • Drive in separate vehicles to the properties.
  • Implement social distancing – 6 feet apart – at all times with the clients or customers.
  • Keep clients and customers in visual sight as they view the home room by room together.
  • Realtors® should request that their clients and customers not touch anything in the home. “Hands in your pocket” rule. 
  • Realtors® should consider using new disposable gloves for each showing to open all doors for the clients, switch on/off lights and open appliances or cabinet doors with the gloved hand and discard the gloves upon exiting.
  • When feasible, request sellers to switch all lights on for a showing and for them to be left on until they arrive.
  • Limit the number of guests and allow only the prospective buyer(s) to enter the home. No additional guests or family members.
  • Inspections should be conducted by the inspector only.
  • Buyer’s agents may inquire whether the sellers, or anyone living in the home, are sick or showing signs of COVID-19 illness. Note however that a person can be contagious with COVID-19 without showing signs or symptoms.  
  • Thoroughly wash hands or use hand sanitizer before entering and after exiting the property. 
  • Consider avoiding overlapping showings.  Allowing only one party in the home at a time will help maintain social distancing (6 feet apart).  

Is a real estate office a "place of public accommodation" requiring closure ?

No, not currently. Under Governor Walz's order, the Governor listed specific places of public accommodation that he ordered closed to entrance, exit, use, and occupancy by members of the public. This is primarily for bars, restaurants, and similar venues. Real estate offices were not on the list. You can view the Executive Order for a listing of businesses that must close here.

Note that the Governor indicated in this Order that the prohibitions may be extended by a future order. Please continue to monitor the MDH for updates.

What should I do if a tenant refuses to allow the landlord to show the property?

Minn. Stat. § 504B.211 states that a landlord may enter the property to show it with reasonable notice – not permission. The right of a landlord to enter is a statutory right and is very clear. However, these are unique times and everyone’s health and safety should be a primary consideration. Realtors®, and the landlords they represent, need to balance this right to show the property with their covenant obligations under Minn. Stat. 504B.161. The law states the landlord must maintain the premises in compliance with applicable state and local health and safety laws where the premises are located during the term of the lease. Realtors® should monitor and follow recommendations of the MDH’s guidance for all Minnesotans, the CDC, and The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.  Please also note that Realtors® and landlords should not forcibly enter a premises under ordinary circumstances, and so if a tenant has resisted the entry, the Realtor® or landlord should consult with legal counsel regarding alternative remedies.  However, please note that Governor Walz (MN) issued an order, effective March 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM, suspending evictions, so landlords may not commence an eviction as a remedy against tenants who are in violation of their lease for excluding a landlord’s rightful entry and/or tenants who continue to occupy a premises past a lease expiration during the peacetime emergency or until the Governor revokes his order. 

These recommendations are changing on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. In light of the recommendations, you may want to consider working with the tenant to provide some reassurance and comfort to avoid further issues. You could discuss options like:

  • Virtual showings;
  • Ensuring there are preventive measures taken before anyone views the property such as hand washing and usage of hand-sanitizer;
  • Refraining from showing the property if the tenant, prospective tenant, or anyone else intending to be at the showing is showing signs of illness; or
  • Postponing showings for tenants or prospective tenants who are in a high risk group.
MNR Services

Will the MNR office be open?

While the office will not be physically open, we are operating a virtual office environment with normal office hours. Please reach out to the appropriate staff member with your questions.

What services will be impacted by the virtual office?

MNR will be able to conduct most services virtually:

  • Meetings will be held using Zoom technology
  • The Legal Hotline will take calls as usual during regular hotline hours
  • The Legal Team is looking at providing alternative solutions to hearings 
  • The Governmental Affairs team will be working with the Capitol as they can during this time
  • The Communications team will keep you informed via email, the website, and social media

Can my brokerage still access the legal hotline?

The Legal Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm (CST) with our lawyers on standby ready to answer your questions.

Online Submission: Brokers and office managers can also submit Legal Hotline questions online anytime, 24/7. Your query will be forwarded to a staff attorney who will respond as soon as possible or, if submitted after hours, the next business day. You can find the Legal Hotline at https://my.mnrealtor.com under “Law & Ethics”. 

Where else can I get CE courses?

You can take a variety of online CE courses that you can take through Continuing Ed Express, including GRI courses, the DOC-required module, and other CE opportunities. At this time, is is not clear when in-person classes will resume, so we encourage you take advantage of the online course offerings.

Will the lobbying efforts at the Capitol continue?

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Legislature is dramatically scaling back operations at the Capitol.  All regularly scheduled committee meetings have been cancelled and the Legislature will be going on an extended recess until April 14.  Legislative Leaders also announced a narrowing of the work for the remainder of the Session that will focus on:

  • The state's COVID-19 response
  • "Mission critical" measures for state, such as a bonding bill
  • Any legislation that has bipartisan agreement

Despite the lack of face-to-face access with legislators, MN Realtors® lobbying team will continue meeting by phone and via other virtual forms of electronic communication to represent the interests of our members.