We sold our family home in February and are excited to move to our retirement condo this summer. With all that’s going on, I’m worried that the buyer might try to get out of the deal because of COVID-19. Is this a valid concern? – NERVOUS NELLIE
DEAR NELLIE: The quick answer is no. While you can’t force someone to complete a contract, they also can’t use COVID-19 as a reason to bail on the deal.
These are challenging times. Many buyers and sellers feel like they’re on pins and needles, wondering what’s going to happen next. To help relieve your fears, I suggest you reach out to your Realtor and ask them to connect with the buyer’s agent for some reassurance that all is well.
As an essential service, the real estate industry has responded quickly to address concerns brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. Many “State of Emergency” contingency clauses have been created and are now frequently included in Agreements of Purchase and Sale. These clauses address such concerns as potential delays due to bank or land registry office closures, the use of electronic signatures, closing transactions via video conference, and the contact-free delivery of keys to a buyer at the time of closing, among other things.
For agreements like yours that pre-date the pandemic, COVID-19-related protections can be put in place by way of an amendment, as long as both sides agree to the change.
While it’s far from business as usual in the real estate world, Realtors are working together to adapt a variety of changes in the way we serve those with imminent housing needs. Things are much less scary today than they were in the early stages of the pandemic: for example, we are far less worried about the closure of banks and land registry offices. Personally, I haven’t had an issue with any of my closings and have not heard of any properties that have failed to close because of the virus.
PRO TIP: As the clouds lift and we imagine a return to some degree of normalcy, I think that many of our virus-related real estate worries will disappear. In the meantime, reach out to your Realtor. Communication is an integral part of a worry-free transition. #AskDavid #Advice