REBA is continuing to monitor developments related to COVID-19. A lot has happened in the last week, changing how we conduct our personal and professional lives.  REBA’s Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer, together with REBA’s section leaders, have been working tirelessly to stay on top of these changes and to provide timely updates to REBA members.  Included below are some resources that might be helpful to you.

While we weather this extraordinary situation, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.  We are here to serve our members and welcome your input.  In that regard, if you see a particular issue or trend that you would like to bring to REBA’s attention, please do so.  Circumstances are changing hourly and we want to do what we can to stay on top of issues as they develop and make adjustments where we can.

In the meantime, stay safe and be well.

 

Lawyers Are Essential

On March 23, Governor Baker issued an Emergency Executive Order, COVID-19 Order No. 13, requiring all workplaces, except for those defined as essential services, to cease operation from noon on Tuesday, March 24th until noon on Tuesday, April 7th, and to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people. Those businesses that are essential are encouraged to continue operations.

With the Order came an extensive list of businesses deemed essential. Although not expressly mentioned, REBA believes that transactional real estate lawyers provide essential services as defined by the Order.

Under the Financial Services section of the Order, workers identified as essential include those who “are needed to maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services (e.g., payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; and capital market activities).” Also included are “Professional services (such as legal and accounting services)…, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally-mandated activities and critical sector services or where failure to provide such services during the time of the order would result in in significant prejudice.”

The services provided by real estate lawyers are necessary for the completion of financial transactions and to assist clients in complying with their legal obligations. Moreover, if real estate lawyers are unavailable to represent their clients, prejudice would undoubtedly result in a myriad of ways, including, among other things, forfeiting the purchase, sale or refinance of a home, losing a favorable interest rate, and not accessing necessary funds. Under these circumstances, REBA believes transactional real estate lawyers are essential workers and should be permitted to continue operations so long as they practice safe social distancing measures.

Individual professionals and business owners who are uncertain whether their services are essential, as defined by the Order, have the option to submit a request. You may access the link to do so here. If you have submitted such a request and received a response, we would appreciate hearing from you.

 

PENDING ON BEACON HILL:  Remote Real Estate Closings

As you know from REBA President Jennifer Markowski’s recent  e-News updates, a REBA team has worked tirelessly over the past two weeks to draft legislation, temporary in nature, to enable residential closings to go forward remotely.  This was a difficult task,  as we needed to reconcile the disparate interests of the estate planning community with those of the conveyancing bar.  Ultimately, Ed Smith and John Fernandes submitted consensus draft amendments to an existing bill on the Senate side.  As soon as the bill is given a formal bill number and  has been passed by the Senate, we will  update this Resource page and send all members a comprehensive an update.  

 

REBA Spring Conference

This week, many of you have or will receive information about REBA’s Spring Conference, scheduled for May 4, 2020.  Governor Baker’s “no assembly” order, issued under the authority of his March 10 declaration of a State of Emergency, expires before the Conference.  However, we are fully anticipating it to be extended, requiring postponement of the 2020 Spring Conference.  We are currently looking at a postponement date of July 27th at the same location.  We will keep you apprised as we have more information.

 

Registries of Deeds Closings

Our Registries Section, Co-chaired by Doug Brunner, is actively tracking developments at the Commonwealth’s 21 registries of deeds and advising as to which registries are open and with what restrictions apply.  We will update this page as we receive new information.

For the latest information available on the status of the registries, click here.

 

COVID-19 Rider to the Purchase and Sale Agreement

The REBA Residential Conveyancing Section and Standards and Forms Committee have drafted a Rider that addresses closing delays due to COVID-19.

For the proposed language, click here.

 

REBA Provisional P&S Form for Temporary Deferral of Smoke Certificate Inspections

In response to member requests, REBA's Residential Conveyancing Section is offering a provisional residential purchase and sale agreement  form or rider to be utilized in response to Governor Baker's March 20th Order, allowing temporary suspension, for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, of the inspection of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, that may be a condition to the sale of a dwelling, building or structure.

For the Governor’s Order, click here.

For the all-industry letter to Governor Baker, click here.

To access the smoke certificate deferral form, click here.

 

Land Court Standing Orders

Standing Order 2-20: Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Standing Order 3-20: Supplement to Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Standing Order 3-20: Supplement to Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak – Part II

 

COVID-19 Rider to the Purchase and Sale Agreement

The REBA Residential Conveyancing Section and Standards and Forms Committee have drafted a Rider that addresses closing delays due to COVID-19.

For the proposed language, click here.