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COVID-19 Update: Real Estate Transactions During Closure Order

access_time Posted on: March 23rd, 2020

Compliant Transactions During Closure Order

On Thursday, March 19th, Governor Wolf issued an order that went into effect at 8pm that evening — all “non-life sustaining businesses” in Pennsylvania must close their physical locations to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Enforcement of this order will begin on Monday, March 23rd at 8am.

What Happens Now

Although all parties which facilitate a real estate transaction (real estate agents, real estate brokers, attorneys, title companies, lenders, inspectors, appraisers, and contractors) cannot conduct in-person transactions, it appears that they may continue to complete any parts of the transaction that can take place remotely. Service activities that can be completed remotely include contract drafting, negotiation, and revisions. To determine if a transaction can move forward, reach out to the parties involved to see if they have alternative methods in place to compliantly execute their portions of the transaction during the closure order. At this time, real estate transactions cannot be closed due to the need for in person notary services, as discussed below. We will update everyone as soon as this changes.


Notary Services

One obstacle to a remote closing in PA is the state’s rejection of digital notary services. Pennsylvania does not accept an electronic signature, requiring instead that a document be signed in the physical presence of a notary.


Pausing a Transaction

If either party cannot move forward with the transaction during the closure order, that party may fill out the PA Association of Realtors’ Addendum to Agreement of Sale (available here: https://www.parealtors.org/standard-forms/covid-19-addendum-to-the-agreement-of-sale/), an addendum which allows the parties to modify the terms of the sales agreement. The addendum gives either party the ability to pause a sale with a deadline that is impossible or impractical under current conditions and resume the sale when the closure order is lifted.


Property or Lease Management

The Governor’s order does not require property services such as repairs and maintenance to be put on hold, but active leasing services such as signing new leases and move-ins should be discontinued.

Please consult a CGA Real Estate attorney for further guidance or to discuss additional options.



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