COVID-19 Virus Effects on Real Estate Market

COVID 19 Real Estate

By Michael J Posner

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to grow with each passing day disrupting almost every industry sector and market.  As a result of the virus, the Florida real estate market has also been turned upside down, in both negative and positive ways.

2019 ended with Florida single family sales up nearly six percent, with townhomes and condos mostly flat.  South Florida had a more modest two percent growth rate for single family homes, but townhomes and condos fell by nearly two percent over 2018.  Prices continued to climb with the average single-family homes selling for $360,000.00.

2020 started with a bang, with single family sales through February 2020 up thirteen percent and townhomes and condos up twelve and one-half percent.  Nationally, new home sales jumped nearly eight percent, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units last February, the highest level since July 2007.

Then the virus hit, dramatically changing the real estate landscape.  Reaction in the financial sector was swift.  At the beginning of March, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by one-half percent, then two weeks later, another rate cut to make the borrowing rate from the Federal Reserve essentially zero percent.  The goal was to make money cheaper and protect the economy from falling into recession. Continue reading

Does Your Business Insurance Cover COVID-19 Losses?

LEGAL ALERT FOR BUSINESSES #8

Coronavirus Action Alert #8
From The Ward Damon Business Law Team
By Ronald S. Nisonson

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted businesses throughout our country.  While Congress has enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act (CARES), businesses should also consider turning to their insurance carriers for coverage to mitigate the fallout from this virus.  Businesses can and should consider the insurance coverages listed below that may be triggered by COVID-19 losses or claims:

  • Business Interruption Coverage
  • General Liability Coverage
  • Workers Compensation Coverage
  • Directors and Officers Coverage

Please keep in mind that each situation is unique and is based on the policy language, factual circumstances and applicable state law.  As a starting point, businesses should examine their policy language carefully and consider retaining counsel to assist in determining whether coverage may exist for COVID-19 related losses or claims.
Continue reading

Can You Still Close While Staying at Home? RON is the Answer

LEGAL ALERT FOR BUYERS & SELLERS #7

Coronavirus Action Alert #7
From The Ward Damon Real Estate Law Team and Lighthouse Title Services
By Colleen Sullivan

As Floridians continue to practice social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone wants to know whether they can still close their transactions without physical contact?  The answer, in short, is absolutely, thanks to Remote Online Notary (RON).

What RON is:
RON is an electronic closing platform where the signatory, witnesses and notary all handle their part of the signing process electronically via the internet using a webcam and a series of multi-tiered identity verification requirements.  The final document, with digital certifications, is then used for closing just like a normal document with a wet ink signature.

How RON works:
Request an Electronic Meeting
A RON signing consists of an electronic meeting between the notary, witness(es) and signatory, in addition to the title agent when possible. After the title agent uploads the document and requests the signing, the signing client is sent a meeting link prior to the date and time of the signing, which they can (and are encouraged to) click on to review their closing documents in advance, ask questions and request changes, if applicable, prior to closing. This ensures a more efficient signing process. Continue reading

SBA Paycheck Protection Program Passed, Loans To Be Made Available

LEGAL ALERT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES #6

Coronavirus Action Alert #6
From The Ward Damon Business Law Team
By Rana M. Gorzeck

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP Law”) just passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability (CARES) Act last week.  The PPP Law is a supportive effort by the Federal government to encourage businesses to maintain their current employees or rehire employees who have been let go due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Under the PPP, many small businesses are eligible to receive Federal guaranteed loans to support their payroll which can be later forgiven.

Below are some of the highlights of the Paycheck Protection Program: Continue reading

DOL Employer Resources for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

LEGAL ALERT FOR EMPLOYERS #5

Coronavirus Action Alert #5
From The Ward Damon Employment & Labor Law Team
I. Jeffrey PhetersonBari Goldstein and Kenneth Rehns

The U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) has provided several helpful resources on its website for employers preparing for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that will go into effect in April.

CLICK HERE for all of the information:  https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic 

First, the DOL has provided a series of answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding the law’s provisions.  One of the biggest takeaways is that the FFCRA will now take effect on April 1, 2020, and not April 2 as originally expected.  In addition, the FAQs provide help for employers in calculating if they are subject to the FFCRA’s provisions by employing less than 500 employees at the time employee leave is requested, as well as how much an employee can expect to be paid for leave under the FFCRA.

The DOL has also released Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-1 which provides that the, the DOL will maintain a Temporary Non-Enforcement Period through April 17, 2020.  This means that the DOL will not bring enforcement actions against any employer for violations of the FFCRA occurring prior to April 18, 2020, provided that the employer has acted “reasonably” and “in good faith” when all of the following facts are present: Continue reading