|Good Afternoon Members,
While the coronavirus is a growing concern across the country, PMAR would like to continue to assure members that we are still here and we are closely monitoring the situation in Monroe County and across the state. The health and safety of our members and staff is our biggest concern right now so we are working remotely until further notice.I know there is a lot of information in this email but it is all information that could help you so please take a few minutes to read it all the way through.
- All PMAR employees are working remotely and the PMAR office is temporally closed, at least until April 6th – this will cause no disruption to your services but it may cause delays so be patient with us, please
- All PREA in-person classes are canceled until at least April 6th – you can still take CE online through the PREA portal if you want to finish up your CE now
- All meetings will be postponed, held by conference call or online until further notice
- The PMAR Board of Directors is meeting weekly (online) to make sure they are staying on top of things
The PMAR Board of Directors understand the uncertainty we are all facing right now and with that in mind, they have unanimously agreed to extend the Due Date for the 2nd Quarter PMAR MLS Fees from April 1st, 2020 to June 1st, 2020. If you have already paid then you are good to go and if not, then you have some extra time.
Since the Governor has issued the ‘Stay at Home’ order for Monroe County (which has clearly put an end to ALL physical appointments) until at least April 6th, you may have some time on your hands that you are not accustomed to having. I have included a few resources to take advantage of that can help you conduct business remotely and hone your REALTOR® skills.
We have asked PMAR Counsel, Attorney Brett Woodburn, to give us a better understanding of what could happen for those violating the ‘Stay at Home’ order. As expected, it is a pretty lengthy response so I have pasted it at the end of this email.
PAR has been hard at work advocating on your behalf and they have also put together a list of FAQs that is updated often so please bookmark this link for the latest information on the state level: https://www.parealtors.org/coronavirus/
Here are direct links to FAQ’s on three of the things I get questioned on the most:
NAR has also been hard at work advocating for REALTORS® at the Federal level, specifically in the $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package. Here is the email update that they sent out today that explains where things were as of this morning.
Also, in case you don’t have it, here is the NAR Resources link:
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As businesses take steps to adapt to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that we’re not operating in a “business as usual” environment. We’re all doing our part to follow the advice of health experts and many states to shelter in place to flatten the curve. Nevertheless, as one veteran agent told us, most buyers and sellers are still in a good place. They realize it’s …
- C2EX is a NAR member benefit and it is an award-winning program that takes professionalism to the next level by enabling you to assess your expertise in 10 (11 for brokers) elements of professionalism ranging from customer service to use of technology. Learn more about The Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) program here – https://www.nar.realtor/commitment-to-excellence-c2ex
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REALTORS® defined professionalism in this industry more than 100 years ago when they created the Code of Ethics. The award-winning C2EX program takes professionalism to the next level by enabling NAR members to assess their expertise in 10 (11 for brokers) elements of professionalism ranging from customer service to use of technology.
From Attorney Woodburn:
I reviewed the Governor’s “Stay at Home” order that was entered and effective as of Monday, March 23, 2020. I also looked at the legislation that is cited as providing him the authority to issue such order, as well as some of the laws that can be used to sanction people who violate the order. To begin with, Governor Wolf’s order is very straightforward. In relevant part it states, “All individuals residing in … Monroe County … are ordered to stay home…” Thus, anyone who lives in Monroe County who ventures out of their home, with very limited exceptions that currently do not apply to real estate licensees, is violating the order and breaking the law. The Pennsylvania State Police, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, are vested with the authority to enforce this order. Violating the order can result in a number of violations that are potentially cumulative and not exclusive of one another. In other words, the violators can be charged with one or more of these offenses for each and every violation. For example, if a licensee visited three different vacant properties with a buyer, the licensee could be facing at least three counts for each violation.
The first violation could be for violating the Department of Health laws. The section on fines and penalties include being cited for a summary offense (which is heard by a magisterial district judge), fines ranging from $10.00 to $50.00 (per offense), plus costs. Failure to pay the fines and costs in time can lead to jail time. The next violations would be for violating the Disease Prevention and Control law. This also results in a summary offense (which is heard by a magisterial district judge), fines range from $25.00 to $300.00 (per offense) plus costs. As with the first violation, failure to pay the fines on time can result in jail time. Using my example above, the agent would be looking at fines ranging from $105.00 to $1,050.00 plus costs (three properties = three offenses).
On top of that, law enforcement is empowered to charge individuals with obstructing the administration of a law, which is a second degree misdemeanor. The penalty for this offense can be as little as a monetary fine or as significant as one to two years in jail and up to $5,000.00 in fines, plus costs (per offense). Another component is the potential to charge an individual with aiding in the consummation of a crime. Thus, if a licensee actively encourages a seller or a buyer to do something that violates Governor Wolf’s order, that licensee can be charged with aiding in the consummation of a crime, which is also a second degree misdemeanor.
It is difficult to anticipate how aggressively law enforcement will be prosecuting these offenses. Perhaps they will take a progressive approach and try to enforce this order consistently, and start with a warning and target those areas at which people are congregating. Perhaps they will take a more draconian approach and indiscriminately cite people who are out and about when they should be at home. People who see others violating the order are encouraged to call the police to report the violations (NOT using 911 service). The Governor also indicated that he could seek administrative remedies that could impact real estate licenses.
There is a lot of uncertainty about how the Governor’s order will be enforced. There should be NO uncertainty about what the Governor’s order permits and prohibits. Currently in Pennsylvania, real estate is not regarded as a “life-sustaining service”. Therefore, in Monroe County, all real estate licensee, Realtors® and non-Realtors® should remain at home until at least April 6, when the order is set to expire. Please let me know if you have additional questions or concerns.
Brett M. Woodburn, Esquire
Let me know if you have any questions and if not, stay safe everyone!!
Nicole A. Murray, ePRO® | Association Executive
Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS®
2214 West Main Street | Stroudsburg, PA 18360
o: 570.424.8846 | c: 610.217.0278