COVID 19 Resources & Information | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

COVID 19 RESOURCES & INFORMATION

Your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us. We are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (known as the coronavirus) and its impact on our community.

This page will continue to be updated with resources to keep you informed. You can also check out NAR’s Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS®.

If you have any other concerns or needs, please reach out to us! We are here for you, and we’re all in this together. Thank you for being a Chicago REALTOR®.

Government “Stay at Home” Order


On March 20, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10 (Covid-19 Executive Order No. 8) “Executive Order”), a wide-ranging order seeking to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the State of Illinois.

The Chicago Association of REALTORS® has received many questions from members since the Executive Order was issued, requesting guidance on how to comply with the Executive Order and its implications on its members since the Governor exempted “real estate services” from the stay-at-home order, deeming “real estate services” an “Essential Business and Operation” during the COVID-19 emergency.

Members should understand that the COVID-19 emergency and the governments’ response to the emergency is changing rapidly. Therefore, all members are urged to monitor developments, as the answers to the questions below may change.

CAR offers the guidance on this page as recommendations only, and urges all members to consult with their managing brokers and own attorneys as they navigate the evolving emergency.

CAR does not have the authority to prohibit or restrict real estate brokers from practicing real estate during the emergency.

CAR is committed to driving REALTOR® business success and economic development of our communities. We believe that the ability to close on real estate property during this pandemic is essential. We also recognize and stress that this is not business as usual. We are committed to the safety of our members and to being responsible community partners. With the technology available today, we are confident REALTORS® can and will seek to provide many real estate services, including marketing properties, virtually.

CAR recommends that its members and others in the real estate industry refrain from face-to-face real estate practices as much as practicable.

CAR also reminds its members that Brokers must continue to satisfy their ethical duties to their clients. However, CAR members also have responsibility to protect their own safety, as well as the safety of their colleagues, clients, and the general public. Members should adapt their practice to ensure that their professional activities are safe and comply with all guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the State of Illinois, and medical professionals.

The Executive Order took effect Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and lasts until the end of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation, which has been extended until April 30, 2020. The Governor’s Disaster Proclamation and the Executive Order may be extended further by the Governor.
The Executive Order is mandatory, and applies to the entire State of Illinois, including in Chicago.
The Executive Order requires large portions of Illinois residents to remain in their homes unless they are engaging in designated permitted activities deemed necessary to the public, health, safety and welfare of the state and its economy.
Yes. Section 12.r of the Executive Order provides that “(P)rofessional services, such as legal services, accounting services, insurance services, real estate services (including appraisal and title services),” are an “essential business and operation.” As an “essential business and operation,” those engaged in real estate services are exempt from the stay-at-home order.
Those engaged in real estate services are permitted to leave their homes to provide real estate services. This includes real estate brokers and their clients.

While those engaged in real estate services may leave their homes, CAR does not recommend that people do so unless it is absolutely necessary. Further, individuals are strongly encouraged to find alternative means for conducting business, such as through virtual tours and video conferencing.

Financial Assistance & Emergency Legislation


According to Illinois REALTORS®

(DISCLAIMER: This information is constantly changing. Illinois REALTORS® legal team will provide updates on how this affects employees of a brokerage; broker-owners; sponsoring brokers, etc.)

On Mar. 30, 2020, Illinois REALTORS® provided the best information it had at the time concerning the filing of unemployment applications through the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security (IDES) as it related to the federal stimulus packages. Guidance changes were released Tues., Mar. 31, 2020 (pdf). Information posted by IDES on Tues., Mar. 31, 2020, changes prior guidance.

UPDATED: March 31, 2020

Self-employed and Independent Contractors

If you are self-employed or an independent contractor, go to the last paragraph. You are being instructed to wait on filing an application until further notice. Illinois REALTORS® will monitor this news and update as soon as there is something new.

Regular employees

If you are a regular employee, you may file now according to the IDES posted guidance as to days of the week associated with your last name.

Employers

Follow guidance provided by IDES.

What if I have already filed an application?

Our best guess at this time is that you may be denied, but should be contacted by IDES at which time you might refile; or file an appeal.  We, are however, awaiting further guidance from IDES and will monitor their information sources for any new, better or different guidance.

March 30, 2020 posting: 

In order to qualify for the unemployment benefits in the relief bill, REALTORS® must apply for benefits in Illinois through the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”). However, based on the most recent guidance provided as of Mar. 31, 2020, those who are self-employed and independent contractors should not apply until further notice.

As of March 26, 2020, all IDES offices are closed to the public and an in-person application is not available. Applications can be processed online and by telephone. At this date, the IDES website has not been updated to reflect that independent contractors may be eligible for unemployment relief in Illinois.

As a REALTOR®, you should be able to keep listing property and, if commission is earned upon closing, that income will likely need to be reported and may impact a portion of any unemployment payments you might be entitled to for a period of time, but it may not disqualify you from all unemployment relief. For specific questions how continued real estate work and commissions may impact eligibility, you should contact your attorney for specific legal advice.

The following information will help you contact IDES.

IDES offices are closed to the public until further notice.

You may access IDES services using the following methods:

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package with overwhelming bipartisan support called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

As more guidance is released by the Administration on how these new programs will be implemented, updates will be provided.

The PPP loans are based on the average monthly payroll expenses of a business, multiplied by 2.5 and capped at $10 million. They are intended to cover expenses for a business during any 8-week period between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. They can be used for payroll costs, rents, mortgage interest and utilities. If a business owner maintains a certain level of payroll expenses and employee numbers during that 8-week period, the loan is 100% forgiven; as employees go below those levels, the forgivable amount is phased out.
In addition to small businesses that meet current SBA requirements, any business with 500 or fewer employees, sole proprietors, independent contractors and “gig economy” workers qualify for the 7(a) PPP loans.

KEY DATES:
Beginning April 3, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for SBA 7(a) PPP loans with an approved SBA lender. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning April 10.

Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses are available here.

The EIDL grants are a new feature of the EIDL program. SBA EIDL loans are available for small businesses that have suffered economic harm during a declared disaster. The COVID 19 crisis has been declared an eligible disaster. The limit on these loans is $2 million. Under the CARES Act, applicants can receive a $10,000 advance on their EIDL loans from lenders, which will be disbursed within three business days of applying. That $10,000 advance would be forgivable. EIDL loans can be used to provide paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to COVID-19, maintaining payroll, meeting increased costs due to supply chain disruptions, rent or mortgage payments, and repaying debt obligations.

Under the CARES Act, an EIDL is available to any small business or business with 500 or fewer employees (or an industry size standard above 500 set by the Administration) that experiences an economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. This includes sole proprietors, independent contractors, tribal businesses and cooperatives.

A business must make a good-faith certification that it is suffering an economic injury due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The SBA has updated its EIDL application page to reflect the new streamlined process for COVID-19 relief.

Access NAR’s EIDL FAQs here.

The City of Chicago recognizes that COVID-19 has put a difficult burden on the business and non-profit community. As a response to this challenge, the City of Chicago has established the $100 million Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund (the Resiliency Fund), which will provide small businesses and non-profits with emergency cash flow during this health crisis. Funds will be provided to eligible businesses as low-interest loans.

The Resiliency Fund is structured to complement the new federal Paycheck Protection Program that the Small Business Administration (SBA) will launch shortly. The City and its partners will seek to provide all Resiliency Fund loan applicants with the best offer available, including from the SBA’s new program. All loan applications will be administered through lending partners, including Accion Serving Illinois and Indiana and the Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF). The Fund continues to build partnerships with additional lenders to help provide loans to small businesses and non-profits all over Chicago.

This was the first piece of legislation passed in mid-March to to provide support to workers and families during the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the legislation is aid for self-employed contractors and small business owners.

If you or your clients are homeowners experiencing financial hardship directly or indirectly related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your mortgage is owned by Freddie Mac, contact your loan servicer (the company listed on your mortgage statement) right away to discuss your options.

Whether you’re facing job loss, reduced income, illness or other issues that impact your ability to make your monthly mortgage payment, Freddie Mac is working to ensure you are protected. Learn more.

During this unprecedented time, the National Association of REALTORS® understands that access to health care options may be top of mind for members. Telemedicine is playing an essential role today as we navigate uncharted territory and the need for virtual healthcare.

NAR is supporting members by funding 2 months of Members TeleHealth as a benefit for those who do not currently have access to telemedicine, with an ongoing significantly-reduced rate available for members thereafter.

Enrollment is limited. Sign-up by April 15th.

Transactional FAQs & Resources


The COVID-19 Addendum to Purchase and Sale Contract can be used as an addendum to an existing contract should delays have occurred as a result of COVID-19. (i) The parties to each deal are not required to use the addendum or alter their contracts; and (ii) if they do use it, they need to negotiate the addendum and consult their own attorneys.

Yes. Real estate brokers are permitted to go to their offices to engage in real estate services. However, members should consult with their managing brokers to ensure compliance with any company policies that may be put in place to keep people safe.

If brokers decide to go to their offices, brokers must, as much as reasonably possible, maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person while at the office.

In addition, the Executive Order requires Essential Businesses to take proactive measures to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements at the office, including where possible:

• Designating with signage, tape, or by other means six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distance;

• Having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers;

• Implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers; and

• Posting online whether an office is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.

However, members should understand that, just because those providing real estate services (and their clients) are permitted to go to their office, does not mean that they are required to do so or should. CAR encourages its members to follow any guidance provided by the CDC, State, medical professionals, and take all prudent and common-sense precautions to limit the risk of unnecessary exposure to, and transmission of, COVID-19.

As of April 1, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has added language pertaining to real estate as an essential service that states:

  • Showings of occupied rental properties are not permitted.
  • Showings of vacant or owner-occupied units are permitted if necessary and scheduled in advance (virtual showings are preferred) but limited to no more than 4 people. 

Please refer to the DCEO Essential Business & Operations FAQ (pdf).

The Executive Order requires all persons participating in a real estate showing to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person, and where possible, have hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available.

CAR, however, strongly recommends that its members and members of the real estate industry avoid face-to-face real estate practices, including showings, as much as practicable until it is safe to do so. Members are strongly encouraged to find alternative ways to engage in showings, such as virtual tours and video conferencing. Members should consult with their sellers and managing brokers to ensure compliance with any company policies that may be put in place to keep people safe.

As of April 1, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has added language pertaining to real estate as an essential service to the official DCEO guidance on Essential Businesses and Operations FAQs stating that open houses are not permitted.

Open houses put brokers, their clients, and the public at risk. You are encouraged to find alternative means to host open houses, such as holding virtual or video open houses, or rescheduling open houses until after the emergency has abated and it is safe to do so.

Please refer to the DCEO Essential Business & Operations FAQ (pdf).

Again, CAR urges all people engaged in real estate serves to take prudent and common-sense precautions to limit the risk of unnecessary exposure to, and transmission of, COVID-19 to brokers, their clients, and the general public. Members should consult with their sellers and managing brokers to ensure compliance with any company policies that may be put in place to keep people safe.

Based on the Governor’s March 20, 2020 press conference, it does not appear that the Illinois State Police or National Guard will be stopping people in an attempt to enforce the Executive Order. However, CAR recommends that Brokers carry with them a copy of their broker’s license or other documentation indicating that they work in the real estate industry in case the individual receives an inquiry.

Importantly, members should not that merely working in the real estate industry does not mean that someone is exempt from the stay-at-home order. The exemption applies only when a person is engaged in “real estate services.” CAR does not condone any attempts by its members or others in the real estate industry to abuse or violate the Executive Order based on the fact that an individual happens to work in the real estate industry.

As of April 1, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has added language pertaining to real estate as an essential service to the official DCEO guidance on Essential Businesses and Operations FAQs stating that showings of occupied rental properties are not permitted. Please refer to the DCEO Essential Business & Operations FAQ (pdf).

CAR urges all people engaged in real estate services to take prudent and common-sense precautions to limit the risk of unnecessary exposure to, and transmission of, COVID-19 to brokers, their clients, and the general public. Members should consult with their sellers and managing brokers to ensure compliance with any company policies that may be put in place to keep people safe.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has authorized notarial acts to be performed remotely via “two-way audio-video communication technology.” Pritzker took action via Executive Order on March 26, 2020. Notarial acts, which are defined in the Illinois Notary Act, may be performed remotely as long as the current disaster proclamation regarding the spread of COVID-19 is in effect. With Pritzker’s action, important documents used in real estate transactions which require notarization can now be executed remotely, allowing the transactions to proceed to closing.

Under the order, the two-way audio-video communication technology used by the parties must allow for contemporaneous interaction between the individual signing the document and the witness by both sight and sound. The notary public must be present in Illinois at the time of the notarization, and every interaction must be video recorded and preserved for at least three years. The person signing the document must take several steps to illustrate to the witness what document is being signed, including showing the witness each document being signed as well as telling the witness what the document is. After the signatory executes the document, they must transmit the document by fax or electronic means to the notary public on the same day the document was signed. The order also states that the Illinois Secretary of State’s office will be publishing future guidance on the use of remote notarizations.

The resources at this link provide property owners with assistance during the COVID-19 crisis.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the switch for many to virtual business, we’ve received quite a few questions about Sentrilock lockboxes. We put together a short FAQ to help clarify confusion about one day codes and who can be given access.

We’ve put together several resources to help you through this rapidly-evolving situation.

Plus, we want to know how you’re helping your clients, virtually – you could even be featured in CR Magazine! Get the details.

Illinois REALTORS®’ Betsy Urbance put together some guidance and information regarding the current pandemic and the impact on real estate brokerage. Click here to access.

We also hosted a town hall with Betsy and association leadership recently. Check out the recording here.

Government & Legislative Resources


The City of Chicago is putting out regular COVID-19 updates. Access the latest here.

City Hall is closed effective March 20, 2020, and will remain closed until further notice. Visit their website for more information and resources.

The State of Illinois is putting out regular COVID-19 updates. Access the latest here.

The Chicago Association of REALTORS® is working on your behalf to ensure your interests are represented at each level of government during the COVID-19 crisis. Things are changing quickly, so we’ve put together a list of resources and answers we currently have. We’ve also noted the questions to which we are still actively seeking answers. Check back to this page regularly for updates!

NAR’s Federal Advocacy team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure the interests of REALTORS® and their clients are protected in any federal action in response to COVID-19. We are also in constant communication with industry partners to ensure there remains a united front defending the real estate industry and minimizing transaction disruptions during these very difficult times.

As the actions out of Washington evolve daily, click here for a list of ongoing NAR Advocacy efforts that will be updated regularly. You can also check out these advocacy-related FAQs.

Licensing & Education


The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has extended renewal dates and continuing education (CE) deadlines until September 30, 2020. If you hold a broker license, you are now required to complete CE prior to the extended renewal date to successfully renew your license.In addition, any pre- or post-license or CE course that was required to be provided in a live classroom setting is now allowed to be provided by technological or on-line methods. The live requirement has been waived through July 31, 2020.Our online and webinar CE options are easy to complete while at home practicing safe social distancing! While the broker renewal deadline has been extended until September 30, 2020, our virtual classes will help you knock out your CE credits during any downtime you may have right now. Register now.Due to the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are unsure if/when we will be able to schedule classroom courses prior to the deadline. Learn more via Illinois REALTORS® and read the official IDFPR press release.

Property Management Resources

IREM has put together a guide for real estate managers to help you through the pandemic. Click here to access.

Association Offices & Services During COVID-19

We are closing our physical offices, but we are here for you! Our team will be working remotely to continue providing you the services you need and expect.

  • You can continue to reach us by phone, chat and email.
  • Sentrilock lockboxes may be ordered online or over the phone and will be delivered to you, as long as UPS remains operating.
  • While classroom classes remain cancelled, we have many virtual options for you to complete your CE and professional development during this unexpected downtime, including both webinar and online courses.
  • We are also working on providing new ways for you to connect and network virtually, so stay tuned!
All events through April 30 will be either canceled or postponed, except for Coffee with Your GADs, which will take place virtually. This includes our annual Sales Awards, which we are working to reschedule, and Illinois REALTORS® annual Capitol Conference in Springfield.

If you have registered for one of our upcoming events, look for an email with further details. All tickets for paid events will be automatically refunded. Please allow 3-5 business days to see the refund on your bank statement.

Questions? Please reach out to our events team.

All in-person classes scheduled through April 30 will take place virtually. All new member orientation courses are cancelled through May 1, and all compliance deadlines have been extended to October 31, 2020. RRES staff will reach out to those of you who have registered for an affected class with an option to transfer into an online option or reschedule for a later classroom date.

Our online CE options are easy to complete while at home practicing safe social distancing! While the broker renewal deadline has been extended until September 30, 2020, our virtual classes will help you knock out your CE credits during any downtime you may have right now. Due to the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are unsure if/when we will be able to schedule classroom courses prior to the deadline. Register here.

CAR to You is available in the meantime to assist you with your education and member needs.
Questions? Our education team is here to assist you.

As of Friday, March 13, any association meetings in excess of 10 or more people must take place virtually, including all committee, workgroup and task force meetings. Meetings of 10 or fewer individuals should only be held in person when absolutely necessary. Staff liaisons will be in touch with instructions for their respective committees, workgroups and task forces.

NAR has also issued guidance regarding the upcoming NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C., which will now take place virtually to ensure the full governance of the organization can continue while designing a true virtual meeting and convention. The virtual experience will include, among other components, committee meetings, key sessions, elections and avenues for local and state association participation. More details will be forthcoming.

At this time, we encourage all members to pay fees, including new member applications, classes, transfers, dues, NIREIN and RPAC, with a credit or debit card. Check and cash payment processing will experience delays.

NAR is dedicated to providing members with the latest information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on the real estate industry. Their new hotline at 1-800-874-6500 will connect you to a Member Support Representative who can assist with your questions and concerns.

Everything MRED subscribers need to know about COVID-19 is available here.