Legislative Update: March 24, 2020

Legislative Update: March 24, 2020

Legislative Update: March 24, 2020

Letter: Real Estate an 'Essential Service'

Vice President of Government Affairs

At this point, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has not issued a shelter-in-place order, but other states, including Massachusetts, have required all non-essential businesses to close. Yesterday, NHAR sent a letter to the Governor’s office requesting that if such a declaration is made in New Hampshire that real estate is deemed an essential service.

Many ongoing real estate transactions are linked to one another; a failure for one transaction to close can lead to a cascading effect on other rentals, leases and transfers of real properties. Many individuals could be caught without adequate housing if their existing residence has been sold or leased and their transaction on their new residence fails to close.
With new digital technology currently used in the industry, these transactions can be completed and still follow the CDC guidelines on social distancing and limited gatherings so as to not put New Hampshire residents at risk.
You can read 2020 NHAR President Marc Drapeau’s letter to the Governor here.

Independent contractors eligible for unemployment benefits under certain circumstances

Last week, Governor Sununu expanded employee eligibility for state unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals, who are generally excluded from receiving unemployment benefits.

Keep in mind, an individual is only eligible if he or she meets one of the following criteria:

  • If an individual has a current diagnosis of COVID-19;
  • If an individual is quarantined (including self-imposed quarantine) at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official, to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • If an individual is caring for a family member or dependent who has COVID-19 or is under a quarantine related to COVID-19; or
  • If an individual is caring for a family member or dependent who is unable to care for themselves due to the COVID-19 related closing of their school, child care facility, or other are program.

You may reach the NH Department of Employment Security here.

Governor signs Executive Order allowing for remote notarizations

Yesterday, Governor Sununu signed an Executive Order granting temporary authority to perform secure remote online notarizations.

The notarial officer must be able to communicate simultaneously by both sight and sound through an electronic device a time of notarization. The notarial officer must follow specific requirements to reasonably identify the person and they must keep an audio or visual recording of the notarization. The property must be in New Hampshire, or the transaction must be substantially connected to New Hampshire.

You can read the full Executive Order here.

Federal government takes action on appraisals

Yesterday, FHFA directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to allow the use of appraisal alternatives to reduce the need for appraisers to conduct interior property inspections for eligible mortgages through May 17, 2020.

Fannie Mae has issued temporary guidance on appraisal requirements, including allowing desktop and exterior-only appraisals on many mortgage transactions. This guidance includes links to modified certifications and instructions for both Desktop Appraisals and Appraisals with Exterior-only Inspections. Full Announcement Available Here.

Similarly, Freddie Mac issued Selling Guidance Related to COVID-19, which contains temporary guidance on appraisal requirements. Under the guidance, lenders will be allowed to use desktop appraisal and exterior only appraisals for purchase transactions through May 17, 2020. More information is available here

Real Estate Commission licensing continues to operate; pre-licensing impacted

The Real Estate Commission (REC) continues to process online and paper applications and renewals without interruptions. And continuing education and core courses are already allowed by regulation to be offered online, as long as instructors notify the Commission of a change from an in-class instruction.
The REC does not have the authority to waive any other regulations regarding in-class requirements for pre-licensing courses.
However, the company which conducts testing for the Commission has announced they have closed their exam centers. Under current law, an exam applicant has three months to take the test. The Real Estate Commission can extend the original exam deadlines for “good cause” by 30 days. Exam applicants who would like to ask for an extension can contact the Real Estate Commission here.

To view all the latest information from NHAR on its dedicated Coronavirus page, click here.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2020 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

"Amidst the sea of change to which the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS has played witness in its 85 years, one thing that has remained constant is the Realtor 'R' and the value we bring to every real estate transaction in which we take part. We are part of a unique community where our familial cooperation transcends our business competition. These are not mere platitudes, but our living ideals, and they are, in fact, the foundation on which we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day affairs."

Joanie McIntire, 2024 President, New Hampshire REALTORS