We have been aggressively working with NJ Realtors®(NJR) and the National Association of Realtors®(NAR) on behalf of our members, responding to a flurry of activity aimed at providing economic relief from the COVID-19 virus. We are committed to ensuring that lawmakers continue to take into consideration the real estate industry, including independent contractors and small business owners. Below is a compilation of the letters NAR sent this past week, as well as the work we are doing with NJR to classify real estate services as essential services in emergency declarations. NAR is also working with the Department of Labor to get clarification on the calculation of employer thresholds for paid leave passed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The discussions with lawmakers will continue this week, and we appreciate any feedback you can give us on the impact of COVID-19 on your businesses and communities.
Thank you for your calls and emails; your feedback has been invaluable. We hope you and your family are staying safe.
- Essential Real Estate Services in NJ: Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order 107 on Saturday, March 21, effectively shuttering all non-essential businesses and asking New Jerseyans to stay home. NJR has been in contact with the Governor's office seeking clarification. We will update membership as soon as information is made available.
- Inspections: NJR has recommended to the Governor the following courses of action to reduce the delay and or halting of real estate transactions.
- Fire Inspections: to waive, suspend, or modify CSACMAPFEC inspections and procedures for obtaining a Certificate of Smoke Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Alarm and Portable Fire Extinguisher Compliance (CSACMAPFEC) required under N.J.A.C 5:70-2.3(a).
- Certificates of Occupancy: we are working to suspend or modify the requirements for Certificates of Occupancy, including the suggestion that these inspections be done "virtually"
- Deed recordings and title searches: we are aware that many counties have online databases, however, we are working to determine what can be done in counties that do not yet have these capabilities.
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Congress passed a bill this week that created emergency paid sick leave, as well as paid family leave in the case of school closures, for working families impacted by COVID-19. Click here for impact on real estate industry. NAR is working with industry partners and DOL to understand the calculation of employer thresholds for some of these paid leave benefits.
- Relief for small business/ICs: NAR sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to include support for self-employed professionals and other small business owners as well as a follow-up letter on this issue as Congress considers additional relief packages. NAR also signed a coalition letter that would encourage Congress to provide readily accessible, unsecured credit to employers and self-employed individuals of all sizes to ensure they have the cash to pay their workers, rent, and other costs during this crisis;
- suspend the filing of business returns and the payment of all business taxes to the federal government for the duration of the pandemic; and amend the Tax Code to, among other items, restore the ability of businesses to carryback any net operating losses against previous year tax payments;
- suspend the application of the Section 163(j) limitation on interest expense deductions for tax year 2020 to avoid penalizing businesses for borrowing during this crisis; and
- suspend the Section 461(l) loss limitation on pass-through businesses to allow businesses to full deduct any losses they incur this year.
- Multi-family: NAR joined a coalition letter representing for-profit and non-profit owners, developers and others involved in the provision of affordable rental housing. It asks for direct rental assistance for families who have income loss due to COVID-19, it cautions against blanket eviction moratoriums-feels they should be targeted to situations related to COVID-19 and provide relief for property owners in the form of mortgage or other financial obligation forbearance.
- 1031: NAR sent a letter to Treasury to include deadline relief for 1031 like-kind exchanges 180-day completion deadlines. As you know there will be delays in settlements due to title companies and others closed during the outbreak. Also, they should extend the 45-day period for identifying possible properties as exchange candidates. Relief for this program has been provided in the past during other presidentially declared disasters.
- SECURE Notarization Act: NAR is working with other trade associations and industry partners to support the "Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020" (SECURE Notarization Act). NAR sent this letter to lawmakers in support of the bill. This legislation would continue and expand access to remote online notary (RON). It would permit immediate nationwide use of RON, with minimum standards and provide certainty for the interstate recognition of RON. The SECURE Notarization Act builds on ongoing efforts of lawmakers to promote remote transaction options for consumers.
- Opp Zones: NAR sent a letter to the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service to include deadline relief for the working capital safe harbor for Qualified Opportunity Funds with any forthcoming package of taxpayer relief measures.
- Open House Guidance: NAR has issued guidance on open houses during the COVID-19 outbreak.