COVID-19

Governor Baker Rescinds Temporary Order Deferring Smoke and CO Inspections

2:00pm – July 9, 2020

Effective tomorrow – Friday, July 10, 2020, Governor Baker has rescinded the Order Permitting the Temporary Conditional Deferral of Certain Inspections of Residential Real Estate (the “Order”) which was executed back in March 2020.

The rescission does not invalidate any deferral that was agreed to pursuant to the original Order during the period in which the Order was in effect (March 20, 2020 – through July 9, 2020).

Accordingly, per the original Order – for any transactions for which the purchase and sale agreement has been signed prior to July 10, 2020 or the closing has already occurred, the buyer has ninety (90) days from the closing to obtain the inspection from the local fire department. For those that have already closed under the Order – Buyers must now contact the local fire department and obtain the appropriate certificate. Please provide a copy of same to the seller, your counsel, lender (if any) and lender’s closing counsel.

For those transactions for which the purchase and sale agreement is not executed prior to July 10, 2020, the seller would need to obtain the smoke and CO certificate prior to the closing in accordance with the applicable permanent law and regulations.

For a full copy of the Rescinding Order, click here.

Land Court – Interim Procedure Change

8:00pm – March 26, 2020

The land court has issued a new memo regarding interim procedure for remote approvals by the Land Court Title Examiners – to review the details of this memo – please click HERE.

Emergency approvals must be requested via email – the submitter should retain all original documents. Requests per the memo instructions should be sent to the Chief Title Examiner in accordance with the instructions in the memo. The Land Court is instructing that no mail or delivery service should be used (this is a change from a prior memo).

Executive Order on Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

7:30pm – March 20, 2020

Earlier today Governor Baker executed an Executive Order entitled “Order Permitting The Temporary Conditional Deferral Of Certain Inspections of Residential Real Estate” – to view the order – click HERE

Please note the following relevant points:

a. the order does NOT dispose of the certification requirement – it is a deferral;

b. the inspection deferral may occur under the following conditions: (i) the parties agree in writing to shift the inspection/certificate burden to the buyer; (ii) the buyer agrees as a condition to taking title to equip the property with the smoke & co alarms as required by relevant law; and (iii) any required inspection and certificate must be obtained by the buyer within 90 days of the state of emergency termination (unless the order is revoked earlier).

Practical Notes: Buyer must be aware and willing to undertake this requirement. If Seller has or is able to obtain an inspection/certification – best practice is to do so. This change is new – and as such, certain lenders or mortgage investors may have differing requirements. Check with your applicable bank or lender to ensure a deferral is acceptable for mortgage funding.

Update from MLSPIN

3:30pm March 19, 2020

We received the following update today from MLSPIN:

Virtual Showings Allowed Temporarily in Response to State of Emergency 

“In light of the extraordinary situation that is unfolding around the Covid-19 pandemic and social-distancing measures that have been enacted during the state of emergency, a listing may remain “active” in MLS PIN as long as the property is available for either of the following: (1) physical, on-site viewing of the listed property by potential buyers with a cooperating broker; or (2) virtual showing (which could mean live or pre-recorded video of the listed property), during which the listing broker or agent is available to answer any questions that a cooperating broker may have about the property. You may post a URL for a virtual showing or a virtual open house into the “Special Showing Instructions” field of your listing. If the property is not available in either manner described above, then you should temporarily withdraw your listing until it meets one of these criteria. Normally, a listing may be “active” only if the listed property is available for physical, on-site viewing. The virtual-showing allowance described above is a temporary allowance that we are making in light of the current, unprecedented crisis. We will communicate to you once the situation improves enough to resume the usual policy on showings. In the meantime, on behalf of all of us at MLS PIN, please be safe and well.” 

City of Cambridge Halts Construction

9:25pm March 18, 2020

The City of Cambridge has now joined the City of Boston in stopping regular construction activity. Construction must cease by Saturday March 21, 2020 and this order is in effect until further notice. Cambridge will stop issuing new building permits, trade permits and other construction-related licenses as of 8am on March 19, 2020. For those that are purchasing a property that is under construction in the City of Cambridge – please check with your lawyer and review the terms of your purchase agreement. Timing will likely be impacted by this order.

Massachusetts Smoke & CO Detector Inspections

6:00pm March 18, 2020

A group of real estate law firms have created a working google doc spreadsheet of updates regarding smoke detector inspections from cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Click HERE to access this view only file. Special thanks to everyone that has contributed, including staff and leadership at Ligris., SKM Title & Closing, Ricciardelli & Small, Dalton & Finegold LLP. Special thanks to Touchstone Closing & Escrow that started this effort several days ago. If you have a new update or have information for a city or town which we have not been able to reach – please email us at info@ligris.com

PLEASE NOTE: This information has been obtained vie telephone or other verbal confirmation, although we believe it to be accurate as of the date noted in the spreadsheet – you should not rely on it without first verifying. No representation or warranty of any kind is being made, but rather is being provided as a reference tool for the real estate community. 

Other resources: 

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 148, Section Section 26E (Smoke Detectors)

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 148, Section Section 26F

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 148, Section Section 26F 1/2 (Carbon Monoxide Detectors)

Massachusetts Fire Code 

City of Boston – Schedule an inspection ONLINE

City of Cambridge – ONLINE Fire Prevention Permit Information

City of Worcester – ONLINE Fire Department Information

City of Newton – ONLINE Scheduling and Information

Please note that if a city or town has suspended inspections, you must speak with your lawyer(s), mortgage lender and real estate professional(s) – this can potentially delay a closing and impact your transaction. Consult your lawyer for information. 

Foreclosure Delay at Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

1:30pm March 18, 2020

The Federal Housing Finance Agency which is the regulator that oversees Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac has announced that they will suspend foreclosures and evictions for sixty (60) days. President Trump announced that properties overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would see a similar freeze until the end of April. This is a developing story.

Construction Suspended in City of Boston

4:00pm March 17, 2020

The City of Boston has suspended regular activity at construction sites in the City of Boston. You can read more about it HERE. Workers have until March 23, 2020 to secure sites – after which point only certain essential work can be performed at the site(s). See the official link for more details. For those that are purchasing a property that is under construction in the City of Boston – please check with your lawyer and review the terms of your purchase agreement. Timing will likely be impacted by this order.

GAP Title Insurance Explained

Kosta Ligris discusses title insurance GAP coverage with underwriter Melanie Kido, Esq. (CATIC Title Insurance, VP and Massachusetts State Counsel).

GAP Title insurance may be a resource in helping when a Registry of Deeds recording office is closed during this State of Emergency. It may allow in certain circumstances funds to be disbursed before documents are recorded. Please check with your lawyer and Ligris contact to see if GAP coverage is available for your transaction when a Registry may be closed due to this pandemic and State of Emergency.

Ligris. – New Procedures Regarding Closings

3:00pm March 16, 2020

Effective immediately Ligris & Associates has implemented the following new procedures and restrictions regarding closings. Please note that this are being put in place for the protection of our team, clients, referral partners and community:

a. All closings will be conducted in our Newton Center HQ located at 1188 Centre Street, 2nd Floor, Newton MA (above Citizens Bank). We will not be conducting closings in any other Ligris location or off site location (this restriction includes without limitation brokers offices, registry of deeds, buyer/seller homes or offices and the like);

b. Some transactions may be  subject to completion using a power of attorney – speak with your lawyer and lender (if any) to explore this option;

c. If you are not a required signatory to a transaction – DO NOT come to a closing or our offices. We are restricting access to our offices to individuals that are REQUIRED to be in attendance for signatures and notarization. No exceptions will be permitted. This includes children, friends, real estate agents, etc. – exceptions only for a necessary caregiver. Any others can be dialed in for a conference call if necessary.

d. If you are feeling sick and/or have a temperature – please DO NOT come to a Ligris office.

e. If you have a closing scheduled, please DO NOT come to a Ligris office if you have recently traveled (within 14 days) from a CDC level 2 or 3 warning country ;

f. If you have a closing scheduled, please DO NOT come to a Ligris office if you have been asked to voluntarily isolate or quarantine or are subject to a mandatory isolation / quarantine due to recent potential exposure to COVID19;

g. If you have been in known contact with any third party that would fall under sections d, e, or f above – please DO NOT come to a Ligris office;

h. Real estate agents – please contact the lawyer or paralegal on a pending file to arrange for delivery of any documents, keys or other closing deliverables.

Please call your lawyer, paralegal or the main office to speak with us if you are subject to the restrictions above and are scheduled to attend a closing. 

Real Estate Community Questions

12:20pm March 16, 2020

You have questions…. we may have some answers! We are working to assemble some answers to common questions that we are getting from loan officers, clients and real estate agents. Please tweet your questions to Kosta Ligris – we will make every effort to tweet responses back to you and start an FAQ section on this page with answers and updates as they become available. Email and texts have become precious real estate right now – we would like to engage on social media so that information can be shared with everyone.

Ensuring Business Continuity During the COVID-19 Situation

March 12, 2020

The well-being and safety of our clients, business colleagues, and employees are of utmost importance to us. Along with many other businesses, we have been closely monitoring the evolving circumstances with COVID-19 (the coronavirus) as it continues to impact communities around the globe. On Tuesday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency as a measure to stem the spread of the infection here in the Commonwealth.

We understand that the current environment can create uncertainty regarding how business is conducted. At this time, we want to reassure you that Ligris is committed to operating without any disruptions. Should this matter escalate, our Business Continuity Team is prepared. Ligris’ robust infrastructure and technology platform, which the firm has built and refined over the last decade, enable our team to work remotely and securely without interruption of service. This agility allows us to provide excellent client service, while protecting the health and safety of our entire team, their families, and our communities. Additionally, we are exploring options aimed at decreasing the risk of exposure during in-person real estate closings.

We will continue to follow the recommendations of the state and local authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will keep you updated as the situation evolves.

We hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe, and we thank you for your continued support. If you have questions, please contact us at info@ligris.com.

Best regards,
The Ligris Business Continuity Team