As you all know, Illinois is under a stay-at-home mandate ordered by Gov. Pritzker that requires all non-essential services to be shut down and all residents to stay home. While this has had a huge impact on all businesses, it is also having an impact on the real estate market.

I will explain the steps our local Realtor Association is taking to try to keep our members and clients safe, and some of the implications we can expect to see as this situation progresses.

Real estate is one of the essential services that is still allowed. Most of the local real estate offices have chosen to close, and allow their realtors to work from home in order to minimize contact and try to keep everyone safe.

Our association has implemented a policy that allows sellers with homes currently on the market to suspend all showings until it is deemed safe in our area. If the home is vacant or the seller chooses to allow showings, the property can continue to be shown. If clients are out looking at properties, we are following social distancing rules, as well as using hand sanitizer, masks and disinfectant wipes where appropriate.

If your house is currently on the market, and you are still allowing showings, I would encourage you to disinfect doorknobs and frequently touched surfaces after any showings.

At this time, we are actively trying to limit showing activity to “essential” showings only. This is not the time to decide to go out and look at houses because you are bored, or have cabin fever. There are still clients who need to move for job changes or life events, so some showings are still necessary, but we are also looking into other options such as virtual home tours or virtual showings, if the current situation continues for a long time. In the meantime, you can look at properties online at Realtor.com and other real estate websites to keep up with what’s new on the market.

We have also starting using an addendum/amendment to our purchase contracts which addresses some of the timing concerns with closings and contingency dates. This form allows for the possibility that inspection dates, mortgage and appraisal contingencies and even closing dates may have to be adjusted based on the pandemic. We all will need to be flexible during this crisis since our environment is changing almost daily.

Lenders, appraisers and title companies are also considered “essential services,” although they are adjusting the way they do business as well. Many lenders are using online applications to apply for mortgages since most bank lobbies are closed. Closings are still taking place although realtors are not attending closings, as they are limiting attendance to signing parties only. When it is possible, closing documents are signed electronically so you don’t have to go to a title company. Prtizker has even recently allowed remote notary signings, so even deeds can be signed and notarized remotely.

We are all trying to adjust to this new reality and how we do business will continue to evolve in this quickly changing situation. Health and safety are our first concern and we are trying to balance that with meeting the needs of our clients. We know many people are working from home, as most of us are, and that presents its own set of challenges!

We all need to be patient and flexible while we adhere to social distancing and stay-at-home mandates. Please keep in mind the struggles of our small business community and try to support them in any way possible. When the crisis has passed, we need to remember they will need our support more than ever to try to make up for the business that was lost during this shutdown.

We are all in this together. This will pass and if we support our local community we can pull together, help each other get through this and come out stronger. Be safe and happy Easter to you all!