March 2020

GSMAR Newsletter #15


COVID 19 is on everyone’s mind. It’s on every news outlet and social media platform. Whether it is mentioned in jest or in a serious discussion, almost everyone is concerned. Here at GSMAR we have closed the doors of the association to visitors until April 2nd, 2020. Then the Board will decide whether or not to continue the closure or to reopen. The staff is working normal hours for right now, and you can call us at 865-453-1248 or FAX us at 865-453-9456. When it comes to turning in paperwork, please email it to us or USPS mail it to 1109 Glennhill Ln. Sevierville, TN 37862. Payments can be made by check mailed to the same address, or our Invoices have a payment link you can use to pay online. We also take credit cards over the phone. We know that this will be difficult for all our businesses until it is resolved.

NAR’s Clear Cooperation Policy

NAR’s Clear Cooperation Policy states “Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public.”

GSMAR Board will finalize the above policy the week of March 16 with implementation at that time as well. NAR says that the policy must be in effect by May 1. GSMAR will begin fines at that time if agents are not in compliance. As soon as the Board approves the MLS recommendation, we will be back in touch with all of you to guide you through the 6-week education phase. Staff will also be available for on-site training at your offices for clarification. As always, questions and/or concerns may be addressed at the Association by telephoning 865-453-1248.

All Calendar of Events are canceled/postponed until April 2nd which includes the membership breakfast on the 2nd. We will do our best to reschedule the classes and orientation for another time but that depends on the instructors’ availability. If you have any questions, please call the office.

April 8th- Paragon Training 9a-11a

April 10th- Office Closed for Good Friday.

We want to say congratulations to the Clabo’s at A-Pro for February Affiliate of the Month. Their tireless devotion to GSMAR and our members is very much appreciated.

When we talk about REALTOR® Safety normally we are talking about predators and identity theft. However, in this new section of the Newsletter we are discussing a smaller adversary. Below is a news release from NAR talking about how you can stay safe and still be in compliance with all Fair Housing Issues.

Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS®

Why is NAR issuing this guidance?

In response to the growing concerns about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, NAR is providing this guidance to help REALTORS® respond to the coronavirus's potential impact on the real estate industry. As of March 4, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Level 3 Travel Warnings for all of China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, and a Level 2 Travel Warning for Japan. However, the situation is rapidly evolving. Be sure to refer to the CDC’s website for up-to-date information about travel warnings, as well as information about the coronavirus’ current impact in the United States. Daily updates about the coronavirus are also available from the World Health Organization.

What is Coronavirus?

The CDC is responding to an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus outbreak. While the outbreak started in Wuhan, China, a growing number of cases have been identified in several other countries, including the United States.

What is the risk of exposure to coronavirus?

The CDC reports that most people in the United States do not have an immediate risk of exposure to the virus. However, the situation is rapidly evolving, and the CDC will update its risk assessment as needed. Visit the CDC’s website for latest updates.

What preventative measures may be taken to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus?

The same preventative measures recommended to prevent influenza are also effective in reducing the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus. These measures include:

  • Staying home if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or any other cold or flu-like symptom.

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick.

  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.

What unique issues does coronavirus present to the real estate industry?

When an infectious disease, such as coronavirus, is associated with a specific population or nationality, fear and anxiety may lead to social stigma and potential discrimination. REALTORS® must be mindful of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and be sure not to discriminate against any particular segment of the population. While the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, that does not provide a basis for treating Chinese persons or persons of Asian descent differently.

May I ask clients or others I interact with in my real estate business if they have traveled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness?

Yes, you may ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. To avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to ask all clients the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities.

I typically drive my clients to showings. May I refuse to drive potential clients to see homes?

Yes. However, be sure that any change to your business practices is applied equally to all clients. You may refuse to drive clients who show signs of illness or reveal recent travel to areas of increased risk of coronavirus, or you may instead decide to stop driving clients in your car altogether, and simply arrange to meet clients at a property. If you do continue to drive clients in your car, it is a good idea to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces like door handles and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car.

Should I still conduct open houses on my listed properties?

Speak openly and honestly with your seller about the pros and cons of holding an open house. Assess the risk based on your specific location, and direct your clients to local and state health authorities for specific information about the severity of the risk in your area. You could also propose alternative marketing opportunities for your seller’s consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property. If you do hold an open house, consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable towels in bathrooms. If you decide to do any cleaning at your client’s home, be sure to check with your client in advance about any products you plan to use. After the open house, recommend that your client clean and disinfect their home, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles.

What precautions should brokers consider taking in their offices?

Brokers should use their best judgment when formulating a plan. First, brokers should implement a mandatory “stay-home” policy for any staff member or agent exhibiting any sign of illness, and depending on where the broker is geographically located, a broker may want to consider imposing a mandatory remote work policy for employees and instructing agents to stay out of the office. In addition, taking measures such as holding virtual meetings or potentially postponing or cancelling in-person meetings or events may be good measures to take to limit close contact between individuals. Be sure to monitor updates from the CDC, as well as your state and local health authorities for additional information and guidance on holding meetings or events. For travel considerations, review NAR’s “Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTOR® Associations”.

Finally, do not panic, stay informed, and use your best judgment. The situation is rapidly changing, so focus on putting policies and procedures in place to keep your employees informed, safe, and to avoid business disruption in the event the situation worsens.