This week, the Shelter Island real estate market continued to revolve around rentals for portions of May, June and July. In a continuation of what has been experienced over the past month and a half, when asked preference of move in and move out dates and any special requests, customers generally reply with very basic criteria. Following an exhaustive search to find homes that best fit the criteria, customers invariably toss a negotiating item into the mix at the 11th hour. Other times, a customer presents nearly impossible criteria and just when it appears perfect properties have been found and will be met with “draw up a lease”, the customer asks, “what else have you got?”
For the last five weeks or so I have remained at home tethered to a computer and on countless conversations, leaving my house to do external property inspections or basic videos inside a vacant house, and have only left the island three times within the same time frame to pick up items from outside our Bridgehampton office. Many customers, owners and real estate brokers seem unaware that the business of real estate has temporarily changed as we navigate through these uncharted waters under a stay-at-home directive from New York State.
This week, the NYS Association of Realtors announced the “COVID-19 Disclosure Form” for Realtor members “to utilize when a seller permits an individual access to the property or when a buyer is going to access the seller’s property. In the event the seller and/or buyer is exposed to COVID-19 as a result of permitting or gaining access to the property, the form acts a disclosure notice outlining the risks and having the party acknowledge that they are assuming such risk through their actions. If a licensee and/or broker were named in a lawsuit alleging exposure to COVID-19 by the seller and/or buyer (or a member of their household), the form could be used to show the seller and/or buyer were aware of the risks and assumed the risk of permitting access or gaining access to the property. The form may be used for the duration of any COVID-19 related risks beyond the current State of Emergency.” As a caveat, it is noted in capital letters that: “currently in-person showings are prohibited under the executive order. Use of the form does not permit a licensee to perform in-person showings.”
For leases being drawn up during the pandemic, there are now “Force Majure” clauses, enabling cancellation of a lease in the event of acts of God, armed war, diagnosis of disease that prevents the Tenant from moving in or out of the rental, terrorism, governmental intervention, or curtailment of transportation to the rental area. In addition, there are also holdover clauses, with per diem fees handwritten in by the Landlord in the event the Tenant does not move out on the agreed upon date.
Throughout the day, people ask “what is happening in real estate?” Clients and customers rely upon me for accurate insight to the trends, a responsibility I am honored to have. I try to make each day a good day through small successes, whether in communicating a complicated process to a customer or client or by formulating a productive idea. I recharge my spirit by taking a stroll in my yard with my dogs, observing how the beauty of nature in springtime is unfolding before my eyes through tulips blooming, peonies poking through the soil, and birds nesting in unexpected places.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.” ~ Henry Stanley Haskins