COVID-19 and your real estate transactions: What you need to know

April 6, 2020 - 2:45 PM

The OACIQ continues to increase its efforts to limit the impact of the pandemic as much as possible and to keep you informed. To this end, here is a summary of the measures we have put in place to date, as well as answers to questions you may have regarding your real estate transactions.

This page is updated regularly.

Is the OACIQ open for business?

Although our offices are closed and no visitors are allowed, rest assured that the Organization is taking every necessary step to continue operating as normally as possible. Therefore:

  • The agents of the Info OACIQ Information Centre, as well as all other OACIQ departments, are operating as usual.
  • The website, which contains a wealth of information, remains accessible and up to date.

What is the OACIQ doing?

  • As the authority of real estate brokerage, the OACIQ has advised real estate brokers and agency executive officers of their responsibility to use their good judgment as citizens and to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances, while complying with the  Public Health guidelines.
  • In its role as regulator, the OACIQ is in constant communication with real estate brokers to make sure the instructions given to them as part of their brokerage activities are being respected.  The Organization has provided – and will continue to provide – various tools and information to guide brokers in their decision making, all with the sole purpose of protecting your interests.
  • In order to follow up on transactions in progress, the OACIQ asked the Ministère des Finances to consider real estate brokerage services as essential. Developments are therefore to come in this regard.
  • Consumers will be kept informed of any developments on an ongoing basis, via this FAQ and our Info OACIQ information agents.

Are real estate or mortgage transactions suspended?

As you know, the provincial government announced the closure of all companies and businesses, other than those providing priority services and activities. In this context, real estate and mortgage brokers can no longer be in physical contact with their clients, colleagues and collaborators. However, they must continue to follow up on their contracts and promises to purchase in progress (if any), using the technological means available to them (electronic signatures, virtual visits, videoconference, etc.). 

Therefore, insofar as the services rendered or professional acts performed do not bring individuals into physical contact, certain professional activities can be maintained. 

In addition, we are in constant communication with license holders to inform them of the evolution of the measures to be adopted. We invite you to discuss with your broker the impact of COVID-19 on your current or future contracts or transactions in order to make the appropriate decisions in the context. In addition, you can contact our information centre Info OACIQ, whose activities are maintained.

Do you have a transaction in progress or are you planning one?

  • The Seller’s Guide and the Buyer’s Guide are at your disposal.
  • Your broker can no longer be in physical contact with you. However, he or she could continue to follow up on brokerage contracts and promises to purchase in progress by using technology or by making sure not to come into direct physical contact with you. This should include:
    • encouraging the use of conference calls;
    • suggesting the use of technological tools such as electronic signatures where documents need to be signed; or
    • suggesting that you extend deadlines for such things as fulfilling the conditions of a Promise to purchase, obtaining documents, securing financing, signing the deed of sale, or setting an occupancy date.

You would like to put your property up for sale with a real estate broker despite the context of COVID-19. How to proceed?

The OACIQ closely supervises the activities of real estate and mortgage brokers by informing them and providing them with tools on a daily basis, so that they can act while complying with public health instructions. If you wish to go ahead with the sale of your property, this is still possible in the context of COVID-19. However, note that this sale will be subject to exceptional constraints, based on government instructions. In particular, there will be no physical visit to premises; verification of identity and property documents will be done through the use of technological tools. The OACIQ advises you to take the time to discuss the procedure with your broker.

You sold your property and must relocate. What should your broker do in this situation?

We fully understand the current issue of several families who sold their property and must relocate. Your broker must continue following up on brokerage contracts and transactions in progress by adapting his or her practice. Several real estate brokerage acts can be performed remotely and securely. Everything must be done by using technology or by making sure not to come into direct physical contact or by not putting people in contact with each other.

Your offer to purchase a property has been accepted. However, you lost your job due to the COVID-19 crisis and the bank is now refusing to grant you financing: what should you do?

Most mortgage undertakings remain conditional on the borrower's (buyer’s) financial position remaining unchanged.

The seller may ask you to take steps with another designated mortgage lender within a certain time period. The parties, the seller and the buyer, may also agree between them to change the terms of the Promise to purchase (e.g. extend deadlines or terminate the Promise to purchase).

You are a seller and the buyer has lost financing due to the COVID-19 crisis, what should you do?

We invite you to discuss the situation with your real estate broker who can advise you on all the options and refer you to the relevant resources if necessary, taking into account the specific nature of the transaction.

Among the options, the broker may suggest that you ask the buyer to take steps with another designated mortgage lender within a certain time period.  The parties, the seller and the buyer, may also agree between them to change the terms of the Promise to purchase (e.g. extend deadlines or terminate the Promise to purchase).

You have a confirmed appointment with the notary to sign the deed of sale in a region where access is now controlled. What should you do?

Since April 1, notaries can sign notarized acts remotely. In the context of the current pandemic, where interregional travel is limited, this is the preferred solution. Contact your notary to find out if he offers this possibility and to learn about the conditions.

A transaction has been notarized and you are scheduled to move into your new home in the coming days in a region where access is now controlled. What should you do?

According to the Frequently Asked Questions of the Government of Quebec, it is possible to access a closed area, if it is to access your new main residence, because this is an essential service. If the move is being handled by a moving company, get written proof from the company stating its contact information, the date of the move and the destination address. You will be able to present these supporting documents to the police. However, note that under no circumstances will a person with symptoms be able to cross the barrier.

Is an inspection or visit planned?

  • Visits: Following the instructions of the provincial government issued on March 23, visits are no longer possible. Therefore, your broker should not offer you to conduct a visit until at least May 4 (date set by the government).
  • Inspection: Since conducting an inspection has the effect of bringing people together, your broker should offer to postpone it to a later date. To do this, he or she will use the Amendments form and will have to suggest that you sign it electronically.

Are you 70 or over or do you have symptoms?

Your broker will not be able to meet with you in person. If you have a brokerage contract in progress:

  • your broker will put in writing any agreement amending the conditions of the brokerage contract (e.g. non-availability for visits or temporarily taking the property off the market);
  • your broker will recommend the use of technological tools for the presentation of a Promise to purchase and the use of electronic signatures if there are documents to sign.

You no longer wish to sell or buy?

  • Your broker will inform you about the options available to you.
  • If an offer has already been accepted:
    • Since the parties are bound by the terms of the Promise to purchase, they must respect their obligations.
    • Brokers must therefore adequately inform the parties of the consequences of no longer wanting to respect such a commitment.
    • The parties may however agree among themselves to extend the time limits provided in the various forms. This will be recorded in writing in an Amendments form. The broker will favour an electronic version.

Since the situation continues to evolve rapidly, we encourage you to stay tuned for future communications or to contact the Info OACIQ Information Centre with any questions.

Last updated on: April 06, 2020
Article number: 207697