COVID-19 & REAL ESTATE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This information is for discussion purposes only, and does not constitute or replace legal advice.

Frequently asked questions for Real Estate Professionals

Are you open?


Yes! We have maintained our regular business hours and are making every effort to remain open in accordance with guidance of local authorities.




Is Alberta Land Titles open?


Land Titles Offices in Calgary and Edmonton have closed in-person counter services. Land Titles business in all other respects, including SPIN2, continues to operate as usual. Alberta Land Titles have assured lawyers that they will do everything possible to maintain an acceptable level of service.




Should my clients amend their current contracts to protect them from costs or legal implications due a delay related to COVID-19?


The AREA Purchase Contract calls for all parties to act in good faith. Clients, lawyers and real estate professionals are working together to seek suitable solutions for clients on existing contracts due to COVID-19 delays on a case by case basis.

The following term can be inserted in section 9.2 of the AERA Purchase Contract or as an amendment to current accepted contracts:

  1. The Buyer and Seller agree and acknowledge that in the event that the Buyer or Seller in this Agreement becomes the subject of a mandatory COVID-19 virus quarantine at the time of Completion herein that results in that parties’ inability to complete the transaction as scheduled, the closing shall be automatically extended at the request of the affected party for a period no longer than twenty-one (21) calendar days, unless the parties otherwise mutually agree to extend the Completion Date further. If extension in this clause is invoked, the Buyer and Seller shall continue to act in good faith and use their reasonable best efforts to ensure the completion of the transaction occurs on as timely a basis as possible, and will not use this as a means to delay closing in anticipation of any such quarantine or closures, or for reasons unrelated to COVID-19. Notwithstanding the foregoing, time shall remain of the essence for any extended closing date as a result of this clause.
  2. The Buyer and Seller agree that in the event that the Buyer or Sellers’ respective solicitors, lenders and banks, or the Land Registry Office becomes the subject of a mandatory COVID-19 virus closure at the time of Completion hereunder that results in the affected parties’ inability to complete the transaction as scheduled, the Completion Date shall be automatically extended at the request of the affected party for an expected closing date not more than ten (10) business days after the reopening of the last of these to open of these institutions. Notwithstanding the foregoing, time shall remain of the essence for any extended closing date as a result of this clause.

IMPORTANT: Use EXTREME CAUTION when including terms, or amendments, that may weigh heavily in favour of either the vendor or the purchaser unilaterally. Our office ALWAYS welcomes questions related to the drafting of terms.




What if there is a “lock down” or further restrictions on business deemed essential before or during a client’s possession?


This is new territory for all of us. However, “Lawyers" and "Businesses that support the legal system” is one of the categories deemed essential in Alberta under current regulation, and in Ontario during the “lock down” starting at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday (March 24). Should Alberta implement further restrictions on essential services, it is likely they would adopt a comparable list of essential services in the event of a “lock down” similar to that occurring in Ontario. If this is the case, our office will continue to serve the public. We will continue to comply with the requests of local authorities to keep our clients, team and their families safe. We are monitoring the situation daily, and working closely with real estate agents, lenders and other lawyers to create solutions for all parties.




Can my clients change their possession date?


Many clients have expressed the desire to move the possession date forward. In order to change the possession date both the buyer and seller need to agree. HOWEVER, where a mortgage is involved, an amendment to a possession date may result in an amendment to mortgage documents. Lenders are operating on delayed schedules currently and in some cases with limited staff. Additional time may be required to get new documents from the lender to the lawyer, have documents signed by clients and request for funds submitted. An amendment to possession could inadvertently put a buyer in a position to close late. Please discuss with the lawyer before making an amendment to a possession date.




Can clients sign documents remotly via video conference?


In cases where physical personal attendance is not feasible, the Government of Alberta is temporarily permitting land titles documents to be witnessed remotely via two way video conference. Due to the strict requirements, and potential costs to the client, executing documents via video conferencing has be limited exclusively to clients for who cannot attend the office. It is important to note the following requirements for the execution of documents via video conference:

  • The video conference must be recorded, and occur via a secure app or platform.
  • Immediately following signing, the client must send a PDF version or photograph of the signed documents to the lawyer.
  • Many lenders DO NOT allow for document execution via video conference. Lenders that are agreeable require the buyer to pay for a lenders title insurance policy.
  • Originally executed documents must be acquired by the lawyer for submission to Land Titles.
Further information on how we are protecting our clients and team when signing documents is available HERE.




Is there a waiver clients can sign before showing their property?


Although some clients and agents have elected to postpone listing, or viewing properties, at this time there are still clients looking for their next home. The greatest concern is among people who have sold their house, and still need to buy a new one, or vice versa. The last thing anyone wants is to end up between houses during a crisis when people are urged to stay at home. Every effort should be made to reduce the number of in-person showings required by ensuring the showing realtor has initially assessed the buyers interest through virtual options and limited showings to situations where they are absolutely necessary. Tenant-occupied properties pose particular challenges. Though tenants and landlords have respective rights, particular attention must be paid to the tenant’s health and safety. Showings should only occur with the tenant’s consent. Please take great care to discuss with your seller the importance of considering the health and safety of tenants. As as layer of protection for you and your brokerage, you may utilize the attached Waiver of Liability. You can access the Sellers Waiver here: PDF or FILLABLE PDF. IMPORTANT: The attached wavier may not be suitable for all situations. Our office ALWAYS welcomes questions related to utilizing waivers. Real Estate Council Alberta (RECA) has provided industry specific information on COVID-19 for your reference. *The information provided does not constitute or replace legal advice.




Is there a waiver clients can sign before viewing a property?


Although some clients and agents have elected to postpone listing or viewing properties at this time, there are still clients looking for their next home. The greatest concern is among people who have bought a house and still need to sell their old one, or vice versa. The last thing anyone wants is to end up between houses during a crisis when people are urged to stay at home. When working with buyers every effort should be made to reduce the number of in-person showings by initially assessing a buyers interest through virtual options, limiting showings to situations where they are absolutely necessary. As as layer of protection for you and your brokerage, you may utilize the attached waiver. The wavier will need to be signed specific to each property viewed. You can access the Buyers Waiver here: PDF or FILLABLE PDF. IMPORTANT: The attached wavier must be used in conjunction with adherence to government regulations and may not be suitable for all situations. Our office ALWAYS welcomes questions related to utilizing waivers. It is vital for you to strictly adhere to Government guidelines regarding social distancing protocol when showing properties. Considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Practice Physical distancing throughout the showing.
  • Have clients drive themselves the the property.
  • Limit the number of people attending the property to only key decision makers.
  • Ensure you and your clients practice respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene.
  • Wear and provide gloves
  • Refrain from unnecessarily touching items within the home
  • Request that the seller leaves lights on and all interior doors and blings open.
  • Monitor clients for COVID-19 symptoms: such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat.
  • Following the showing make best efforts to wipe down the anything you touched such as the door knob, key and key box.
Additionally, Real Estate Council Alberta (RECA) has provided industry specific information on COVID-19 for your reference. *The information provided does not constitute or replace legal advice.





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