Nearly 4,500 REALTORS® listened in to ORRA's first virtual town hall, which is part of the association's initiative to support members through additional online knowledge events. Listeners (and viewers who chose to watch via livestream) heard details about the Small Business Administration's CARES Act and its impact on their business and our community. Local real estate and labor law attorneys, as well as small business experts, were on hand to answer members’ questions and help them navigate through the regulatory requirements and financial documentation outlined in the legislation.
Many of the members' questions had to deal with unemployment insurance for independent contractors, SBA loans, and the financial loss due to restrictions on evictions and mortgage forbearance.
Steve Ball, partner with the law firm of Holland & Knight, reviewed the provisions of the new law which does make unemployment insurance available for individuals who work as independent contractors:
- Independent contractors can self-certify if they could prove they were fully or partially unemployed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, beginning January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
- Independent contractors would not qualify if an individual is eligible to telework with pay, or has paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave.
- Provisions of these benefits are still being worked through state governments and additional details are expected soon.
Larry Stewart, client advisor with Seaside National Bank, discussed the new provisions of the Small Business Administration loan program that would be most helpful to REALTORS®. Larry explained:
- Real estate brokerages that employ 500 or fewer employees are eligible for both the SBA 7(a) “Payroll Protection Program” and the SBA “Economic Injury Disaster Loan” program.
- Under the expanded 7(a) program, eligible businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. can apply for loans covering the period of February 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020.
- Loan amounts are based on the average monthly payroll expenses for the year prior to the loan, and can be used for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities.
In the area of property management, Dustin Stevens, also an attorney with Holland & Knight who specializes in the area of Florida real estate and land use law, was able to explain the specific details of the mortgage forbearance section of the CARES Act and what it means for homeowners.
He was able to differentiate the issues involved with commercial leases and tenants versus the challenges facing residential properties. Mr. Steven did stress that it was important for REALTORS® to learn the specifics of each issue so they could better educate both their property owners and the tenants.