The Florida housing market defied all odds this past year, high unemployment, an economic recession, political and social unrest, and a global pandemic, to name a few. Although we are not here to speculate the uncertainty that 2021 may bring, we can certainly learn from 2020. Hindsight, after all, is 2020.
-The Virtual Closing Process. Virtual showings and online platforms allow prospective buyers to view their future home without ever leaving their home. The virtual experience online doesn’t start and stop there! The use of technological advancements became widespread in residential real estate from the initial showing to closing. To minimize contact and maintain social distancing, Sellers and Buyers no longer sit together at the closing table and exchange handshakes for keys. In fact, all parties encouraged to electronically sign closing documents. A typical in-person closing has shifted to an expedited point and sign experience. Don’t worry, masks on, disposable blue pens, and hand sanitizer are all nearby!
-Meet your new friend, RON. Now, real estate transactions can be conducted virtually with the rise of remote online notarization (“RON”). Although quite technical in nature, 2020 promulgated the real estate industry to explore RON for notarizing documents. Some RON Requirements include a desktop/laptop with working camera, microphone and speakers, compatible browser, a smart phone and strong reliable internet connection, to name a few! With that said, financial institutions are quickly catching on to this trend and allowing some closing documents to be signed electronically. Reach out to your closer or real estate attorney at Berlin Patten Ebling to learn more about RON and the RON requirements.
-Wire Fraud on the Rise. Of course, with rise of electronic exchange of documents and shift to virtual real estate transactions, wire fraud is on the rise. In 2021, additional security precautions must be in place to combat online hackers. At Berlin Patten Ebling, we’ve transitioned to an online secured portal to handle our transactions and the exchange of information. This portal allows clients to send sensitive information securely, access closing documents, and communicate with the attorney and closer directly, all in one secured place, say goodbye hackers in 2021!
-Force Majeure, Defined. Ask any of our real estate attorneys, the force majeure provision was a “fan favorite” in 2020! The standard force majeure provisions relates directly natural disasters, acts of God, unusual transportation delays, wars, insurrections and acts of terrorism. Unless explicitly addressed in very clear and concise language, the standard force majeure does not provide protection related to a global pandemic. With that said, a careful contract review of a force majeure clause by one of our real estate attorneys is needed for a complete and accurate legal determination.
2020 Trends: Without doubt, this past year certainly changed Florida real estate. The global pandemic forced a government shutdown and stay at home orders. Due to this, the need and ability to work from home become widespread which triggered suburban migration. With extra time at home, individuals evaluated their needs and considered downsizing or upgrading the traditional single-family home. High demand, coupled with low interest rates created a perfect “boom” in the residential real estate industry. With the influx in demand and lack of inventory, 2020 truly became a Seller’s market in Florida residential real estate. Ask any Buyer! Other real estate sectors, such as office and retail declined, while the need for industrial, warehouse and distribution facilities increased. One thing is certain: the shift to virtual real estate transactions is only going to gain momentum in 2021. With this year coming to a close, it’s certainly easy to see, that hindsight is truly, 2020.
Gabriella Perez, Esq.,email@example.com
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
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