For UK, I see news that may help people there. Is there any guidelines of USA.

I know a few people in Maryland, Virginia who have closing coming in First week of April, should they close, what about moving to new home?


2 Answers 2


The National Association of Realtors has published guidance for its members at https://www.nar.realtor/coronavirus. That's probably the nearest you'll get to a set of national guidelines. The rules and regulation for real estate transactions vary from state to state


Please refer to my answer in the question you referenced for some background on my personal choice. Now on to your questions:

The first is should they close? My first question would be how much earnest money do they stand to lose? I would assume this is somewhere between $500 and $5,000 depending on whether its based on a flat rate of $500-$1,500 or 1% of the value of the house (i'm assuming $500k).

My second question would be how much do they love the house in question? If we're talking dream home that would be a perfect fit for their family, everything they ever wanted, OMG! its the only one in a 10 mile radius with window seats!, then emotional factors might very well override any logical reasoning we try to carry out here.

My third question would be where do they live now? Do they have the flexibility to either stay in the home they currently own, or extend their lease?

My fourth question would be how secure are they in their source of income as we enter a period when layoffs and unemployment are likely to increase across all industries and skill levels?

Depending on the answers to the above, I would suggest they have a few options:

  1. Ask the seller to delay the closing until they're able to actually move into the home. This is far from standard real-estate contract language, but nothing is standard right now. You could enter a deal in principle with a firm close date/period of the two weeks following the relevant states lifting current shutdown/lockdown/closure of non-essential businesses

  2. Try to renegotiate price to reflect the added risk of the current time and foreseeable future. In the question I linked to you'd see i indicated that this might be a futile exercise both in terms of pricing any asset accurately in this environment, and in terms of getting anywhere with a seller that might think you're trying to take advantage of them in a difficult time (you aren't, just managing your own financial risk)

  3. Pull out of the deal completely and wait until you have a clearer view of the impact of this virus to the real estate market, your health, finances and future. Per the linked question above, this is my personal choice. However, I don't have all the details, and this might not be a fit depending on their unique circumstances.

  4. A softer take on option 2 above would be to go for complete transparency and express your concerns to the seller to see if there's a middle ground that satisfies both parties. I don't think there should be any shame in re-opening discussions in this environment. It is happening in every industry and country you can imagine.

Your second question was should they move to the new home? I would argue that the question should be "Can they move?". Looking at this Axios article from a few days ago, it appears that COVID-19 peak is expected in MD/VA sometime in early May. Maybe its the skeptic in me, or the fact that every timeline we've all been given so far has been wrong, but I'd bet that its later. Now, given that states have shutdown as we rose to the peak, its reasonable to expect that will remain the same as we descend from it...at least to prevent a quick second wave. This means the peak is just the beginning of when we can start to hope things get back to normal.

So if MD & VA are effectively out of business for all of April, most of May, and potentially part of June one would be unable to move until the latter half of May or early June (at the earliest). This has obvious implications for your first question and should provide one framework within which you can make a decision. If you close and can't move in for a month or two, how much does that cost, and how does that compare to your earnest money + whatever other costs are already sunk into the prospective purchase (e.g. home inspection costs etc)

I know i've probably left you with more questions than answers. The goal here is to guide you to a decision making framework as there isn't one answer for everyone. I hope this helps.

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