April 02, 2020

Coronavirus Guide for REALTORS® in the Greater Lehigh Valley

This information is current and accurate as of 9:39 a.m. on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

In response to the growing concern regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® and the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy, which the association owns and operates, are taking precautionary steps that include suspending non-essential travel for staff, canceling all association events through April 30, and postponing all classes through and including April 30. These dates will be re-evaluated and extended, as needed. GLVR staff is also now transitioned to working remotely.

The association is providing the following guidance to help REALTORS® -- and consumers -- respond to the coronavirus's impact on the real estate industry. If you scroll down a bit, you will find a few hyperlocal FAQs that may be of particular interest in REALTORS® living and working in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

As information is rapidly changing -- sometimes by the hour -- we ask that you review a more comprehensive coronavirus guide put together by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®. The state's guide tackles Government FAQs, Transaction FAQs, Forms and Extension FAQs, Licensing and Education FAQs, Business FAQs, and Financial FAQs.

  • How does the governor’s Stay at Home order affect real estate?
    On April 1, Governor Wolf issued a Stay at Home order covering all 67 counties. This order instructs residents to not leave their homes unless they are performing one of the activities listed in the order.

    Real estate is classified as a “non-life-sustaining” activity under the governor’s original closure order. Any in-person, physical real estate service offerings are already prohibited under the initial closure order, and are still prohibited under the stay at home order.
  • An owner/seller wants to temporarily suspend the marketing of a property. How do I handle this in the Multiple Listing Service?
    Temporarily Off Market listings are property in which the owner/seller has requested the Participant to temporarily suspend the marketing of the property, and not set appointments for showings while the listing contract between the Participant and the owner/seller remains in effect.

    Please note the following for Temporarily Off Market listings:
    • When a listing’s status is reported as Temporarily Off Market, the showing appointment prohibition is deemed to apply to all GLVR Participants and Subscribers, including those affiliated with the listing broker. During the specified period the status of a property is Temporarily Off Market, if the Participant receives agreement of sale (whether solicited or not), it must be presented to the owner/seller in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. 
    • There is no specific time frame that this status is limited to. Just be aware that a property could expire if the expiration date is not extended while in Temporarily Off Market status.

    Any questions about Temporarily Off Market status can be directed to MLSSupport@GLVR.org.
  • How can I better utilize the MLS for remote viewing of a property?
    Utilize the 50 pictures per listing feature. You have the ability to upload up to 50 images per listing, if you so choose. Ask your clients to take additional photos and send them to you via Dropbox or a similar online platform that allows sharing of many and/or large files.
    Beef Up the Agent Only Remarks. There is nothing in the MLS Rules and Regulations that precludes you from adding virtual tour links or website addresses in the Agent Only Remarks field. Feel free to add any links that help someone view a property.
  • What is the status of home inspections in the Lehigh Valley?
    The city of Bethlehem has suspended all home inspections until further notice. Mayor Robert Donchez is limiting inspector interactions with individuals and is only allowing inspections of vacant properties. For more information, Bethlehem has created a page dedicated to the coronavirus and its effects on the city and its services.

    As we hear from other municipalities throughout the area, this section will be updated. Please check back for more information.
  • Tax day is now July 15. What do I need to know?
    City of Allentown:

    The City of Allentown is extending some pending tax filing and discounted payment due dates.

    During the city’s Disaster Emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with the Federal Government’s decision to delay the filing deadline for 2019 income taxes until July 15, 2020, the city will delay the filing due date for 2019 Business Privilege Tax until July 15, 2020. The city will not apply any interest or penalty to any 2019 Business Privilege Taxes paid or postmarked on or before July 15, 2020.

    The normal due date for BPT filing is April 15.   

    In addition, in order to provide financial relief to property owners during this uncertain time, the city will extend the discount period for early payment of 2020 City Real Estate Taxes until May 5, 2020.  All 2020 City Real Estate Tax paid or postmarked on or before May 5, 2020, is eligible for a 2% discount on the tax portion only of their 2020 City Real Estate Tax bill.

    City Real Estate Discount is normally granted to payments postmarked or received by April 5.

    City Council is expected to vote to ratify the deadline and discount period extensions at its April 1 meeting.

    City of Bethlehem:

    Mayor Bob Donchez announced the City is extending the deadline for paying the Earned Income Tax and Business Privilege Tax to July 15, 2020 because of the hardship caused to many residents by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    2020 City of Bethlehem's Real Estate taxes paid or postmarked before May 11, 2020 will be eligible for the 2% discount. In addition, the due date for full payment of the City Real Estate Tax will be extended from May 29, 2020 to August 10, 2020.

    City of Easton:

    According to The Morning Call, as part of Mayor Sal Panto Jr.'s emergency declaration, City Council authorized Panto to extend the deadline for paperwork and payment of earned income tax until July 15 and to extend the deadline to pay the business privilege tax and city real estate tax without penalty until August 1.
  • GLVR Staff – Can we help members remotely?
    You bet we can! GLVR staff is working remotely and available to assist you during regular business hours. Here's what each staff member can assist you with (please note that if you reach out to the wrong staff member, be assured your message will be forwarded to the person who can best help you):
    • Billing – Mia Mecleary, Chief Operating Officer, Mia@GLVR.org
    • Education and Professional Standards – Allyson Lysaght, J.D., Director of Professional Development, Allyson@GLVR.org
    • Government Affairs and RPAC – Matthew Marks, Government Affairs Director, Matthew@GLVR.org
    • Communications, Media Relations and Website – Mallory Siegfried, Communications Director, Mallory@GLVR.org
    • Membership – Cheryl Graham, Membership Administrator, Cheryl@GLVR.org
    • MLS, IDX and Listing Syndication – Michael Naratil, MLS Director, Michael@GLVR.org
    • Supra – Gina Saraceni, Office Administrator, Gina@GLVR.org
    • Graphic Design – Melissa Arranz, Creative Director, Melissa@GLVR.org
    • Sales, Advertising and Sponsorships – Tammy Lerner, Sales Director, Tammy@GLVR.org
    • All of the Above - Justin Porembo, Chief Executive Officer, Justin@GLVR.org. Justin's door (email, at the moment) is always open if you need to talk about something that goes above and beyond what is listed here.
  • How do I get tested for coronavirus in the Lehigh Valley?
    St. Luke's University Health Network
    • If you feel sick, contact your health provider and he/she will inform you of next steps. St. Luke's is reserving COVID-19 tests for people who exhibit symptoms to conserve resources.
    • Call your St. Lukeʼs Physician Group practice.
    • Download the St. Lukeʼs App and utilize the video visit feature to connect with a doctor.
    • Call the St. Lukeʼs Coronavirus hotline at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537), option 7 or email St. Luke's at coronavirus@sluhn.org.

    The 24/7 hotline is staffed by St. Lukeʼs nurses who can provide information and guidance based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The hotline is not a substitute for the advice of a physician or, when necessary, medical attention.

    Lehigh Valley Health Network

    If you think you have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone who does, stay home. LVHN is providing free COVID-19 screenings online and by phone. You must be in the state of Pennsylvania to receive screening due to medical licensing regulations:
    LVHN wants to screen you via these technologies so that you remain in your own home and only need to leave if testing is needed. This screening helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 and it helps keep your doctor's office open and available to provide other important care.

    During the screening, if LVHN's medical professionals determine you have COVID-19 symptoms, you will be directed to one of LVHN’s stand-alone COVID-19 Assess and Test locations. You will qualify for a test ONLY if you have symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath). The test detects active disease and cannot determine if you have been exposed. It is important to note that tests are reserved for those who need them most.