On May 4th, the Georgian National Association of Real Estate held a webinar: Legal Advice for Realtors® – Challenges and Opportunities in Today’s Reality. Our guest was Ruska Khazaradze, Associate at BLC Law Office. During the webinar, Realtors® discussed new challenges they face with the pandemic and what steps should be taken to ensure safe business practices under the new rules and regulations set by national authorities.
Here are some of the topics that were discussed during the webinar:
- Restrictions on the activities of realtors/brokers;
- Restrictions on buying/selling real estate (specifically the work format of the public registry and notaries);
- Legal ways for concluding transactions under existing restrictions;
- Legal ways for signing contracts with foreign citizens.
Considering the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and government restrictions placed on all business areas, the topic of the webinar was very relevant and current.
As Ruska Khazaradze explained, real estate activities are restricted, as are many other business activities. In a nutshell, it means that real estate brokers and agents are limited in their work, and they are only allowed to work remotely. Any violation of this rule will result in a fine. In the case of an individual, the fine will be 3,000 Gel while legal entities will pay 15,000 Gel. It’s very important information for Realtors®, considering that house showings are a major part of their job. What might provide a solution to this problem? Considering the practice of other countries, virtual house tours seem like a proper answer to the needs of the time.
Realtors® were interested in how previous agreements can be upheld in the new reality. As Ruska Khazaradze mentioned, the constitution considers this issue: In a “force majeure” situation such as, for example, a pandemic, a physical person or legal entity is able to withdraw from a previous contract by proving that upholding it is physically impossible.
Attendees asked many questions, the most common one being: when can we expect these restrictions to be lifted? As the lawyer mentioned, the ban on real estate activity is planned to be lifted at the last stage of the government exit strategy. But considering the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and the plans being changed constantly according to the new COVID-19 updates, when the ban will be lifted for sure is still uncertain.
As for the positive changes, Ruska Khazaradze mentioned that starting this week Realtors®, as well as any physical or legal person, will be able to book a visit to the Justice House through the website mygov.ge.
We live in very uncertain times, but with the right information, we can lessen the burden just a little bit. Check out the Georgian National Association of Real Estate for frequent updates about the real estate industry.