Realtors, title companies, mortgage lenders and closing attorneys are all operating at the present time, but in a very different fashion given the health crisis affecting our State and nation. Realtors are showing houses on a one on one basis, masked and gloved. Title companies are conducting closings but not in the style of the traditional mass gathering. Attorneys continue to quarterback the settlement process through the many hurdles which the COVID 19 pandemic has fostered.†
In the closings I have handled for sellers, one involved an office meeting with husband and wife fully masked and gloved, in which documents were explained and signed at my office and then overnighted to the buyer‘s title company. The required six foot minimum distance was observed at all times. I later picked up the settlement checks at the title company, masked and gloved, and the seller stopped at my office later to pick up her check.†
In another closing, the sellers were living out of state, so I emailed the closing documents to my clients to sign before a notary and overnight back to me. We included a crucial step in the process of having my clients email me the signed documents before overnighting them so I could check to make sure that the papers were properly signed and notarized. In that case, once I received them, the documents were then overnighted to the buyer‘s title company with a return overnight mail envelope in which the settlement checks were returned to me. I then overnighted the sellers‘ proceeds to them out of state.†
In a buyer‘s all cash purchase, the closing statements can be signed via email, with the closing funds wired to the title company, and the seller documents provided by overnight mail. Thus, at the buyer‘s option, no physical meeting is needed for an all cash deal.†
When the buyer needs to close a mortgage loan, only the buyer, the closer and the real estate attorney should be present at the closing table. Social distancing must be observed at all times as the many loan documents are explained and signed. Masks and gloves are recommended.†
We are into the spring market now, and real estate closing attorneys need to use all of their experience and skills to help their clients navigate the treacherous waters presented today by the COVID 19 pandemic. With good judgment and practices, we can make this work for everyone.