By Sandy Gadow
Title and escrow companies are adapting to the new environment brought on by the COVID-19 virus and taking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) on how to conduct business to keep their customers and employees safe. Fortunately, more than 95% of the work a title company does is “behind the scenes” and away from public interaction. The actual in-person signing of documents is just one small piece of the entire closing process.
Many title employees across the nation are working from home and available through normal channels including web-based tools, e-mail or telephone conferencing. Closings are held by appointment only. Agents, lenders and any other unnecessary parties do not attend, and limits on the number of people who are allowed to physically attend are enforced. Electronic transmission of documents and e-signing will be even more widely used than before and funds wired to and from banks and lending institutions. The use of mobile notaries and in-home closing will likely increase.
It may take longer to process and record documents since the title business relies on government offices to obtain and record legal documents. Title agents record deeds and search ownership documents, liens, judgments, etc. at the county court house. However, many county recording offices accept and process electronic recordings which help speed up the closing process. Your title agent will regularly monitor the status of government recording offices for their ability to record pending transactions and plan accordingly for your closing date.
Keep in constant contact with your closing agent, as rules may change quickly — county by county or state-by-state—as the situation evolves.
Most closing agents are taking strict precautions for the safety of both their clients and employees, including:
- Conducting most closings and/or meetings by appointment only
- Asking that non-essential parties refrain from attending closings and/or meetings
- Making hand sanitizer available in all areas of the office
- Wiping down tables and chairs, doorknobs, counters and other areas of public contact throughout the day
- Providing new pens for each signing
- Providing separate closing rooms, if available
- Promoting best practices for personal hygiene and workplace cleanliness to employees
- Restricting non-essential travel as well as employee attendance at industry conferences and events
- Directing any employee with symptoms of illness to stay
Copyright © 2020 Sandy Gadow. This column may not be resold, reprinted, resyndicated or redistributed without the written permission from Escrow Publishing Company.