COVID-19 | Coronavirus
Building the Case for Virtual Closings…
Keeping Everyone Healthy is Our Top Priority:
The health and safety of our employees, our business partners and the agents we serve are always our top priorities. We continue to monitor the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and follow the guidance of the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government entities. We wanted to share with you what we are doing in our practice to further ensure your safety, while performing your real estate closings. We pray that each of you remain safe and adhere to social distancing for your own safety and for all of those around you…
Virtual Closings for the Foreseeable Future:
As real estate professionals in today’s unprecedented times, we are now tasked with completing the essential activity of conducting real estate closings, while adhering to social distancing, stay-in-place orders and quarantining, all to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Given these challenges, the Governor’s Executive Order No. 03.31.20.01 and the Governor’s Executive Order No. 04.09.20.01 have now granted real estate practitioners in Georgia the opportunity to perform virtual closings to protect all parties involved. Coupled with the governor’s aforementioned order, directives from our underwriter, and the lender’s written authorization, we are now able to provide virtual closings that are insurable. While the pandemic continues to be a threat to our way of life, it appears that virtual closings will be the norm for the foreseeable future.
Virtual Closings Require Lender’s Pre-Approval:
As virtual closings in Georgia are uncharted territory for real estate professionals, please ensure that lenders grant approval to leverage virtual closings, prior to scheduling.
Documents to Be Received Before Virtual Closing:
To ensure an efficient closing experience, all documents, which are to be signed during the virtual closing, will be sent from our office, to be received by the signer, via FedEx, before the virtual closing time. NOTE: Please DO NOT sign documents upon receipt, as it will invalidate the closing. Documents MUST be signed and dated DURING the closing ceremony, which will be video recorded. Additionally, please leave documents in the same order in which they are received, as it allows the attorney to follow along during the virtual closing.
Virtual Closing Via Zoom Pro:
A prerequisite of virtual closings is that they occur via a videoconferencing platform that is recorded, allowing the closing to be saved and thereby preventing parties from presenting future claims of fraudulent activity. Once our office has scheduled your virtual closing, an invitation to a Zoom meeting will be sent with meeting details, along with instructions to download and join/access the platform. Agents and loan
officers will be invited to join the virtual closings during their client’s participation.
Borrower Presence in Georgia & State-Issued ID Required During Virtual Closing:
Another prerequisite of virtual closings is that borrowers are REQUIRED to be physically located in the State of Georgia during the closing ceremony. Additionally, borrowers will be required to complete an affidavit attesting to the same. At the beginning of the virtual closing process, participants will be required to show a state-issued ID and will be required to enclose a copy of the same ID in the FedEx envelope that will be provided to return documents to our office (NOTE: Please secure a copy of the ID prior to the scheduled virtual closing).
Mailing Documents After the Virtual Closing:
Once documents have been signed during the virtual closing, borrowers/participants will be required to enclose the documents, along with a copy of the borrower’s/participant’s state-issued ID, within the FedEx envelope, which will be included with the documents, along with a shipping label, The borrower will then immediately seal the FedEx envelope on camera, which will evidence the conclusion of the closing and provide that the closing documents were signed and sealed in the presence of the attorney.
Funds Disbursement After the Virtual Closing:
Once documents have been received by our office, we will be able to physically notarize them, using the date that they were signed, which will be the date of the virtual closing ceremony. Following suit, we will then be able to provide funding documents to the lender and disburse funds accordingly, upon lender approval.
Follow-Up Notes & Alternatives to Virtual Closings:
Should the lender not approve your client’s request for a virtual closing – no worries, as our office is still available to conduct closings. In our office, we sanitize between closings, leverage social distancing (seating parties 6+ ft apart), provide nitrile gloves to participants, and allow parties to keep their pens following each closing.
Please note that FaceTime is not an acceptable medium, should your clients request its use during virtual closings.
Power of Attorney (POA) options are available to participants; however, virtual notarization of POA’s was not approved by the Governor’s Order.
Seller mail away package is an option available to sellers.
Resources for Additional Information:
Please do not hesitate to contact our office should you have questions or concerns. Praying again for everyone’s safety and well being.