We're sheltering in place in most of North Texas. No showings. No open houses. But what about the homes already in escrow?
I've got a listing that is scheduled to close next week. I've been communicating with the title company and the seller, keeping the information flowing in both directions. Yesterday, an email from the lawyer/owner of the title company indicated that they are still open and are considered an "essential business" financial institution. They are taking the safety of their clients and staff seriously. To that end, they are providing three options for closings:
- mobile notary closings - highly discouraged due to risk of transmission between notary and client
- Remote Online Notarization (RON) - only available if the lender on the transaction allows the parties to sign via RON
- curbside closing - the most common way currently used
Here's how curbside closing works:
- the client makes an appointment for their designated closing day
- the client calls the office from their car in the parking lot to confirm their arrival on closing day
- the closer, wearing gloves, delivers the documents and a blue pen to the client's car and goes back into the office
- if the client has questions, the client calls the closer to get help via phone or video conference
- the client calls the office when the documents have been fully signed
- the title company's notary picks up the documents (with gloves on), confirms the signer's valid ID, and picks up a cashier's check or routing numbers, as necessary
- the notary goes inside and confirms all signatures are proper
- the notary tells the client they are free to leave and sends electronic copies by email
I contacted the buyer's agent to find out if the lender they're using will allow the RON signatures. Unfortunately, they want wet signatures only. I did inquire from the title company if the seller, who doesn't need to sign any documents for the loan, could use the RON procedure, but she told me that "RON is having a hard time keeping up right now and is not able to get to everyone."
My seller hasn't purchased or sold a home in several decades. He's elderly (so am I!) and really wants me to be there with him. He asked if we could ride together. There's no way to maintain the 6' distance, so, no. He asked if we could each drive to the title company's parking lot and roll down our windows, keeping 6' away. I told him I wouldn't be able to see what he was doing. I've offered him Facetime, Skype, and Zoom. The title company has offered to send him the documents days in advance and a conference call after he reviews the documents from the comfort of his home to answer his questions. I told him I'd be on that call, too.
Somehow, we'll get this done. His former home will have new owners. He'll receive the funds from the sale. And we'll all remember this closing for years to come.