Amongst many things, home closings are being drastically affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak, making agents, buyers and sellers uneasy. With current social distancing protocols being federally ordered having all necessary closing documents drafted, handled & signed is becoming increasingly difficult. The American Land Title Association states that they are monitoring the current COVID-19 situation carefully, and are making adjustments as needed. All statements from the ALTA can be found here.
Many agencies have resorted to virtual or online closings where possible, where as others have resorted to in office meetings 6 ft. apart to adhere to social distancing suggestions. Receiving the proper notarization on closing documents is another point of difficulty with current social distancing orders in place. It has been recommended to notaries to perform their duty via “window signing” through a window or door at an appropriate social distance. You can find guidelines on how to perform window singing here. It is recommended that any signatures that are able to be obtained digitally should be to avoid social contact. Home inspections are another point of discussion, and should be handled with great level of caution. Recommendations for inspectors still continuing to carry out home inspections include,
- Avoid anyone else attending the inspection: Allow your home inspector to do so alone to avoid social contact and review any questions via phone call, FaceTime, or other communication methods.
- Reduce Germs: By hand washing or using hand sanitizer before entering the home, and when leaving the home to avoid the spread of germs.
- Minimal Touching: Avoid touching items or fixtures in the home that do not need to be touched. Gloves are recommended to eliminate the risk here further. Disinfecting wipes should be used on all surfaces that have been touched.
- Check in With the Homeowners: To ensure no-one has been ill, or traveled out of the country recently.
If you have decided to complete your home closing in person see the below recommendations directly from the ALTA on how to host in person closings in the safest way possible.
- Arriving to a Closing: Guests are encouraged to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands upon arrival at our office.
- Symptomatic Clients: Any guest who exhibits symptoms that may be like coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) must notify staff upon arrival and we will escort out of common areas into a private closing room.
- Post-Closing Disinfecting: After each closing, the chairs, table and door handle will be wiped down with disinfecting wipes or bleach solution.
- Closing Table Items: Remove pens, paper, extra reading glasses and other items normally found on the closing tables. Distribute new pens to each closing participant and not re-used.
- Lobby Items: All reading materials, ceramic mugs and other re-usable items have been removed.
- Children’s Play Areas: Remove children’s play areas and place in storage.
- Hand Sanitizer: Provide hand sanitizer in closing spaces. If none is available, encourage employees and visitors to wash their hands before and after any closing or other meeting.
- General Environmental Cleaning: Cleaning personnel are using appropriate germ-killing solutions when cleaning office areas after-hours.
- Social Distancing: When possible, stay approximately six feet from others.
- Workforce Dispersion: If needed, invest in technology solutions that allows employees to work from remote locations, assuring production and service continuity.