Welcome to 2020 where COVID-19 has flipped our world upside down and changed the way we live. No more last-minute trips to the grocery store, no more play dates, happy hours with friends, and so many other daily excursions we deemed “normal”. While we’re all waiting patiently to see how long this will last, businesses are changing rapidly in order to survive. A lot of these “survival-mode” changes will last long after COVID-19. Honestly, some of these changes should have happened a long time ago. You know what they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.”
In the real estate world, changes are being made to ensure people can safely continue to buy and sell properties. I recently spoke with Sarah Anderson from Universal Title about some big changes they’ve made to ensure their clients are safe. For starters, they are now encouraging electronically deposited Earnest Money Deposits so buyers can avoid the extra trip to deliver the check. It’s as simple as downloading an app from the app store. This service was offered prior to the pandemic but is something that was rarely done. This change has been working great and I expect will be the new normal even after COVID-19.
A previously somewhat uncommon occurrence, a power of attorney is now encouraged for high-risk clients and clients showing symptoms. Universal Title is currently waiving their fee for a power of attorney and many lenders are now accepting an electronically signed power of attorney.
Below are some options to complete the actual settlement with limited interaction.
Electronic Closings with E-Notary via NotaryCam:
One of the most exciting features being offered are Electronic Closing’s with E-Notary via NotaryCam. The signer logs into the site, links up with the notary via webcam and electronically signs the documents. This option does require clients to own a computer with a camera, and is mostly being utilized for sellers as a lot of lenders still require borrowers to sign in-person with a notary. Hopefully lenders jump on the e-notary train soon as it would make the whole process a lot easier.
Hybrid Closings with minimal contact:
The title company sets up a Zoom call and reviews the documents via screen-share. The signer then stops by the office later that day to sign the highlighted package. This can be done in the office with limited contact or also done as a drive-thru closing as noted in the next option.
Drive Thru/Parking Lot Closing:
The title company representative meets the signer in the parking lot, takes a photo of their ID and provides the highlighted documents on a sanitized clipboard. The signers complete the signing in their car and text the title company when they are done. From there a title company representative retrieves the paperwork and reviews the signatures. This can also be combined with a Zoom call to answer any questions that may come up.
They are still offering regular signings in the office, but only the signers attend. The entire highlighted package is given to the signer to review and sign. If they have any questions, the title rep is available to help. The title representative is sitting on the opposite side of the room instead of the opposite side of the table. This option can also be combined with a Zoom call to review the documents ahead of time.
From a realtor’s perspective, these small changes are the silver lining to the chaos. COVID-19 has forced everyone to adapt and improve. Changes that may have taken years have been implemented in a matter of weeks. I expect that after COVID-19, we’ll still see most settlements occur in office. As a realtor, I like this since I get to be a part of that final celebration with my clients. However, it’s nice for buyers and sellers to have additional options that weren’t available before.
Check out some of our past articles and look forward to some Coming Soon articles:
- Coronavirus: Should I Buy or Sell Now?
- Virtual Showings: Is Matrix the way to go?
- Does staging make a difference?
- Relationship between home price and days on market
- Does a higher down payment help with negotiations?
If you have specific questions or would like to set up an in-person meeting to discuss your scenario, please call or email me directly at 703-915-2244 / [email protected]. If you enjoyed this post and would like access to more of my articles/videos, visit the video/blog section of my website at: https://jcurrygroup.com/videos/
Licensed Realtor: VA & DC
J Curry Group at KW Metro Center
2101 Wilson Blvd #100
Arlington, VA 22201