March 29, 2020
To Our Valued Clients, Longtime Friends, & Colleagues,
We hope that this update finds you safe and healthy.
As stated last week, during this time of unprecedented uncertainly, as new information and changes related to the real estate, mortgage, and closing industries unfolds, we will be periodically sending messages that we feel are pertinent to professionals in our sphere.
To open this update on a very positive note, with great diligence and while overcoming many challenges, we at Kriss Law/Atlantic have settled into a very solid pandemic operational groove. In the past week, we are happy to report that we successfully and safely closed hundreds of transactions. Social distancing in the closing process is not easy but our staff and are clients have done an outstanding job of completing tasks under very difficult circumstances.
With rates dipping a bit this week and many areas still experiencing a strong spring home buying season, we at Kriss Law/Atlantic want to confidently stress that we are here to get your deals done during this historically stressful time.
We would also like to note that we are doing our best to support our fellow local businesses and encourage all of you to do the same. This weekend, we provided our staff with Door Dash and Grub Hub gifts cards. It is our hope that aside from providing our team with a well-deserved meal, our contribution will help to provide job stability to the folks in the hard-hit hospitality industry.
While lengthy, we ask that you take a moment to read the following notes. We believe the points below will give you a good indication of where things stand right now related to the real estate business and how things will proceed in relation to the outbreak:
- As stated above, with lots of hard work and dedication to keeping our staff safe, it continues to be business as usual here at Kriss Law/Atlantic. While like most other businesses across the country we have certainly been affected by municipal closings, a large portion of our staff working remotely, and a general slowdown in production from many of our vendors, we are continuing to close files at a highly efficient level.
- With concern over the virus so great, we are frequently running into situations where clients are hesitant to meet with our attorneys and staff for closings. While understandable, we have put firm protocols into place that once disclosed, set minds at ease and allow closings to move forward. In addition to the list provided in last week's update (we will happily forward the full set of protocols upon request), we have added the following to ensure the safety of our team and our clients:
-Only those individuals who are needed to sign documents will be permitted to attend Kriss Law/Atlantic closings. If the meeting takes place at one of our offices or the office of a Realtor, other attorney/title company, etc., no children, relatives, friends or anyone else that is not a signer will be allowed into said location. For closings occurring at the home of a borrower, no one other than the signer(s) will be permitted in the closing area.
- Our stringent closing protocols are necessary in those jurisdictions where E-Notarization, or RON's, are not permitted. The past week saw a handful of states that didn't previously allow E-Notarization pass temporary orders/legislation allowing it. Additional jurisdictions where it is prohibited have proposed bills pending. While this is important news, there is a great deal of misinformation being bandied about regarding what exactly these orders allow. Optimism that in-person closings will cease during this time must be tempered:
-In the past 10 days, the States of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and New Hampshire have implemented temporary E-Notarization executive orders or legislation. Massachusetts and Maine have similar bills or orders pending;
-Each of these orders/legislation, either passed or pending, requires wet signatures. A wet signature is defined by the need for an individual to physically put pen to paper. A true RON eliminates wet signatures completely;
-If a borrower, buyer, or seller has to physically put pen to paper and sign documents, a closing package has to be printed. The average bank closing package is 150+ pages of both legal and letter sized documents;
-Very few individuals have home printers that have the ability to print that volume of documents in different sizes. This leaves the options of (1) clients going to a store such as Staples to print the documents--defeating the point of eliminating human contact; or (2) law firms/title companies sending the package to clients via overnight courier. While the second option is feasible, dating becomes an issue as under current conditions, lenders are struggling to send the documents in a timely manner;
-If law firm/title company doesn't receive documents the day before a scheduled closing, clients cannot print at home, and clients are unwilling to go to a store to print, the only remaining option will be dropping the documents outside of clients' home, conducting the closing electronically, and then either retrieving the documents from borrower or having borrower return the documents via trackable, overnight courier;
-These orders/legislation are certainly a change for the better. However, the prevailing thought in our industry that non-RON states are now becoming full E-Notarization jurisdictions, at least so far, is incorrect. Unfortunately, there continues to be a need for some human contact and it is important for lenders, Realtors, and clients to understand this.
If you have been reading our updates since the outbreak began, you know that we have discussed everything from GAP insurance to a full national shutdown. The notes above only reference the most recent changes affecting our industry. If you have questions related to prior topics discussed, we are more than happy to answer them.
As we hope we have made clear above, for those of you who have relied on Kriss Law/Atlantic as your title provider for many years, we continue to be here for you during this trying time. We'll do our best to continue to safely close your transactions, pass on any updated industry information as it arises, and be available to talk you through any of the many business intricacies we are all dealing with currently.
Not only are we in uncharted territory, but the situation is constantly evolving. While in a time like this work is secondary to the health and well-being of our loved ones, let us help you deal with the business-related anxiety.
We urge you to follow all suggested health best practices during this time and make the most informed decisions possible.
We appreciate your anticipated patience during this time. This will pass and life will be back to normal before you know it. Until then, we'll get through it together.
Stay safe and stay at home!!
-Your Friends At Kriss Law/Atlantic