COVID-19 and New Procedures
Our process starts when we schedule the closing. At that time, we send an email to the seller, buyer and/or borrower, outlining that we are handling all closings in the car, to respect social distancing rules and ensure the safety of all involved. We ask that they bring their own pens, and to send us pictures of their licenses so that we don’t need to copy them. We also schedule buyer and seller to come in separately, again to minimize the possible exposure. As soon as closing documents are final, we email a copy to signer proving them with ample time to review documents prior to closing.
On the day of the closing, we mark out a section of our parking lot with orange cones. We instruct the signer to park there, then call us to let us know we are here. We have the documents prepared and separated by borrower, buyer or seller, and bring out the appropriate package to them. The attorney handling the closing will be wearing a mask at all times. Then, we stand about ½ to 1 space away while they go through the documents, assisting them with questions, explaining documents, and generally providing the same assistance we would at any other closing. This also fulfills the requirement that we witness their signatures, in order to notarize them.
After that, we make copies of the most important documents, generally the deed and ALTA settlement statement, and return those to the parties. We also include an orange card, with information on where they can securely view and download copies of all other documents they signed with us. After checking one last time that they have no further questions, we send the signer on their way – a drive-through closing experience!
We have found that this method reduces the risk to all involved, while providing some benefits. Closings are easier to coordinate when buyer and seller meet separately, and this allows us to schedule more freely by making that the default. Closings are also much more relaxed, and parties without the other side present are more free to ask questions.
In consultation with the health department, we have also set up an alternative indoor closing space. This will be used solely on days when the weather makes an outside closing impractical, and only after consulting with the parties to ensure they will abide by all rules regarding this space. Directly inside our front door, we have created a small closing space, separated from the rest of the office. Provided all parties are wearing masks, we can use this specially isolated area to have a closing indoors. We provide hand sanitizer and masks to those who may need them. All surfaces, including the table, chairs, door handles, and pens, are sanitized between each meeting. We further minimize any potential exposure by asking realtors and loan officers not to attend, and scheduling the buyer and seller separately. This indoor space is a brand new addition, and still awaiting some slight construction, so this procedure may change as we find better ways to protect our clients and our staff.