Real Estate Closings with Remote Online Notarization and Other Options During COVID
As we find ourselves in the middle of the COVID pandemic, there are still many clients who need real estate related services. Right now we are helping clients:
- Finish up transactions that we started earlier this year;
- Move out of densely populated areas to Connecticut;
- Refinance their homes at incredible interest rates;
- Move property they had been holding for some time so they could have liquid funds.
All of these transactions require us to execute (sign) some form of closing package or closing documents with our clients; and at least one document will need to be notarized or “acknowledged”.
So how do we handle executing documents when in the middle of a pandemic? Luckily, there are multiple options currently available to us here in Connecticut.
Business as Usual – Conducting In Person Real Estate Closings During COVID
There is nothing stopping us from meeting in person and conducting the signing face to face. Real Estate is considered an essential business, so there is no legal issue with us opening our office to our clients. We can take standard social distancing measures such as:
- Wearing masks, gloves and other PPE;
- Minimizing bodily contact by not shaking hands or hugging;
- Sitting at opposite ends of a conference room table;
- Bring your own pens but please, blue ink;
- Any other reasonable request by a client that makes them feel safe!
However, there are other options available as well.
Window-Separated or “Porch” Signing – Attorney Goes to the Client
A window-separated or porch closing is exactly what it sounds like. We are together but not. The ideal situation would be where we leave documents at our clients door, they bring them inside, and we conduct the closing through a window or screen door with the attorney sitting outside the home, but being able to communicate with and see the client. The client can then leave the documents outside for the attorney to take with them after signing. There are guidelines issued by the national notary Association, but those are for us to know and follow and nothing our clients need to concern themselves with. Also, additional precautions, such as wearing of PPE and disinfecting of surfaces after the signing should be followed.
Curbside or Drive-By Closing – Client Comes to Attorney at End
In a Curbside closing the relevant documents in the closing package are either e-mailed to the client to be printed out at their home or sent to the client via overnight mail, depends on the client’s preference and access to a printer.
Via telephone or video-chat, we can review the package with our client and the client can execute any documents that do not require notarization during this review process.
That will typically leave the deed, mortgage and perhaps an affidavit or two unsigned.
The client can then drive to our law office with the package. Through the window of their car, the client can present us with verification of identity and then execute the deed or mortgage and any of the remaining documents while we are able to see and hear the client from the outside of the car, so that we can confirm that the signing of the documents was the client’s free act and deed. We then enter the law firm to allow the client to exit their vehicle and leave the closing package outside the office, in a neutral area, to be picked up by us for the completion of the acknowledgment.
Real Estate Closings with Remote Notarization – Attorney and Client DO NOT MEET – Must Be technologically Enabled
We had been working with industry leaders for years trying to get Connecticut legislators to pass remote online notarization to no avail. However, once COVID reared it’s ugly head, part of the response was Connecticut Executive Order 7Q, establishing a temporary procedure for remote notarization in Connecticut.
PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR LENDER IS ALLOWING REMOTE NOTARIZATION! NOT ALL LENDERS ARE ALLOWING IT!
The Order authorizes a Connecticut notary or a commissioner of the superior court to conduct a remote notarization using communication technology under the following conditions:
- Both the signer and the attorney are located within the State of Connecticut;
- The communication technology must allow the signer and the attorney to communicate simultaneously by sight and sound;
- The signer must present satisfactory evidence of identity, unless personally known to the attorney, in the form of at least two current documents, one with a photograph or physical description, both of which must be presented while connected to the communication technology;
- The attorney must record the notarial act (video) and retain a copy of the recording for ten (10) years;
- The signer must send the attorney the signed documents either by fax or electronic means on the same day the documents were signed;
- The attorney can then notarize the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the Signatories by fax or electronic means;
- The attorney must receive the original wet-signed document, together with the electronically notarized copy, within thirty (30) days after the date of its execution, and must repeat the notarization, this time by completing the acknowledgment section of the original signed document, including the attorney’s wet signature, as of the date of execution;
- The attorney must sign a one-page certification confirming the use of the remote notarization procedures in accordance with the Order and attach the certification to each remotely notarized document submitted for recording.
Necessary Technology for Remote Notarization
To conduct a remote notarization under this emergency order, you will need the following communication technology:
- A webcam equipped with a microphone that will allow us to simultaneously see and hear each other;
- An internet connection that can support a video conference call;
- Ability to download/install/join our video conference provider;
- A printer to create a hardcopy of the document for a wet signature;
- A scanner or fax machine to create a digital version to electronically transmit back to us;
- Ability to promptly send or deliver the original wet-signed document to us.
The full Order can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7Q.pdf
Conduct a Remote Online Closing with G&G Law, LLC
We hope that everybody and their families are staying safe, healthy and happy while we deal with this unwanted interruption to our normal lives.
If you want to discuss remote online notarization or remote real estate closings with one of our attorneys, please give us a call at 203-740-1400.