If you’re buying or selling real estate around this time, you’re probably asking, “how has the real estate settlement procedure changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?”
Ryan Haley, broker and owner of Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty, answers this frequently asked question nowadays.
After going through a year and a half of COVID-19 protocols, what has changed in the settlement process? As a buyer or as a seller, do you have to attend the settlement?
Does the Seller Need to Attend Settlement?
One thing that we definitely have seen change is that sellers are not attending many of the settlements.
This has always been the case for a seller who doesn’t really have to attend the settlement as long as all the documents have been prepared and the payoff has been ordered. In addition, all is good as long as the title company had some notice ahead of time to be able to send all the documents to the seller at their home to then be signed by a notary.
This procedure has always been the case and we are seeing more of this in the resort town where the sellers don’t necessarily live in the area. Thus, it is very common for the seller not to attend the settlement.
The seller typically comes to the area a week before when they clean out some of their things from the property. During that time, they could sign with the title company. The title company, with our company’s assistance, could also make arrangements to send all the settlement documents to the seller’s home usually by overnight service, so they can sign the documents before the documents are signed by a notary.
Once the settlement is complete, all the monies will be wired directly to the seller.
Does the Buyer Need to Attend Settlement?
On the buyer side, it is still going to be a requirement for you as a buyer to attend the settlement, unless there is a Power of Attorney in place.
However, if you are getting any kind of loan, the lender will require you to sign the documents on the day of settlement in front of a title officer.
What does this mean?
Say, you are buying a property at the beach, you have to come to Ocean City or wherever the title company is located.
In the case of Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s, because of our relationship with our title company, you will settle in our office in Ocean City. We have the ability to get the settlement done in our office, and you do not have to go to a separate title company. In some cases, we have the ability to settle right at the property.
As a buyer, you will have to bring with you your driver’s license, your checkbook, and sit down with the title officer to sign all of the loan documents as well as the title documents required to record the deed to make the property yours.
As far as monies go, you will not be required to bring certified checks as all monies have to be wired ahead of time. So, your down payment has to be wired to your title company. As for your loan, if you’re borrowing the money, the lender will wire the money to the title company typically on the morning of settlement.
Prior to settlement, you will have a walk through the property to make sure that it is in the condition that you expected. You will then sign and the keys will then be passed on to you at that point.