- Title searches and deed filings ground to halt with county records offices shut
- Quarantines preclude buying and refinancing processes
There are more obstacles to the home buying and selling business than meet our conscious eyes. No open houses – check. No in-person showings – check. No cold calling during emergencies – check. AND, no title searches or deed filings inside all the country offices around the country that have been shuttered – check.
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“The machine is being overwhelmed at this point,” said Bob Jennings, chief executive of ClosingCorp, a tech platform that handles one third of this country’s home-loan applications.
In the midst of a triple-digit uptick in mortgage refinance applications, someone, even a remote working someone, has to process electronic filings. “If no one is ‘there’ to process these filings, the pipeline is still blocked at the end,” said Steve Gottheim, a senior counsel with American Land Title Association.
Gottheim is advocating for leaving just skeleton crews in American Land Title offices. Why? Deeds need to be recorded in a timely way otherwise lenders become nervous about fraud potential. And, without a public record of a real estate transaction, a seller could potentially and technically sell a house more than once. Additionally, Gottheim said, “Any reduction in service makes it almost impossible to get a closing completed” despite offering searchable online databases. Those databases may not go back far enough.
Same holds with closings as people are leery about sharing tighter spaces with others. Videoconferencing closings may be a viable alternative to in-person closings as some 50% of notaries are allowed to work remotely but online notarization systems are also prone to fraud. Why? It’s more difficult to “read” a driver’s license to verify identity via a camera than it is in person.
Thanks to the New York Times.