In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, governmental offices, including clerk’s offices and record rooms, have been closed or significantly restricted access, impacting title companies’ ability to promptly complete title bringdowns and record deeds and other closing documents. At this time, most title underwriters continue to insure lenders and new owners as of the closing date; however, several title companies are requiring sellers/borrowers to provide expanded gap coverage indemnities covering any title defects arising between the date of closing and the date the deed or deed of trust is recorded.
When signing a purchase contract or otherwise preparing for closing, consider the following to ensure your transaction stays on track:
- Assess your timeline. Is your closing scheduled for a time during which accessibility to the clerk’s office is likely to be impacted by COVID-19?
- Confirm clerk’s office accessibility. Is the clerk’s office open and accepting documents for recording? What is the process for recording? Is there an anticipated delay?
- Confirm clerk’s office accepts electronic filings. Does the clerk’s office accept electronic filings? If so, can all of the closing documents, including any plats, be filed electronically in the jurisdiction?
- Confirm title requirements. Does the title company have any additional closing requirements or require any additional COVID-19 affidavits for closing?
- Include in agreement. If entering into a purchase agreement, confirm that the agreement includes any required COVID-19 affidavits as a closing deliverable.
- Provide title company forms. Ensure that any required COVID-19 affidavit is provided to the title company at closing.
Kristen M. Chatterton