Title Tip: Title Companies Are Considered Essential Services, But They’re Adapting

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Title companies are considered an essential service along with appraisers, banks, and mortgage companies. Most of us are still conducting business and working hard for our clients.

Like all businesses in Texas, the U.S., and the world, we are operating in a different way during this health crisis. We have a duty to take care of our clients and a duty to stay healthy and help stop the spread of illness.

Processes Affecting Home Buyers, Sellers, and Refinancing

While the current crisis is an inconvenience to most of us, we are still able to close transactions. Where possible, we encourage ‘e-closings’ through Remote Online Notarization, known as RON. RON is a fairly new program and not every lender or financial provider has embraced it.

Currently, most mortgage companies still require in-person notarization of documents in order to complete and fund the purchase of a property. Almost every mortgage lender in Texas does not yet allow the use of a RON to close a transaction.

Therefore, a RON can only be used for a cash purchase in most cases. And even then, there are strict rules as to its use. The notary must be approved to provide this service. All parties involved must use a two-way video and audio system that meets the criteria.

The signing parties must also pass a Credential Analysis and Identity Proofing by which the validity of a government-issued ID is affirmed by a third party. This analysis and proofing requires the signer to answer a timed quiz of at least five questions related to their personal history or identity. The multiple-choice questions are formulated from public and proprietary data sources. They often ask about subjects such as previous vehicles you’ve owned, previous addresses, family members, etc.

The Remote Online Notary process is still in its infancy and therefore not readily available to most buyers and sellers.

Remote Closing

If we cannot use a RON, many companies offer the use of a remote closing. The title company sends the closing documents to the customer. They schedule a time to review the documents by phone, FaceTime, Skype, etc. The signers can ask questions and get an understanding of what they will be signing. Then the customer will actually sign the documents in person with a notary. It still requires documents to be signed in person, but it speeds up the signing process (and exposure time) since they have already reviewed the documents.

Mobile Notary Service

Some title companies are offering mobile notary service. This is where a notary comes to the customer’s location and witnesses the signing of documents. These services are in high demand right now and many are asking that they are limited to only high-risk individuals. They typically cost an additional $100 to $200.

Limit Closing Attendance

For closings taking place in title company offices, it’s best to limit the people attending closing to only those required to sign documents. The lender, agents, family members, etc. should not go to the title company unless requested to attend by the escrow officer.

It’s inspiring to see how our business is rising to the current challenges in our market. Currently, our customers are seeing very little inconvenience. A little kindness and patience on all sides is appreciated by everyone in these challenging times.

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Lydia Blair

Lydia Blair (formerly Lydia Player) was a successful Realtor for 10 years before jumping to the title side of the business in 2015. Prior to selling real estate, she bought, remodeled and sold homes (before house flipping was an expression). She’s been through the real estate closing process countless times as either a buyer, a seller, a Realtor, and an Escrow Officer. As an Escrow Officer for Allegiance Title at Preston Center, she likes solving problems and cutting through red tape. The most fun part of her job is handing people keys or a check.

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Comments

  1. Edward Liebhauser says

    I am living in the Philippines and I am trying to buy a house in Texas. I cannot be there for the signing and the US Embassy is closed down due to the Corona virus pandemic. How can I sign the documents. The Title Company (American Title) is insisting that I be on American soil to sign the documents.

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