It has been said repeatedly, but what a strange time to be living in! It has been over a month since local school districts closed on March 13th. For many, it feels like that was the start of the “official” shut down. From there, workers began working from home and businesses began adjusting for how to function during this new normal.
In times of crisis, the instinct is to hunker down, not make any big changes, and stick with what is known. There is merit to that. However, COVID-19 has presented new challenges. For what will probably be a quarter of the entire year, business will not be conducted the way it has in the past, especially in the real estate industry. On the positive side of things, realtors, lenders and settlement attorneys have been deemed “essential,” which means that work is continuing, and contracts are moving forward. However, what that looks like is different. Zoom meetings with clients and virtual open houses are de rigueur. However, how does this impact the actual closing? What does settlement look like and who can be trusted to traverse this new territory?
MBH Settlement Group has been in business for over 25 years. It is uniquely set up to navigate this crisis. Its tenure in the industry means that MBH has the experience to negotiate this new landscape. For the Counties that have been electronically recording their documents for years, MBH has been doing it right along with them. For the other Counties that are just coming online, MBH knows the systems that they are now using; the transition will be seamless for any transactions.
However, as the industry begins to rapidly adopt new protocols, such as fully electronic closings, MBH is right there with them. Its depth of knowledge allows MBH to anticipate potential pitfalls, while its size and resources allows MBH to be an early adopter. MBH is not so set in its ways that it cannot see where the industry is headed or how to deploy the resources needed to facilitate these new platforms.
To this end, here is what MBH has been up to: In many cases, it is conducting closings as per usual, in its offices. MBH has added in a heightened cleaning regimen and it is asking that parties who do not have to sign any documents (i.e., loan officers and real estate agents) to participate virtually. Although both agents and lenders have a unique relationship with their clients, MBH is trying to limit the number of people in a conference room. This is critical in facilitating social distancing measures. For those clients who are uncomfortable coming into an office, MBH has the option of sending a mobile notary to them. In some cases, the mobile notary will be an MBH attorney or settlement agent, the person with whom they normally sit at closing. In other cases, it may be a Notary with whom MBH has a business relationship. In that case, the MBH agent can still be on the phone, taking clients through their documents.
One additional option that MBH has implemented, in conjunction with the industry, is an electronic settlement. This is one in which the clients sign their documents electronically and there is an electronic notary stamping the documents. This is somewhat new for clients in this region, but it is coming on board quite rapidly. Initially, it has been most effective for Sellers and for Buyers of a cash deal. Lenders still prefer that some of their documents have a wet-signature. However, this too is changing. It is quite likely that very soon Lenders will accept an e-signature and e-Notary for the entire package. At that point, the entire transaction will be able to be conducted virtually.
It bears repeating that changes are coming fast, but with MBH, agents and lenders know that they will have a partner who brings knowledge and experience to the table, along with the most up-to-date capabilities and flexibility. They can also know that as the industry navigates these changes, MBH will be around. When clients need lost documents 5 years from now, MBH will still be able to assist them. Its goal is to provide superior service, both now and in the future. MBH would welcome the opportunity to assist in these transactions, not only during this time of COVID-19, but once the quarantines are lifted and everyone has yet another new normal in which to adjust. MBH will be here, ready to grow together. Stay safe and be well.
4230 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite I
Chantilly, VA 20151