Escrow Safety During the End of COVID: How Do I Close with Confidence?

California is reopening, but there are still some buyers and sellers who may be wary of open houses, crowded signings, and other in-person trappings of a traditional sale. There are a lot of questions associated with selling a home in the era of COVID-19. Even once you have a safe plan for viewing a home, there are the issues regarding the closing of the sale. According to the California Secretary of State: “Online webcam notarizations are invalid and illegal activities for California notaries public.” You can take several steps to keep your home sale (as either the buyer or the seller) as safe as possible. This includes enhancing escrow safety so that all parties walk away happy and healthy.

Transfer All Funds Via Wire

Many escrow companies are requiring all good faith payments and closing funds to be paid for via money transfer. While this has always been the easiest way to pay these deposits, some companies have also allowed check payments. In order to reduce any chance of virus transmission and avoid any need for in-person hand off, you should request a wire-only transaction if possible. This puts all minds at ease, and it has the added benefit of making funds available sooner!

E-Sign as Many Documents as Possible

As we mentioned above, you can’t use an online notary for a Sacramento closing. Unfortunately, virtual signings for notarized documents (including the grant deed) are not considered valid. However, some documents can be e-signed. Make sure you complete as many documents using a secure e-sign process as you can. These can be printed out later if you want a hard copy on file. Even after COVID, switching to e-signing can be an easy and efficient way to handle closing documents. Plus, you can e-mail yourself a copy after so your important docs never get lost.

Keep In-Person Signings Outdoors

For documents and interactions that do require you to meet with a professional, seek an outdoor signing. This could include on a front porch, in a park, or working out of the back of the notary’s vehicle, and it immediately improves escrow safety. Remaining masked and outdoors at a distance can keep these brief in-person signings quite safe and should easy any nerves you might have about closing on your new home (or selling your property). Most escrow companies in California are adjusting their procedures to accommodate the new normal. Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask an escrow company up front what their plans are for in-person signings and make sure they can meet you outdoors.

Sanitize Everything

Pay attention to CDC guidelines throughout the escrow process. The notary and escrow employees should wear glove, and sanitized pens. When in doubt, bring your own pen and hand sanitizer to the meeting. Wear a mask and try to limit the amount of time you stand directly next to the notary. Make sure you wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Closing in the time of COVID-19 can be scary, but California Family Homebuyers has been buying and selling homes during this time, and you can too! With safe and fast escrow processes available that abide by current protocols, you can rest assured that escrow safety is the top priority of many escrow companies. Don’t shy away from closing. If you’d rather avoid a traditional home sale, give us a call to see if we can buy your home for cash. We may be able to close as fast as one week!

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