COVID-19 Updates

Update: 4/14/2020
Thomas & Brown is pleased to announce that we are now providing access to our network of referral attorneys to act as your Buyer’s or Seller’s Attorney-in-Fact. While we deal with the current challenges of executing real estate closings in a safe and professional manner, we realize that there are various reasons why the current closing options (traditional in-office, mail away, or video conference) are not viable for some of your clients.

With this new offering, should your client(s) for any reason not be able to attend the closing in person, not be comfortable or capable of participating in a video conference, or, not have someone specifically to appoint to act on their behalf as a power of attorney, T&B can direct your client to a respected real estate closing attorney within our network, who, after appointment, will act as your client’s (or clients’) attorney in fact to facilitate the closing in a timely and efficient manner.

The referral attorney will reach out to your client(s), establish an attorney-client relationship, and assist the client(s) with a complete review and discussion of all the relevant documents needed to consummate the transaction either as a seller or a purchaser. It is important to note that should your client(s) choose this option, there will be no additional cost incurred for this service. This service will be available for both buyers and sellers; however, we must obtain lender approval for a buyer POA to be used.

As always, we will continue to offer separate closing times, Powers of Attorney, mail outs and early signings at no additional cost.

We are here for you, and thank you for trusting us with your closings. Should you have further questions, please reach out to Keith Hoffman at Keith@proclosers.com or Cheryl King at CherylKing@proclosers.com


Update: 4/2/2020
We hope you are staying safe and healthy. We would like to clarify a couple of things in regards to the Video Conference Closing email that was sent out yesterday. This is simply another option for you in addition to the previous options we have discussed. 

Thomas and Brown is still providing split closings between buyers and sellers either at separate times or in separate conference rooms. We are still offering (lender approved) mail-outs and powers of attorney at no additional cost to your clients.

We will still overnight agent commission checks and Settlement Statements to your homes or offices after closing at no additional cost if you choose not to attend closing. We can also meet you outside after closing if you prefer to come by and pick up your items. We are doing everything in our power to make your closing experience as seamless as possible during these uncertain times.

We are following all the CDC guidelines in regards to cleanliness and sanitation in our offices. Most of our staff members are working safely from home, and we have a limited number of staff in house to facilitate your closings.

Please reach out to us should you have questions on your specific transaction. We are here for you and thank you for trusting us with your business. 


Update: 4/1/2020

As most of you are aware, the Governor of Georgia signed an order yesterday allowing for documents to be witnessed and notarized without the signor being in the physical presence of the witness and notary public. The physical presence requirement can now be satisfied if the document is executed in front of the witness and notary via a video conference. This is a temporary order that is currently set to expire April 13th unless extended by a supplemental order, so please understand that this is not a permanent change to the closing process in Georgia.

This order does NOT allow for e-signatures. All documents that must be notarized including the Warranty Deed and Security Deed must be physically signed with a wet ink signature. After the video conference session, those documents will be witnessed and notarized by the closing attorney’s office once they are back in the possession of the closing attorney. While certain lenders currently allow e-signing of certain documents that the lender sends directly to the borrower, any documents sent to the closing attorney by the lender for execution must have a wet ink signature. This may include certain documents that don’t require a witness or notary. Additionally, all parties participating in a video conference for these purposes (Buyer, Seller, Notary Public) must be physically present in the State of Georgia at the time of the conference.

While the order allows for video conferencing, the lenders and title insurance companies will have their own requirements that must be followed to allow these types of closings to move forward. At this time we are waiting for lender guidance on this issue. Preliminary indications from the lender community (most notably Wells Fargo) does not indicate a willingness to allow these types of closings in Georgia, and title insurance companies are requiring lender approval. Additionally, the title insurers are requiring the use of certain applications for the video conferencing sessions based on security concerns of certain platforms, and in some cases the recording of the video and the long term storage of same. There will be additional documents that will need to be signed by the buyer and seller when this type of closing is used. The signing parties ability to engage in the video conference platform is also something that needs to be taken into consideration as well. The following are certain requirements and helpful hints as we navigate this new process:

What we need in order to close remotely:

1.We must have lender approval in order to facilitate a remote(video conference) closing.
2.All Signers must be physically present in the State of Georgiaduring the remote signing.
3.All documents signed remotely must be placed in an overnight envelope
and sealed during the video conference along with a valid copy oftheir government issued photo ID.
4.Signersmust be able to print documents(10-15 for Sellers, 80-90 forBorrowers) for electronicdelivery.Alternatively, documents can be picked up from our office or sent out to the Signer via FedEx. We prefer pick up or FedEx so that we can insure the documents are printed correctly and so we may provide the required envelope for their return.We will cover the additional charges for delivery.
5.The closing process must meet the requirements of the title insurance company insuring that specific transaction.
6.We must have all original signed documents back in our possession in order
to fund. They can be returned using FedEx (air bill provided)or physical deliveryto our office.

Helpful Hints:
1.Every closing will be a little different based upon lender and title insurance requirements as well as the ability of the Signers.Communication and patience are key.
2.We will need to be able to see the Signer actually signing the document, so consider how the signor will position their phone/ computer camera.
3.This type of closing, while helpful in the current public health environment, brings additional requirements and obligations that may be cumbersome to certain buyers and sellers. Initially, there will be some trial and error as we work through this process. When allowed, we recommend that it be used only when necessary
and not as a convenience.

Thomas & Brown is committed to ensuring that our real estate partners and clients are able to close their transactions in a safe and professional environment, while also following the laws of State of Georgia. We must also fulfill the requirements of our title insurance underwriters and the lenders that we represent. Video conferencing is a new option along with all of the other options we have implemented for handling closings over the past 30 days. We look forward to working with you to determine the best option for your particular transaction.

Questions? Please feel free to reach out to any of our attorneys.
We are here to help you through this uncertain time.

Mark Brown:MarkBrown@proclosers.com
Lon Thomas:LonThomas@proclosers.com
Jennifer Davis:JenniferDavis@proclosers.com
Terrie Shank:TerrieShank@proclosers.com
Keith Hoffman:Keith@proclosers.com
Cheryl King:
CherylKing@proclosers.com


Update: 3/30/2020
Thomas and Brown would like to take a moment and let you know how much we appreciate you. THANK YOU for trusting us with your closings, and for your loyalty. The times may be changing and uncertain, but you can rest assured that we are here for you and will see your closings through in the safest way possible. The relationships we have built over the years are very important to us, and we as your T&B Family want to keep you as updated as possible on the state of our closing industry. 

It appears that video conferencing may soon be an option in Georgia as a temporary alternative to handling closing transactions during this time. We will update you on this process once the order is signed by the Governor. In the meantime, we will continue to follow the laws of the State of Georgia as they pertain to the closings of real property. 

We are still following state and local guidelines and exercising extreme caution with regards to social distancing, cleanliness, health and safety. We are limiting the number of people in our closing rooms and lobbies. We are recommending split closings where buyers and sellers can sign at separate times or in separate rooms. We are still offering mail-outs or Powers of Attorney for buyers and/or sellers at no additional cost.  Most of our staff is working safely from home while we maintain a limited number of staff in our offices  to facilitate our closings. 

Thank you again for allowing us to serve you during this challenging period.