Long Distance Closings in COVID Era?

4 Replies

Hey folks- thinking about doing my first distance investment, and am thinking of seeing the property in person (weekend) but closing on a weekday, and closing remotely from where I live, about 2 hours away.

Here are my questions:

1. I plan to hire a property management company. Do they attend the closing and get the keys? Does my realtor? Do the keys have to pass hands at the closing itself?

 2. Documents- will this be electronic? Fedex/UPS overnight?

3. Should I have the remote closing be done near the property, or near me?

4. Are people closing via Facetime and Zoom these days? Closing outdoors on patios? Indoors with masks?

Would love to hear any and all perspectives. Also curious if @AlexanderScott has done this since my target property is in Fayetteville, NC.

I've done many closings from out of state, often hundreds of miles away, and I am closing on a sale next week.

1) The seller's realtor will typically have a lockbox on the house.  Either they give the code to the property manger so they can get the key that way or the property manger comes to their office for it.  I've owned many properties and never held the keys myself.

2) The documents may come to you electronically or FedEx.  Unlike a PSA or other simple contracts, they typically need a wet signature in front of a notary.  That means you either need a mobile notary to come to your house (or wherever you want to meet them) or you need to go somewhere to find a notary.  Usually you overnight the docs back

3) The title company is typically near the property and your realtor. Where you are when you sign the documents is irrelevant as long as you have a notary.

4) I don't think you can legally "zoom" the notarization of a document, so that part will need to be in person.

@Patrick M.

1. I plan to hire a property management company. Do they attend the closing and get the keys? Does my realtor? Do the keys have to pass hands at the closing itself?

Usually your Realtor gets them and then gives them to the PM. If your PM is willing to go then they can get them too. Whatever you do, do it in person though and don't mail them. I had a customer ask them to be mailed once and they got a torn in half envelope. If you have them mailed ask them to be put in a box or padded mailer at a minimum. 

2. Documents- will this be electronic? Fedex/UPS overnight?

Probably sent to you to sign electronically (print and sign in front of notary) and then sent back overnight mail. 

3. Should I have the remote closing be done near the property, or near me?

Doesn't really matter. Just may change the settlement fees. You can check this beforehand. 

4. Are people closing via Facetime and Zoom these days? Closing outdoors on patios? Indoors with masks?

Based on the locality, but I believe most have provisions for in office or inside closings. You'll have to meet with a notary or live in a state where electronic notarization is allowed. 

I'm not licensed in your state so these answers pertain to Pennsylvania, however I don't think they are likely to be different near you. Your agent and your title company/lawyer should be able to answer these easily

I'll weigh in on the closing part. I'm a mobile notary specializing in real estate documents in CA. While state laws vary greatly from state to state, but overall even if your state allows online notarization, it can be tough to get the lender, title, and escrow all on the same page. So MOST of the time, you'll need to sign actual physical papers because they need that wet signature.

2. Usually you'll be given the choice of signing at the Escrow or Title office, OR having a mobile notary come to you. Sounds like you're doing a remote closing, and the notary is coming to you. In that case the notary generally has the documents already printed for you to sign as well as an unsigned copy for you to keep. I've heard of some places doing everything with e-signatures (like docu-sign) except for the documents that need notarized, but this is pretty rare. There is a LOT of room for fraud if you notarize through Zoom or Facetime, but some states are allowing this now with Covid-19 going on. California isn't allowing it, so check with your state (The National Notary Association, NNA, would be a good place to check). Also note that electronic notarization is not the same thing as Remote Online Notarization (RON). Electronic notarization still requires you to physically appear before the notary.

3. It's entirely up to you, but most people prefer to have documents signed where they live or work as it's more convenient.

4. I don't think a lot of Zoom/Facetime closings are going on, though I have heard of it in other states, and heard it was a mess. Most Remote Online Notarizations use a specific platform. Since CA doesn't allow RON, I am definitely not doing closings this way. I personally leave it up to my signers where to do the signing, whatever they're most comfortable with. I think most notaries are doing the same. I've done some on patios by the pool (the wife stayed at least 20 ft. away from me the entire time, and her husband was the go-between, picking up the clipboard for me to pass, signing what he needed to sign, then walking over to her to get her signature.... more time intensive, but it worked), some in parking lots with a card table & lawn chairs, and one on the patio of a multi-million dollar home by the beach. But have also done signings indoors while wearing mask & gloves, and using hand sanitizer before and after as well as wiping down frequently touched items. I'm wearing mask & gloves for all signings, and would expect most notaries to do the same. 

If you do your signing outdoors, just make sure you or the notary has clipboards (preferably legal sized) as well as paperweights to keep documents from blowing away.