It isn’t just the COVID virus that is necessitating changes in the real estate industry. With such a large portion of our business now being conducted via computer and online it has increased the exposure to potential hackers and other clandestine virtual hooliganism requiring the need for additional safety measures.
When you open an escrow these days you will find that your correspondence with the escrow company will be encrypted through a system that you will have to log into and establish an identity and password with. It is their first step at preventing you from receiving fraudulent emails from people trying to steal your money.
It is especially important that you pay attention at the end of the escrow for that is when you will be making arrangements to transfer or receive money for the purchase or sale of your home. They will send you an email changing your wiring instructions that looks like it is from your escrow officer. Don’t believe it! Many people have lost their proceeds through this deception and the money is lost forever.
Deeds and deeds of trust must be notarized in real estate transactions. While many things can be signed via a virtual process, i.e.- DocuSign, deeds and deeds of trust must be wet signed. The title company needs an original signature to record. This can be problematic if you have someone traveling overseas, or sometimes even if they are still stateside.
In some countries you may have to go through the embassy which can take substantial travel and processing time. Title insurers are now starting to accept virtual notaries. The virtual notary watches you sign the document via an internet video connection and then they notarize it for you. A nice breakthrough long overdue in this high tech world we live in.
Giving your money to the escrow company isn’t as easy as it used to be. In 2009 Nevada became a “good funds” state resulting in NRS 645A.171 limiting escrow disbursements as follows:
An escrow agent shall not disburse money from an escrow account on the same business day as the money is deposited unless the deposit is made in one of the following forms: (a) Cash; (b) Interbank electronic transfer such that the money deposited is available for immediate withdrawal without condition and payable in United States currency; (c) Negotiable order of withdrawal, money order, cashier’s check or certified check which is drawn from a financial institution authorized to do business in this State; (d) Any depository check, including any cashier’s check or teller’s check, that is governed by the Expedited Funds Availability Act, 12 U.S.C. §§ 4001 et seq.; or (e) Any other form that permits conversion of the deposit to cash on the same day as the deposit is made.
Regardless of how it reads, it isn’t easy giving cash to close an escrow. Some of the above are not allowed by individual escrow companies due to corporate policies. They don’t want to be left “holding the bag” of a failed fund transfer after they have disbursed the money and closed the escrow. Planning ahead and using a wire transfer is your best way to make sure your funds will transfer in a timely manner.
Some of the protective changes make things go faster while others slow the process. It is important that you know what to expect along the way without making assumptions. You can’t just walk in and write a personal check to buy a home – plan accordingly.
If you are going to be moving about during your escrow make sure you are available to review and sign documents. Coordinate with your agent all along the way. Be sure your agent advises you of what you can expect, what is expected of you, and when things will be happening so you can do your part to keep things moving to a close. Even if you’ve bought and sold in years past, make sure you understand how things are done today. There could be significant changes.
As you work through the process don’t let it get you down. There are a lot of systems and policies in place to protect the parties in a real estate transaction. Better to have a little inconvenience than to experience a major loss that could have been prevented and usually is these days.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your Real Estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. firstname.lastname@example.org