Refis are at an all-time high. Borrowers are filling out loan applications like crazy, and business is booming. That being said, an uptick in refis means more signings, and more signings leads to a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19. Proper precautions must be taken to mitigate that risk. Here’s what Timios is doing to keep both borrowers and signing agents safe during the pandemic.
1. Determining a Safe Place to Sign
The first step to a safe signing is finding a safe location for the signing to take place! Timios agents are instructed on where it’s best to perform a safe signing, making them a great resource for borrowers who are unsure about where to sign. A social distance signing can be performed at the borrower’s home, or in a neutral location (i.e. a parking lot, driveway, porch, etc.).
It’s very important to note that both the signing agent and signer must be able to hear and see each other while the signing is occurring while maintaining the social distancing guideline of staying 6 feet apart at any given time.
It can be tricky to follow this rule inside of a building or home, however, Timios has had a lot of luck with what we call “curbside closings”.
This is where the signing agent and borrower agree to park their vehicles in a large driveway, neighborhood street, or empty parking lot to perform the signing. When a document hand-off takes place, the documents can be placed between the two vehicles by the distributing party. The retrieving party then waits until the distributing party re-enters their vehicle before retrieving the documents.
2. Proper Handling of Closing Documents
Since COVID-19 can live on certain items and may be transmitted through touching those items, Timios emphasizes taking reasonable steps to sanitize documents, pens, and/or any other items used in a signing by both parties. This may seem tedious, but it might also save someone from contracting COVID-19.
Again, any documents or items that would normally be passed back and forth between parties is to be placed in an agreed-upon neutral location by one party. The second party would then allow the first party to back away at least 6 feet away or re-enter their vehicle before retrieving the item.
In addition, the signing agent must witness the signer(s) as they sign all documents. While maintaining social distancing guidelines, signing agents will retrieve signed documents and complete the notarization process at a safe distance.
3. Verification of Documents
In order to ensure that the documents handed to the borrower to sign are the same as the ones the signing agent gets back, Timios signing agents are required to take every possible effort to compare the borrower’s signature on the notarized documents to their signature made elsewhere (i.e. driver’s license, journal entries, etc.)Our signing agents may ask borrowers to provide a physical ID in order to complete this verification process.
4. Remote Online Notarization and Hybrid Closings
Even when the current refinance boom ends, no one really knows how long the pandemic will last. That’s why Timios is working towards additional, more efficient solutions to keep borrowers safe during signings in the future.
One of those solutions is remote online notarization (RON). Many believe RON is not far from becoming a common occurrence in residential real estate transactions, which is why Timios is already prepared to handle RON transactions with RON-friendly lenders.
Timios also offers a Hybrid Closing solution. Hybrid Closings allow for some documents to be signed digitally either ahead of time, or at the time of closing.
There are some documents that must still be signed in person, using the guidelines mentioned above.
Here’s the bottom line...
Timios is 100% dedicated to providing a safe closing experience for all parties involved. We provide COVID-19 safety guidelines to all of our signing agents. When those guidelines aren’t met, we adjust our notary database to ensure we are only sending safety-conscious signing agents to meet with borrowers.
We encourage you to ask us more about our COVID-19 safety precautions. If you wish to request either a Curbside Closing or Hybrid Closing for your borrowers, please contact your Timios Closer or Representative and we will be happy to coordinate with all parties involved to deliver a safe and worry-free closing experience!
For more information on Timios’ safe closing guidelines and offerings, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.