COVID-19 UNDERWRITING FAQs
**Please be advised the answers to the questions below are only applicable during the Governor’s Emergency Order. These are not to be relied upon once the Emergency Order has expired.
Q: What if a party is required to sign your Indemnity and Undertaking Agreement but either refuses or makes changes to the form?
A: In that case, call an underwriter to discuss the request.
Q: The lender has asked for affirmative gap coverage in the commitment. How do I provide that?
A: We never remove the gap exception from the commitment. Up until closing we want to retain the ability to add requirements to the commitment in the event something is filed prior to closing. Gap coverage is only given in the policy once it is issued. It is built into the policy under Covered Risk 14 so there is no gap endorsement that needs to be issued with the policy.
Q: Thanks for the great short search guidelines for loan policies. Why don’t you implement them permanently?
A: Believe it or not, those guidelines have been in place since 2001. Click Here to view a copy of our bulletin detailing our limited search guidelines and give one of our underwriters a call if you have any questions.
Q: Can we do all our searches on the GSCCCA website now?
A: No, the title information on GSCCCA can be used in certain situations to update searches where the official county records are wholly or partially unavailable. For example, the GSCCCA indexes can be used to update title from a prior policy or from a prior search if the county records are unavailable.
Q: What if all title information is available but I cannot check the Superior Court civil indexes?
A: The Superior Court indexes do not need to be examined unless you discover a Lis Pendens in your search or some other information puts you on notice of a lawsuit that affects the property.
Q: My examiner has several Covid-19 related exclusions on their title report. Must I include those on my commitment?
A: For the most par, we will have to review the exclusions on a case-by-case basis since we have seen a wide variety of them. It would be helpful to let your examiners know that they should try to be specific in their exclusions regarding exactly what they were unable to search. A general statement that their search may have been limited due to courthouse closures is not helpful.
Q: What if we are unable to get water/utility information in jurisdictions where those are lienable?
A: Ask the current owner for a copy of their title policy. We can rely on that policy for any amounts owed by prior owners. Also, ask the current owner for their most current bill. Pay any past due or current amounts shown on that bill. Have the owner sign an affidavit swearing no other amounts are due and the owner agrees to indemnify us for any additional amounts owed.
Q: What if an HOA will not respond to requests for an HOA letter but we know there is an active HOA?
A: Under O. C. G. A. Section 44-2-232, you can send a request to the HOA at its registered office for a statement and if they do not respond within 5 days any liens associated with the HOA dues are extinguished. You should also ask the homeowner to provide their most current HOA statement.
Q: What if I can not get a written payoff from a lender or the IRS?
A: Until we have written payoffs from lenders for outstanding security deeds and the IRS for any Federal Tax Liens we can not close.
Q: Can I use FaceTime, Google Meet, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to conduct the video closing?
A: No, you must use a video conference servie that complies with our company’s best practices guidelines that meets a security standard to protect the signor’s NPI and these services do not meet our guidelines. Please refer to our best practices video guidelines for the specific requirements.
Q: Does the video closing have to be recorded and stored for a certain number of years?
A: We are not requiring that the closing be recorded; however, many lenders are putting that requirement in their closing instructions. Review the lender’s instructions carefully when you are handling a closing via video conference.
Q. Why won’t you let us notarize parties outside the State of Georgia using video conference technology?
A: It’s not our fault, don’t blame us!! Pursuant to Georgia law, a notary’s powers may only be exercised on parties located within the State of Georgia.
Q: Can an out-of-state party use video conferencing to have documents witnessed and notarized within their own state?
A: As long as the state where the party is located allows documents to be notarized by video conference with a notary located within that state, then they can employ that procedure. The document will have to be sent from the party signing to the notary and witness for wet signatures. The executed documents will then have to be returned to the closing attorney for recording.
Q: Do we need a lender’s approval to conduct a closing by video conference?
A: Yes, not all lenders will allow closings by video conference. It may cause difficulty for them selling the loan, so be sure to get their written approval before conducting a closing in this manner.
Q: Does this mean we now have Remote Online Notarization (RON) in Georgia?
A: No, it does not. Georgia has not passed legislation allowing RON. RON involves remote notarization similar to what is currently allowed under Georgia’s temporary order BUT Georgia requires the notary to put an original, wet signature on the document, while in states that have passed RON the notary electronically notarizes the document and there is no wet signature.
Q: Are these video closings the same as an e-closing?
A: No, a true e-closing involves the delivery and execution of the closing documents electronically using a signing platform such as DocuSign. Georgia still requires original signatures on the transfer Deed, Note, Security Deed, Affidavits and any other documents that require the attestion of a witness and notary.
Q: If parties are signing outside of our office and want to use a mobile notary are they required to use a notary from BancServ?
A: No, we have relaxed the requirement to use BancServ notaries when employing a mobile notary within the United States in all situations other than for a seller and for a borrower in a cash-out refinance.