Every industry in the country has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 outbreak; real estate is no exception. If you’re planning on buying, selling or refinancing a home in Metro Atlanta during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ll take you through the State of Georgia Executive Orders that have been put into effect during this time to ensure your real estate closing appointment is not canceled due to the impact of COVID-19.
As far as we know, these orders continue to remain in effect even though Governor Kemp has begun to reopen Georgia. As to when the orders will be lifted, we’re not sure, but all of us at Frank B. Pallotta Law are committed to keeping you informed on the real estate laws in Georgia as they continue to evolve.
Below we will reference Executive Order 04.09.20.01 from Governor Kemp. We will break down a few key points that we think are important to understand, specifically regarding “virtual” closings.
Virtual Real Estate Closing via Videoconference
The law that requires a notary, “an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia or be operating under the supervision of an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia”, to be present in person to notarize the signing of a legal document has been temporarily suspended. The result is that all the parties to the transaction do not need to gather in one room at the same time to complete the closing.
Remote online authorization has been put into effect using real-time audio visual communication technology (“AVCT”) meaning your closing attorney (notary) can be present via videoconference (i.e. Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, etc.). Recording the AVCT session from beginning to end is required; just make sure everyone is aware when recording begins.
First and foremost, everyone involved in the closing appointment must be physically located in the state of Georgia during the videoconference.
The signer must present their proper identification to the closing attorney. You may also have to verify your identity through a 6-digit verification code that will be text to the known signer’s phone number. This code will be included in the closing file. Your closing attorney will then witness all “wet” signatures during the real-time AVCT session.
When you first receive your closing package from Frank B. Pallotta Law, you will find a return FedEx envelope with a mailing label attached as well as a blue ink pen for the signing. During the same videoconference session, you will be required to put all of the signed documents into the FedEx envelope and seal it in-view of the attorney. Immediately after the session has ended, you will deliver the envelope via overnight delivery.
At the end of the videoconference, it’s recommended by the General Best Practices Under Executive Order 04.09.20.01 to consider stating something along the lines of, “This [name of document] was notarized pursuant to Executive Order 04.09.20.01 using [insert technology name] as real-time audio visual communication technology.” Many lenders require such a document be included in the closing package.
Everything else you would normally bring to your real estate closing appointment remains the same. Make sure you have a strong internet connection and have communicated with your attorney about their own videoconference or AVTC process.
If you have more questions or concerns about real estate law in Georgia during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic and how it might impact your attempt to buy, sell or refinance your home, Frank B. Pallotta Law is here to help! Give us a call today and let our expert team guide you.
You can find more information about the Executive Orders put into effect due to COVID-19 on the State Bar of Georgia’s website.