COVID-19 Operations

Alpharetta Office Update – All Negative Tests for Our Team: 6-18-2020

Thank you all who reached out today with words of encouragement for our Alpharetta Office and Campbell & Brannon.  We are happy to report all of our tests today for the Alpharetta Team were negative.  Our special team from the Buckhead Office seamlessly closed all Alpharetta deals today as well.  The Alpharetta Team looks forward to seeing everyone with big smiles tomorrow at the closing table.

Update for our Alpharetta Customers: 6-18-2020

As always, our goal at Campbell and Brannon is Steadfast Commitment, Trusted Experience, and Extraordinary Closings.  Taking care of our customers is at the center of everything we do.  To that end, we wanted to immediately update all of our customers on a development in one of our offices late yesterday afternoon to ensure we provide the highest levels of service, trust, and the safest experience possible during this difficult time.

Wednesday an employee in the Alpharetta Office of Campbell & Brannon received positive test results for COVID-19. That employee does not have interaction with our customers and is not an attorney. The employee exclusively works in the Alpharetta Office and has not been present in the Alpharetta Office since last Friday, June 10th.  Out of an abundance of caution for our customers and team, we had the Alpharetta Office of professionally sterilized last night.

From the inception of COVID-19, we have strategically segregated our teams by offices at Campbell & Brannon to insure that, should a team member test positive, we would be ready to continue closings for our customers in a safe manner.  Accordingly, a special team from our Buckhead Office will conduct all closings in the Alpharetta Office today (Thursday) and beyond as needed in the coming days.  Meanwhile today, all Alpharetta Office Team Members and Attorneys are being tested to insure the protection of our team and customers.  None of our Alpharetta Team will return to the Alpharetta Office until we have confirmed negative test results.

Thank you for your continued partnership and confidence you place in our team.  We look forward to continuing to serve you across all our offices.

Update: 6-08-2020

Buyer Side Agents Invited to Attend Closing Again

The celebration of closing has not been the same without our agents at the closing table.  Though our experience has changed over the past few months our commitment to our agents and customers remains.

Across all offices of Campbell & Brannon we continue to sign most sellers “curbside” outside our offices to limit exposure to our customers and team.  We will continue that practice in the coming weeks.

For Buyers and refinance Borrowers, we are signing either 1) in the office or 2) curbside in limited locations where we are able to have a table placed outside.  Due to building regulations we are not able to accommodate this in our Buckhead and Intown locations.  Given most loan packages are over 100 pages it is safest and most efficient to sign these closings at a table inside.

While Sellers are signing in their cars making their agent attendance at closing not possible, we would like to invite our Buyer side agents to attend closings again at their option.  Many agents do not feel comfortable yet attending closing which we certainly understand.  For those agents, we are happy to FaceTime with the customer to include the agent in the experience.  Please let us know what works best for you and your clients.

As we invite Buyer side agents to attend in person again, we kindly request that everyone attending closing please wear a mask.   Real estate is the circle of life.  A young growing family often buys their forever home from a Seller who has loved the home for many years as they downsize.  We must ensure that we continue our safety precautions as we interact with customers of all ages throughout each day.

We are thrilled to welcome you back to the closing table and can’t wait to see you all!

Update: 4-21-2020
We’re in This Together: Closing Procedures through Early May
We continue to be humbled and amazed by the collective efforts of the Campbell & Brannon Team and the real estate community as a whole to rise above the challenges of COVID-19.  We can’t wait for the day when we’re celebrating at the closing table with happy buyers, sellers and their agents side by side.

Until that day comes, everyone’s safety remains paramount.  To that end, we will continue to operate using our limited interaction closing protocol and safety procedures created over the past month until early May.  At that time, we will evaluate and provide further guidance on the expected closing process and procedures at Campbell & Brannon.

Signing Options
Cash Buyers:  We will continue to sign electronically with no video necessary as no cash buyer documents require a witness or notary.

Buyers with Loans/Refinancing Borrowers/Sellers:
A. Preferred Option: Video Signing of all Loan and/or Closing Documents –
Some lenders are now allowing their borrowers to utilize the video signing capability we announced several weeks ago.  This is our recommendation for signing if the lender permits and timing allows.  If this is not an option, we will continue to waive our fee to prepare Powers of Attorneys as needed.

The majority of Sellers on all transactions may utilize this signing option regardless of whether the buyer is paying cash or obtaining a loan.

B. Physically Signing at Our Offices when Video Signing Not Possible.
Buyers/Refinancing Borrowers in Our Offices – We will sign with these customers with as little interaction as possible in our offices.

For Sellers: We will sign all sellers for closings “curbside” by bringing documents to your car for signature to limit the parties physical presence and interaction with our team.

Update: 4-16-2020

 

Update: 3-31-2020

Governor Kemp Signs Emergency Order Allowing Notarizing of Documents by Video

As we updated you on Friday, Campbell & Brannon along with industry partners including real estate brokers, lenders, title insurance underwriters, the State Bar and many others have been diligently working behind the scenes the past two weeks with the Governor’s office on a temporary emergency order that would allow witnessing and notarizing closing documents by real time audio-video technology.  On Friday step one of that process was completed.  Minutes ago, the Governor signed the order (step two) permitting such action.

Over the past two weeks while part of our team worked on closings using traditional physical signings, another group of our team familiarized themselves with the technology allowing us to witness and notarize closing documents using the audio-video technology.  Effective tomorrow, we will offer this additional signing option to all of our customers.  Best of all, we’ve made it easy.  Our technology will allow the video conference via most cell phones and not require a computer or internet connection.

Signing Options

Cash Buyers:  We will continue to sign cash buyer documents electronically since none require a witness or notary and in turn neither your physical presence nor a video call is required for closing.  However, attorneys can discuss any of these documents with a buyer……that call just doesn’t have to be by audio-video technology.

Buyers with Loans/Refinancing Borrowers/Sellers:

1. Preferred Option: Video Signing of all Loan and Closing Documents

  1. Please note: if you select this option as a buyer with a loan or refinancing borrower, we must confirm with your Lender they will allow signing via video under the new Executive Order.
  2. You will need the ability to print the closing documents.
    1. Buyers with a Loan/Borrowers – Expect to print 100 pages.
    2. Sellers – Expect to print 15 pages.
    3. If you do not have access to a printer we will be happy to overnight the printed package to you to the sign and return to us. Please let us know in advance if this service is required.
  3. We will connect with you by sending a secure link for our video conference.
  4. You will return the original signed paper documents to us prior to closing and disbursement.  Note we cannot disburse or fund your closing until we have received the originals.  You may return the documents to us via Fedex or your personal delivery.  We recommend you personally return them if possible to insure on time closing and funding.

 2. Physically Signing at Our Offices.

  1. Signing in our offices is an option but, as much as possible, for the safety of our customers and team we kindly request you only select this service option if you do not have the ability to video conference by cell phone, computer, feel uncomfortable doing so or there is a unique lender requirement requiring your physical presence.
  2. Buyers/Refinancing Borrowers in Our Offices – We will sign with these customers with as little interaction as possible in our offices while abiding by all shelter in place directives.
  3. For Sellers: We will sign all sellers for closings “curbside” by bringing documents to your car for signature to limit the parties physical presence and interaction with our limited team that remains in our offices for Minimum Basic Operations in keeping with shelter in place directives.

Update: GA Closings Still Require Physical Presence of Notary – 3-29-2020

We continue to be amazed at the resilience of our industry to adapt, pivot and protect our customers and team members.  Campbell & Brannon along with industry partners including real estate brokers, lenders, title insurance underwriters and many others have been diligently working behind the scenes this past week with the Governor’s office on a temporary emergency order allowing notarizing closing documents by video.  That order has NOT been signed yet.

Today the Supreme Court of Georgia confirmed step one in a two-step process which will eventually allow us to sign closing documents with parties without their leaving home or having to physically meet with a notary.  Until today, in Georgia, the closing attorney who was conducting the closing was required to appear in the physical presence of the parties at the closing.  The Court announced today they are temporarily suspending that requirement, bringing us one step closer to having the ability for the closing attorney to sign the closing documents acting as both notary and closing attorney via video.

However, we still must complete step two in this process before parties may sign closing documents without having to physically meet with a notary. 

The moment closings are possible by video signing without any physical interaction we will immediately update you. Please continue to look for updates on closing processes and procedures during this time on our COVID-19 web page as well.  Until then, we will carry on with curbside closings, limited borrower interactions in signing, and anything within our power to protect our customers and team.

Have a wonderful weekend, stay safe, and stay home.

Update: 03-24-2020

Closings During Governor Kemp’s Order and City of Atlanta’s Shelter in Place Order

Amid the stress and uncertainty, it’s never been more critical to stay connected to our customers. To that end, we wanted to send a brief update on closing processes and procedures in light of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and City of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s Executive Orders announced last night.

Under both orders, law firms are categorized as Essential Businesses allowing us to continue to serve our customers across all offices. While we are severely restricting our physical presence to Minimum Basic Operations, our entire team across all offices remain remotely engaged to serve our customers with select attorneys and team members physically present in all offices. Our top questions this morning including answers are updated below:

Can I still physically sign for closing in light of the orders?

Yes, while adhering to all rules and regulations our team across all offices will be signing with customers.

For Sellers: We will sign all sellers for closings “curbside” by bringing documents to your car for signature to limit the parties physical presence and interaction with our limited team that remains in our offices for Minimum Basic Operations. Alternatively, we will continue our procedure of seller mail away packages where requested, keeping in mind a witness and notary still are required for signature.

For Buyers With a Loan: We will sign with all buyers for closings with as little interaction as possible, limiting the number of parties in any of our offices to less than 10 people at a time and only allowing buyers (not sellers, loan offices or real estate agents) to sign within our office in order to adhere to the orders and protect our customers and team. If you are unable to attend in person, we will provide a Power of Attorney for execution, keeping in mind a witness and notary are still required for execution of the Power of Attorney. Additionally, the party you appoint will also have to attend closing and any Power of Attorney for closing must be approved by your lender. We will also need the original Power of Attorney returned to our office.

For Cash Buyers: We will continue to sign electronically as no cash buyer documents require a witness or notary and in turn your physical presence is not required for closing.

For All: In light of the executive orders and to protect our customers and team, we will continue to reach out to parties to sign in advance of closings to limit peak volumes within our offices and adhere to the orders.

Can I sign via video instead of physically either in a C&B Office or with a physical notary elsewhere?

NOT YET. The executive order allowing video signing has still NOT been signed so we cannot under Georgia law legally sign with customers over video. As there is any update on this front, we will update everyone.

Update: 03-21-2020

Closing if Shelter in Place Orders are Issued

During this uncertain time, nothing is more important to Campbell & Brannon than the health and safety of our customers and team. To that end, we continue to take additional precautions and update our operating procedures hourly. Additionally, we remain focused on providing you with the service and support you have come to expect from us.

As many areas of the country are enacting “shelter in place” orders, we’ve been asked many different questions on this subject and wanted to provide detailed guidance on this evolving topic.

Is there currently a shelter in place order enacted in Metro-Atlanta?

We do not know of a shelter in place order for Metro-Atlanta at this time. Accordingly, closings in our offices for the next week are still expected to occur as usual. As announced earlier in the week, we are working with all sellers across all our offices to sign in advance of closing for all closings occurring next week. These seller signings are occurring via quick meetings outside our offices (typically in our parking lots) in order to limit the physical presence in our lobbies to buyers only.

Can I sign via video/FaceTime/webcam?

As of today, there is not the legal ability under Georgia law to sign documents in this manner.  However, there may be an Executive Order allowing execution of documents for both buyers and sellers via-video.  Once enacted, we will shift (where at all possible) our closings to signatures via this method.

What if the county courthouses are closed, can we close and/or write new contracts?

YES. Yesterday, the Council of Superior Court Clerks for all 159 counties confirmed by order they will remain open, and if physical access becomes unavailable, they will continue electronically in both allowing searching of title and recording.

Will closings still happen if there is a shelter in place executive order signed?

YES. Most major cities consider real estate closings an “essential” activity and in turn closings will proceed.

How will I sign if there is a shelter in place order in place?

Most likely by the time there is a shelter in place order in place, the governor will have already signed the Executive Order allowing signing by video. If not, we will continue to provide and refine our process currently in place of physically signing with customers.

What if I can’t sign by video as I don’t have the capability on my phone or computer?

The majority of shelter in place orders elsewhere have considered real estate closing an essential business. As permitted under the order when enacted, we will have one attorney physically present in each of our offices daily to accommodate these rare instances where signing must occur in person.

What will the process of signing via video look like?

  • There’s still All the Paper. Customers will still physically sign all of the closing documents. Unfortunately, the process is not paperless at this time.
    • Email and Print – We will email all closing documents to customers to print.
    • Overnight FedEx – In the rare cases where a customer does not have the ability to print, we will ask the customer to alert us several days prior to closing so we can arrange to overnight physical documents to them.
  • Video Appointment Time. Our team will reach out to customers to set a time for a video appointment for signing just like signing occurs in each of our offices already. The closing attorney will join the video conference acting as notary along with a fellow C&B team member as the witness.
  • Fed-Ex Originals Back to Us. Once documents have been signed, the customer will either
    • 1) drop them office at our offices during normal business hours, or,
    • 2) FedEx the original documents to us.
      • If the customer cannot leave their home, we will on a case by case basis send FedEx or other carrier to the customer to retrieve the documents, only charging the customer the cost incurred for this service.
  • Closing Complete. Once our offices have all of the customer signed documents and all other conditions of closing have been met, we will alert all parties the transaction is successfully complete.

As there is an update on either a “shelter in place” order or the ability to sign closing documents via video, we will update this page.

Update: 03-16-2020

To further update our announcement from Friday, we are in unprecedented times.

As of today, Campbell & Brannon intends to remain open in all locations throughout the metro-Atlanta area.  We remain organized and prepared to conduct closings as they are currently scheduled.

If times or locations need changing, we will immediately notify you.  With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the speed at which things are changing around us, we are continually adapting our operations and business.

Over our 22 years in operation, we have faced many challenges and each has made us better prepared for a situation like this. Steadfast commitment to our customers continues to be our top priority, and our team continues to work tirelessly across all offices, taking every possible precaution to make sure that closings continue in a safe environment.

Additional Precautions

In addition to the previously emailed and posted precautions on Friday, as of today we are taking the following additional measures:

  • Recommending Only Essential Signers Attend Closings. In order to limit potential exposure and adhere to social distancing recommendations, we are recommending only those people whose signatures are needed for closing attend the closing when possible. We offer any real estate agent the opportunity to join us remotely if they desire to be present.  We have various virtual attendance options to offer.
  • Signing Buyers and Sellers in Separate Rooms for Closings. Where possible, we will be signing Buyers and Sellers in separate closing rooms and immediately seating parties in closing rooms upon arrival to avoid unnecessary contact in our lobbies.
  • Removing all Snacks and Drinks from our Lobbies. We have removed all magazines and have made water and drinks available on table tops but have eliminated the need to touch common surfaces such as handles or common dispensers etc.
  • Limiting Our Team Member’s Interactions.  In addition to limited interactions in our lobbies, our team members behind the scenes are adhering to social distancing within our offices and working remotely where possible as an additional precaution.
  • Offering to Make Alternative Signing Arrangements for High Risk Exposure Customers. For our customers who have a heightened risk of complications if potentially exposed, we are, on a case by case basis, making alternative signing arrangements in lieu of physically signing in our offices.

Closings Continuing in Light of the GA Declared Judicial Emergency

Georgia Chief Justice Melton announced a statewide judicial emergency last night.  At this point, the recording offices and in turn our ability to continue with closings is uninterrupted.  Even should recording offices close temporarily, our ability to search title records virtually and record via electronic recording will continue.  Campbell & Brannon was the first firm to electronically file documents in Fulton County and in fact piloted the e-recording process.  We are prepared and will carry on.

While we are all facing challenges, we know the ability to proceed with closings remains essential. We appreciate those of you who have reached out to us to express your support for our team during this trying time.

This too shall pass and our commitment, trusted experience and dedication to extraordinary closings will see us through.  We appreciate your loyalty and our continued opportunity to serve you.


Initial Post: 03-13-2020

As a valued customer of Campbell & Brannon, we appreciate the trust you place in our firm and our team across all offices.

In the current environment, it’s important for all of us to interact in a smarter and more conscious manner. We want to personally update you on the situation with COVID-19 (the coronavirus) and the steps we are taking to ensure your health and safety in your upcoming closings.

We’ve learned from past experiences in weather and other related disruptions to effectively continue operations remotely and built our systems for such situations.  In turn, we have refined and improved our ability to protect our customers in situations like this.

To ensure you always have access to the latest information and guidance, we will be updating this page continually in the coming weeks. This will include updates on any relevant changes in operations which may impact your closing.

Safety Precautions

  • Increasing Lobby and Closing Room Cleaning – Campbell & Brannon has increased the cleaning schedule of our lobbies and closing rooms, making supplies readily available to our client services team for more frequent lobby and closing room cleanings between each closing.
  • Minimizing Interactions for Check in for Closings – To limit physical interaction, we are leaving doors open and have technology available for advanced secure online uploading of government issued identification for closing rather than copying upon check-in.  If an ID has not been provided prior to closing, our self-check in scanner is being used and cleaned multiple times hourly.
  • Providing Hand Sanitizer – Campbell & Brannon has hand sanitizers in all lobbies and closing rooms as well as our internal offices so employees and customers alike can take advantage of this precautionary measure throughout their time with us.
  • Providing Individual Pens – Lenders and county recording offices often require the closing documents be signed in blue ink only.  To that end and to insure everyone’s safety, we are providing each customer with a disposable personal pen at all closings.
  • Insuring the Health of Our Team – We have taken steps to ensure the continuity of our business and welfare of our employees.  This includes instructing employees who feel ill or have a potential exposure to report to leadership and stay home while consulting their healthcare providers.  We are also urging all employees to be vigilant about respiratory etiquette and washing of hands.
  • Denying Access to Customers and Visitors Who Create Higher Risks.  If customers and visitors to our offices answer yes to any of the below questions, access to our offices will be denied.  Such individuals should alert our offices in advance of closing to make alternative arrangements to sign.
    • Have you had close contact with or cared for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
    • Have you returned from a cruise trip or any of the countries with travel restrictions from the CDC site in the last 14 days?
    • Have you experienced fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath in the last 14 days (symptoms can also include sore throat, respiratory illness, difficulty breathing)?

Closing Procedures

  • Will Campbell & Brannon be physically closing any offices?  We do not expect to close any offices unless it is on the advice or specific direction of federal, state or local authorities.  We will notify any potentially impacted customers if we are made aware of someone visiting our offices who is confirmed to have COVID-19 or who has been in close contact (as defined by the CDC) with someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19 and is reasonably believed to create any exposure at Campbell & Brannon.
  • Can I e-sign for my Closing?
    • Cash Buyer – YES E-signing is available at no additional cost.
    • Loan Buyers and all Sellers – NO (But see below) Many closing documents require signature in the physical presence of a witness and notary per Georgia Law. 
  • Can I sign remotely for my Closing?
    • Campbell & Brannon is waiving our fee (except for overnight delivery costs) for seller and buyer requested mail-away packages.  However, please note the documents still will need to be signed remotely in the presence of a witness and notary.  If the customer does not have access to a notary we can assist in providing mobile notary services on a limited basis.
  • Will my Closing happen on time?
    • COVID-19 isn’t the first business disruption we’ve faced, and what we’ve learned from past experiences have helped prepare us to take care of our customers today.  Our adjustments include paperless file systems to insure our team continues working on your closing both in our offices and remotely to insure closings. Additionally, our strength in numbers across multiple offices allows us to keep your closing on track as a united effort.

Our homes are fundamental to our lives, which is why closings can’t – and shouldn’t – simply stop. Campbell & Brannon’s mission of providing steadfast commitment, trusted experience and extraordinary closings is never more important than at times like this.

Thank you for your continued trust in Campbell & Brannon.  We look forward to seeing you in our offices in the coming weeks.