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.
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
2. Physically Signing at Our Offices.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
In addition to the previously emailed and posted precautions on Friday, as of today we are taking the following additional measures:
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.
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.