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Real Estate Closings Amid COVID-19

When it comes to closing a real estate transaction, South Carolina is an “attorney state.” So how are things changing with regards to closings while social distancing orders are in place?

Real Estate sales are still occurring daily. In fact, since the beginning of March, there have been 608 closed sales in the Hilton Head Island MLS area. Real Estate Attorneys are an essential industry. They’re working to overcome challenges while also being smart and safe. Here are some things for you to know:

  • The Beaufort County Register of Deeds is still open and recording property deed transfers through E-Recordings. E-recordings have been in place for the last few years and many attorneys were already using this process prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, a dropbox is located outside of their physical building for paper documents that need to be recorded as well, but the office is closed to the public.
  • Mortgage lenders are offering hybrid closings where a majority of the signatures happen by e-sign for the Closing Attorney’s requirements.
  • Some legal offices are utilizing drop-off boxes for paperwork and payments. Most offices all are closed to the public, with a call upon arrival so the doors can be opened for you.
  • There are still physical documents that must be signed. Mortgages and deeds still require a seller’s wet signature. As a workaround to eliminate the need to go into the physical office, some offices are using a Power of Attorney, allowing the law firm to sign for you. This is especially helpful if you are not able to travel. Some legal offices are offering drive-up signing where you would not even leave your car to sign paperwork. The choice and practice is specific to each Real Estate Closing Attorney.
  • South Carolina has not yet approved E-Closings where a full closing would be online and an online notary is used. Legislature is in place to get that fast-tracked but it is not currently available.

In this constantly changing environment, one thing has been certain, the Lowcountry cares about each other. Everyone’s well being is at the forefront of the business decisions being made, and you can worry less about this one area of home transition.

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