Closing Deals during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic


Wondering how your purchase or sale will go during the Coronavirus (or COVID-19) pandemic? Here are a few things we’re working on to help things go more smoothly.

A few steps we are taking to help deals close more smoothly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Title Insurance

Title insurance is a form of insurance that we order when a buyer or lender requests it. It’s a different kind of insurance from property insurance.

Property insurance covers risks to the property itself, such as floods, fires, or other damage.

Title insurance covers legal issues related to the property, such as:

  • zoning issues
  • fraud or forgery
  • lack of legal access to the property
  • work orders

Gap insurance coverage is a special feature of title insurance that is quite unique. It could help insure owners and lenders against losses that happen as a result of an “intervening registration”. This is a charge or title change that sneaks into the title system between the closing date and the date of registration.

This becomes particularly important if the Land Title & Survey Authority (the “LTSA”) isn’t able to run its electronic registration processes. The LTSA might do this if it encounters staffing shortages or to protect their staff against exposure to the Coronavirus.

If COVID-19 precautions require closures of these electronic systems, we will have to submit documents for our closings manually. Gap insurance will protect owners and buyers against intervening registrations, which can cause loss of title or security.

Funding Mortgages on Time

A lack of on-site staffing could delay or stop mortgage funding.

We make every attempt to work with lenders to ensure they have all the paperwork they require in order to fund your mortgage. However, social distancing and isolation requirements might mean that your lender will have staffing shortages. This might lead to your mortgage not funding on time.

We note that many banks will be closing their local branches; this will make it difficult for clients to sign banking documents. We do not yet know how funding centres will respond to the Coronavirus.

It is very important that buyers ensure they have met all of their lender’s conditions for funding. Please make sure you have provided all of your documentation to your mortgage broker as soon as you can. The more time your lender has, the better, if they are experiencing staffing shortages as a result of COVID-19.

Organizing Dates

The longer we have to work on your purchase or sale, the better.

Normally, we prefer at least one day between the sale of one property and the purchase of another.

A longer space between a purchase and a sale would be safer now, given the staffing challenges that we, and many others face in the next weeks and months.

This way, if a sale file “goes long” – or doesn’t complete on time – it will have less chance of delaying or collapsing your purchase file.

Pre-signing Meetings

When requested, we will try to arrange for virtual pre-signing meetings. This may help us cover off as much of the signing process as possible over the phone. This could help minimize exposure to the Coronavirus.

It is still a legal requirement that we see clients in person. We must do this so we can:

  • verify our clients’ identity
  • ensure that no one is unduly influencing our clients
  • confirm that our clients have legal capacity
  • ensure that we are meeting various money laundering and fraud compliance requirements
  • comply with the laws and the requirements of our governing bodies

We can arrange out of office visits to clients who are healthy, or low risk.

We can also tailor our meetings our clients’ needs. For example, we can meet with clients in a parking lot or other open space.

We have always been available to come to healthy or low-risk clients who are living in care, or who are in the hospital. However, special arrangements may need to be made if hospitals or care facilities are closed to visitors.

BC’s Centre for Disease Control has a Coronavirus self-assessment tool to determine whether you might benefit from testing for COVID-19. Let us know as soon as possible if you will be unable to come and see us in our offices.

Office Management

Of course, we are working on putting office safety measures in place. These comply with the suggestions of the Government of Canada and our governing bodies. Some of these measures include:

  • removing pens and papers from signing rooms
  • disinfecting pens, desks and chairs after use
  • encouraging the proper washing of hands
  • working with staff to address their needs

These responses will be ongoing, and will change as required by the progression of the pandemic, and recommended practices.

Contact us if you have any concerns about your transaction, or would like to make special arrangements with respect to your signing appointment.

			March 17, 2020 12:01 am 
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