To our valued clients and partners: In light of the declared state of emergency arising from the Coronavirus pandemic and the corresponding government staff modifications, business closings and CDC directives in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, we wanted to advise you how these events will affect our ability to conduct your upcoming closing and our procedures regarding same. First and foremost, Counselors Title is classified as an essential service and thus our ability to continue our operations is not impacted by the Executive Orders closing businesses in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia, including the "Stay at Home" Orders issued today. In addition, the Legal Counsel's Office for Governor Hogan has confirmed that the settlement of real estate is an essential activity for one's self or household and is a permissible reason to leave one's home or residence. Lastly, we have received confirmation from our title insurance underwriter that we will be able to continue to conduct closings even in the event that the local government in which the property is located elects to shut down its Land Records department. In most of our jurisdictions, we have the ability to record electronically and will continue to do so. In the event that settlement documents cannot be recorded due to a shutdown, we will still be able to proceed to closing and the Buyer's title insurance will cover any issues related to the delay in the documents going to record provided the parties sign an acknowledgement of the delay in recording. With respect to the conduct of the settlements themselves, we have instituted some common sense guidelines to conform to recommended social distance procedures, which include the following:1. Only parties who actually are required to sign settlement documents should physically come to the closing. We are ready, willing and able to allow access to the closing remotely for agents representing the parties and other interested personnel;
2. We would encourage buyers and sellers to schedule their signing at different times or we will place the parties in separate conference rooms if they are scheduled at the same time. Sellers can often sign documents prior to or on the closing date while buyers typically must sign on the actual date of closing;
3. Upon request and weather permitting, we have made arrangements to be able to conduct closings outdoors at our Chevy Chase and Kentlands locations;
4. For those parties who are uncomfortable coming to our office to sign, they do have the option of securing a mobile notary to witness their signatures while we remotely present and explain the documents to them. We could provide assistance in securing the mobile notary and any expenses for their services (typically around $250) would be the responsibility of the signing party;
5. For sellers and buyers for cash, there may be an opportunity in some jurisdictions to sign electronically. Please contact our office if this is your situation;
6. We will provide password protected electronic copies to parties of all settlement documents rather than hard copies;
7. We have instituted a policy whereby any of our staff who are able to do so will work remotely and already have an excellent infrastructure in place for this to happen seamlessly;
8. We are having each of our offices professionally cleaned on a nightly basis and are wiping down the conference rooms after each settlement;We make these efforts to protect both our staff and our valued clients, and hope that you find these measures to be reasonable and in keeping with the present directives and guidelines being recommended. It is our intent and expectation that these measures will allow us to continue to provide you with the high level of service you have come to expect from Counselors while simultaneously protecting the health and well being of all involved.Please feel free to contact us directly with any questions or concerns you may have. We are confident that in working together we will be able to maintain as much normalcy as is possible under the circumstances.