Monday, March 23, 2020

Are you closing on your new property during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Hi, we hope you are all keeping well and staying safe. Did you buy a house and you're going to close in the next few weeks? Maybe in a month or two and the COVID-19 pandemic may not be done? 

Just to be safe you should talk to your lawyer about what happens if by the time your property is ready to close  the pandemic has gotten worst. What if the City or Province calls for a total shut down? Chances are by then you may only have 24 or 48 hours to see if you can still close and and so will a lot of other people.

To Do List:

1. Ask your lawyer if he or she will be available to meet with you even if their office is closed? 

2. What if the Land Registry office is closed?  We are not in a position to give legal advice, so please consult your lawyer, but we understand that most Title Insurance Policies include "Gap Coverage" this insures both the buyers and the lenders against losses due to intervening registrations on title between the date of closing and the date of registration. Which means that in the event online registration is no longer available (which is what most lawyers use), or if the land registry offices experience delays or closures due to COVID-19, transactions can close on time and funds and keys can be released to the appropriate parties. But your lawyer should verify in advance with your mortgage lender. Some mortgage lenders will not agree. Best to be ready.

3. Don't forget you should also talk to your movers? Ask them what if the City shuts down will they be working? How many movers do they have on staff and on hold as back up? What if some of their movers get sick? Do they have a contingency plan? 

4. You may want to check with the utility companies like hydro and gas for the property you're buying and/or selling. Did you call to transfer your utilities yet? If not, you may want to do so sooner rather than later. Ask them if they have any concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic? What if they can't send someone out to read the meter, is it a property they can read remotely or can you call in and give them the reading on closing day? Do they have a contingency plan? Don't leave calling them to transfer utilities until the last minute because the number of calls might increase by then substantially. Be sure to tell them the date for the transfer.

5. If you are buying a condo, all of the above apply but also did you call or email the condo management office yet? You have some paperwork to sign, you can do that in person or maybe via e-signature but it has to be done prior to you moving in. If there's only 1 person in the condo management office and they're out sick who do you contact? You also need to make arrangements for payment of the condo fees with the condo management manager. Don't leave this to the last minute. Book your elevator for moving as soon as possible. Ask if there are going to be limitations for using the elevator? Will they clean or disinfect the moving elevator before and after you use it? Are there any additional instructions for the movers?

This preparation may be all for nothing. But it's best to be proactive in planning your closing and contacting the various parties involved to ensure contingency plans are in place should the closing be impacted by the COVID-19 disruption. Fingers crossed the situation will get better soon but it's always best to be prepared.
Take care, stay healthy and safe.
Patrick and Chantal