We are already over the two year mark of when Covid became a household name in our lives and a lot has changed. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the changes with the courts and real estate and how its affected people and will affect them ongoing.
Remote Notary –
New York state has made the option to do virtual notarization permanent. There are regulations, of course, such as the fact that the notary has to be physically in New York state and have the ability to see and talk to the signor (in real time.) You would not be able to record yourself and then just send it in.
The tech must be secure and the audio-visual recording of the remote notarization (along with a back-up) has to be kept for 10 years. You can find more information here. While this is convenient, it could potentially pose tech problems, security issues and is an added layer of work on the side of the notary to maintain the required digital information.
The moratoriums against evictions have expired. This had previously stopped landlords from filing new eviction cases and proceeding with pending cases through January 15, 2022 for tenants who signed a hardship declaration.
The Courts have changed procedures somewhat, which may or may not be a permanent one. Before Covid, when I would prepare a petition for one of these matters, I would pick a date and submit it to the court in the paperwork. Now, with the backlog and other factors in play, the court sets the date. So, we do beg your patience since once we send the petition to the court for filing, it is out of our control until we get a date.
Other Court Matters –
Speaking of Courts, they are still operating on a hybrid model. This has been very efficient as it lessens the amount of travel time and sitting in court for all parties. Holding a telephone conference or a virtual conference is certainly more cost effective for the client since there is no commute time/waiting in court for the attorney.
Even a foreclosure settlement conference is being done via a conference call. It really helps everyone get more done in a day than ever before. The main downfall is not getting the opportunity to see people, say hello, build connections and network. There is less interaction overall and it can feel impersonal.
In-person trials are still taking place, but again, the case backlog is deep. It’s going to take time to get back to a normal schedule again.
Real Estate –
In-person real estate closings are still happening, but we have adapted our procedures, as well. Many times, the seller does not really have to be at the closing in person. We can prepare the documents and have them pre-signed by the seller and then I would attend the closing on their behalf. Of course, the purchaser has a lot that must be signed on closing day, so they need to be present in person.
Interest rates are slowly climbing back up, but they are still low if you look at the last 10 years. Inventory is also still low, so being prepared and coming in with a solid offer is still very important, as bidding wars are still occurring. An issue with real estate continues to be that appraisals are often not coming in at the actual purchase price, so people are not getting their loans approved to the full amount and are having to come up with extra cash to cover the difference.
Refinances have slowed down drastically and that trend will continue as rates continue to rise.
On a good note, I have seen an influx in people preparing wills, trusts and other pertinent documents in estate planning since the beginning of the pandemic. People are trying their hardest to prepare and plan and in a very unknown and ever-changing world, it’s nice to have peace of mind around the protection of your assets.
On a personal note, I just took a short trip with my family to Virginia Beach, my son’s “last” spring break as a high school student. He is graduating in June and has been accepted to SUNY Maritime College. It’s going to be very different in my house come September.
And in firm news, we welcome Steven Cera to our team. Steven has extensive background in real estate closings and mortgage modifications/consumer protection. If you, or anyone you know, are having difficulties with your mortgage, please schedule a complimentary meeting with us and we can discuss your options.