Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Escrow Process

Spring is typically considered the best time of year to buy or sell a home. However, this year we are seeing real estate transactions slowing to a halt as the number of COVID-19 cases increases exponentially each day. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing as businesses have been forced to close and millions of Americans have been mandated to stay at home. With the uncertainty surrounding our current situation, it is no surprise that the housing market has also taken a substantial blow.

If you were planning to buy or sell a home now and are unsure of where you stand, you are not alone. Real-estate agents are rushing to help home buyers and sellers close pending house sales, as the pandemic poses unprecedented obstacles to a high-touch process traditionally done in person.

To help you make sense of what COVID-19 means for the housing market, we have gathered the latest information on home purchase trends, so you can get a better handle on where you and the real estate industry are headed.

Precautions In Place For Home Appraisals And Closings

These are extraordinary times and we are taking extraordinary measures to complete your real estate transaction in a safe and secure manner, including:

  • Actively engaging with appraisers and signing agents to ensure that no one is conducting inspections or closings who have questionable travel, interactions, or are showing signs of symptoms, etc.
  • Working to ensure that our team members and partners understand and follow all CDC guidelines and best practices.
  • Encouraging appraisers and signing agents take proper sanitary measures the entire time they are at your home.

What To Do If the Seller Does Not Want To Do Showings

A seller generally has control over how their property is shown and has agreed to certain marketing activity in the listing agreement. If the seller desires to prohibit in-person showings, get those instructions in writing and consider an addendum to your listing agreement to extend the listing.

Non-conventional marketing alternatives are available, such as virtual tours, 3-D tours or taking additional photographs to add to the listing. If the seller wants to cease all marketing efforts during this crisis, they are allowed a “temporarily off market” feature.

Home Inspections Are Going Virtual

Typically home buyers accompany their inspector during the home inspection, but a number of home inspectors are now using live video chatting apps like FaceTime or Zoom to let home buyers tag along remotely. This keeps buyers and inspectors at a safe distance during home inspections.


Lenders Are Cutting Back On In-Home Appraisals

More appraisers are turning to computer algorithms to value properties instead of sending appraisers to inspect homes in person. Many mortgage companies are directing mortgage lenders to reduce the need for appraisers to inspect the interior of a home for eligible mortgages. For non-conforming mortgages, such as FHA loans, an in-home appraisal is still required.


Final Walk-Throughs Are Still Taking Place

Most purchase agreements allow home buyers to do a walk-through of the house shortly before closing to make sure the home is in good condition. The final walk-through is the time to test appliances, ensure windows and doors open and close properly, check all outlets in the house, and double-check that all home inspection repairs were made. However, home buyers are taking safety precautions in the wake of the Coronavirus. Some sellers are being asked to leave doors open so the buyer does not need to touch surfaces.


More Buyers Are Doing eClosings

eClosings are digital real estate closings that give buyers and sellers the ability to sign settlement documents electronically so the parties do not have to meet in person to close the deal. Most eClosings are performed by title agents, who often lead individuals through the required paperwork via video conferencing.

A major impediment to virtual closings in California is the requirement that notaries be physically present when a person signs a document. However, this may soon change as a result of a temporary executive order during the COVID-19 crisis.



If you’re uncomfortable about this process, now or at any time until your scheduled appointment, please reach out to our team. We are eager to get your mortgage completed for you as quickly and easily as possible, but our primary commitment during this time is to keep you, our team members and our communities safe. With Citrus Heritage Escrow by your side, you can rest assured that when you receive your settlement check, you’ve gained the maximum benefit from your home sale or purchase.

Call us today with any questions or concerns. Our professional Escrow Agents will help you through this exciting yet confusing process. (951) 335-7200