Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Title Examination, GAP Insurance, and Recorded Deeds - Closing Title in a Quarantined World

As of March 24, 2020, both the Nassau County and Suffolk County Clerks have suspended in-person access to their offices. As previously reported on our blog, the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts has ordered that county clerks shall no longer accept any filings, electronic or otherwise. It's still an open question whether this precludes the electronic recording of documents, but there is no doubt that title insurance is a whole lot more complicated right now.

How will your title insurer examine title and issue a policy if they cannot pull non-electronic records? While some clerks have a more robust electronic system than others, can title insurers be confident that the records are up to date given limited staffing and restrictions on filing?

What about the period between closing of title and the recording of your deed? It has always been theoretically (and unfortunately in some instances, actually possible) for a grantor to encumber title to the property you just bought after your title insurer had already performed its search, cleared for closing, and locked in its policy. If there is an even further extended period between closing and recording due to coronavirus closures, it is more vital than ever to ensure that you are protected against these unseen encumbrances.

Traditionally this "GAP Period" requires a special endorsement that protects the purchaser against encumbrances that occur after closing but before the deed is recorded, but will title insurers be willing to insure such an unknown and potentially length time period?

If you are closing in the next few weeks, make sure your attorney has all these questions answered.


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