COVID-19 Information for Real Estate Transactions

Can real estate closings occur without meeting in-person?

Yes.  To allow your closing to proceed without attending in-person, we will provide a complimentary Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney will authorize a member of our office to sign documents on your behalf. You will not need to attend the closing unless required by your lender. We will provide copies of closing documents to be signed and will answer any questions you have by phone or email prior to completing the transaction. The Power of Attorney will be prepared and sent to you near the time your closing is scheduled. You will need to sign it before a Notary and scan or mail a copy to us prior to the closing date.

Can real estate closings occur when a lender prohibits use of a Power of Attorney?

Yes.  Our office is now beginning limited in-person closings.  We modified our conference room to allow closings to occur while safely distancing.  We also added a separate entrance for clients.  Most transactions will still close by Power of Attorney, but we can now accommodate closings where a Power of Attorney is not allowed by the lender.  We will only allow clients to enter, so Realtors and other parties who are not signing documents will be asked to wait outside.  We’ve created procedures to comply with the new State rules which we’ll email to in advance.

What are the safety procedures for in-person closings?

To provide for your safety and the safety of our staff, we have implemented the following procedures:

  • We will regularly wipe down the conference room table and other commonly touched surfaces with disinfectant.
  • Please ring the doorbell at the back door near the top of the ramp and wait outside for instructions to enter the office.
  • We are only allowing parties required to sign documents to enter. Your family members, Realtors, loan officers and others not signing documents will be asked to wait outside.
  • Before entering, please put on a face mask.
  • When entering, you will have access to just the conference room. The bathroom will not be available as we do not have enough staff to clean it after every use.
  • The attorney meeting with you will communicate through a service window at a second door to the conference room.
  • Please remain at least 6 feet from the attorney except for the times when documents are exchanged at the window.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided. We ask that hand sanitizer be used just before we provide the documents to be signed.
  • We will supply a new single-use pen and ask that you take it with you when leaving or toss it in the trash.
  • We will list your name in our State mandated contact tracing log.
  • A copy of your currently valid, government issued, photo identification is required. To avoid us handling your ID, please take a picture of it and reply to this email with a copy.

If you are showing COVID-19 symptoms or have been diagnosed with an active case of COVID-19, please contact our office to make alternate arrangements. If you will be out of state within two weeks prior to your closing, please contact our office to reschedule the closing date.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation with these safety procedures.

Can title searches still be completed?

Yes.  Most clerks are now allowing limited in-person access to the land records for title searches. Some clerks have online land records or are remotely assisting attorneys with title searches by email. The title search process is taking longer but we are generally able to complete them.  We are very grateful for the assistance being provided by town and city clerks during this time.

Can real estate closing documents be signed online in Vermont?

No.  Mortgages, deeds and other documents are required to be wet ink signed with only original documents recorded in the land records.

Can a scanned or faxed Power of Attorney be used as an original?

Yes.  There is a special exception in the statute which allows for a copy of a POA to be used as an original.

With fire safety inspections on hold, can closings for condominiums and multi-family properties proceed?

It depends on the willingness of the buyer, seller and lender.  A buyer and lender could choose to waive proof of Fire Safety compliance after consulting with an attorney regarding the risks.  A buyer could negotiate with a seller to agree (subject to lender approval) to resolve Fire Safety issues when inspections resume after the closing.  An escrow might be needed.  If no agreement can be reached, the transaction will need to be postponed until Fire Safety inspections resume.