On This Page:
1. How county office closures impact transactions (PDF of County Status Summary)
2. Health and safety protocols in response to Coronavirus
Nothing is more important to Sun Title than the health and safety of our clients, employees, and their families. We also recognize that we play an integral part in the real estate and lending industries and must remain open and available to service the needs of our clients and their customers. Accordingly, we remain fully operational while taking the precautions and implementing the best practices recommended by public health experts.
Sun Title continues to operate with full staff (many working from home) and can facilitate closings in our offices. This is a fluid situation which depends on the latest orders from the Governor, but so far we are not impacted by the business closures. We suspect that as long as the financial institutions remain open that we will as well (as a support industry).
How County Office Closures Impact Transactions
The title industry is experiencing some of the effects of the closures of certain County offices. The following link is a list of all Michigan counties and the latest information we have been able to gather (which changes hour-to-hour). Here are a few explanations of the list (further explained below):
1. An “X” in the column “Onsite ONLY” means there are no online resources. If the county is closed, then no commitments can be completed in that county until the county re-opens.
2. There are three online resources we use. So long as at least ONE column includes a date range, then we can search online, but we are limited to that date range. Some counties have several online resources.
The closure of some of these offices also impacts transactions in several ways:
Searching the Title Records
When we prepare title commitments, we search the public records using a combination of online resources and, when necessary, onsitesearches at the county buildings. Some counties have excellent online databases and some counties don’t have any. If the county records are available online, we will be able to complete the title commitment as long as the ownership isn’t so old that exceeds the historical limit (e.g. the owner has owned the house for 50 years and the online records only goes back to 1980). If the county has no online information then we cannot even begin the search.
Updating Existing Title Commitments
Title commitments include an “Effective Date” on Schedule A. We typically try to keep that date within 30 days of the closing. We do an updated search of the title records closer to the closing to update this date. However, with the closures of the counties this date is getting further behind. Accordingly, you may see these go beyond 30 days.
Recording Documents / Gap Period
The time period between the Effective Date of the title commitment and the date the mortgage is recorded is called the “Gap Period”. The current ALTA title insurance policies cover this Gap Period (see the policy for details). Our underwriters have confirmed that they will continue to cover this Gap Period in accordance with the policy terms even as it increases due to the inability to record the documents. The industry will need to record the documents whenever the counties re-open. Again, this primarily effects counties that are closed. Most major counties (Kent and Ottawa, for example) are maintaining some minimum staffing to continue to accept recordings.
Health and Safety Protocols in Response to Coronavirus
Clients are encouraged to NOT attend closings and only send their customers who need to sign. Of course, any clients who have symptoms similar to Coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or who have been around anyone with these symptoms should NOT come to our offices.
In accordance with the latest Interim Guidance for Businesses published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) and the Michigan Department of Health (see: https://www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus), Sun Title has instituted protocols to help reduce potential exposure to the Coronavirus, including the following:
– Arriving to a Closing – Guests are encouraged to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands upon arrival at our office.
– Symptomatic Guests – Any guest who exhibits symptoms which may be similar to Coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) and cannot postpone their closing must notify staff upon arrival. We will escort the guest out of common areas into a private closing room, which will be subsequently closed for the remainder of the day until thoroughly cleaned.
– Post-Closing Disinfecting – After each closing, the chairs, table, door handles and other surfaces will be wiped down with disinfecting wipes or other bleach solution.
– Closing Table Items – All pens, paper, extra reading glasses and other items normally found on our closing tables have been removed. New pens will be distributed to each closing participant and not re-used.
– Lobby Items – All reading materials, ceramic mugs and other re-usable items have been removed.
– Children’s Play Areas – Our children’s play areas have been removed and placed into storage.
– Hand Sanitizer – Hand sanitizer has been placed in most closing spaces. If none is available, all employees and visitors are encouraged to wash their hands before and after any closing
– General Environmental Cleaning – Cleaning personnel are using appropriate germ-killing solutions when cleaning office areas after-hours.
– Social Distancing – When possible, closing participants will attempt to maintain a distance of approximately six feet from others.
– Mobile Closings – We have suspended in-home mobile closings, except in limited cases that involve non-Sun Title contract notaries.
Over the last several years, Sun Title has invested heavily in technology solutions that allow most of our employees to work from remote locations, which assures continuity of service. We do not foresee any service interruptions attributable to the Sun Title team and we will continue to fully staff our closing teams in each of our office locations. However, all parties should be prepared for the potential closure of government offices that are critical to real estate transactions, including Treasurers, Registers of Deeds, and Equalization.
We appreciate your cooperation and patience during these unprecedented times. We remain committed to our core values, which seem particularly relevant now:
We are a “Yes” company.
Communication is our most important product.
We always do the right thing and assume positive intent.
We vigorously protect our culture.
As new information becomes available from public health officials, we will update our protocols accordingly. In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.