Novel settlement solutions to a novel pandemic
When Tohickon Settlement Services relocated in March 2019 from cramped offices in Holicong to new, significantly more spacious headquarters in New Hope, we never anticipated the unique places we’d be conducting closings just one year later.
But today, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re finding ourselves settling real estate transfers outside in an open carriage shed here on the company’s grounds and through the glass of clients’ closed car windows.
“Until Pennsylvania works out how to implement remote online notarization,” says Brendan Nolan, our CEO, “we’re putting in place creative ways to close transactions. We’re keeping the risk of contagion as low as humanly possible while fulfilling an efficient, effective transfer of property and disbursement of funds.”
That means our settlement table out in the afore-mentioned carriage shed has a box of nitrile gloves and a bottle of hand sanitizer instead of flowers, snacks and beverages. We’re completing as much of the document execution as possible in advance, and only those who are directly involved with the transaction can be present at the closing table.
Which, our closing professionals are discovering, could be a picnic table at a public playground or a clipboard in a parking lot. And for a few more weeks, probably, we all need jackets and hats as often as not.
“Title and settlement services are considered a ‘life-sustaining’ business under Governor Wolf’s most recent mandate,” says Brendan.
“That may seem odd unless you’re the one trying to move your family into your new home today because your apartment has another family waiting on the sidewalk with their furniture.”
Every day is bringing new regulations, new best practices and even new fears.
“Who knows what is next?” says Brendan. “Everyone wants to settle as soon as possible because they’re afraid what the coronavirus will change down the road. We’re just trying to do our jobs and prepare for whatever happens.”
Whatever comes, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the many people around the world and right here at home who are impacted by this pandemic. Please stay safe and be kind to one another.
The settlement table last March, when Tohickon opened its new offices in New Hope.
A couple reviews documents in Tohickon’s “conference room.”