- March 16, 2020
- All New York State Agents, Office Counsel, and Managers
- Recording Offices Closed Because of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Stewart’s primary focus during this unprecedented crisis is the health and welfare of our associates and customers. In this fluid event, county and other recording offices have closed or will close because of the impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). In some cases, electronic recording may remain available.
Stewart will issue policies where a county or other recording offices have not closed, and you are able to do searches (including continuation) of the title (including real estate taxes).
If you are unable to secure searches of the title and if you do not have satisfactory title information, Stewart will not insure the title.
If you do have satisfactory title information*, but are unable to record the real estate documents (including any mortgage and deed) because the county or other recording office is closed, or delayed in recording**, Stewart will insure the title if all of the following conditions are met:
- The policies will not exceed $3 million each.
- You secure a customary title affidavit.
- The title examination does not show that the seller/borrower/buyer is subject to any outstanding involuntary or statutory liens (such as judgment liens, tax liens, or 'mechanic's liens) or lawsuits.
- The mortgage is not a construction mortgage, and there has been no recent construction.
- The instructions of the owner and lender do not require you to record until the county, or other recording office is open.
- The insured acknowledges that they will take immediate possession of the property.
If your transaction will not comply with these guidelines or if you have any questions, please call a Stewart underwriter for approval.
Stewart makes the following suggestions:
- It is recommended that you update all searches if you anticipate closing in the next 90 days.
- Include in all commitments and title report the following:
- Due to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the ability to update this Certificate before closing and record instruments may be prevented due to recording office closures. Stewart may raise additional exceptions and/or requirements. In some instances, Stewart may not be in a position to insure.
- The sellers/borrowers title affidavit should include: in consideration of Stewart issuing its policy(ies) of title insurance or "marked up" commitment(s) or reports and issue the New York Endorsement, without taking exception to matters which may arise during the Gap Period, the parties represent and warrant that:
- They are not aware and have not agreed to any liens or encumbrances on the premises not disclosed by this report.
- That they will (1) promptly remove, release, bond, or otherwise dispose of, to the satisfaction of Stewart, in its sole discretion, all liens, encumbrances or other objectionable matters filed or recorded against the Premises during the Gap Period.
*Note* Satisfactory title evidence: Please contact a STIC underwriter if you have a question on what constitutes satisfactory title evidence.
**Note** does not include clerks where electronic recording is possible.
We will issue supplemental bulletins as necessary to further assist you.
As a reminder, you are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with the information contained in all Bulletins and Special Alerts as posted on Virtual Underwriter (www.vuwriter.com), whether you receive them by electronic distribution or not.
In the event you have any questions regarding the above please contact Stewart Title Legal Department at 212-922-0050 and speak with any Underwriting Counsel.
For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.
THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.