156 Hamilton St., Leominster, MA 01453                       Call 978-847-0104
Real Estate Closings and Operational update regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Real Estate Closings and Operational update regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus)

At the Law Office of David R. Rocheford, Jr., P.C. we are committed to keeping our clients, customers and business partners updated about steps we are taking concerning the coronavirus.

We are monitoring the situation closely and following the guidance from relevant authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and various US state and local government entities. It is our intent to continue to provide outstanding and quality closing and settlement services throughout this changing period.

We have confirmed with our critical vendors that they will remain available to support our daily operations. Our software, IT, office supply, express delivery, and business banking partners, among others, have all committed at this point to remain in operation providing their services.

What we are doing for our customers, clients and business partners to facilitate closings:

Electronic Recording

We are capable of filing documents electronically with every available Massachusetts and New Hampshire Registry of Deeds. As long as the Registries continue to accept electronic recordings we will use this system. There are some circumstances where electronic recording is not an option, such as in the case of recording necessary plans, and most Registered Land documents.

Gap Insurance

We have arranged with the top three national title insurers to temporarily have title insurance coverage allowed in the event recording becomes unavailable or delayed. Gap insurance allows a closing to occur, funds to change hands, and lender, seller, and buyer to be protected against any intervening liens or encumbrances that may arise during a period from closing to recording. Contact one of our attorneys for more detailed information on gap coverage.

Municipal Office Closures

Some municipal offices may not be able to provide Municipal Lien Certificates or real estate tax information. We will continue to monitor municipal office closures and work with tax collector and assessor offices to obtain necessary tax information and will be as accommodating as possible to ensure that we have the information needed for closing. In some circumstances a holdback of proceeds may be an option to afford the closing to proceed.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Inspections

Some municipal fire departments have temporarily cut non-emergency services and are not scheduling statutorily required inspections. Additional agreements and arrangements may need to be entered into so that sellers continue to bear the expense of inspections after closing, along with buyer releases of liability. In some circumstances a holdback of proceeds may be an option to afford the closing to proceed. In any case we will work with parties on practical and acceptable solutions.

Remote Closings

Although we are able to conduct closings offsite (remotely), the need to have certain documents notarized in person cannot be changed. We will remain accommodating to buyers, borrowers and sellers and can arrange to provide in person notary services remotely and during off regular business hours.

Purchase and Sale Agreements

We are including a clause or addendum providing for buyer, seller, and lender protection related to any COVID-19 delays. It will be prudent to have “COVID-19 language” used in all real estate contracts for the time being. Contact our attorneys for suggested language.

Mandatory Office Closure

In the event local and national authorities compel mandatory office closure, we are prepared to comply and are capable of providing certain services remotely. Even if this means that closings and settlements cease for a time, we will still continue to handle contracts and produce title and any other documents that are not affected by a more comprehensive shutdown. Of course, during this time, our attorneys and staff will be available to discuss pending transactions with all clients.

What we are doing at our office:

We’re focused on keeping our employees and guests safe. Here are some measure we are taking:

Parties arriving to a Closing

Guests are encouraged to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands upon arrival at our office.

Symptomatic Clients

Any guest who exhibits symptoms that may be like coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) must notify staff upon arrival and we will escort out of common areas into a private closing room.

Post-Closing Disinfecting

After each closing, the chairs, table and door handle will be wiped down with disinfecting wipes or bleach solution.

Closing Table Items

Remove pens, paper, extra reading glasses and other items normally found on the closing tables. Distribute new pens to each closing participant and not re-used.

Lobby Items

All reading materials, ceramic mugs and other re-usable items have been removed.

Hand Sanitizer

Provide hand sanitizer in closing spaces. If none is available, encourage employees and visitors to wash their hands before and after any closing or other meeting.

General Environmental Cleaning

Cleaning personnel are using appropriate germ-killing solutions when cleaning office areas after-hours.

Social Distancing

When possible, stay approximately six feet from others.

If you have specific questions or concerns that have not been outlined here, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards,

 

 

David R. Rocheford, Jr., Esq.

Direct Office: 978-728-5104
davidr@thebestclosings.com

Social Media for Real Estate Professionals.

What is Social Media and how can it help you as a Realtor®?

On Thursday, February 9, 2012 our office will host an informative seminar on Social Media and how it can benefit your real estate business.

The seminar will be presented by Matt Ward of inConcert Web Solutions.  Mr. Ward will help you understand the value of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social media and how it can build or break your business.

Seating is limited to 45 of our Business Partners and guests.  A lite lunch will be available at the conclusion of the presentation.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Starting To Adjust Higher

ARM adjustments creeping higher

For the first time in a year, homeowners with adjusting mortgages are facing rising mortgage rates. The interest rate by which many adjustable-rate mortgages adjust has climbed to its highest level since September 2010, and looks poised to reach higher.

This is because of the formula by which adjustable-rate mortgage adjust.

Each year, when due for a reset, an adjustable-rate mortgage’s rate changes to the sum of fixed number known as a “margin”, and a variable figure known as an “index”. For conforming mortgages, the margin is typically set to 2.250 percent; the index is often equal to the 12-month LIBOR.

LIBOR stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate. It’s a rate at which banks lend to each other overnight.

Expressed as a math formula, the adjusting ARM formula reads : (more…)

Home Values Rose In June 2011

Case-Shiller Changes May to June 2011

Has housing turned the corner for good?

The June 2011 Case-Shiller Index reading posted strong numbers across the board, with each of the index’s 20 tracked markets showing home price improvement from May.

Some markets — Chicago and Minneapolis — rose as much as 3.2 percent.

The rise in values is nothing about which to get overly excited, however. The Case-Shiller Index is just re-reporting what multiple data sets have already shown about the summer housing market; that it was stronger than the spring market, and that a recovery is underway, but occurring locally, at different rates.

For example, the June 2011 Case-Shiller Index shows the following :

  • Denver, Dallas, Washington D.C., and the “California Cities” bottomed in 2009. Each has shown steady improvement since.
  • None of the Case-Shiller cities showed negative growth between May and June 2011.
  • 12 of Case-Shiller’s tracked cities have improved over 3 consecutive months.

 

In isolation, these statistics appear promising, but it’s important to remember that the Case-Shiller Index is a backward-looking data set, focusing on just a portion of the national housing economy. (more…)

Mortgage Rates Don't Move With The Fed Funds Rate

Fed Funds rate vs Mortgage Rates 2000-2011Last week, at its 5th scheduled meeting of the year, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate in its target range near zero percent.

The Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent since December 2008 and, in its official statement, the FOMC pledged to leave the Fed Funds Rate untouched for at least another 2 years.

This doesn’t mean mortgage rates will be untouched for 2 years, though. 

Mortgage rates and the Fed Funds Rate are two different interest rates; completely disconnected. If mortgage rates and the Fed Funds Rate moved in tandem, the chart at right would be a straight line.

Instead, it’s jagged.

To make the point more strongly, let’s use real-life examples from the past decade.

  • June 2004, 529 basis points separated the Fed Funds Rate and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate
  • June 2006, 168 basis points separated the Fed Funds Rate and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate

Today, the separation between the two benchmark rates is 407 basis points.

1 basis point is equal to 0.01%. (more…)

Mortgage Rates Drop After U.S. Credit Downgrade

Mortgage rates are runningMortgage rates continue drifting downward, despite — or because of — a ratings downgrade on long-term U.S. government debt. Standard & Poors issued a single-notch downgrade after Friday’s market close, from AAA to AA+.

Of the roughly $9.4 billion in publicly-held U.S. debt, 72 percent is long-term (i.e. with duration of 2 years or longer).

U.S. short-term debt was not downgraded.

When an entity — government, business, or other — is cited for a credit downgrade, it means that the risk of lending money to that entity has increased. In theory, higher risk should lead to higher borrowing costs and higher consumer rates.

Except in today’s U.S. Treasury and mortgage bond markets, the opposite is occurring. U.S.-backed bonds are in demand, leading rates lower. It’s an unexpected response to the S&P downgrade. (more…)