30 Jan Ask Cynthia: Can I travel at the same time I’m closing escrow?
I am currently in escrow, but I have a vacation that was already planned and is taking place at the same time as our closing date. What should I do?
As with most escrow questions, the most direct answer is, it depends. Here are a few variables that may affect the answer.
- Where are you going?
- Will you have internet access?
- Will you have cell phone reception?
- Have you been on top of your escrow responsibilities to date?
In most scenarios, it is virtually impossible to not sign documents that require your signature just before the close of escrow. But, I do have good news… There are some potential options.
Documents being signed electronically is becoming increasingly popular. Parties are able to create and register a digital signature that may be used as their signature and are protected by a password. DocuSign is a prominent option for this. Please be aware though that given its a newer technology, this type of signature is not accepted in all situations. Please be sure to speak with everyone you are working with to see if it works with your unique circumstances.
Fax + Email
There are many instances when a ‘live’ signature or ‘wet’ signature (original ink of the signers) isn’t required, so documents can be faxed or emailed. The good news about this option is that most hotels and cruise ships have computers, printers, scanners and fax machines!
Power of Attorney
Another option is granting Power of Attorney to another party BEFORE you leave on your trip. Ask your real estate agent or escrow officer for more information about this option, as there are some exceptions, including if a home buyer wants another to sign documents on their behalf at closing, they must receive approval from the lender in the underwriting process.
Getting documents notarized by be the biggest hurdle you encounter if you’re traveling. Many documents require there be a Notary Public present when they are signed. Be sure to check with the County Recorder in the country where the property is located to learn about their specific requirements. If an error is made, it can cause significant delays in escrow closing.
Another challenge with notarizing documents is the process varies greatly from state to state and even more so if you’re in another country. If you are in another country, you must obtain notarization of your documents at an actual American Consulate. Often, Consulates are in remote areas as well, so be sure to plan accordingly.
There are a number of countries that have a special agreement with the United States. Within these countries, a local notary may be used. Be sure to check with your Escrow Officer for more information if you’re traveling outside of the United States.
Typically, sellers are only required to have several documents signed with a Notary Public present like the Grant Deed. Often times, your escrow partner will provide you with this document with opening documents. Then the seller can have their signature notarized well in advance of the closing. At closing, an original signed and notarized deed (not a fax or email) is required.
On the other hand, buyers are required to have additional notarized signatures when they sign loan documents, issued just prior to the close of escrow. To complicate matters even more, loan documents often require dozens of signatures with a Notary Public who is familiar with loan documents. Remember, the lender will require original signed and notarized documents (not fax or email) be returned, in order to fund and close the loan.
While my answer might sound like I’m advising you to stay in town, remember that everyone’s circumstances are unique. So, the best advice I can give you is to talk to your Escrow Officer as soon as possible about your travel plans. He or she will be able to offer more specific guidance around your situation and a viable solution.
Of course, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions or need assistance with an escrow. We’re here to help in whatever way we can!
Cynthia Moller is a Senior Escrow Officer at our sister company – Glen Oaks Escrow – who has a passion for education. With nearly three decades of escrow experience, she has an exceptional depth of industry knowledge that she readily offers up in her blog, “Ask Cynthia,” and to her loyal clients.