Ganek Remains Committed to the Safety of our Clients and Staff. COVID-19 Policies and Updates

During this unprecedented time in U.S. history, Ganek PC’s highest priority is the well-being of our staff members, our valued clients, and the communities in which we serve.  We continue to closely monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 and will follow all guidelines recommended by the CDC, state, local and federal governments. Please continue to refer to our website for new updates and information as it becomes available during our collective response to COVID-19. To review CDC Guidelines, please Click Here.

On March 31st, Governor Kemp signed an Emergency Order allowing Notarizing of Documents by Video Conference

If you are a buyer getting a loan then your lender will need to approve you signing via video conference. Sellers can sign via video conference.

Scheduling

  • A member of our firm will reach out to the parties to schedule a time to conduct the closing via video conference. GoToMeeting will be the preferred video conferencing platform.
  • If your closing had been previously scheduled in office, your virtual closing will likely take place at the same closing time as originally scheduled when possible. However, funding cannot occur until we receive the original signed documents in our office.
  • If you do not have the ability to utilize a web-based platform, please contact our office as soon as possible to discuss alternatives.
  • Buyers and Sellers will have separate closings. Agents and lenders are welcome to join the video conference for their respective clients.

Documents

  • Does the client have a printer available to print documents?
    • YES – Our firm will email documents to the client prior to closing. The client will need to print out the documents in advance of the scheduled closing time.
    • NO – Documents will be sent via FedEx to the client prior to closing.
  • PLEASE make sure to keep the documents in the same order as sent to you, as that will be the order the documents will be reviewed during the virtual closing. None of the documents should be signed until the video conference occurs.

Virtual Closing

  • Buyers and Sellers will text or email a copy of both the front and back of their driver’s license to the attorney or closer prior to the closing time.
  • Buyers/Sellers will log on to GoToMeeting at the appointed closing time. Attorney will verify identity of the parties and begin the closing.
  • Buyers/Sellers will sign the documents using BLUE INK pens as the attorney reviews the documents with them.
  • After all documents have been reviewed and signed, Buyers/Sellers will return original signed documents to Attorney via FedEx or courier or PREFERABLY drop the originals off at the closing office on the day they are signed.
  • After all original documents have been received by the Attorney and approved by the Lender (if necessary), Attorney will fund the closing and advise all parties via email that the closing has been completed.
  • As of March 31st, Video Conference Closings Are Now Possible. Please follow the link above for more information.
  • Ganek PC Operations are Continuing. Ganek PC locations remain open, and we are still ready and able to conduct in person closings as well.  We are observing all social distancing recommendations, between ourselves and with the parties to our transactions.
  • Only Necessary Parties Should Attend In Person Closings. In order to limit potential exposure to the COVID-19, and in an effort to adhere to social distancing recommendations, we are requesting only those persons whose signatures are needed for closing to attend.  We will be happy for anyone not attending the closing in person (agents, loan officers, family members, etc.) to participate via conference call.  Following the closing, we will be happy to overnight commission checks to agents and/or brokers. There will be no charge for this service.
  • Separating Buyers and Sellers in Separate Rooms. At closing, we will also be signing Buyers and Sellers in separate closing rooms, wherever possible. Sellers may also be able to come in early to sign before the Buyers. Please contact our office for details.
  • Buyers – Call Your Bank to Start Wire Requests 3 Business Days Before Closing. Many banks are shutting down branches and have announced that in order to wire, buyers may need to make an advanced appointment with their bank. Call your bank to determine whether you have the ability to wire through an online system or if your presence at a branch is required.
    • Note 1 – Our accounts do not take ACH deposits, all funds must be wired through the Federal Reserve. Ensure that you do not use an online system that is an ACH or your funds will take 2-3 days to return to your account and closing may be delayed.
    • Note 2 – if Sellers must bring money to the closing table in order to sell, they ALSO would have to wire their funds to Ganek.
  • No Sharing of Pens. When signers arrive, they will be handed a new blue pen for their exclusive use while in our office. The pen will not be re-used.
  • Consistent Sanitizing of Offices. Ganek PC is using enhanced sanitizing practices for all of its offices, including but not limited to sanitizing all table surfaces and chair and door handles in its closing rooms between closings.
  • Snacks and Magazines. Ganek PC has removed all communal candy bowls and magazines from its waiting rooms and closing rooms.
  • If Any Party Has Been Exposed to or Diagnosed with COVID-19. Please contact the attorney in charge of the file to discuss alternative signing arrangements and whether there is a need to delay the closing.
What if my Buyer or Seller does not speak English as a primary language?

A non-English speaking Buyer or Seller who is attending an in person closing with a Ganek PC Attorney who does not speak their language can either bring an interpreter with them, or have the interpreter participate via phone conference or virtually to assist with translation.  Note – we do have a native Spanish speaking attorney in our Gwinnett office.

What if my Buyer or Seller has a Disability?

If the Buyer or Seller needs additional assistance to get to one of our offices, caregivers may attend closing as well.

What are my options if I do not want to attend the closing?

Sellers may choose to do a mail-away.  Ganek PC will waive our standard mail-away fee of $195; however, overnight shipping fees may still be charged.  All documents must be signed in the presence of an unofficial witness and a Notary Public (two different people, neither of whom may be a party to the transaction).

Cash Buyers may sign all of their documents electronically, or print them out for signature, sign, and then scan them back to us.  We do not need originals.

Buyers obtaining financing may now execute their documents either via video conference or in person with an attorney licenced by the State of Georgia.  For video conference closings, certain restrictions apply.  Please contact your closing office for additional instructions.

If I have been exposed to COVID-19, may I attend an in person closing?

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, have been asked by medical personnel to quarantine, or have been exposed to someone with symptoms such a fever or a dry cough, please contact your closing office to discuss alternative signing options.

Is a “virtual” or a “remote” closing a possibility?

Yes, but the rules are different, depending on the party signing:

For cash Buyers, all documents can be emailed, and then signed by the Buyer either by hand or electronically.  We do not require originals to be returned to us, just a PDF or a fax is required.

For Sellers, all documents can be emailed to the Seller for signature.  The documents must be printed, signed by the Seller in the presence of an unofficial witness and a Notary Public, and then originals must be returned to us.  “In the presence of” now includes closings via video conference, in which a Ganek PC attorney will serve as the Notary Public, and one of our staff members will serve as the witness.

For Buyers obtaining financing, the rules are similar to the rules above for Sellers.  However, the Buyer’s lender must first consent to the use of video conference, if that is the option desired.  Please contact your closing office for more information.

Georgia Association of Realtors (“GAR”) has released a special stipulation that addresses closings delayed due to a COVID-19 related event (“CRE”). The three-paragraph stipulation can be found below:

Amended GAR Stipulation for COVID-19 – version 3/27/2020
Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained herein, in the event the Closing cannot occur when scheduled due to a COVID-19 related event (“CRE”)* resulting in the closing attorney, the mortgage lender and/or the Buyer and/or Seller being unable to perform their respective obligations, then the Closing shall be postponed until 7 days after the specific event delaying the Closing has been resolved. If the Buyer or Seller is unable to perform due to a CRE, the affected party shall promptly notify the other party both of the CRE and of its resolution.
Buyer or Seller having concerns about attending the Closing or self-quarantining (in the absence of a quarantine or government ordered lockdown that specifically applies to Buyer and/or Seller) shall not excuse Buyer or Seller from attending the Closing either in-person or through a power of attorney. Buyer or Seller presently having COVID-19 shall excuse Buyer and/or Seller from attending the Closing until the party is no longer at risk of infecting others. However, in all situations where Buyer and/or Seller cannot physically attend the Closing, Buyer and or Seller shall use their best efforts to fulfill their contractual obligations through a power of attorney. Seller or Buyer uncertainty as to the future or current stability of the economy, investment portfolio performance, questioning the wisdom of buying or selling real estate, and the buyer not having sufficient or adequate down payment funds, shall not constitute a CRE. If the CRE causing the delay results in the Closing being delayed by more than _____ days from the original Closing date, then either Buyer or Seller may terminate this Agreement without penalty upon notice to the other party.
Special Stipulation should a Shelter In Place directive be enacted
All parties acknowledge that this Agreement is made at a time when the spread of COVID-19 may cause delays or render it impossible for one or more parties to perform their contractual obligations timely. If a party, vendor, agent, lender or attorney whose cooperation is required to perform is unable to meet a specific deadline hereunder due to a quarantine or Shelter In Place ordered by a government authority, then as soon as reasonably possible, the delayed party shall give notice of the delay to the other party in writing and all deadlines contained in this Agreement shall automatically be extended for the number of days equal to the governmental quarantine or shelter in place order. If the governmental quarantine or shelter in place order is not lifted by ________________, either party shall have the right to terminate without penalty by giving written notice to the other.

We encourage agents us to use this stipulation in all new contracts that are going binding during this time. Please also see below additional guidelines for contracts that are currently binding that do not contain this stipulation:

If your buyer or seller client is under a current contract that is still in due diligence, it is recommended that you include the below provision in the amendment to address concerns or do a separate amendment BEFORE the end of due diligence.

If your buyer or seller are under contract and the due diligence period has passed, consult with your clients and if they are in agreement, present the amendment to all parties for execution.

If the closing cannot take place on time due to a CRE and the GAR COVID-19 stipulation is not part of the contract, either the parties can mutually agree to extend the closing date or they may use the 8 day unilateral extension provided by the contract. If the contract expires, and the parties are still not able to close due to a CRE, and the parties do not wish to continue to extend the closing date, it is likely that the contract would be considered void. There is, however, very little caselaw in Georgia that addresses this situation, so please have all parties come to an agreement as to how to proceed if possible. Please contact an attorney in our office if you or your client need guidance in such a situation.

Thank you for visiting the Ganek PC website. All information, content, and materials available on this website are for general informational purposes only. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or legal opinion regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not create, an attorney-client relationship between you and this firm.