Bulletin: CT2020002

Date:
March 18, 2020
To:
All Connecticut Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Town Hall Closings and COVID-19 Impacts

Dear Associates:

Given the uncertainty of how COVID-19 may impact the recording and indexing of documents. Stewart has issued a National Bulletin that provides guidelines for insuring transactions.

This bulletin supplements those guidelines for transactions in Connecticut:

Land Records Closures and Recordings

As you are aware, many town halls are closing temporarily and/or limiting their hours in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As these closures are changing daily, we suggest you call a town clerk office in advance of planning or scheduling a recording.

If you know a town hall is closed we recommend you retain the recording documents and do not mail them to a town hall. Stewart will continue to insure transactions in such towns where recordings will be delayed after closings, provided you comply with the National Bulletin and this bulletin. We request that you arrange for the recording as soon as town clerk offices are re-opened. The following link is a source for town clerk telephone numbers:

http://www.ctclerks.com/content/5645/5649/default.aspx 

Updated Title Affidavit Format

We ask that the title affidavit, available via the link below and to be included shortly in software updates, be used going forward which contains the following additional language to protect against intervening liens:

“NOW, THEREFORE, it is agreed that in consideration of the Company’s issuance of its policy effective as of the date closing occurs without making exception therein of matters which may arise between the date of its commitment to issue its policy of title insurance and the date the documents creating the interest being insured have been filed for record, and which matters may constitute an encumbrance on or affect said title, the undersigned agrees to promptly defend, remove, bond or otherwise dispose of any encumbrance, lien, or objectionable matter of title which may arise or be filed, as the case may be, against the captioned premises during the period of time between the date of its commitment to issue its policy of title insurance and the date of recording of all closing instruments, and to hold harmless and indemnify the Company against all expenses, costs and attorney fees, which may arise out of the failure to so remove, bond or otherwise dispose of any said liens, encumbrances or objectionable matters.

Further, the undersigned shall be liable for all expenses, costs and attorney fees which may be incurred in the enforcement of this agreement.”

CT STGC Title Affidavit  

Contract Language

Without knowing how long town halls might be closed or limited for recordings, or how long the virus could affect transactions in general in terms of parties’ availability to sign documents, you might wish to consider adding language for issues listed below in contracts current being drafted for the sale of real property:

  • Delay of closing and effect on buyer’s mortgage commitments and closing penalties
  • Title search contingency and extended closing date for titles not searchable at the time of contract (some towns not online)
  • Failure of lender to fund due to COVID-19 virus impact on lender business
  • Disclosures by seller if any occupant of the premises has been tested positively with the COVID-19 virus 

Title Searches

As town halls close or limit hours and visitors, title searching will be a challenge, particularly for those towns whose indices and records are not available on line. We will do our best to accommodate search requests but ask that you be mindful of these challenges and understand that searches might be delayed as a result. Further, as not all town halls are online, should any of such town halls close we will not be able to perform title searches there until they reopen, and accordingly before entering into new contracts please consider ascertaining whether the subject town is online and whether a contingency for a title search is appropriate.

It is expected that a title search must be completed that complies with Stewart’s underwriting guidelines and if you are not able to do so, please contact a Stewart underwriter. 

Staffing

Many of our staff will be working remotely for personal safety and in compliance with government guidelines. Attached is our “Who to Contact” bulletin previously distributed with phone numbers and emails to assist you in contacting all of us for assistance.

Title Insurance Policies

If you are closing a loan transaction and a lender needs a final policy prior to recording of the mortgage, use the date of closing as the date of the policy and leave recording information blank. Owner Policies should be dated as of the date a deed is recorded.

If you have any questions relating to this bulletin, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter. Note that this is to be read as a supplement and not in lieu of any national bulletins.

Wishing all stay safe and healthy in these uncertain times!

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

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.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
SLS2020002 UNDERWRITING - Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) Update
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
CT STGC Title Affidavit