Real Estate

Curbside closings offer drive-up service amid social distancing concerns

Clients stay in their vehicles while notaries, title agents and attorneys ferry paperwork back and forth

The Atlanta law firm Cook & James has become the latest housing-focused business to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering clients curbside closings.

For those who need to sign physical paperwork rather than go through the e-signature process, the Cook & James curbside closing enables client to remain in their vehicles outside of the law firm’s office while personnel wearing protective masks and gloves facilitate the transaction. An on-site attorney completes the closing while the clients wait in their vehicles.

Cook & James is offering the service at their offices in the Atlanta suburbs Roswell and Woodstock.

“This pandemic has hurled everyone into an unprecedented, difficult time but since closings and legal services like ours have been deemed an essential service, we are committed to serving our clients,” said Kara Cook, co-founding partner at Cook & James. “We believe curbside closings can help everyone be safer and keep our country moving forward in a positive direction.”

Since state and local governments began to respond to the pandemic by issuing quarantine mandates in mid-March, an increasing number of housing-focused companies have begun offering curbside closings when e-signatures were not an option. Another Georgia-based law firm, Fricks Bohan LLC, began offering curbside closings on March 22.

“We have designated lanes for buyers and sellers,” said Rob Frick, managing member, in an interview with the American Land Title Association’s blog. “We have two attorneys, so we can close two transactions at the same time.”

Title companies have also gotten into the act. Alaska’s Alyeska Title posted a video on its Facebook page detailing how customers call their branch office in advance to start the process where a notary assembles the necessary paperwork for delivery in the parking lot. and brings it the automobile. The video includes a sampling of (what else?) MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” on the soundtrack while dramatizing a typical transaction.

Big Country Title in Abilene, Texas, began offering a curbside closing service last week and wound up on local television for its efforts.

“I think taking the closings to the curbside has built some confidence on both sides of the table,” said company president Nathan Lowry in an interview with KTAB-TV. “It’s way out of the ordinary for us, we’re used to transactions taking place in our office.”

Chicago’s Proper Title LLC also found itself in the local media spotlight, fielding questions from Curbed Chicago.

“For curbside, we try to pre-arrange as much as possible,” explained Kathy Kwak, vice president of title and escrow operations and counsel. “The closer brings the loan documents down to each party’s car and a cover page provides instructions and cell numbers so they can communicate. It’s a lot of running around, but it helps with social distancing. We are happy that we are considered essential and not out of a job.”

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