COVID-19 Resources

VLTA continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our industry, our members, and their customers. The largest area of concern at this time is how will this impact our county office closures, staffing, and transactions, as well as safe closing practices and potential for digital closings.  This page is updated regularly so please check back often for more resources.

We have already identified several potential issues and are engaged in conversations with other stakeholders to try to minimize business interruption for you. We are eager to hear what challenges you are facing and hear about creative solutions you have developed to overcome those challenges. Please share your concerns, ideas and success stories with us at vlta@vlta.org. VLTA recommends that title and settlement agents contact their respective underwriters for further guidance regarding their day-to-day operations.

The best resources we can provide to you at this time are as follows:

Governor Northam Executive Orders

State Corporation Commission 

Support for Impacted Businesses

Following a request submitted by Governor Northam on March 18, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for Virginia. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the Commonwealth affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million from the SBA to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. To submit a loan application through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, please visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can also request to defer the payment of state sales tax due, March 20, 2020, for 30 days. When granted, businesses will be able to file no later than April 20, 2020 with a waiver of any penalties. 

The Governor has requested that the Department of Taxation to extend the due date of payment of Virginia individuals and corporate income taxes. While filing deadlines remain the same, the due date for individual and corporate income tax will now be June 1, 2020. Please note that interest will still accrue, so taxpayers who are able to pay by the original deadlines should do so.

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ALTA Resources

  • ALTA has established a webpage to host title industry updates. View information related to county closures and other actions that might impact your business. That information can be found here: http://www.alta.org/coronavirus
  • ALTA has provided resources on developing a Business Continuity Plan, which is essential during any crisis. 
  • ALTA has put together a guide for Federal Assistance to small businesses. Learn more about what is available here.

Remote Digital Closing

ALTA is working with other trade associations and industry partners to support an effort to pass the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (SECURE Notarization Act). This legislation takes a two-prong approach to continue and expand access to remote online notary (RON).  First, it permits immediate nationwide use of RON, with minimum standards. Second, it provides certainty for the interstate recognition of RON. The SECURE Notarization Act builds on ongoing efforts of lawmakers to promote remote transaction options for consumers. More information about the SECURE Notarization Act will be available at alta.org/RON.

RON Vendors (agents should check with their respective underwriters to ensure that the vendor is approved for use in their state):
  1. You can find RON vendors in the ALTA marketplace: https://www.alta.org/marketplace/
  2. The GSE's have put out approved vendor lists
    1. Fannie: https://www.fanniemae.com/singlefamily/emortgage (choose a vendor is listed in the middle of the page)
    2. Freddie: https://sf.freddiemac.com/working-with-us/electronic-loan-documents/reviewed-vendor-list
  3. MISMO Resources: http://www.mismo.org/standards-and-resources/digital-mortgage-resource-center

Operational Best Practices/Safe Closing Protocols

Below are operational procedures that can be adopted at your agency or company:

  • Practice Good Hygiene: Stop handshaking and use other non-contact methods of greeting. Clean hands often and avoid touching your face. Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Arriving to a Closing: Guests are encouraged to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands upon arrival. 
  • Stagger closings: Stagger closings (30 minutes) to minimize the number of customers in waiting rooms.
  • Reduce Those at Closing: Allow only signers to the transaction (agents and loan officers), in the office. Family and friends should be asked to respect the need for social distancing.
  • Symptomatic Clients: Any guest who exhibits symptoms that may be like coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) must notify staff upon arrival so they can be escorted out of common areas into a private closing room.
  • Post-Closing Disinfecting: Disinfect surfaces such as chairs, tables, door handles and hand-rails regularly and after each closing.
  • 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 don’t reuse them.
  • Lobby Items: Remove all reading materials, ceramic mugs and other re-usable items.
  • Children’s Play Areas: Remove children’s play areas and place in storage.
  • 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 should use appropriate germ-killing solutions when cleaning office areas after-hours.
  • Social Distancing: When possible, stay approximately six feet from others.
  • Workforce Dispersion: If needed, invest in technology solutions that allow employees to work from remote locations, assuring production and service continuity. If necessary, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces (opening windows or adjusting air conditioning).
  • Developing Travel Protocols: Issue guidelines for notifying management if employees have traveled recently or have travel planned in the coming weeks. Ask those employees who have or will travel to self-quarantine for two weeks following their return.
Everyone at VLTA remains committed to working on your behalf. In the meantime, we encourage our members to contact the VLTA office by email at vlta@vlta.org or by phone at 800-564-8582 if you have questions or concerns.