The Real Estate Board of New York and several other real estate organizations are calling on the New York State Court System to let in-person filing take place for certain real estate transactions.
The letter, addressed to Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks, claims that some real estate deals have not been able to close “for want of a county clerk to physically accept and record filings.”
Some county clerk offices are not equipped to conduct title searches or accept filings remotely, according to the letter. In addition to REBNY, the New York State Association of Realtors, the New York Building Congress, the Mortgage Bankers Association of New York and 12 other industry organizations signed the letter, which was sent to the judge on Thursday.
Empire State Development announced on April 9 that real estate services counted as an essential service but specified that all transactions had to be conducted remotely except where “legally necessary.” These included title searches, appraisals, permitting, inspections and other services needed to finish a property transfer. (Home showings, meanwhile, can only be conducted virtually.)
The letter requests Marks to amend his order “to permit the filing of documents associated with the transfer or financing of real property, and that the county clerks be advised to permit in-person filing, with appropriate social distancing measures and by appointment only to limit office hours, or by mail or overnight courier, provided that receipt of said documents can be confirmed with the county clerk.”
The letter also asks that the order also include building loans and mechanics liens.
“We are deeply concerned that there will be a processing backlog of building loans and amendments if such filings cannot be made until after the Executive and Administrative orders are lifted,” the letter reads. “Projects will also be further delayed, depriving our state of this important economic activity and job generation.”
Court spokesperson Lucian Chalfen said in a statement that it was imperative for the court to take a “very careful, deliberate and measured approach” to its proceedings.
“We have begun to allow certain existing non essential or emergency matters to be conferenced and adjudicated, and that will continue as we expand our virtual court parts,” Chalfen said. “To protect the health and well being of our employees however, unless and until New York State health authorities clear both the city and state to return to normal operations, certain matters will remain on hold.”