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U.S. Citizens, A Question


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I was wondering if any U.S. citizens here on the forum have sold a U.S. property and done the closing remotely while in the Philippines??

If so, can you share your experience either here or PM me.

Thanks!  Starting the process now and any advice is welcome.

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I am not in the Philippines but when we closed on our sale in the US a few days before the lockdown started we had to go to the title company to sign the documents for the closing which had to be notarized. All other realtor related documents were signed electronically. Sounds like a question for the title company. There likely are a number of title companies to choose from so you may be able to find one that can handle remote document signing. I think some states allowed for a process in which notarization could be done via zoom calls.

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I have not done that, but I wonder if you could issue a limited power of attorney to someone you trust to do it?  I did that with a pickup truck that did not sale prior to the move here.

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It all depends on which state your property is located as the requirements vary state to state. 

A limited power of attorney may be able to be used.  It is a notarized document as it must be filed along with the transfer of title. The format for the document and the type of nortary stamp used if created and signed overseas (i.e., foreign (Filipino) notary, US notary, etc.) and transmittal can have specific requirements.  Best to ask the title company/attorney handling the sale.

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My wife and son owned a real estate agency in Hawaii.  Several sellers of Honolulu properties were located overseas or traveling.  One requirement is the closing documents had to be shipped and notarized by a US consular officer and thereafter, returned directly to escrow.  Apparently, there is someone at the embassy or consular office who serves as notary public. Fees depends on the country. You also had to call ahead for an appointment.

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My friend refinanced his home, his wife is stateside, he had to go to the U.S. Embassy because it's the only notary that they would except from here.

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Thanks for all the replies!  I was hoping that one or two active members had closed from the Philippines, but knew that was unlikely.  However, many of you have touched on the issues that may come up.

The background is, I first contacted my realtor about selling in 2018, with the question, "Do I have to be present at the closing?".  He said, no, about 30% of his closings do not have the seller present.

Fast forward to Nov. 2019, when I decide to sell the house.  Bad timing due to the upcoming Covid outbreak, but so be it.  Tenant moves out early April and the house is on the market mid April.  We had to sort out some work at the house even after it was on the market, so my realtor was not really pushing it yet.  Getting the work done was difficult because of Covid but that eased up in May.  Finally got some offers end of May.  I mentioned in another topic that I got a full price offer, but they flaked.  A week later I had 3 offers, going back and for with them, and finally signed a contract with one of them.

So we have been going through all the steps, and last night the Title Company e-mails me.  "Since you live in the Philippines, will you be travelling here for the closing, or going to the U.S. Embassy in Manila?".  That was quite a shock as my realtor had never mentioned the possibility of having to go to the Embassy.

So I told her my realtor had told me I could do it all remotely, and then I called my realtor.  He said he did have some closings where his European clients had to go to an Embassy, but did not seem too sure about the whole thing.  He said he would talk to the Title Co.

A short time later, the title company e-mails back and says I will have to go to the Embassy to have the closing documents notarized.  So I e-mail back and say (literally):

"We need to find another way.  Due to Covid, our area is on community quarantine status.  As a senior over 60 with Asthma and HBP, I am not even supposed to leave the house.  Travel between my home and Manila (3 hours) is not normally allowed at this time.  The Embassy in Manila is also on a lockdown status and on skeleton operations.  There are other ways to use a U.S. notary these days.  Online notary, etc."

While awaiting her reply, I did a bit of research, and find that online notarization is legal in Florida, as long as the Florida guidelines for online notary are followed.  The vast majority of states allow online notary now.

Shortly thereafter, I get an e-mail from them "No worries, we will figure out a way to have all the needed documents signed for your closing".  So was able to get some sleep.  This was about 3 am and the past 2 nights I have been up like this, dealing with various selling issues.

So my advice to others would be, if someone tells you have to have something notarized at the U.S. Embassy, check carefully before doing so.  Laws are changing quickly to accommodate online notary.  Many companies such as title companies may be continuing old practices because that is what they know.

I will follow up after closing with more info.  Perhaps someone will benefit from the information above.

Florida law:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0100-0199/0117/Sections/0117.05.html

States that allow online notary:

https://www.docverify.com/Products/E-Notaries/What-States-Allow-Electronic-Notary

Edited by OnMyWay
typos
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FYI I think the travel restrictions aren't as strict in reality , my wife wanted so badly to get rid of our 5 nieces that she had her brother and nephew come here from Laguna in a van to pick them up, they had no travel pass, the nieces did get travel passes and 4 of them are under 20, there was no problem at all, we finally have some peace and quiet. I have a flight out on PAL to LAX the 7th of July, i originally booked a flight to Seattle with a stop in Japan but after research there's a ban in effect for foreigners coming from the P.I. it's until June 30th and may be extended, i didn't want to risk it so I went with PAL.

Edited by Heeb
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54 minutes ago, Heeb said:

FYI I think the travel restrictions aren't as strict in reality ,

Yes, that is what I have heard, but I have no desire to go to Manila.

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1 hour ago, Heeb said:

FYI I think the travel restrictions aren't as strict in reality...

Probably, but I'd hate to make plans and spend money only to come across a stickler for rules.

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