Real estate brokers and closing attorneys are breathing a sigh of relief after learning this afternoon that the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s office, which closed today until at least April 13, will continue to record property transfers even during the shutdown.
In an amendment to the order issued earlier this week closing the 19th Judicial District Court, Chief Judge Wilson Fields said that beginning Thursday the courthouse branch at 9030 Airline Highway will accept closing documents between 8 a.m. and noon, Monday-Friday.
The building will not be open to the public, however, so it is unclear whether documents will be dropped off outside or collected in some sort of makeshift drive-up capacity.
Earlier in the day, the closure caused confusion among real estate brokers and closing attorneys, who worried the uncertainty would put deals on hold or, potentially, kill them altogether at a time when the real estate sector is already grappling with changes and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Now, they say, they will be able to go forward with deals that were scheduled before the virus mitigation measures, which have brought daily commerce to a halt.
“It’s absolutely a relief that we can continue doing business for things like sales and mortgages,” says attorney John Morganti, who has a $350,000 commercial building sale closure scheduled for tomorrow. “I am pleased the court recognizes the importance of maintaining some sort of continuity with respect to the real estate market here.”
Wilson’s order also clarified another point of confusion: The main courthouse at 300 North Blvd. will accept emergency filings between 8 a.m. and noon, Monday-Friday. The order also says the court will accept faxed and electronic filings during those hours.
The order does not provide additional details.
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