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Fellow Escrow Humans,

Since its recent arrival in the United States, our lives and the world have already been forever changed by the horrible virus called COVID-19. Protocols for staying healthy and avoiding the virus are the paramount concern, but there have already been serious consequences for our industry and economy, which currently look uncertain and scary. Though it’s a lot to take in, I want to remind you that in times like these, there is also opportunity. Perhaps this is your opportunity to be a helper and to grow your leadership skills. Strength and courage grow in moments when you think you can’t handle it but continue to look for the silver lining. We’ve all quickly learned some key new phrases, like “social distancing,” “shelter in place,” and “flatten the curve.” I hope and pray that you are all staying safe and abiding by these important protocols, to slow the spread of the disease and ease the toll on our hospitals and other first responders.

Mickey Vandenberg

One response to this health crisis is that the Secretary of State has issued guidance regarding the use of Remote Online Notarization, allowing for California citizens to have their documents notarized remotely by an out-of-state notary located in a state that already has its laws and procedures in place to allow remote online notarizations. This may speed up nationwide acceptance of “RON,” and opens up opportunities and also new challenges for us. Remember that first and foremost, Escrow is a neutral third party that follows written instructions from the parties. Be sure to pay close attention to your instructions and remember to ask questions about lender and title requirements as you are going through this new learning curve.

As you know, OCEA canceled its March general meeting to heed the warnings about stopping the spread of COVID-19. We are hoping to reschedule that meeting later in the year, to still be able to bring you the education we had planned. Our next meeting is still scheduled for May 15th, and at this time we are discussing going ahead with it as a “virtual” meeting available for you to attend on that day. Stay tuned for updates and details!

We look forward to bringing you additional educational events throughout the year - virtually, if need be. At this time, everything is fluid. Watch your email for our meeting notices and reservation information -- and please spread the word. As always, if you have any suggestions or topics that you are interested in hearing about, please let us know! We’re here for you.

Knowing that at some point, this too shall pass, we are looking to the future. You’ve probably seen how quickly our federal and state legislators have put new rules and programs in place in response to this crisis; and how CAR has quickly come out with new contract addenda and advisories, too. As they say: if you’re not at the (negotiating) table, you’re on the menu! Now, perhaps more so than ever before, it is crucial for you to be a member of your trade association. Join for the education, to receive news and important notifications and updates about compliance issues, and to make your voice heard. Please encourage those you know to become a member of Orange County Escrow Association so they will be in the know and so that we may have the strength in numbers it takes to have our voices heard at the State and National levels! Show your pride in your profession. Membership and continuing education raise the bar for escrow service providers throughout the state, which creates a huge benefit to the customers we serve - after all, they are the reason we are here doing what we do.

I thank you for the opportunity to represent you as OCEA’s 2020 President and look forward to the day when we can safely meet together again in person!

Mickey Vandenberg
2019/2020 OCEA President

P.S.: If you haven’t already done so, please “like” us on FaceBook, and visit the OCEA website where, among other useful bits of information, there’s a list of all of our amazing 2020 Silver Sponsors. All sponsor logos link to their websites. When you can, please support our sponsors as they support each of us in the industry.