Welcome Message from the Real Property Section Chair

By Brian Byrd

I hope this message finds you well. I am honored to be the Chair of the Real Property Section for the 2020-2021 NCBA year. Joining me on this year’s Executive Committee are Vice-Chair Christina Pearsall with Schell Bray PLLC in Greensboro, Secretary-Treasurer Lindsay Thompson with The Van Winkle Law Firm in Asheville, and immediate Past Chair Brian Taylor with White & Allen P.A. in New Bern.

As a Section, we owe Brian Taylor a debt of gratitude for his steady guidance during the past year, particularly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian coordinated the Section’s response to the unprecedented challenges to our profession wrought by the pandemic, including measures intended to facilitate the provision of legal services despite business and government office closures, social distancing and economic upheaval. With the Section’s support and in concert with advocacy by other stakeholders in the real estate industry, the Good Funds Settlement Act was temporarily amended to allow disbursements prior to recording of the deed, subject to compliance with certain conditions and requirements, when the applicable Register of Deeds is not accepting documents for recording. In addition, with the Section’s support, the General Assembly adopted legislation temporarily allowing notary acknowledgments to be completed remotely by video. I would like to acknowledge and thank Nancy Ferguson for the significant role that she played in guiding the Section’s efforts with respect to both of these measures.

During the coming year, the Council’s priorities will include continued support of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most immediately, our Section will work with the Corporate Counsel Section to craft legislation permanently allowing remote notary acknowledgments. Many states already allow remote notary acknowledgments, but we must be careful that any such legislation adopted in North Carolina will be reliable and secure, and will result in insurable title when utilized to acknowledge signatures in real estate transactions. I also anticipate that the Section will offer CLE presentations regarding issues and challenges facing real estate practitioners as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please reach out to me or other members of the Council if you have suggestions for other actions that the Council should undertake to support real estate practitioners through this unusual time.

I trust that you are finding your way around the Section’s new website. I would like to thank the Bar’s staff for its hard work implementing the new website. The new website has a couple of features that I would like to point out. All NCBA-approved real estate forms are now available to Section members for downloading as package in a single ZIP file in the Community Library of the Section’s website. In addition, the “Discussion” function of the new website replaces the former listserv, and now preserves messages in a discussion board format while allowing users to choose whether to receive new messages in real time by e-mail or to receive a daily digest e-mail summarizing new posts from the prior day.

I would like to encourage Section members to consider a couple of opportunities to become involved in Section activities. The Council has several committees on which Section members may participate. The Section’s new website contains a committee sign-up feature on the home page. In addition, the Council hopes to complete the forms manual update this year. If you are interested in assisting with the forms manual update by providing or reviewing forms, please contact the Form Manual Committee chair, Ryan Rhodenhiser.

I hope to see many of you at CLE programs or the Section’s Annual Meeting on May 14-15 in Wrightsville Beach (assuming a return to something resembling normality). Until then, best wishes to you for the coming Bar year.

Brian Byrd