ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Almost a week after a ransomware attack on Bernalillo County, most of the county’s buildings are still closed. This also includes the property tax department, which is vital for home buying and selling.
Little is actually known about the ransomware attack that paralyzed Bernalillo County last week. “I think everyone was just in shock when they knew someone might be hacking into the system,” said Bridget Gilbert, president of Greater Albuquerque Area Realtors.
The closings continue following a suspected ransomware attack on Bernalillo County
However, those in the real estate world knew right away that this was causing trouble. Gilbert says the closure means, in part, that brokers won’t be able to tell buyers what their monthly payments or property taxes would be.
“Well, we didn’t have access to these machines from the Bernalillo County site,” Gilbert said. This also means that the county’s wealth tax department cannot record deeds for houses.
“Buyers have had to go into their homes, and generally don’t come into their homes until their deeds have been recorded. As with buying a car, you don’t leave until you have a sales contract, ”says Gilbert.
With hundreds of high-stakes deals at stake, lenders and title companies have found a solution, according to Gilbert. “As long as this gap insurance is in place, our lenders are happy that we can continue,” said Kimberly Kissane of Premier Choice Mortgage.
Kissane says most title companies are now accepting gap insurance due to the unforeseen closings that allow people to move in and out of homes without the deed being recorded. “We have probably about 10-15 that we are planning for the Bernalillo County closure this month that have really relied on this gap insurance,” said Stephanee Casares of Premier Choice Mortgage.
The gap insurance acts as a safety net as long as the title companies allow it. However, if title companies change their minds, business could fail.
Gilbert says there are a small number of cases where overseas lenders will not accept Gap Insurance. In these cases, brokers try to postpone closing dates until the county is back up and running.