ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Almost a week after a ransomware attack on Bernalillo County, most buildings in the county are still closed. This includes the division of property tax which is crucial for buying and selling homes.
Little is known about the ransomware attack that shut down Bernalillo County last week. “I think everyone was just in shock that someone might have hacked into the system,” said Bridget Gilbert, president of Greater Albuquerque Area Realtors.
However, those in the real estate world immediately knew this meant trouble. Gilbert says the shutdown partly means realtors can’t tell buyers what their monthly payments or property taxes would be.
“Well, we didn’t have access to those calculators on the Bernalillo County side,” Gilbert said. It also means that the county property tax division cannot register deeds of ownership of homes.
“Buyers had to come into their homes and usually they don’t enter their homes until their deeds are recorded. Much like when you buy a car, you don’t leave the parking lot until you have a bill of sale, ”said Gilbert.
With hundreds of high-stakes transactions at stake, Gilbert says lenders and securities companies have found a solution. “So far, as long as this gap insurance is in place, our lenders are comfortable allowing us to move forward,” said Kimberly Kissane of Premier Choice Mortgage.
Kissane says most title companies now accept Gap insurance due to the unplanned shutdown that allows people to enter and leave their homes without the deed being recorded. “We probably have around 10 to 15 right now that we plan to close this month in Bernalillo County that were really relying on this Gap insurance,” said Stephanee Casares of Premier Choice Mortgage.
Gap insurance will act as a safety net for as long as the securities companies allow. However, if the securities companies change their mind, the deals could fail.
Gilbert says there are a small number of cases where out-of-state lenders do not accept Gap insurance. In these cases, realtors try to postpone closing dates until the county is back up and running.