ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly a week after a ransomware attack on Bernalillo County, most of the county’s buildings are still closed. That includes the Property Tax Division which is crucial for buying and selling homes.
Little is actually known about the ransomware attack that shut down Bernalillo County last week. “I think everybody was just in a state of shock knowing that somebody had been able to hack into the system,” said Greater Albuquerque Area Realtors President Bridget Gilbert.
However, those in the real estate world instantly knew it meant trouble. Gilbert says the shutdown, in part, means the realtors can’t tell buyers what their monthly payments or property taxes would be.
“Well, we didn’t have access to those calculators from the Bernalillo County side,” said Gilbert. It also means the county’s Property Tax Division can’t record deeds for homes.
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“Buyers were needing to get into their homes and generally, they don’t get into their homes until their deeds are recorded. Kind of like when you buy a car, you don’t drive off the lot until you have a bill of sale,” said Gilbert.
With hundreds of high-stakes deals on the line, Gilbert says lenders and title companies came up with a solution. “So far, as long as that Gap Insurance is in place, our lenders are comfortable allowing us to proceed forward,” said Kimberly Kissane with Premier Choice Mortgage.
Kissane says most title companies are now accepting Gap Insurance due to the unforeseen closure which allows people to move in and out of homes without the deed being recorded. “We have probably about 10 to 15 right now that we’re projecting this month for closing in Bernalillo County that were really relying on that Gap Insurance,” said Stephanee Casares with Premier Choice Mortgage.
The Gap Insurance will act as a safety net for as long as the title companies allow it. However, if title companies change their minds, deals could fall through.
Gilbert says there are a small number of cases where out-of-state lenders aren’t accepting the Gap Insurance. In those instances, realtors are trying to postpone closing dates until the county is back up and running.