Many real estate businesses are struggling to complete deals as a cyberattack on computers three weeks ago continues to disrupt Suffolk County government.
Local real estate experts say that the cyber disruption is preventing property closings, blocking the verification of titles and filing of documents.
The cyberattack, first discovered around Sept. 8, shut down the county computer sytem, knocking databases, emails, some phones and other access offline.
Eliot Lonardo, a real estate broker with Signature Premier Properties, said the disruption has interfered with title work, key to property transactions. Titles proof of legal rights, ownership control, and responsibility over a home. Without access to the databases providing information, title examiners struggle to determine who owns a property and verify documentation for accuracy.
Huntington Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman said that her office is receiving some extra communications from residents unable to contact the county because of the cyberattack. And delinquent taxes that were dueat the town’s office by the end of May are turned over to the Suffolk County Comptroller’s Office for collection.
Reporter David Winzelberg of Long Island Business News quoted attorney David Rosenberg of Garden City-based Rosenberg Fortuna & Laitman, as saying, “These records are essential to determine if any new liens, encumbrances or property transfers have been filed between the original title report and the closing. On newer deals, it delays the initial title report so the title company qualifies the report in a way that counsel for buyers, borrowers and lenders cannot confidently close any significant transactions.”
The problems are coming just as mortgage rates are rising and slowing the heated real estate market in many parts of the country.
A user on TikTok who goes by the name DolfanJenn and says she works as a title examiner for a company in Suffolk County, has been posting clips about the problems for several days. “This cyberattack has crippled this county,” she said a few days ago. “No escrows are closing, no searches can be done for purchases, refinances, foreclosures have essentially stopped.”
@dolfanjenn I also want to add that I do NOT blame the IT people for this event. Nor are they the reason things arent back up and running.. eveeyone has channels to go through and procedures- but I am making this video to bring awareness to this current situation #cybersecurity #cyberattack #ransomeware #itpeople #suffolkcounty #titleabstractor #titleexaminer #advice #itspecialists ♬ original sound – JennyWenny