The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people live and do business. With shelter-in-place ordinances effective across the country, individuals are now forced to work from home. Fortunately, remote technology is advanced enough to make this work transition relatively easy. However, this isn’t so simple for notary services. The legalities surrounding document notarization require the notary and requesting party to complete the transaction in person.
With the safety of notaries and the general public in mind, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) have introduced The Secure and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act. This bipartisan legislation would permit the immediate use of remote online notarization (RON) throughout the country with minimum standards. This would eliminate the need for in-person notarization, thus reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Understanding Remote Online Notarization
Important and often sensitive documents like titles, wills, and lease agreements require notarization as a way of preventing fraud. A notary public is licensed by the state to act as an impartial witness to the signing of a document and verify the identities of all parties involved. When using RON, the signer of a document and the notary use audio-visual technology instead of coming into physical contact. This is different than electronic notarization, where the documents are signed with an e-signature while the process is still completed in person. With RON, all parties remain in their remote locations. The SECURE Notarization Act requires the use of tamper-evident technology and multifactor authentications during RONs.
The SECURE Notarization Act and the Title Industry
The COVID-19 crisis is causing a major disruption to title companies. More specifically, because closings can’t take place due to social distancing restrictions, many homebuyers, sellers, real estate agents, and title companies are stuck in limbo. The SECURE Notarization Act and RON provides a way to get things moving again. Title companies can now use remote online notarization to get a title notarized and title insurance issued. They can also use RON when working with lenders providing a mortgage loan.
Title companies face a few challenges when working with this remote customer service process. For example, they’ll need to verify if a lender will accept RON, even if the state allows it. A strong line of communication is vital. This is where other tools like virtual closing assistants come in handy.
Resources for Title Companies
The sudden shift to remote business requires title companies to train themselves on different approaches to getting things done. Fortunately, there are learning resources available that can make the process easier. For example, Twelfth Floor Group provides closing solutions along with compliance and risk management services for the title and real estate industry. They’re currently offering a COVID-19 Solutions Symposium that will highlight creative closing solutions to implement during the crisis.
The National Notary Association also has valuable information on remote online notarization and FAQs concerning RON during the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about how remote notarization works and what you need to do to start taking advantage of it.
Alanna.ai develops AI-powered software that makes remote communication easier for title companies. To learn more, request a demo today.