Whether you’re a real estate agent, lender, or title agent, if you work in real estate, you’re likely familiar with notarization. After all, most important documents in real estate — such as the Deed of Trust and the Affidavit of Title — must be signed with a notary present. This is because the notary must not only confirm the identity of the person signing but also verify that they understand the documents and are signing by their own free will.
Clearly, the job of a notary is critical when it comes to real estate, and that’s not changing. But what has changed in recent years is the idea that the notary has to be present in the same room as the person signing the documents. Thanks to technology, the notary can perform this job remotely in a process that’s referred to as remote online notarization, or RON. So, what is remote online notarization, and how does it affect your clients? Here’s what to know about this increasingly common practice.
Simply put, remote online notarization is a process where a notary can witness someone signing documents without being physically present in the same room. They can even verify their identity remotely and request electronic signatures on the documents.
The notary can do this by using audio and video technology that allows them to see and hear the signing party from anywhere. For this process to be considered secure and valid, the notary must record the person signing on video.
While the process sounds simple enough, notaries must get special training to conduct a remote online notarization. This ensures they know all the rules, such as what type of audio/visual platform to use and how long they must keep the video recording on file.
If you’re thinking of incorporating RON into real estate eClosings for your clients, it’s helpful to understand how it works. First, according to the National Notary Association, the notary has to be licensed and present in the state where the property is located.
Next, the technology the notary is using has to be considered secure. This means it needs multifactor authentication (MFA) and a safe way to verify that the signers are who they say they are. In doing so, the platform needs to be able to scan and confirm the validity of the signer’s driver’s license or other identification documents.
For the remote online notarization to be properly completed, the documents have to be signed and stamped while the notary watches on video. In some states, an electronic signature is fine, at which point the notary adds an electronic seal.
Other states request wet ink signings, after which the paperwork must arrive at the notary’s office within five days, according to Nolo. The notary then signs and seals the paperwork to keep it secure before turning it in. They will also need to keep any video and audio recordings of the remote signing for five to 10 years, depending on the state.
This is a relatively new concept that only started to increase in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when people needed to notarize documents but couldn’t meet in person. That’s when eClosings — often complete with RON — became more commonplace. In fact, according to the American Land Title Association (ALTA), the number of title companies allowing eClosings increased by 228% from 2019 to 2020.
So while few states used to allow remote online notarization, now 40 states do. In most of those states, the laws surrounding RON are permanent, meaning this use of technology for notarizing documents will be permitted for the foreseeable future.
In a handful of states, the laws are temporary, as RON was only allowed as an emergency order during the pandemic. But they’re likely to be made permanent, as experts predict that eClosings — which require RON — could be possible in all 50 states by the end of 2022. As a result, it’s a good idea to get familiar with remote online notarization so you’re prepared to offer it to clients who want to close on a house remotely.
There are many reasons remote online notarization has become one of the most popular real estate industry trends. The benefits of RON affect everyone, from clients and notaries to real estate agents and title agents.
First, clients benefit from remote online notarization because they don’t have to set up a day and time to meet with a notary at an office. Instead, they can stay home and sign their papers on a video recording.
This works well if your clients can’t take time off work during the day to meet with a notary or if they don’t have transportation to get to an office to sign documents. Doing this from home reduces the time and hassle of traveling before signing papers. And if they live in a remote area that would make it hard for a notary to come to them, they’ll appreciate signing remotely.
Of course, notaries can enjoy the same benefits, as using technology to witness signings adds convenience to the job. When notaries don’t have to travel all over the city to be present at signings, they’re more productive and efficient, as they can fit more signings into the day.
And when both clients and notaries find it easier to fit signings into their schedule, everyone benefits — including real estate agents, lenders, and title agents. This is because there’s less likely to be a delay in notarizing the documents when no one has to meet in person for it. As a result, there are fewer delays in the closing process.
Finally, using the latest technology for closing on a home makes the process more secure than usual. For example, to verify identity, signers have to present their ID to a camera, which can use security features to confirm that the ID is real and valid. RON platforms also use knowledge-based authentication, in which they ask signers personal questions only they would know how to answer — reducing the risk of fraud in real estate.
Such platforms also generate digital seals to reduce the chances of anyone being able to alter the information within. Plus, with RON, there’s a video recording of the signing process, creating an audit trail that further improves security for the signers.
Clearly, relying on technology for the closing process comes with many benefits. If you and your clients appreciate the advantages of online tools and plan to use RON before closing day, you should look into keeping the payment process digital as well. More specifically, consider paymints.io for paying all real estate expenses on closing day.
Using a secure digital payment platform like paymints.io provides your clients with similar benefits to remote online notarization, as it’s simple, seamless, and can reduce the risk of fraud. It’s also secure, as personal information is encrypted, and it comes with real-time tracking abilities.
Even better, paymints.io has integrated with Notarize, an online notarization provider. When you use paymints.io with Notarize, you can easily see if your transaction is eligible for digital closing, complete with remote online notarization. This integration is just one more way for paymints.io to make the closing process easier for everyone involved by keeping it digital and secure from start to finish.
If you want to learn more about this digital payment platform and the chance to try out remote online notarization, visit https://www.paymints.io/notarize/!