You’ve done all the house hunting, found your new abode and made an offer. The seller accepted, so now all that’s left is to close on the house. But things are a bit strange right now, and it’ll be tricky to get hold of a notary. What can you do? Go remote. More and more, folks are doing mortgage closings through remote notarization, and it can work for you, too!
What is Remote Notarization?
When you get a document notarized, you sign it and have it verified in the presence of a notary public. While this might conjure images of sitting in a waiting room, that’s not the only way to get what you need. In some instances, remote online notarization (RON) is available, where services can be performed 100% at a distance. Using a webcam, home buyers, sellers and mortgage lenders in different cities or states can virtually dot their i’s and cross their t’s to close on a home. Throughout the process, your mortgage contract is uploaded online for everyone involved to see and sign digitally.
But is this secure? RON platforms provide enhanced online security and verify your identity by checking your driver’s license and asking authentication questions. From here, you only need to connect with a notary approved by the service or one you personally know. Seems simple, right? The process is convenient, but do your homework to verify that RON is available in your state, as it isn’t legalized nationwide.
It’s important not to confuse RON with e-notarization, however, as the two have core differences. E-notary services simply allow contract documents like title transfers or mortgage loans to be submitted digitally. All signers must still be physically present in the same room and in front of the notary when they each sign the document, and their signatures are applied digitally. Currently, electronic notarization is widely available, with 36 states—like Arizona, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas and West Virginia—allowing the practice.
Does My State Allow Mortgage Closings through Remote Notarization?
RON isn’t legalized nationwide, at least under normal circumstances. Because of COVID-19, most states have signed temporary emergency orders allowing RON for needs ranging from mortgages to commercial businesses, even if those states don’t usually permit it. The temporary laws are making it much easier to not only buy and sell during the health crisis, but are allowing so many unemployed individuals to refinance to lower their mortgages and cut costs.
Part of the country is ahead of the curve, however, having already enacted permanent RON laws. As of January 2020, 24 states have signed RON laws, and 14 of these states have fully implemented their processes. That means their notaries can regularly perform remote notarizations anytime. Moving forward, several states have signed permanent RON laws that go into effect later this year, including Arizona, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Washington and Alaska.
Which Platforms Are Approved for Mortgage Closings through Remote Notarization?
You can opt for RON to finalize your mortgage, but that doesn’t mean you can just visit Joe Notary’s website to do it. While you’re free to choose a notary of your own to handle the paperwork, individual states authorize platforms based on their established standards. Common remote notarization platforms include:
These services give all parties the web-based tools to upload, sign and send documentation so you can move into your new home.
Sign Your Mortgage through Remote Notarization
A digital signature is sufficient for so many things, from freelance agreements to credit card applications, so why not homebuying? Take advantage of the convenience of RONs and simply hop on a webcam chat with your notary to seal the deal.