Monday, June 18, 2018

Real Estate Closings Continue To Rocket Into the 21st Century

Effective in July 2019, Vermont will permit remote notarization of documents. Vermont joins Minnesota,  TennesseeIndianaTexas Nevada and Virginia in allowing notarizations to be performed remotely. Nevada's law also allows for electronic wills, as well. Previously, notary laws required that the signer of the document  personally appear before the notary. Remote notary laws such as Vermont's allows that the signer may 'appear' before the notary through a "secure communications link" to be set forth in regulations to be drafted by the Vermont Secretary of State. Doubtless these and other states' regulations will prescribe the level of online/encrypting security required, that audio and/or visual  appearance is required, etc.

Remote notarization is a major change for the process of concluding real estate transactions. In the last century, closing a real estate deal required all parties to be in the same room at the same time so all documents could be signed. A big part of that requirement was that documents had to be signed before a notary in order to be recorded. Currently, real estate closing documents can be signed and recorded electronically, but at least one or more parties have to be in the same room at the same time in order to have their signatures notarized. Remote notarization removes another reason for a real estate transaction to be concluded with everyone in the same room at the same time.

Massachusetts does not currently have a remote notarization law, but like most states requires that other states' notarizations must be recognized in Massachusetts,   As such, borrowers may 'attend' closings involving Massachusetts real estate remotely with remote notarization which would be valid under Massachusetts law. The law is rapidly changing so that a participant in a real estate closing may 'attend' without ever leaving her home or office.

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