Just months prior to the pandemic, the title and legal industry made some tremendous strides toward virtual closings. Florida’s remote online notarization (“RON”) law, passed in July 2019, went into effect January 1, 2020. Normally, new technology takes time to implement; however, lockdown/quarantine requirements allowed Becker and Becker Title to accelerate adoption and implementation of RON, providing a safe method for Sellers to sign their conveyance documents.
To use RON, the Seller and witnesses (for the Deed) undergo an initial identity verification process prior to signing. Once all identities have been verified, the notary, Seller and witnesses (for the Deed) join an audio-video platform in real time, identities are verified once again, and the electronic signing and notarization can occur. RON can only be used by Sellers who are U.S. citizens or have a U.S. tax ID number; it is also available to U.S. citizens signing documents while in a foreign country, if the RON provider is able to verify the signor’s identity and credentials. The witnesses and notary must be located within the U.S. Practically speaking, a Seller using RON needs to have a high-speed internet connection, webcam and be somewhat technologically savvy.
Most lenders still require the note and mortgage to be wet-signed even if they allow the balance of the loan documents to be signed electronically. Prior to COVID-19, Becker and Becker Title offered a mobile notary service to those who required an alternative to in-person signing of closing documents. This service has now become the new normal for Buyers obtaining financing. We give our Sellers the option of using either RON or our mobile notary service. For cash Buyers, we use doc-u-sign, that allows the Buyer to sign their closing documents electronically from their phone, computer, or tablet.
NOTE: Our mobile notaries wear masks and follow social distancing protocols to ensure Buyers can safely and conveniently sign their closing documents and loan packages from the location of their choice. The safety of our employees, partners, and those we serve is of the utmost importance to both Becker and Becker Title.
Despite the pandemic – and aided by record low interest rates and high buyer demand – residential closings handled through Becker and Becker Title remained strong this summer. We are grateful that the advancements in technology and law have allowed our closing process to truly become more efficient than ever and look forward to helping even more Floridians find a place to call home.
Elana Friedman Polashuk is the Director of Operations for Becker Title and a real estate attorney at Becker & Poliakoff, focusing primarily on residential and commercial transactions. She can be reached directly at (954) 629-6652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.