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What is Remote Online Notarization?

If you’ve been on either side of a real estate transaction, you’ve likely had to deal with scheduling conflicts prior to closing. It’s often difficult to coordinate a time and place that is convenient for buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and real estate title companies. Many industry professionals have experienced missed business opportunities due to geographic limitations. These days, the industry is increasingly globalizing, and home buying has never been easier.

Yes, the digital world has allowed businesses to flourish in unprecedented ways, but it goes beyond that. In fact, there’s more to the globalization of the real estate industry than we ever imagined; in June 2019, Florida became one of over 20 states to set remote online notarization in motion.

Remote Online Notarization Law in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill allowing real estate transactions to be signed, notarized and completed online via audio and video technology. The principal, the notary, and the witnesses will be able to satisfy the requirement of physical appearance through the live video component of this bill. The law will be in effect on January 1, 2020. For busy real estate industry professionals or eager home buyers and sellers, this is major news! This will make it easier for clients to complete real estate transactions from the convenience of their home, office, or even on the go — and all parties will save both time and money. 

As mentioned, these remote online notarizations must comply with the state’s requirements and must be pre-approved by the lender (if a mortgage is involved). State requirements vary, but in any case, this is a great step forward in making real estate transactions more accessible. 

What are the requirements to use Remote Online Notarization in Florida?

Florida has set certain regulations in place to ensure fair and smooth transactions, provided that the closing agent has met the technology and training requirements laid out in Chapter 117 of the Florida Statutes. Compliance with the Florida Uniform Electronic Transaction Act is key as well. A qualified real estate title company should ensure that regulations are followed carefully and that the remote notarization process is in the best interest of all parties involved in the transaction.

The basic requirements are as follows:

Closing agents must:

  • Register with the Department of State;
  • Enroll in a course that educates them on the technology and training involved in such transactions;
  • Obtain a $25,000 bond as well as a $25,000 E&O insurance policy; and,
  • Find an approved notary service provider.

If done remotely, the appropriate notary service provider will confirm the principal’s identity, requiring a form of government identification, as well as the identity of the witnesses through this same method.

To make the principal’s identity even more secure, the principal is asked to answer a series of five “Knowledge-based authentication” questions and at least four must be answered correctly.

If the witnesses are not physically with the principal, the witnesses must verbally state that they are US residents and that they are within US territory at the moment. The principal must declare that they have provided electronic signatures, and the witnesses must declare that they heard the declaration. It is evident that this process has many layers and that remote notarization is a secure way to complete transactions.

It is important to note that those who do not wish to partake in digital notarization may opt out, as traditional closings will still be available, but for those times when it’s just not plausible, technology has made home buying easier for those far and near.

So, go ahead and rejoice: say hello to electronic notarizations – and goodbye to sleep-depriving car rides in the dreary moments of dawn. In the age of convenience, let this be a motivator and start planning your online closings before 2020 arrives.

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