…And Congress Should Take Notice
For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has made us completely rethink how we work, socialize, and even run errands. In Virginia, however, we did not need a deadly pandemic to rethink how we buy homes. For almost a decade, Virginia has allowed for remote online notarization (RON), which offers a secure way for homebuyers to digitally close on their real estate transactions without needing to visit a notary in-person. As the first state to adopt RON, Virginia has led the way in showing how digital closings can be secure, efficient, and save time. But despite many homebuyers’ desire for social distancing, many still do not have access to RON.
According to a survey conducted by my title company, Champion Title & Settlements in Sterling, Virginia, homebuyers overwhelmingly recommend RON and believe that the secure technology keeps them safe. Of the approximately 350 Champion Title & Settlements customers that took the survey, 95% said they would recommend remote online notarization to others and 97% said the process felt safe and secure.
While there has been a rapid increase in the number of states that have enacted RON legislation since the beginning of the pandemic, there are still 12 states that have not authorized the permanent use of RON. Without a federal bill allowing for the permanent use of RON, residents of these states are not able to take advantage of a technology that Virginians strongly support.
And digital closings are not just helpful for those following social distancing protocols. As a title professional, I find that many sick or disabled homebuyers as well as military families are grateful for technology that allows them to close on a real estate transaction from the comfort of their own home. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau even sent an email recently to its distribution list about the benefits of RON for older adults.
Now is the time for Congress to pass legislation to give homebuyers in all 50 states permanent access to this important technology. A bipartisan bill called the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act Notarization Act, which has U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) as a leading sponsor, has the power to do just that.
The bill was introduced earlier this year in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. In addition to making digital home closing options permanent to homebuyers across the U.S., it would also establish consistent national standards to protect homebuyers. Homebuyers can have confidence that RON is just as safe and secure as visiting a notary in-person.
Virginia should be a national model for making homebuying easier than ever, particularly for disabled homebuyers and veterans. The SECURE Notarization Act is a common-sense solution that will help homebuyers around the country. Bipartisan legislation is rare in Washington, but the SECURE Notarization Act has strong support from both sides of the aisle. I urge members of Congress to prioritize passing this bill so that we can bring the notarization process into the 21st century.
Kyle Tyler is a title agent at Champion Title & Settlements, Inc. in Sterling, VA. For inquiries on eClosings with Champion Title, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.