The Benefits of Remote Online Notarization in Real Estate Closings

For decades, the real estate closing process remained largely unchanged. Buyers, sellers, real estate agents, lenders, and other representatives had to be physically present to sign and notarize immense stacks of paperwork.

As daily life becomes increasingly digitized, new technologies are emerging to enhance every step of the property transaction process. From virtual tours to streamlined communication platforms, these advancements offer significant benefits for seasoned professionals and first-time buyers and sellers.

Landtrust is one of the Midwest’s largest and most respected title insurance and escrow services providers, and we’re focused on embracing modern solutions that enhance efficiency, security, and convenience for our partners. Let’s take a closer look at Remote Online Notarization (RON) and how it can streamline closing for you and your clients.

Increased Efficiency and Accessibility

In the past, coordinating closings was a logistical challenge. However, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted longstanding norms and accelerated the adoption of new technologies across industries. In the real estate environment, one of the biggest innovations has been the rise of Remote Online Notarization (RON).

Governor Pritzker of Illinois signed Public Act 102-0160 in 2021, and on June 5, 2023, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office (IL SOS) adopted administrative rules that provide the necessary guidance for Illinois notaries performing electronic or remote notarial acts.

Through the use of audio-visual communication tools, notaries can verify the identities of signers and witness the signing of documents in real-time, from anywhere in the country. This innovative approach eliminates the time-consuming scheduling associated with traditional in-person notarization, making the process faster and more convenient for all involved.

RON was authorized in Wisconsin for the first time on March 3, 2020, when Governor Evers signed Wisconsin Act 125, which established essential requirements for the safety and integrity of the process. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and the Remote Notary Council provide a list of approved technology providers for the state’s commissioned notaries.

For busy real estate agents, brokers, and title officers, time is of the essence. By conducting notarizations remotely, professionals can save valuable time and reduce associated costs, such as travel expenses and lost productivity. Out-of-state buyers, senior citizens, and individuals with mobility limitations can now participate in their real estate transactions on their own terms.

Navigating Enhanced Security

RON isn’t just a matter of added convenience. It also provides robust security features that reduce risk and prevent fraud.

Real estate-related crimes are on the rise and industry professionals need to take steps to mitigate cybersecurity risks. Property transactions, involving significant sums of money and highly sensitive information, are a prime target for threat actors.

“Fraud attempts are increasing compared to a year ago, meaning title and settlement companies must be even more vigilant,” according to Diane Tomb, CEO of the American Land Title Association (ALTA)

Cutting-edge cryptographic algorithms and protocols help ensure proper data governance, while multi-factor authorization and AI-powered credential analysis protect signers and notaries from fraud or exploitation.

Notaries and real estate professionals should be especially vigilant regarding business email compromise (BEC) attacks, which the FBI says have become a $51 billion problem. BEC scams are typically sophisticated fraud attempts involving spoofing email accounts or websites to enable malware and the theft of valuable data.

RON platforms typically use digital certificates, blockchain technology, or other secure attribution methods to render notarized documents tamper-evident. Most states require that notaries maintain robust audit trails and audio/ video records of all transactions.

A More Sustainable Approach

The traditional closing process often produced a mountain of paper documents and involved a good deal of physical travel, couriers, and shipping materials, and Remote Online Notarization offers an environmentally friendly alternative. 

By eliminating the need for printing and mailing documents and reducing in-person meetings, RON helps to minimize your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

RON makes closings faster and more streamlined by digitizing the entire workflow. E-signatures and e-notarizations can be executed in minutes rather than days. No more lost paperwork or clerical delays — less time spent pushing paper means agents can focus on providing exceptional service.

For title insurance and escrow services professionals, this means being able to serve our partners more effectively. Additionally, the reduced transaction time translates to lower holding costs and faster access to funds, further enhancing the financial benefits for all parties involved.

Whether you’re a seasoned broker or a first-time buyer, understanding the advantages of Remote Online Notarization can help you navigate the property transaction process with greater ease and confidence. 
Ready to learn more? Reach out to the industry experts at Landtrust Title Services today!

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