When it comes to closing on a mortgage, nothing is final until the notary public says so. Charged with officially affirming the transaction’s legitimacy, notaries apply their legal stamp of approval after verifying the borrower’s identity and willingness to enter into the loan. By necessity, notarization has always been a face-to-face process. And even as mortgage lending moves online, enabling borrowers to shop and apply for loans via the Internet, as well as upload documents and apply their signatures, the signing of the final documents requiring notarization still makes it necessary for the borrower to be in the same room with the notary.
Unless, that is, the notary is in Virginia. As of 2012, Virginia became the first state to allow certified notaries to use technology to notarize documents remotely, with the signers being anywhere in the world. Signers must appear before the notary by means of a live, two-way video conference, and the notary must keep a recording of the meeting. “It’s one of those things where the time has come,” said John B. Harris, the senior vice president for product management at Signix, an electronic signature service based in Chattanooga, Tenn., that offers remote notarization. “The notary profession is due for that injection of technology,” he said.