Rachael Sokolowski, CMSP, is President of Magnolia Technologies, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a recognized leader in the mortgage banking industry as both a technology evangelist and subject matter expert who has acted as a trusted adviser, key decision maker and driver of results in industry initiatives. She designed the eMortgage specifications for creation, signing and archival of electronic loan documents, electronic closing systems and the exchange loan information between systems known in the industry as the ‘SMART Doc’ and was the XML architect for the national electronic Note registry, the MERS eRegistry. She is a past recipient of the Mortgage Banking magazine “MISMO All-Star” award (2006) and in 2014 was named as a “MISMO Standards Champion.” She is currently Co-Chair of the MISMO eMortgage Community of Practice.
Residential and commercial real estate closing expert Rick Triola is Founder and CEO of NotaryCam, Newport Beach, Calif., pioneer of the industry’s trusted global platform for supporting all eClosing scenarios–RON, IPEN or Hybrids–in any jurisdiction. He is a two-time winner of the MBA NewsLink Tech All-Star Award (2017 and 2020).
What ever happened to Senate Bill 3533, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (the “SECURE Act”), bipartisan legislation to authorize and establish minimum standards for electronic and remote notarizations (RON), which was introduced in mid-March? We assert that this question would be on more lips and in more headlines had not nearly every state in the Union either adopted its own version of the law or enacted pandemic-necessitated workarounds.
One of the impediments to business as usual under physical distancing is an inability to properly execute financial and legal documents. For example, and especially critical to our industry, mortgage deeds must be notarized to be accepted for recordation by local county clerks and other recording offices. Imagine for a moment what the last few months of unprecedented loan origination volume would have been like had the states been inflexible on in-person notarization requirements.
As a practice, notarization has always been a state by state patchwork of rules. Some states have published rules for notarization, others have publicly stated that it is allowed, but they have not provided rules-based guidance. Some states are completely silent on it. Now, with 27 states having officially adopted legislation modernizing the notarization transaction (and Hawaii poised to become the 28th adopting state January 1, 2021) and most of those remaining having allowed for emergency rules, combined with hundreds of thousands of successfully completed RON transactions over an 8 year span, we have real world evidence that digitally enabled remote notarizations are safe and effective. However, the emergency rules will expire and California, for reasons neither of us can discern, remains undecided.