It’s two days before closing simultaneous real estate transactions. You’re finally moving up from that townhouse into a single-family home. You travel all over the world for work and now, you’re in Budapest finishing up a project, when you find out that, due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), International travel has been suspended. You cannot possibly make it to an embassy to get the docs properly executed in time because the Embassies are all open for urgent matters only. If you don’t complete the transactions, you will lose a deposit of $30,000. What do you do?
On January 1, 2020, Florida’s legislation on using audio/visual technology to notarize documents became effective. This is very useful legislation that provides notary execution alternatives, allowing buyers and sellers to have their signatures notarized wherever they are in the world.
The Florida Statues now permit specially licensed Remote Online Notaries “RON”s, to use audio/visual technology to notarize documents. This is a process where the signer/consumer is no longer required to be “physically present” before the Notary in order to properly execute and notarize a document. This new alternative to getting docs executed allows them to be signed and notarized, digitally, all without requiring the Consumer and Notary being physically present in the same room. This new alternative provides incredible options for Consumers who are international or out-of-state.
So, here you are, thousands of miles away from Florida and you need to get this transaction closed or you will lose $30k. Find a Remote Online Notary and your problems will be solved! But, you’re not sure what that even means or how to even find a RON. As the title implies, do not fear…both partners at Khani & Auerbach are now Remote Online Notaries!
Just like any process that is governed by legislation, there are rules the RON must follow:
(1) The RON must be physically in Florida but signers, referred to as “consumers” or “principals” or any witness to a principal may be anywhere in the world;
(2) The RON must record the audio-video conference using real-time, two-way communication by electronic means where participants are able to see, hear, and communicate with one another;
(3) At the commencement of the recording, the RON must clearly advise the Consumer/Principal that the RON will be notarizing;
(4) Provide a description or identification of the records to be signed;
(5) Ask where the Consumer/Principal is currently located? If the Consumer/Principal is not in Florida, confirm that they want the notarization performed by a Florida Notary and under Florida law;
(6) Confirm the Consumer/Principal’s’ identity by either: attesting to personally knowing the signer; or from the signer: (i) remotely presenting a government issued ID and confirming their identity; and (ii) passing a “credential analysis” (where a third party verifies the government-issued ID’s validity); and (iii) passing an “identity proofing” (where a third party verifies the signer’s identity through questions or via biometric verification); and
(7) Obtain a declaration from the signer that their signature is knowingly and voluntarily made.
Consumer/Principal’s Identity Verification:
If the Consumer/Principal is not personally known to the RON, the Consumer/Principal must go through what’s called Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA), a process very similar to that of financial institutions used to verify a consumer’s identity. The questions are drawn from various data bases, including your individual credit and public information collected about you from the internet. The Consumer/Principal is provided with five questions, drawn from both public and/or proprietary data sources, and must, within two minutes, correctly respond to four out of five questions.
Each of the five questions provide five possible answer choices per question. If the Consumer/Principal fails to respond correctly to 80% of the questions, then the Consumer/Principal will be offered one more additional opportunities to complete another set of KBA questions and during that attempt, the Consumer/Principal is limited to being asked with more than three (3) questions from the prior attempt. Should both attempts fail, there is a 24-hour waiting period in which you must wait before you able to get another opportunity to go through the identity verification process.
Once the government issued identification and identity verification have been confirmed, you will connect via audio/video with the RON. The RON will probably ask the following questions before the signing, Who is in the room with you? Are you under the influence of any drug or alcohol today that impair your ability to make decisions? Do you have any physical or mental condition or long-term disability that impairs your ability to make decisions?
You might be wondering what to do if a document requires witnesses. There are a few options. The witness can either be physically present with the Consumer/Principal or can also be present using the audio-video technology (in other words, be in the room with the RON). If the witness is not present with the Consumer/Principal then, (1) the RON must verify the witness’ identity; (2) the witness must hear the Consumer/Principal say “I have signed the electronic record”; (3) the witness must verbally confirm they are a “resident of and currently physically located in the US or its territory.”
After all the formalities of signing have been complete, the RON will then use an electronic notary seal, identifying the RON as an “online notary.” All the documents where the RON has acknowledged and signed will contain an electronic notary stamp, similar to that which you may be familiar with. The notary process will then be complete.
The RON will then be able to provide electronic copies of the given series of related electronic records, if requested by: (a) A party to the electronic record, or (b) In real estate transactions, the title agent, settlement agent, or title insurer who insured the electronic record or engaged the online notary public with regard to such transaction.
BEFORE you can take advantage of the RON process, you must ensure that you meet all the system requirements. The checklist below explains what you need to optimize your experience during the scheduled RON eClosing.
(1) Login information and 6-digit PIN: The RON will send you an invitation which will include a link to create your profile and the PIN.
(2) Valid Identification: You will need to have a valid state-issued ID, Driver’s License, or government-issued passport.
(3) Smartphone with both text message and camera capabilities: During the process, you will be required to take a picture of your ID (in Landscape mode) during the RON eClosing session.
(4) Computer/Laptop with working camera, microphone, and speakers: Cell phones and tablets (such as iPads) are NOT COMPATIBLE with RON. Hybrid tablets (like a Microsoft Surface Pro) are the exception and are compatible when using Google Chrome.
(5) Latest version of a compatible web browser and Windows 8.1 or higher: While Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer are all compatible, we are finding that Google Chrome works best.
(6) Strong, uninterrupted internet connection with minimum 15 MBPS download/upload speed for an optimal experience: The most important aspect of this process is having a strong internet connection. If the process gets interrupted at any point, the identity verification process will have to restart from the beginning. FIND THE BEST INTERNET CONNECTION!
Remember, when you purchase, refinance, sell, or obtain a home equity loan/line on a home, signing the closing documents is one of the FINAL steps in the transaction. Traditional closings have required in person, wet signing of large amounts of paper documents. With Remote Online Notarization, we can now “meet” online to electronically sign and notarize your closing documents.
At Khani & Auerbach, we are dedicated to providing as much information to assist you in becoming a home buyer. Please be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and for additional useful information.