As paper disappears more and more from our daily lives, the real estate industry sometimes seems like one of the last vestiges of ink-and-paper transactions. These days you can buy a car, enroll in college, start a new job, file your taxes, sign up for home and car insurance, and send money anywhere in the world, all without ever having to put a wet signature on anything. Why should real estate closings be any different? New technologies and legislative changes now make it easier than ever to save a tree on your next home purchase or sale, which is why we at Independence Title are now thrilled to be able to offer our customers the possibility of a 100% electronic closing.
Who can we thank for this wonderful change? Our new best friend RON, of course! This year, a new law went into effect for the first time in Texas that allows a signer’s acknowledgment to be taken and their identity verified by a RON – Remote Online Notary. Texas is the third state out of only four that currently allow webcam notarizations, although there are bills pending in about a dozen other states. This opens up a new world for paperless closings—previously, a notary was required to be physically present in front of signers in order to verify their signatures and take their acknowledgments. Now a remote online notary can verify a signer’s identity via webcam, witness the signer e-sign the documents, and then affix the notary’s own electronic signature and seal to the document. No paper required! The buyer could be here in Texas while the sellers are sipping hot cocoa at their vacation home in Colorado and we could still make the closing happen without anyone getting on a plane or having to send a mobile notary up a snowy mountain road.
Buyers on cash transactions typically don’t need to sign anything that requires notarization, so they can easily and quickly sign all of their documents using DocuSign. Because of this, Independence can now offer most cash buyers a 100% electronic closing with no additional cost. For sellers on cash transactions, typically there’s at least one document that needs to be notarized, and Independence can offer a remote online notary for a nominal cost, comparable to signing physically in front of a notary.
You may be wondering, are electronic transactions only available for cash deals? Absolutely not! Closings involving loans can also be completed 100% electronically with a reasonable fee for either side of the transaction. However, the lender must be on board with accepting e-signatures from all parties including the notary, so always check with your lender first before counting on an electronic closing. Depending on the transaction, the fees for an online notary may be charged by the lender rather than the title company.
Click here to view a list of some of the requirements for performing an e-closing with a remote online notary to see if this might be a possibility for your next transaction. This list may change as new information becomes available, so always be sure to check with your escrow team.
Questions about how this all works? Ready to try your first completely electronic closing? Give us a call to speak one of our expert closing specialists today!