eClosing and eSigning Real Estate Transactions

Real estate settlement is going digital to create a better closing experience while reducing risks for all parties. But this transformation must be carefully managed to avoid a negative impact on land ownership records and the mortgage finance engine driving our nation's economy and personal wealth. First American is leading this transformation and developing innovative and secure ways to improve the closing experience for our customers.

In-Person Electronic Notarization (IPEN): Electronic documents are eSigned and eNotarized in-person. Typically performed on a tablet shared by the signer and the notary.

Remote Ink-Signed Notarization (RIN): Paper documents are ink-signed while a notary witnesses via webcam. The ink-signed documents are then mailed back to the notary for final ink notarization.

Remote Online Notarization (RON): A fully digital process where electronic documents are eSigned and eNotarized once identity is verified with the notary in a remote location via webcam.

Hybrid Signing and Notarization: Any combination of closing types. Typically means ink-signing recordable/notarized documents and eSigning the rest of the closing package.

Infographic Guide to eClosing and eSigning

View and share this infographic that highlights the benefits of eClosing, the different types of eSignatures and the different types of eClosings offered today.

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State-by-State Guide to Remote Online Closing

Click on a state to view the current status of the law for RON.

  • Law Passed
  • Legislation Pending
  • Legislation Proposed, Not Passed
  • No Legislation

Recent State Updates

While some states have already implemented a standardized version of remote online notarization ("RON") through the adoption of uniform legislation, the current coronavirus outbreak and the need for social distancing has driven many other states to issue executive orders or emergency regulations to temporarily authorize or accelerate RON closings, or temporarily authorize the notarization of paper documents following a videochat with the signer.

Unlike RON, the paper-based videochat notarization process known as RIN (Remote Ink-Signed Notarization) does not use electronic documents or require authentication of the principal through credential analysis and identity proofing, as required by the Standards for Remote Online Notarization established by MISMO and supported by First American.

First American is tracking these rapidly changing developments and responding accordingly. Please contact your local state office or First American representative for more information.

These third-party links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. First American cannot guarantee the accuracy or security of content hosted on third-party sites.

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Remote Online Notarization (RON)

Remote Online Notary eClosings hold the promise of a better consumer experience and better risk management. The mortgage and settlement industries are advocating for well-crafted laws that will properly enable this technological solution.

MBA/ALTA Model Bill

The Mortgage Bankers Association and the American Land Title Association have proposed model legislation to help states adopt a process for remote online notarization. Learn More

RULONA 2018

The Uniform Law Commission amended the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) in 2018 to allows remote online notarization through the use of audio-visual recording and identity-proofing technology. Learn More

First American Title Underwriting Standards

 

Become an Online Notary

Select a state to learn more about the requirements to become an online notary.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What is an eClosing?

    While the industry has yet to settle on a standard definition for eClosing, an eClosing is generally any real estate closing event or process in which the buyer, seller, borrower, notary or others use an electronic signature (eSignature) to sign some or all of the closing documents.

    Are there different types of eClosings?

    There are now four basic versions of eClosings. Each type is distinguished by which closing documents are electronically signed and the type of notarization used.

    • In-Person eNotarization (IPEN) eClosing — All documents are digital and eSigned. The lender's promissory note and any documents that require notarization (deed, mortgage, etc.) are eSigned, and the eSignature is executed in the physical presence of a notary public. The documents requiring notarization are eNotarized using a digital notary seal and the notary's eSignature. The rest of the closing documents, which do not need to be notarized, are digital and can be eSigned without a notary being physically present.
    • Remote Online Notary (RON) eClosing — All closing documents are digital and eSigned, and the lender's promissory note and any documents that require notarization (deed, mortgage, etc.) are eSigned as part of an online video session between the notary public and the buyer/seller/borrower. In the online video session, the notary interacts with the consumer in real time while the consumer eSigns documents. The notary then eNotarizes the relevant documents using a digital notary seal and the notary's eSignature. The rest of the closing documents, which do not need to be notarized, are digital and can be eSigned without a notary being physically present.
    • Remote Ink-signed Notary (RIN) eClosing — Paper documents are mailed to the signer in advance and are then ink-signed while a notary witnesses via webcam. The ink-signed documents are then mailed back to the notary for final ink notarization. This method is typically authorized on a temporary basis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Hybrid eClosing — Any combination of closing types. In a typical hybrid eClosing, the lender's promissory note and any documents that require notarization (deed, mortgage, etc.) are signed with traditional wet ink on paper in the physical presence of a notary public. The rest of the closing documents, which do not need to be notarized, are digital and eSigned.

    What are the benefits of an eClosing?

    eClosings can enhance the closing experience for all the parties involved while improving efficiency.

    Consumers can benefit from increased convenience and more time to review documents before signing. eSigning also helps accelerate the final closing with shorter signing appointments.

    Settlement agents can benefit from shorter signing appointments and increased efficiency with some documents being signed in advance of the signing appointment. eSigning can also improve quality control by ensuring that there are no missed signatures.

    Lenders can benefit from reduced risk and operational errors as a result of missing signatures. eSigning also allows lenders to offer a more convenient closing experience for their borrowers.

    What is a Remote Online Notarization (RON) closing?

    In a RON closing, consumers can eSign ALL of the closing documents. No wet signatures are needed, so no face-to-face interaction is required. Any documents that require notarization (including the deed, mortgage note, etc.), can be eSigned as part of an online video session between the consumer and a RON-certified notary public. In the online video session, the RON-certified notary public interacts with the consumer in real time, while the consumer eSigns documents. During the online video session, the RON-certified notary verifies the identity of the signer using multi-factor authentication using credential analysis and identity proofing tools. The RON-certified notary then eNotarizes the relevant documents using a digital notary seal and the notary's eSignature.

    How is First American expanding its ability to conduct RON closings?

    First American is committed to providing a variety of low-contact and no-contact closing options to help our customers close real estate transactions, while enhancing social distance protections and supporting the prevention of COVID-19 virus transmission.

    First American is actively strengthening and expanding our RON eClosing capacity, so we can broaden the low-contact and no-contact options for our customers to close real estate transactions. First American is also growing the number of employees that can facilitate transactions that involve a RON closing through a comprehensive employee training curriculum.

    How has the coronavirus pandemic changed the rules related to notarization and closing real estate transactions?

    To help enable low-contact and no-contact closings, many state governments have issued emergency orders to change their regulations related to in-person notarization. Some states have accelerated their pending RON laws while others have temporarily approved paper-based videochat notarization options.

    What is the difference between RON and RIN?

    While a RON (Remote Online Notarization) is performed completely online with digital documents and multi-factor authentication processes, the new RIN (Remote Ink-Signed Notarization) is a paper-based videochat notarization process that involves mailing a paper closing package to the signer in advance. The paperwork is ink signed on camera while the notary watches. The signer then mails the package back to the notary for final notarization. Unlike RON, RIN does not use software-based authentication processes to prove the identity of participants or validate their government-issued ID.

    Some states have temporarily authorized notaries to perform RIN signings in response to the social distancing measures in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. These emergency measures may leave buyers, borrowers, sellers, title agents and lenders at greater risk from potential fraud and other problems that could impact their real estate transaction now or in the future. The duration of this temporary authority and the specific rules for RIN vary from state to state.

    How do eClosings affect underwriting risk?

    For title insurance underwriters, eClosings have powerful potential. If deployed well, they can simultaneously reduce underwriting risk and improve the borrower/seller experience. For example, a well-designed eClosing process can give borrowers and sellers more time to review documents in advance of the closing, prevent "missed signatures" on documents at the closing, enable the efficient and accurate distribution of executed documents to the parties, create a seamless process for recording documents upon closing, and reduce post-closing "clean-up" work.

    However, poorly deployed eClosings with weak processes can have exactly the opposite effect. This is especially true with regard to remote online notary closings because the buyer/seller/borrower is not in the same room as the notary public. this can make it difficult to detect serious problems like fraud, duress, elder abuse, and mental incapacity. These problems create substantial risk of claims unless stopped in advance. For this reason, it is important to use only eNotary processes that have been carefully designed to prevent these problems. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and the American Land Title Association (ALTA) have collaborated to create a model online notary law with strong safeguards to protect against these consumer harms. Laws and processes that lack these consumer safeguards present undue risk to title insurers and consumers alike.

    eClosing News

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    Approved RON Vendors

    The following vendors are approved for RON transactions subject to state laws and all other First American underwriting guidelines and requirements.

    Docutech DocVerify Notarize NotaryCam
    Nexsys Pavaso Signix SimplySecureSign

    Other platforms that use integrations with these vendors to facilitate RON are also approved (e.g., DocMagic, Black Knight).

    Industry Resources

    Browse resources and updates from the title and mortgage industry's national trade organizations.

    American Land Title Association
    Mortgage Bankers Association
    MERSCORP Holdings
    Fannie Mae

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