On February 27, 2023, the House passed H.R. 1059, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2023. If the legislation becomes a federal law, the SECURE Notarization Act would provide meaningful relief to America’s homeowners and prospective buyers by allowing immediate, nationwide use of remote online notarization technology.
A host of online tools allow REALTORS® to manage many aspects of a property transaction without touching a sheet of paper, and knowing how to use this technology is key to running a successful real estate business. In much the same way that many are now working remotely, allowing for remote online notarizations (RONs) will permit a notary and signer, who are in different physical locations, to safely and securely execute electronic documents. Current requirements for a signer to physically be in the presence of a notary are often impractical and sometimes impossible due to social distancing constraints. RON is a convenient alternative to traditional in-person notarization for all consumers, but it is particularly beneficial to consumers who are unable to easily travel. Examples of this include active-duty military stationed overseas, child and elder caregivers, and sick or elderly persons.
Since 2018, NAR has supported remote online notarization by encouraging the passage of laws, regulations, and standards which advance the interstate adoption and recognition of remote notarization across the United States. Currently, 43 states and Washington, D.C. have approved the permanent use of RON technology. The SECURE Notarization Act would expand the availability of RON to consumers in all states, provide certainty for interstate recognition of RON, and establish minimum standards to ensure strong consumer protections. If a state has already passed a RON law that meets the minimum national standards outlined, that state’s law would supersede the national law.
The reliability and validity of notarized public records is central to the real estate market and provides a foundation for all parties when mortgaging, purchasing, and selling real property. RON is a critical tool for ensuring that all businesses and consumers can continue executing and notarizing critical documents. NAR applauds the House for its efforts to promote more accessible, efficient, and secure real estate transactions, and we will continue to advocate for the bill’s passage in the Senate.