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New Hampshire Remote Online Notarization: Lessons Learned

Podcast Mar 10, 2023

Stavvy Team

Stavvy Finside Chats graphic

Remote online notarization (RON) is being adopted across the United States, however RON in New England has been slow to take off.

It wasn’t until a COVID-19 emergency-use statute that mortgage professionals in New Hampshire could use RON, even though many were interested before it was near-necessity due to social distancing. 

Of course, not everyone was keen on the changes that RON would bring to the mortgage industry. Even an official RON statute in New Hampshire has not been enough to curb hesitation completely. 

Carol Willoughby, Vice President, Regional Underwriting Director for First American Title Insurance Company and a significant player in the creation and adoption of New Hampshire RON laws, believes it has more to do with fear of the unknown than RON itself.

“We didn’t have a statute that really spoke to RON and the security around remote online notarization that we now have. So there was a lot of concern, as is normal when people don’t understand how something will work. They’re fearful of fraud, and I think it was more a concern that it was going to create challenges for local agents to keep their businesses under control.”
- Carol Willoughby

Carol Willoughby and Roselyn Langianese, President of Summit Title, another key player in creating and adopting RON laws in New Hampshire, joined Jeremy Potter on Stavvy’s Finside Chats® podcast. Together, they discuss their experiences with RON, their participation in creating New Hampshire RON laws, and what this new law means for surrounding states and the adoption of RON nationwide.

On this episode of Finside Chats®, you’ll learn about: 

  • Why some New Hampshire industry professionals are hesitant to adopt RON
  • What finally brought RON legalization to New Hampshire
  • The impact of New Hampshire RON law on neighboring states

Listen now: New Hampshire Remote Online Notarization: Lessons Learned

 

 

RON confusion breeds fear in New Hampshire

When New Hampshire permitted remote online notarization, fear of what it might mean for title and settlement professionals kept the industry from fully embracing the opportunity.

As a result, interest in RON in New Hampshire wavered until the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing protocols in 2020, leaving businesses across the state scrambling to continue operating safely and effectively. According to Carol and Roselyn, remote digital closing options were necessary and a significant driver in legalizing and bringing RON to New Hampshire.

“I’m not saying it was a relief for us to have that push [from the pandemic], but we were so slow in adopting RON,” said Roselyn.

“We really had some pushback, as many people thought it would create more fraud, which is just the opposite. So [the pandemic] allowed us to push for it, understand it, and see it live.”

Despite RON legislation, New Hampshire has been slow to embrace eClosing technology 

When the pandemic hit, Carol and Roselyn were instrumental in creating an emergency-use RON statute. The statute allowed New Hampshire mortgage and real estate professionals to leverage technology to continue serving their customers and was the foundation for permanent legislation. 

However, even with permanent laws in place, adoption of RON has been slow. Carol and Roseyln shared first-hand accounts of title and settlement agents who were wary of RON and needed more clarity on operational benefits before feeling comfortable. 

Today, with the height of the pandemic behind New Hampshire, Carol and Roselyn share that it’s been exciting to see RON take off. 

“Any of the lenders that were on board or even gave [RON] a shot, it’s been great. It was great to be a part of legislation and to see it all come together. We’re just hoping we’ll be able to do a lot more of these types of closings in the future,” said Roselyn. 

Educating the title industry on the benefits of RON has been instrumental in forward momentum. 

“It's just the convenience for the consumer, as well as the protection that it gives to all parties. You know, on our side of the business, you have the human eye looking at photo IDs, and you're just not going to be able to pick up on fraud the way technology can.”

Identity proofing through credential analysis and knowledge-based authentication makes remote online notarization closings an overall safer experience compared to traditional closings. For example, the Stavvy platform leverages automated technology to verify ID authenticity and detect signs of identity fraud to mitigate risk. 

Through continued education and advocacy, mortgage industry professionals are beginning to see RON in a new light, impacting adoption in the state.

RON in New Hampshire sets the standard for states to come

When New Hampshire began considering RON, the first step was to conduct background research on all working RON laws in the United States. As the 40th state to legalize RON, there were plenty of statutes to learn from. 

States like Vermont and Maine with temporary RON statutes are learning from New Hampshire about what regulations they might want to include. However, as more New England states get on board with RON, Carol and Roselyn warn professionals not to expect immediate adoption, especially not without thorough education for title and settlement agents. 

“When the statute became effective, we thought, ‘Oh, there’s going to be a flood of this. Off we go!’ and it just didn’t work that way,” said Carol. 

There’s a lot to learn from RON in New Hampshire, and despite slow adoption, it’s impossible to deny the operational efficiencies. Change is hard. However, New Hampshire RON has proven that through education, legislation, intuitive eClosing technology, and persistence, evolution is possible for everyone in the industry. 

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