Remote online notarization (RON) was first introduced in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2012 and has significantly risen in popularity over the years. Today, the majority of the United States has enacted permanent RON laws, and the SECURE Notarization Act continues to gain traction.
Real estate professionals embracing RON believe in its sticking power. According to a recent ALTA survey, 62% of title companies currently offering RON believe this closing option will increase over the next year, and 77% of respondents believe that RON requests from lenders, realtors, and homeowners will speed up adoption even further.
RON is changing the foundational fibers of the real estate industry, a space that has heavily relied on paper, postage, and physical hand-offs for decades. Although, despite rising adoption rates, many organizations still struggle with the idea of digital closings with remote online notarization, including what it is and the benefits to their business.
Throughout this blog, we cover all things RON, to give you the clarity and confidence to start offering eClosing at scale.
What is remote online notarization (RON)?
RON, also known as remote online notarization, is the electronic notarization of documents during an eClosing. This popular form of electronic notarization requires, at a minimum, secure audio video, RON, and eSignature technology.
During an eClosing with RON, the notary and signer aren’t physically together in the same room, which has been standard practice since the 1600s. However, the digital nature of this transaction allows homeowners, title agents, settlement attorneys, lenders, and notaries to combat common business challenges, close real estate transactions quicker, and execute documents from anywhere with a WiFi connection.
The adoption of RON and eClosing tools has opened the door for eNote and eRecording and allows real estate professionals to offer a fully digital closing experience. However, RON is not yet legal nationwide—let’s explore where RON is available in the United States today to see if your business can take advantage.
Helpful RON Resources:
- Remote Online Notarization (RON) FAQs for Title Agents
- Separating Fact From Fiction: 4 Remote Online Notarization Myths
- [WEBINAR RECAP] Digital Notarization Basics for Title and Settlement
- Before You Go RON, Ask Yourself These 3 Questions
Which states allow remote online notarization in 2023?
We’ve done our best to provide accurate RON legislation information; however, state laws change frequently. Please consult your attorney for the latest on remote online notarization laws. Below is a list of states that allow remote online notarization:
Every state has its RON law; therefore, if you decide to add RON to your closing options, it's our recommendation that you review notarization legislation closely and refer to the resources available on the Secretary of State websites before getting starting.
In addition to familiarizing yourself with state-level legislation, it is important to partner with a RON platform built for the real estate industry due to the highly regulated nature of the industry. Look for RON software or an eClosing provider that complies with all title underwriter and investor electronic notarization requirements and has an Eligibility Engine to ensure your digital real estate transactions are insurable and sellable.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to work with a title underwriter-approved and MISMOⓇ certified platform like Stavvy. Stavvy, for example, is approved by First American, Fidelity National Financial (FNF), Doma, CATIC, WFG, and more.
Let's dive deeper into why RON is valuable to real estate professionals and necessary for business growth and best-in-class customer service in today’s market.
Helpful RON Resources:
- [WEBINAR RECAP] Beyond RON Basics: How to Comply with RON Laws
- Remote Online Notarization Legislation: 2023 Predictions
What are the benefits of remote online notarization?
Working in real estate while rewarding is a demanding career.
No matter what part of the transaction you're responsible for, delivering a great experience is critical to success. As a result, you're likely no stranger to juggling tasks, maintaining continuous communication, traveling, and overseeing a large pipeline of deals. If you've experienced workplace burnout trying to keep pace over the years, you're not alone.
Implementing RON has many operational advantages, from offering flexible and compliant closings to your customers to regaining control of your day-to-day workload and automating manual to-dos. However, success with RON is often a direct byproduct of investing in an eClosing tool that understands your workflow and can scale with your business, like Stavvy.
Below are the top benefits of RON for real estate, title, and mortgage-based companies.
Top 6 benefits of remote online notarization
1. Close transactions from anywhere
Before RON, if a homeowner wanted a remote closing, the only option was a mail-away closing. Mail-away closings require signers to locate and visit a notary public to witness their signatures before mailing documents back to the title company for review and processing. While essential to the success of a mail-away closing, these time-consuming tasks aren’t convenient or error-proof and can cause customer frustration and closing delays. Mail-away closings are also expensive for title companies and settlement services, making it hard to scale.
RON allows title agents to accommodate customers regardless of location and closing preference and expand into new service areas without the added expenses, calendar coordination, and risks associated with a traveling workforce. This operational efficiency directly impacts transaction turnaround times, fund disbursement, productivity, employee retention, and business growth without sacrificing the real estate customer experience.
RON also helps loan originators and real estate agents feel good knowing their customers are receiving an incredible experience on closing day. And due to the digital nature of the transaction, the cost to originate a loan is often less.
2. Maintain control of your business
Adding a RON platform to your closing workflow can help you feel more in control of your business. inviting signers, partners, and preferred notaries to participate in a digital closing creates a streamlined experience for everyone involved. It also helps get your staff home by 5 PM.
3. Eliminate post-closing errors
The paper process may be your proven way; however, it’s not 100% error-proof. Little mistakes, like a missed checkbox or an overlooked signature, can extend a transaction's length and cost companies additional money and resources to fix.
When an eClosing with RON is performed on a secure RON platform, missed fields, including signatures, checkboxes, and initials, are less likely to occur because they are flagged in the system allowing the closer to take immediate action. A secure RON platform ensures that all documents are stored securely with an accompanying digital audit trail, eliminating the risk of misplacing mailed personal and financial documents.
4. Better closing experience for everyone
Digital closing with RON creates a convenient and flexible experience for all participants. Most digital closings can be performed in half the time of an in-person transaction. In addition to the time savings, collaborating on closing packages is more streamlined for lenders and title agents, and scheduling conflicts due to travel or work are no longer concerns for homeowners and real estate agents. Loan originators can rest easy, too, knowing that a digital closing creates a great customer experience for its signers.
Remote notarization makes a fully digital closing possible; however, a top-notch RON provider and platform ensure a great closing experience. A RON platform helps everyone involved in a transaction streamline the closing process and eliminate time spent on manual tasks, like printing, scanning, and shipping while ensuring top-level security and compliance at every step. Additionally, a digital platform brings stakeholders, including homeowners, lenders, notaries, settlement attorneys, realtors, and title companies, together in one secure environment, fostering better collaboration and dismantling silos and communication barriers.
5. Increase identity verification protocols on closing day
A traditional notarization requires a notary public to identify the signer using a photo ID or passport manually. A RON platform or eClosing tool uses the latest multi-factor authentication (MFA) and identity verification technology, including knowledge-based authentication (KBA), and credential analysis, to make a real estate transaction much more secure than paper.
- Knowledge-based authentication, or KBA, is a method of authenticating someone’s identity in a digital platform, such as asking the user to answer secret or “out-of-wallet” questions.
- Credential analysis is the process of validating a government-issued photo ID and often requires third-party software or vendor support.
6. Re-invest in the people side of your business
Investing in a RON platform gives you the digital tools you need to strengthen relationships with customers and partners and lighten the load for your staff. Getting back to the people side of your business may have a small impact on your business's bottom line, but is there anything more important than relationship building or workplace morale in the mortgage and real estate industry? We think not.
Helpful RON Resources:
What is the difference between remote online notarization (RON), RIN, and IPEN?
Many people confuse RON with remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) and in-person electronic notarization (IPEN). Below are basic definitions for each transaction type to help you distinguish between the three electronic notarization methods.
In-person electronic notarization (IPEN)
In-person electronic notarization, or IPEN, is a type of notarization where documents are signed and notarized electronically, and the signer and notary are together in the same physical location.
Remote online notarization (RON)
RON is a type of notarization where signer(s) appear before the notary using an online audio-visual platform to sign and notarize documents electronically.
Remote ink-signed notarization (RIN)
RIN, or remote ink-signed notarization, is a type of notarization where the signer(s) and notary are in different physical locations during the signing but are connected via audio-video technology. After the signing, the documents are shipped to the notary for the manual application of the notarial seal.
For more details on how each of these popular notarization methods factors into an eClosing, check out this blog post. With a clearer understanding of RON, RIN, and IPEN, let’s explore how to close a real estate transaction with RON.
How to close a real estate transaction with remote online notarization (RON)
If you ask half a dozen people how to close a real estate transaction with RON, you may get half a dozen different answers, and that’s because everyone’s process and eClosing tool kit is different. So, while we can’t speak for everyone, we can speak for Stavvy. Below are the seven steps to close a transaction with RON on the Stavvy platform.
- Step 1: Submit and prepare a closing request.
- Step 2: Schedule a meeting date and send a secure invitation.
- Step 3: The online notary verifies the signer’s identity.
- Step 4: The notary and signer communicate via audio-video technology within the Stavvy platform.
- Step 5: Once the signer’s identity is verified, the signer and notary electronically sign documents, and then the online notary notarizes and finalizes them.
- Step 6: The remotely notarized documents are available to the signer for download and securely sent to the lender and title & settlement agency.
- Step 7: A digital audit trail is available to align with compliance requirements.
Helpful RON Resources:
How is the real estate industry using remote online notarization (RON) today?
Real estate professionals are using remote online notarization for a variety of reasons. Many title and settlement companies are leveraging eClosing with RON to streamline sell side real estate and cash transactions, minimize their reliance on costly mail-away closings, gain a competitive edge, and facilitate a great customer experience. Similarly, mortgage lenders and real estate agents are embracing RON to create a memorable closing experience for their customers and capitalize on the operational efficiencies often associated with digital transactions, like time and money savings.
Helpful RON Resources:
- Digital Title Closing Solutions: Expert Tips and Takeaways for Title Agents
- Celebration Title Offers Digital Real Estate Closings to Sellers and Buyers
- The Title Team Cuts Real Estate and Mortgage Closing Times by 50%
- Broker's Title Scales Back on Costly Mail-Aways
Start closing real estate transactions with remote online notarization (RON)
With the shift in consumer demands and clear business benefits of digital transactions, it’s easy to see why many real estate professionals are offering eClosing with RON to better connect with their customers and grow their businesses in today’s competitive landscape.
Determining if your organization is ready to offer RON may seem like a daunting task. However, you're already taking the first step. Educating yourself and your team upfront will help you make a strategic and informed decision for your organization. We hope the information and RON resources shared throughout this blog provide you with the confidence you need to get RON-ready. And when you're ready to take the plunge, we're ready and happy to help.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2021 and has been updated.