After years of incrementally slow progress on the e-mortgage front, the pandemic succeeded in catapulting the mortgage and settlement services industry into the digital mortgage and closing age in short order. As state legislatures quickly rushed through a variety of pending remote online notarization (RON) laws, more agents jumped at the chance to add this capability to their tool belt.
In an April 12 release, ALTA reported that the number of title professionals offering digital closings more than tripled over the past two years, from 14% participation prior to 2019, to more than 46% in its most recent survey.
The question for agents is, do your partners and potential customers know about your new digital closing capability? And how can you get the word out?
MISMO has provided a national solution that you can capitalize on immediately to ensure potential customers who are looking for a service provider with RON capability can check on your status.
The MISMO e-Eligibility Exchange was created to accelerate industry-wide adoption of digital closings. According to a recent release from MISMO, the e-Eligibility Exchange provides centralized access to acceptance criteria that enables lenders and other industry participants to easily determine the right type of digital mortgage closing for each loan, including the use of electronic promissory notes (eNotes) or RON.
How Can Agents Get Into the e-Eligibility Exchange?
The only way to get into the exchange is by first getting registered in the ALTA Title and Settlement Agency Registry. ALTA announced that it will be the sole provider of title and settlement data to MISMO through the registry, which currently includes more than 9,000 locations, with more than 2,000 of them indicating they have RON capability.
The registry is free and ALTA membership is not required. After you register, your underwriter will confirm your information. According to MISMO, this verification, along with the uniqueness of the ALTA ID, ensures the accuracy of the data in the e-Eligibility Exchange for users.
If you are not yet signed up with the ALTA registry, here’s what you need to know:
- Visit alta.org/registry to learn more about the ALTA Title & Settlement Agency Registry.
- Download materials to register on the ALTA resources site to begin the registration process.
- ALTA will provide you with a unique 7-digit identifier, called the ALTA ID, which is automatically assigned to each new database record as a permanent ID number.
- ALTA ID numbers are available for free to title agents and to real estate attorneys.
- Once you are registered, your underwriters will be contacted to confirm your status.
Recent legislation has helped grow adoption of e-recording and e-notarization, but the lack of uniformity still makes it difficult for lenders to universally adopt electronic practices, forcing lenders to make a loan-by-loan decision about what documents can be electronically signed.
MISMO’s e-Eligibility Exchange helps address this challenge by allowing lenders to quickly assess requirements for individual loans.
More importantly for you, it allows lenders to identify the availability of title and settlement agents with electronic capabilities. Hop on the digital train in 2022. With the advent of the e-Eligibility Exchange, you now have the perfect opportunity to put yourself front and center for digital closing opportunities in the coming years.
The Future is Here; Let’s Embrace It
The adoption and implementation of remote online notarization (RON) received a tremendous boost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Buyers, sellers and title agents are looking to close transactions in the safest way possible. According to the American Land Title Association (ALTA), “Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have either passed a RON law or issued an executive order pertaining to remotely notarizing documents. Some have done both.”
In December of 2020, ALTA reported that RON use had increased 547 percent during the year compared to 2019. If you are a “Star Trek” fan, the lightning-fast adoption of RON – as well as alternative remote closing methods such as Remote Ink-Signed Notarization (RIN) – has felt like the title industry has gone from cruising to warp speed in a nanosecond. It can even feel tempting to utter one of the show’s classic lines like “Beam me up, Scotty!” when thinking about such transformative change.
But let us back up a bit. As the automobile was invented and became a commonplace form of transportation, society built an accompanying infrastructure – including roads, highways, bridges and tunnels. The same is needed for RON. However, it takes time to develop secure and accessible technology that everyone can use. It requires effort to garner the acceptance of the county recorders who must be ready, willing and able to record native electronic instruments. Creating uniform laws to ensure interstate legal recognition and consumer confidence is also no easy matter.
Properly building out RON infrastructure necessitates the continuous collaboration of numerous parties, including individuals, industries and organizations. For example, MISMO, the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization, has been working on standards concerning credential analysis, borrower identification, audio-visual requirements (including the recording of the electronic notarization process) and audit trails. PRIA, the Property Record Industry Association, has been developing national standards and best practices for the land records industry. ALTA and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) have also joined forces to establish model RON legislation. Finally, there are numerous other stakeholders not identified here who have, and are, tirelessly working to enable the requisite RON infrastructure.
Currently, the federal Senate bill (SB) 3533, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (otherwise known as the SECURE Notarization Act), is pending. If passed in 2021, the SECURE Notarization Act will permit RON across the nation and provide for minimum standards and interstate recognition. To track the progress of the SECURE Notarization Act, click on the link provided for SB 3533.
Another good resource for tracking the evolution of RON is the DLA Piper financial services alert, which is constantly updated. You can also subscribe to their mailing list to receive alerts via email.
During this time of rapid transition, it is important to keep abreast of the latest RON developments, to “boldly go” forth and not end up like another classic science fiction show: “Lost in Space.”
The future is here; let’s embrace it!
Is your agency set up to close transactions using remote online notarization (RON)? If so, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) is encouraging you to let lenders know by updating your ALTA Registry listing.
“RON is in high demand and lenders are actively looking for title and settlement companies that can close their loans using this technology,” the association said in a recent post. “Being RON Ready could lead to new revenue during these difficult times.”
There is no cost to be included on the ALTA Registry.
Update your listing on the ALTA Registry at: https://www.alta.org/registry/
Interest in digital closings is surging, and Alliant National is committed to making sure you stay ahead of the curve.
Today, we’re releasing to our
agents a new series of handbooks exploring the elements and principles of
Extensively researched and
content-rich, Alliant National’s Components
of a Digital Closing series demystifies the Digital Closing Process and its
five major components: eSign, eNotary, eNote/eVault, eRecording and
eCollaboration. Each handbook in this series explores one component. The
purpose of the component is briefly described and placed within the context of
the broader Digital Closing Process. Laws, regulations, technological
requirements and specific technologies are discussed where appropriate.
This collection is designed to be a comprehensive, ready reference as the industry transitions toward the digital closing environment.
Notarization (RON) is a new form of notarization permitted in Florida as of
January 1, 2020.
notary laws required that the person signing certain legal documents and
persons signing as witnesses be in the same room, that is, physically present
with each another.
Florida’s new RON law
allows persons to be physically outside the presence of the Florida online
notary as long as the notary is located in Florida and all parties can see,
hear and communicate with each other via acceptable audio-video technology.
notarizations are still by far the norm, we will continue to see RON’s growth
and use as the real estate industry increasingly moves to electronic and
Moreover, in light of
the COVID-19 pandemic, RON will increasingly become a logical alternative and
preference as parties to a transaction do not have to be in others’ physical
It is important to
remember that a “traditional” Florida notary cannot simply begin acting as a
Florida online notary. Before acting as a Florida online notary, the notary
must be successfully registered as an online notary with the Florida Department
of State. This registration requires completion of a two-hour course, having certain
insurance policies in place, and selection of a “RON service provider” (the
technology company that provides the platform for the audio-video technology
and other required obligations such as an electronic journal).
The current major
impediment to RON is its slow acceptance by large institutional banks and
lenders. Other more “technology-minded” lenders are adopting RON at a faster
Despite the slow
acceptance by the lending industry, RON will be an important part of the
ongoing shift to handling real estate closings online digitally and
electronically. Once fully implemented, these practices will save agents time
and costs and be more convenient for all parties to a real estate transaction.