California appears poised to finally pass RON legislation | ET REALITY


Digital closings could come to California, the country’s largest real estate market, within a decade.

Governor Gavin Newsom of California on Tuesday welcomed a Senate bill legalizing remote online notarizations (RON). He has until October 14 to act on it. The Senate bill, introduced by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, would allow home buyers, sellers and borrowers to close their home purchase or refinance transactions remotely.

“This is a big deal,” said Pat Kinsel, founder and CEO of Notarize, he told HousingWire. “We have been working to achieve this goal for eight years. “We’ve had a lot of success passing laws in 45 states, but we’ve been very focused on California for a long time.”

California is a huge real estate market, the largest in the country, but Kinsel said there is more than just transaction volume.

“It’s not just that it’s a big state. It is truly a hub of innovation, including real estate technology. “It is also a very tech-savvy population center.”

As amended, the bill states that California notaries could begin offering online notarization services as early as January 1, 2030, although stakeholders like Notarize hope it will be years sooner. California’s secretary of state must complete a technology project needed to support RON before digital closures can be implemented.

Notarize worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office and the Secretary of State’s office to advance the legislation in California. Notarize already operates in all 50 states, but not in real estate matters.

California, in particular, takes consumer protection very seriously and sets a higher standard for identity verification and record retention. In that sense, Notarize recently launched a product called Proof, a platform that offers the “highest level of identity assurance in the industry,” according to the release.

Last May, the Urban Institute celebrated a Discussion panel among experts, including Kinsel, examining the geography of notaries. He found that California was one of the least equitable states in the country when it came to access to financial and government services.

So the bill is not just about promoting digital transformation in the real estate industry, but it is also a way to improve access to all types of government financial services for Californians, Kinsel said.

Virginia was the first state to approve the RON legislature, about a decade ago, but it took several years before other states began to follow suit. With the pandemic and changes in consumer preferences, more states have begun to pass RON legislation. Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey signed legislation legalizing remote online notarizations (RON) last March. It comes into effect on January 1, 2023.

Aside from California, only five states have yet to pass legislation fully authorizing remote online notarizations: Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and South Dakota.

Due to increased demand for RON services, the Mortgage Industry Standard Maintenance Organization (MISMO) launched its RON compliance certification program in April 2020. Notarize is currently among the few companies that have received RON Compliance Certificationincluding Electronic notary registration, black knight, Snapdocs, nexys, DocuTech, professional notary and Pavaso.

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