Notaries public have long been utilized for witnessing the signing of documents and have been an integral part of closing out a home sale transaction. In a real estate transaction, the closing attorneys witness the signing of all the necessary sale documents and get your transaction closed out seamlessly.
When the coronavirus pandemic really took hold in mid-March 2020 it made this seemingly easy task of getting the documents notarized by a closing attorney a much more arduous one.
The beginning of the real estate log jam started to form at the end of March and on top of that with the low rates, there were refinances which significantly slowed things down. On April 1st, Governor Baker deemed real estate an essential business which helped to move things forward and alleviate some of the jam. After that, services could be performed that were necessary functions while still practicing social distancing and doing what they can to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But this still did not address the notaries public.
The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board worked alongside the RealEstate bar association who led the effort to push lawmakers to come up with a way to allow the attorneys to still witness and closeout transactions all while practicing social distancing.
As of April 27th, Governor Baker signed the remote notarization bill which will now allow remote polarization. Click Here to read the bill.
Under this new law, the notaries public in Massachusetts can now witness the signatures through some type of videoconferencing software and can forgo the in-person transaction until 3 days past the release of the state of emergency.
There are a few rules that go along with this change:
- All parties that are involved in the document including the notary public must be located in Massachusetts
- They must all also provide evidence to confirm their identity
- After the signatures are obtained on the video call the documents must be sent to the notary to be stamped and in a Mortgage transaction when the notary receives the documents there needs to be a second video conference to ensure they are in fact the same as were signed previously
This is one of many changes that the industry has had to undergo in the last few months. Fire inspections were also an issue of concern but a bill recently passed to allow home buyers to perform the fire inspection within 90 days after the estate of emergency ends.
As we continue to navigate these difficult times in the commonwealth and in the country, we will continue to keep you informed about how the real estate market is performing and how you can buy or sell during this pandemic. Every Monday at 3 PM Anthony is LIVE on the Lamacchia Realty Facebook page giving updates and answering your questions.