GBREB, MAR urge legislators to pass permanent online notarization law

by Liz Hughes

The pandemic brought online electronic notary services to Massachusetts, and now two of the state’s largest real estate groups are hoping to make the service permanent.

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors are urging legislators to come up with a more permanent solution to the temporary measure enacted last year in response to the pandemic. 

Several states authorized remote online notary services by video when the pandemic made it impossible to have documents notarized in person, according to a report on the GBREB’s website, 

“An Act Providing for Virtual Notarization to Address Challenges Related to COVID-19” allowed Massachusetts residents to use their electronic devices to meet virtually with a notary public to sign documents. The act stipulates the client and witnesses must be physically located in the state during the videoconference and must sign the documents by hand in ink. The act was not signed into law and is set to expire June 15. 

The National Association of Realtors earlier this year said despite having the technology to handle things like remote digital real estate closings, laws and business practices still have some catching up to do. While the use of eSignatures and electronic records in real estate transactions has seen widespread adoption over the past year, remote online notarization use has been slower to catch on.

Several states have already authorized fully remote online notarization. The report on GBREB’s website says the NAR supports the proposed Federal Secure Notarization Law, which “sets the floor — not the ceiling — for use of remote online notarization and does not prevent states from passing their own laws or setting their own regulations.”

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