Coronavirus: Remote Notary Update


 WRA Legal Team  |    March 19, 2020
Remote Notary

While a great many things can be accomplished electronically in a real estate transaction, there are still a few documents under Wisconsin law that require notarization to occur in person. However, with social distancing concerns relating to COVID-19, there has been an increase of questions and concerns from people not wanting to go into an office to sign certain documents.

Recent legislation regarding Remote Online Notarization (RON) was signed by Gov. Tony Evers in early March and was not effective until May 1, 2020. RON allows for remote or e-notarization in Wisconsin, which essentially allows consumers to have certain documents notarized remotely, including deeds and mortgage documents, rather than in person. 

However, due to COVID-19 and the potential inability of the consumer, notary and the service provider to meet in person, the land title industry worked with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to enact RON effectively immediately. 

Below is a brief summary based on communications with representatives from the title industry on how RON will be implemented: 

Closings

Generally, RON can be utilized by individual sellers who are U.S. citizens. As of March 18, 2020, RON is not necessarily available for POAs, trustees, personal reps and LLCs. 

Title work

Underwriters won’t insure a policy if a title company is unable to do an adequate title search. Therefore, the title industry is currently working with the Register of Deeds about gaining access when the records cannot be found online through a search and the Register of Deeds office is closed or has limited access. The Wisconsin Land Title Information (WLTA) is continuously updating information about the Register of Deeds and RON at www.wlta.org/covid-19-updates.  

Lenders

At this time, some lenders may not have systems to permit RON. Buyers should work with lenders to determine how mortgage documents need to be signed and if any delays may occur. In order to facilitate RON, lenders need a secured system called an “e-vault.” Currently, it appears Freddie and Fannie have e-vault capacity, so if the lenders have a RON service setup, they may be able to move the paperwork remotely with those loans. Learn more at singlefamily.fanniemae.com/media/9436/display. However, it appears at this time that the VA, USDA and FHA may not yet set up e-vaults, so those loans may not be able to utilize RON.  

The land title industry is working together to find solutions for any remaining challenges that prevent transactions from closing due to title matters. Parties and their agents are encouraged to work their lenders and title agents as to RON capabilities. 


See more real estate-related resources surrounding coronavirus on the WRA's coronavirus webpage: www.wra.org/coronavirus.

Copyright 1998 - 2020 Wisconsin REALTORS® Association. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use   |   Accessibility   |   Real Estate Continuing Education