Pandemics, Property Transfer Breakdowns… The Digital Real Estate Industry Is Coming

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The latest impetus to digitalize real estate might just turn out to be the tipping point. Practically overnight, COVID-19 is a defining element of our time. This hideous and deadly virus became a major challenge to the systems that carry us through our everyday transactions.

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Why Do Real Estate Deeds Require a Notary?

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A notary’s acknowledgement is vital to the integrity of the residential property deed. Why?

The real estate deed is a formal instrument. It must verify the grantor’s interest in, and right to convey, the property. It must protect the interest transferred to the grantee. Notarization gives the deed a strong presumption of validity relative to other types of property documents. The careful stewardship applied to a home deed helps keep a clear chronicle of ownership and preserve the chain of title. Without such care, a bona fide purchaser might one day be forced to confront claims by others who believe they hold interests in the same real estate.

Here, we outline a notary’s job, and how it becomes an integral element of a real estate transaction.

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Remote Notarization of Real Estate Deeds

Image of a woman performing an online notarization of a real estate deed on a computer captioned remote notarization of real estate deeds

Today, many real estate documents are handled electronically. But it remains clear that notarizing a document, under the laws of all states, means witnessing a signature in real time. The notary’s witnessing role serves to verify to the public that the person who signs a paper has been personally identified, and freely signed the document.

Not to be deterred, technology is changing the way society defines witnessing. With the advancement of webcam technology and novel legal provisions, notaries are remotely witnessing signatures and verifying documents in several states. This new process is known as RON remote online notarization.

So far, reviews in the industry are mixed.

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Getting a Real Estate Deed Notarized While Out of the United States

In almost all circumstances a properly executed real estate deed must be notarized to be valid. What happens if a party to the deed, especially the grantor, is somewhere outside of the United States when they need to execute the deed? The most common option is a Notarizing Officer. According to the U.S. State Department, Notarizing officers at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad can provide a service similar to the functions of a notary public in the United States. It is also possible to have a real estate deed notarized by a local foreign notary and then have the document authenticated for use in the United States.  In countries that are party to the Hague Apostille Convention, this is a simplified process.

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