Lenders and lawmakers call for remote notarization


A student listens to a live lecture on a laptop computer at home during a remote learning class in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Illinois reported 1,337 new coronavirus cases Wednesday as the state’s positivity rate dropped below 4% for the first time in weeks. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BOSTON (SHNS) – For much of the pandemic, homebuyers and other consumers who need to conduct notarized transactions have been able to do so virtually.

Now, with that option set to expire by the end of the year, lawmakers and bankers are making a new push to keep the changes in place. Rep. Carmine Gentile filed legislation (H 1602) that would allow most oaths or affirmations administered by a notary to be performed electronically, and during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill Wednesday, several mortgage bankers and real estate industry leaders said remote options proved popular during the pandemic.

With those emergency-era provisions set to expire Dec. 15, they urged lawmakers to implement a permanent system similar to the remote online notarization, or RON, that 38 other states have authorized.

“At the start of the pandemic, we had to provide some emergency tools to consumers. We now have the opportunity to take that experience and really build upon it and create a RON statute for Massachusetts,” Debbie Sousa, executive director of the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association, said. Industry representatives told lawmakers they hope to see some changes to Gentile’s bill before its passage, however. They said they are drafting proposed language that would allow for an entirely remote notarization process with detailed steps that would help protect consumers.

Randi Marshall, government relations manager for real estate platform Zillow, told the committee that Gentile’s bill as drafted would “still require individuals to ink-sign a paper document and then mail those documents back to the notary before the transaction was complete.”

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