New York Real Estate Closings – Virtual is a Reality!

Virtually Close Your New York Real Estate Transactions (with virtual notarizations)!

Residential and Commercial Real Estate Closings WITH Virtual Notarizations, Can Now Occur in New York Through May 7, 2020!

(Update 12/21/2020: The EO authorizing virtual notarizations has been extended and is in effect now)

During these very difficult times, thanks to the Executive Order (EO) signed by Governor Cuomo legalizing virtual notarization’s, real estate closings and mortgage refinances in New York can take place remotely AND safely!

It has taken a little while post-EO for underwriters to become comfortable with a process*. A process that must INSURE acceptance by as many county clerks and lending institutions as possible, while making sure that the integrity of the closing will survive the test of time!

(*Pending acceptance by the lending institution and the specific jurisdiction clerks office for recording of documents)

The steps are described below, and if you need further clarification contact us at… or (646) 741-6101

FNF Requirements for Audio/Visual Notarization

Hallmark Abstract Service has the following requirements for closings that utilize a video conference. Note that the requirements of the Executive Order are followed by an asterisk (*).

1. The transaction must be for residential property with a sales price or loan amount of $1,000,000 or less. Any transaction over $1,000,000 will be considered by Fidelity on a case by case basis.

2. The audio/visual conference must allow for direct interaction between the person signing (signer) and the notary. It cannot be pre-recorded.*

3. The signer, closing attorney, notary and witness must be physically located in the State of New York while participating in the video conferenceThe signer must affirmatively state that signer is, at the time of video conference, located within the state of New York.*

4. Documents to be executed and notarized should be provided to the signer in advance of the video conference, either by email, fax, Federal Express, UPS or USPS mail.  Instructions should be included to NOT sign the documents until the video conference.  In addition, a prepaid return envelope should be included for the signer’s use.

5. At the time of the video conference, the signer’s identity must be validated by two methods:

a.) Driver’s License or other government-issued identification shown to the camera both front and back*; AND

b.) At least one of the following options

i. A notary can text a random 6-digit number ( to a known safe phone number; signer to repeat number back during the video conference. A safe phone number is one that has been confirmed prior to closing other than by email. Note file with the 6-digit number and phone number texted; or

ii. A notary can ask the signer a question during the video conference gleaned from personal data contained in the loan file that only the signer would know; or

iii.  In the context of a borrower in a refinance transaction, or a seller in a sale transaction, during the video conference, the signer can display a copy of a utility bill dated within the last 30 days for the party’s known address in the name of the signer; or

iv.  Use of a third-party identity verification service, with evidence of the same retained.

6. At the notary’s direction, the signer should verbally state what documents they are signing and date the documents.

7. The Signer must fax, or scan and transmit, the signed document to the notary during the video conference.*

8. The notary must complete the acknowledgment, sign, stamp, scan, and electronically transmit the acknowledged document back to the signer during the video conference.*

9. The signer must then deliver the original signed document together with a copy of the notary’s signed acknowledgment back to the notary.*

10. The notary must complete the statutory form acknowledgment on the original document inserting the Notary’s own County venue and the date of the video conference.

11. The notary must complete the included Certificate of Conformity and attach the same to the original document for recording.  NOTE: Several County Clerks have responded that they will record the document with the Certificate attached. Others have not responded to the inquiry as to whether they will accept or reject documents with the Certificate of Conformity attached. If the recording office refuses to record with the attached Certificate, remove it and retain it in your file.

12. NOTE: Lender closing instructions must be followed relative to the execution, notarization, and recording of documents to be insured, as well as to the signing of other documents required by the lender.  If a document without a “wet” signature is being recorded, the lender must be made aware of this and consent in writing.

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