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Notary Bulletin

Q&A: eClosing Issues From A Notary's Point Of View

electronic-closings-mouse-resized.jpgThe issue of electronic loan closings and how they will affect the way loan documents are notarized
has raised questions among Notary signing agents.
NNA 2013 Notary of the Year Kathy Fletcher of Glendale, Arizona, was one of a small number of Notaries certified in 2012 to perform eClosings in her state. TheNotary Bulletin talked with her about her experience with eClosings and the issues she encountered.

Tell us about your experience with eClosings in Arizona. How were loan documents signed and notarized?

Arizona doesn’t allow regular Notaries to perform notarizations electronically yet. But about a year and a half ago, I was certified to participate in eClosings.

Instead of signers receiving documents the normal way, the documents were downloaded to a computer. The borrowers were supposed to review the documents on the computer screen. The identification part of the notarization was the same — the signers and I met physically in the same place and they presented their ID to me.

The borrowers would review the loan documents on the computer. They would be informed prior to the signing that they would be electronically signing some of the documents by clicking a button with a mouse to show they approved the document’s contents and signed. After they clicked the button, the date of signing was automatically added to the document. Any pages that could not be signed electronically would be presented for them to sign and me to notarize at the signing table.

What were your impressions of the eClosing process?

There were some issues for me as a Notary signing agent. Certain parts of my area don’t have reliable wi-fi access, which made it harder to perform eClosings. I had to get a wireless card for my laptop that cost $65 per month. Since I was only doing one or two eClosings per week, the cost wasn’t really worth it. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t continue with eClosings. Also, the title company and signing agencies wanted to pay the same fee or less for eClosings even though there was more work involved.

What did signers think of the process?

I quickly found out that most people are not comfortable seeing only part of the loan documents on a screen. It was especially awkward if you had multiple borrowers — five people trying to read loan documents on a single laptop was really awkward. Also, I still had to print out two physical copies of the loan documents — one to leave with the borrower and one that had to be faxed back to the title company immediately.

Another issue was many signers in our area were older people who didn’t trust technology or didn’t have the right computer system to perform the eClosing or print the documents properly. If they didn’t have the right system, they didn’t want a stranger like me installing the necessary programs on their home computer to perform the eClosings — which is understandable.

The third major obstacle was if there was incorrect information on the electronic documents, there was no way to correct it. One signer refused to complete the eClosing because his information was wrong on the electronic documents and couldn’t be changed.

It sounds like there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed with the process.

I talked with other Notaries who participated. We felt that the title company didn’t consider notarization issues sufficiently when they developed the process. Not everyone is technologically confident.

One thing that might make the eClosing process easier for future programs is using iPads or tablets instead of laptops. It’s much easier to pass a tablet around from person to person to review documents. But I think there are still a lot of kinks to work out of the system.

For more discussion about electronic signings, notarizations and loan document closings, please see the June 2014 issue of The National Notary magazine.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

Comments

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Angella

01 Sep 2014

These are truly pertinent issues that must be considered for the process to be successful. It may be necessary to have docs available pre-closing for certain individuals as it pertains to age, education and whether or not they're tech savvy. But, definitely a step in the right direction.

Diane K. Kenyon

01 Sep 2014

I know that many people would welcome esigning, but irespective of that. All borrowers should be given the opportunity to review teir documents before meeting with the notary/loan signer. What I also know is that many notaries need more training in how to explain the documents to the borrower. I personally have over 25 yrs of experience in the mortgage industry and know the documents well, I really don't know if I would even feel comfortable doing closings with out that experience.

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