Testimony

The Real Estate Board of New York to The New York State Legislative Hearing on Remote Online Notary

Harrison Green

Director of State Legislative Affairs

May 6, 2021

The goal of notary documentation is to protect the consumer and prevent fraud. The goal of any legislation regarding online notary should be to reduce the chance of fraud from both consumer and notary prospective and, as it relates to real estate, ultimately to extend these protections at signing. REBNY represents many voices for which this issue matters. However, for this to be successful once enacted, the NYS Department of State will need to promulgate rules that reflect input from attorneys, the banking industry, the title industry and the recording offices. While we recognize that there are many legal nuances to consider when addressing a complete remote closing and the need for State government to work across industries to ensure proper implementation, we support this legislation in its limited scope. This bill will advance longstanding industry efforts to reach the goals of not only remote notary, but ultimately remote real estate closings.

Over a year ago we entered a national pandemic that shut down most of the country and the entire state of New York for days, then weeks, and continued for months until health and safety protocols were established to mitigate the risks involved with in-person contact. The reverberating impact on real estate and other industries was devastating. Every level of the industry was affected: tenants who were unable to work and meet rental costs; owners and operators unable to complete routine maintenance or construction; and real estate agents unable to do showings or complete the most basic steps to close on a real estate transaction. As we entered a state of emergency, REBNY worked closely with the State Legislature and the Governor’s office to craft the use of online notary. We recognized the critical industry need and worked with many of you to make this possible. Like A.399-A/S.1780-B, this solved an immediate need, although it did not address the entirety of the ability to record electronically notarized documents.