High Notary Demand Could Spark Delays

August 27, 2020

Record-high mortgage demand coupled with the shrinking availability of qualified notaries is sparking delays in transactions, Forbes.com reports.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the U.S., the homebuying process has moved to more digital transactions—and both temporary and permanent legislation has allowed for remote online notarization in the majority of states.

Now, as home sales rebound and refinancings rise due to low interest rates, lenders are facing an increase in business. But some lenders don’t allow online notarizations. That means homeowners must rely on in-person notary signings since a home purchase cannot be closed without a notary in most areas.

What's more, some notaries are demanding higher fees from title companies, which could be passed on to consumers, to perform the notarization. As a result, the industry is calling for greater adaptation of technology—not as a temporary solution to the pandemic, but a long-lasting one. 

“Expediency is critical in loan transactions,” Max Simkoff, CEO of States Title, wrote in a recent article at Forbes.com. “The longer it takes to close a loan, the higher the risk of losing the deal.”

Ellie Mae, a mortgage software company, reports a rising average closing time—46 days for a purchase transaction and 49 days for a refinance.

Simkoff called for the lending industry to adopt greater technology to help close loans faster and improve customer experience.

Notarize, a remote electronic notary backed by the National Association of REALTORS®’ Second Century Ventures, has seen a surge in business since the pandemic. Notarize reports its business has grown more than 500% since April 1.

“If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that digitizing transactions that have traditionally been full of friction, incredibly manual, and inconveniently in-person is not just a nice-to-have anymore – it’s a necessity,” Cristin Culver said in a statement in joining the Notarize team recently as its head of communications.