Since its founding in 2015, remote online notarization (RON) platform Proof, formerly known as Notarize, has helped sellers and buyers close $374 billion worth of real estate transactions, according to an announcement on Friday.
While the firm is pleased with this milestone, it has its sights set on California.
On Jan. 1, 2024, Senate Bill 696, which allows notaries to deliver services online and provides notary standards allowing officials across counties can effectively verify documents, came into effect in the Golden State. Unlike earlier drafts of the bill, the law clarifies and confirms that notarizations performed in other states are valid in California. This allows title underwriters, mortgage investors and county recorders to trust that online notarizations are valid and enforceable in California.
The bill was first introduced in Feb. 2023 by State Senator Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from Burbank. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law in late Sept. 2023. The law is being implemented in stages, with full RON functionality expected in the state by 2030, according to the governor’s office.
“California has much to gain from making remote online notarization available to its residents. Notarization is critically important for many of life’s most important moments, including buying a home, and residents of the nation’s largest real estate market can now take advantage of a much improved process through remote closings,” Pat Kinsel, the founder and CEO of Proof, said in a statement. “As the enabler of a record number of the nation’s online notarizations across real estate, auto, insurance, equipment leasing, and financial services, Proof is prepared and equipped to help ease the home selling and buying process for millions of Californians.”
With the enacting of this law, California joins 43 other states that have passed RON legislation. Virginia was the first state to approve RON legislature, roughly a decade ago, but it took several years for other states to follow suit. With the pandemic and changes in consumer preference, more states have begun passing RON legislation. In 2023, Proof’s home state of Massachusetts approved its own bill approving RON. This law also went into effect at the start of the year.
States that have yet to pass legislation approving RON include Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and South Dakota.
A nationwide RON law has yet to be enacted. In Nov. 2022, the original Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act fizzled out in the Senate. However, the bill was reintroduced in early 2023, and eventually passed through the House of Representatives in late February. The bill currently sits with the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.