Iowa now allows remote online notarization amid COVID-19

Social distancing pushes states to suspend traditional notary requirements

The rapid spread of COVID-19 continues to push states across the country to loosen their requirements around remote online notarizations (RON), allowing real estate closing to continue with as little contact as possible. 

Even with a bipartisan movement in Congress to legalize RON nationwide due to a new socially distant world, some states are taking matters into their own hands and issuing executive orders to temporarily allow RON transactions.

One of those states: Iowa.

Iowa’s emergency declaration last week that suspended the requirement for a notary to be physically present was unique since the state already passed RON legislation in the spring of 2019. But the bill does not go into effect until July 1, 2020. 

“Iowa’s credit union industry was proud to advocate for remote notarization during the 2019 legislative session with other strong collaborators like LenderClose,” Murray Williams, president and CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League, said in a release. “While we knew at the time that some Iowans had barriers to visiting their credit union in person, none of us could have imagined the current situation. We thank Governor Kim Reynolds for the swift action that enables credit unions to harness the power of technology to help Iowans buy homes and refinance mortgages in a manner that is safe during this difficult time.”

Prior to stay-at-home orders and a growing push to remain socially distant from others, a little more than 20 states in the country had passed RON legislations. Now, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 15 states have enabled RON through temporary executive order due to the coronavirus. 

While notaries are considered an essential business in many places across the country, a lot of notaries are implementing remote technology, along with other lower contact methods, to limit the amount of interaction needed in a closing. 

Des Moines, Iowa-based LenderClose helped execute one of the first-ever RON closings for a mortgage loan in Iowa, using its RON solution to eSign and notarize the entire closing transaction via computer, smartphone or tablet. 

With Iowa’s original RON legislation set to go into effect in three months, Matt Dodds, Dupaco Community Credit Union chief operations officer, also looked at the future impact of the bill, stating in the release, “In the short-term, remote online notarizations minimize person-to-person interactions to help protect both our members and our employees. In the future, this technology will allow us to more effectively support and serve our members, regardless of where they live, when they’re ready to close on a loan.”

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