Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday released Executive Order 202.7 allowing the temporary virtual notarization of documents during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The temporary order is effective March 20 through April 18, 2020. Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan, issued the following statement on the new executive order:
“We applaud Governor Cuomo for his exemplary leadership during this time of crisis. This Executive Order is an important and sensible step that will shift real estate closing transactions away from traditional person-to-person contact towards a modern, 21st century solution so desperately needed to keep critical parts of our economy moving safely during this time of crisis. We continue to advocate for additional common-sense solutions and technical advances like these to support our industry and help keep New Yorkers safe. It is our civic responsibility to ensure that New Yorkers take every measure possible to protect the health and safety of our community.”
This temporary Executive Order specifies any notarial act that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met:
- The person seeking the Notary’s services, if not personally known to the Notary, must present valid photo ID to the Notary during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;
- The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the Notary (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
- The person must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the State of New York;
- The person must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the Notary on the same date it was signed;
- The notary may notarize the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the person; and,
- The notary may repeat the notarization of the original signed document as of the date of execution provided the Notary receives such original signed document together with the electronically notarized copy within thirty days after the date of execution.
While having the ability to utilize escrow or virtual closings is very helpful in significantly reducing the number of people that must attend a closing, there are still challenges in creating an environment free of physical interactions. For example, most government recording offices in New York State do not currently accept e-documents. Therefore, paper documents must still be signed and delivered to the government recording offices.