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Online notarization for home mortgages could be headed to Florida

Florida could become one of only a few states to permit remote online notarizations, a move that could encourage investments in real estate from out-of-state residents.

The state Legislature recently passed a bill to legalize such notarizations, and the bill awaits the signature of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Once it takes effect, the bill would allow all parties in a real estate transaction -- buyers, sellers, lessors and lessees – to sign off on a transaction while outside the state. That can speed up a transaction with the paperwork not having to be done by mail, or it can eliminate a trip from a distance to sign a document, which saves expenses.

Notarizations for mortgages typically are done in person.

Virginia, in 2011, became the first state to allow remote notarizations. Other states, including Minnesota, Nevada and Texas, have followed suit.

Florida is the top state for foreign buyers, with most of them in South Florida – 65 percent of the foreign investment in the state came from outside the United States in 2018, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

And that could rise.

"It provides the opportunity for a lot more investment, to expedite transactions," a local government affairs consultant told The Real Deal about the proposed law. "We have a ton of cash buyers coming into the country from South America and Europe. In South Florida and Central Florida, we also have a big military population" who could take advantage of remote online notarizations.

A real estate transaction is nothing to leave to chance. If you are selling your home to an out-of-state buyer who intends to use online notarization for the mortgage, consult with a real estate attorney who can verify the process and see to it you don't have any surprises.

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