Emergency Video Notarization in North Carolina in the Real Estate Transaction Context during the COVID-19 Crisis

On May 4, 2020, the North Carolina Governor signed into law Senate Bill 704.  The Law was drafted specifically to respond to hardships created by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Crisis.  One of the key provisions of the Law, in consultation with and at the recommendation of the North Carolina Secretary of State, authorizes all Notaries Public of the State of North Carolina to, “temporarily perform emergency video notarizations so that notarial acts will not impede crucial business transactions, real estate transactions, medical documents, court documents, and most other important document notarizations.”  This emergency authorization is a temporary authorization, as it expires July 31, 2020.  Real estate agents should read our post on useful information for agents in the context of video notarization here. Additionally, boards of directors and community association managers will also be able to utilize the emergency notarization provision in a variety of contexts to continue serving their associations, especially to notarize amended governing documents and other assorted community association and condominium documents.

While this method of notarization is available as a method of notarization in the performance of real estate closings, Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. recognizes the inherent risks that could compromise a transaction, to include fraud and identity theft, if this method of notarization is utilized.  Additionally, due to the nature of the requirement of original documents by both county register of deeds offices for recording/e-recording and mortgage lenders in the loan funding and authorization processes, any delay in receiving original documents from contracting parties could result in, but not limited to: delayed closing, delayed funding, loss of interest rate lock, changes in closing costs/proration.  It is our recommendation that, while a useful tool, the emergency video notarization method be reserved for the following circumstance in the real estate closing context:

  • A party required to sign at closing has experienced sickness or symptoms of sickness in the past 14 days or has been exposed to a confirmed or possible case of COVID-19 in the 14 days leading up to a transaction; and
  • The lender(s) (if applicable) is aware of and consents to the use of video notarization for the transaction, as outlined by North Carolina law; and
  • All parties (to include the seller(s), buyer(s), and agent(s)) are made aware of the possibility of delays in producing, mailing, and recording documents, and transferring funds controlled or held by escrow agents for the purpose of closing a transaction.

For the most recent guidance from the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office outlining the requirements for emergency video notarization, click here.  All of our closing attorneys already have video conferencing technology and have experience in adapting closings to fit a variety of situations.  For assistance with any real estate closings or to discuss remote and video closing options, the attorneys in the Greensboro, Charlotte, Coastal or Triangle offices of Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. can help you determine the best way to close your real estate transactions.