Category: In the News

Are we at a Point where the Sunshine Begins?

As more parts of the country begin returning to work, and people beyond notaries return to normal life, we hope we are starting to see the Sunshine again.

2020 has been a really tough year for just about everyone, businesses have been shut down for a long time and many people are regaining confidence in our ability to finally move past this pandemic.

Beyond that, we’ve all seen the news, and probably too many social media videos. We’ve found almost every bit of it sad, but we’ve also seen a lot of signs of hope, and we know that we will become a better nation because of it.

Back to Buying Houses

Across the country we saw home sales take a hit, though refinances made up some slack because of extremely low interest rates. But, signs are beginning to show that people are starting to buy houses again.

Home sales in Houston have risen dramatically recently. In some places, we are talking a 50% increase over last year. Reports from Arizona and North Carolina are promising.

Now, we know this is not true in a lot of the country yet, but as buyers regain the confidence to look at houses, home sales will bounce back.

One thing we’ve seen so far, is that not much has happened to change peoples’ minds if they wanted to purchase a home, but the timeline of that purchase has surely changed.

Back to Business, Even at a Distance

As more people return to normalcy, the services they need will also return to normalcy.

For some things, there might even be a backlog.

Of particular note are loans. Many lenders have delayed payments, waived interest accrual, or both. Some landlords have delayed payments.

While the politicians in Washington try to decide what to do with all of this, many will probably get stuck in the middle. Depending on how that pans out, it may increase the need for notaries to finalize the new deal, or by people needing to find debt consolidation.

On the flip side, some lenders are moving back from some industries. For example, Wells Fargo has announced that they are almost completely shutting down car loans.

Sunshine Notaries are the Greatest Notaries

Throughout this all, you have shown us that we have the best and most reliable notaries in the nation, and we thank you greatly for that.

You have not only stepped up for your business, but for ours as well. Not only we thank you for that, but all of our employees that provide services for you and our clients, as well.

As a team, we could have folded. But, your efforts in going above and beyond the call of duty has shown us just how resilient you are.

If you don’t often speak to others in the industry, you do not realize the level of reliability and professionalism notaries that work with Sunshine have shown.

We’ve heard horror story after horror story from others in the industry on the unreliability of their notary partners.

But, we have to tell you. When those same people ask us about the horrors we’ve seen, we can proudly say that our notaries have pulled through in every way.

And then we give them our card and tell them if they want to work with the most professional and reliable notaries, they know who to call.

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The Pandemic and the Notary Swimming in the Storm

The Notary and the COVID Pandemic, seems like the nightmare that is never going it end.

Can you believe we’ve been at this for two months already?

And while we hope that the end of the tunnel is in sight, the fact is we are still a small fish in a large ocean, and hurricane season has already started (it really has).

Notary Provides Consumer Friendly Services

How to provide a safe service, one that the consumer feels safe, is still proving both difficult and rapidly changing.

We can look to our own industry, while looking at other industries to see what may work.

Bringing some plexiglass with you to signings probably isn’t the best way to go. Curbside service would be great, but impracticable as well. But, looking at industries are there any things that may work for notaries?

Potential Notary Safety Measures

Can we learn something from other industries?

  1. Wearing a mask and gloves has pretty much been the law of the land, at least the mask. It is one of the easiest way to significantly assure consumer safety.
  2. We know it is not possible for every signing, but if you could have one outdoors, it is another thing that will most likely make the signer more at ease. Air circulates more easily outside. And curbside pickups and outdoor dining (where it has been allowed) both have been seen to boost consumer confidence.
  3. Sit as far away as possible. Social distancing is causing a lot of commotion, so do whatever you can to do so. Even if that means moving some to alleviate any concerns, as long as you do not think it will allow any errors or falsehoods in the notarization process.
  4. We know that online notaries are becoming a thing. Industry, which is using the pandemic to push forward online closings, may become a more significant part of our future. So, setting up an area in the office that is good for operations might not be a bad idea. Just don’t let the camera aim where people might see your family. (the recent viral video is hilarious)
  5. Fake it Until You Make It – Look and sound like someone who is confident in the measures you have taken. That confidence wears off on everyone in the room. If you look and act like the situation is in control, so will others.
  6. If you take a signing, do it. Unless the situation is bad, you need to do what you have to do. Once you accept a job, you need to do the job. Unless the situation at the job is bad. We heard a recent story where a closing had to be done four times. The first three notaries left, while the fourth notary closed the deal. Do you think the company will hire the first three notaries again? Unless there is a real good reason, probably with photos, they aren’t calling you again.

What Not to Do

There are also some things you should not do.

Coronavirus Motorcycle Helmet

Credit: The Sun

It’s halloween in April! No one around you will ever miss it.

But, while highly successful at social distancing, we are not sure the coronavirus helmet would go over too well with clients.

The Social Distancing Hula Hoop

Credit: Denver Post

We’re sure we aren’t the only ones who have seen a variation of the social distancing hula hoop.

If it is bad etiquette to wear something in public, it is probably a bad idea to use in your daily routine. We’d pay money if someone could actually hula hoop with one while walking down the street.

Norton Virus Protection

Bad British Mask Ideas
Credit: Metro UK

We wish the guy wearing a Norton Anti Virus was the only thing wrong here, as it is hilarious.

But, we’d advise going places with upside down bags on your head or a giant pet food container. Although we do appreciate the effort.

Back to Reality for Notaries

As the days of the pandemic move on, as more businesses start to open up, and as more business is done, the demand for notaries will rise with it.

While some people are more lax, others are going to be very wary long into the future. So planning a way forward for our businesses is only prudent.

We’ve hopefully given you a couple of decent ideas, and definitely showed you some of the wrong ways to do things.

But, we will close as we always do. Business is opening up in places around the country, which will mean more activity, so be safe and be successful.

This is part five of our series on Notaries and the Coronavirus. Here are some links to other articles.

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Oklahoma, COVID, the Election and Notaries

Spurred in some part by COVID, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballots no longer have to be notarized.

It was spurred by the League of Women Voters, as well as medical advocacy groups and at risk people. Essentially, they argued that the notary requirement should be removed, as some voters will be unwilling to go to the polls due to the pandemic, as well as marginalized communities, who do not have easy access to notary services.

Under Penalty of Perjury

The response from the courts was to remove the notary requirement and allow individuals to sign their absentee ballots under penalty of perjury.

“Respondent is barred from issuing ballot forms, instructions, and material suggesting notarization and/or a notarized affidavit form is the only means through which the requisite affidavit for absentee voting may be accomplished,” the order said.

Tulsa World

Proponents say that it is removing an obstacle for voting, especially among seniors and medically compromised voters.

The vote from the court was 6-3.

The Argument Against the Lawsuit

Three judges dissented from the decision. They wrote two separate dissents.

Oklahoma passed a voting law in 2002. Under that law, they gave absentee ballots an exception to the rest of the law.

The court thought otherwise.

The argument against focused on proper channels for governing. That the court does not make the laws, the legislature does.

Justice M. John Kane IV dissented, writing “the issues stand presented to the wrong branch of government.” He was joined by Justice James Winchester. Justice Dustin Rowe wrote a separate dissent.

Courthouse News Service

The dissenting opinions said it would open the voting to more fraud, as in person voters are required to present a valid ID.

“Considering the history of voter fraud, the specifics of our absentee voter process and recent legislative history, I agree with the respondent that it would be absurd to now open the gates and provide for no verification for absentee ballots but still require in-person voters to provide a valid I.D.”

Non Doc

The Oklahoma Attorney General is now reviewing the ruling.

Outlook for Oklahoma Notaries, and other Notaries as Well

The game changes, but the wheel moves on.

The Oklahoma Primary is scheduled for June 30th. August 25th is the runoff primary, while the general election is on November 3rd.

For business, it will eliminate these signings. Since many absentee voters vote from outside their jurisdiction or in other countries, like our military, we’re not sure it creates a significant impact on the industry.

We would advise you to stay up to date on future actions. Or, better yet, just wait until we write about it.

We hope you all can stay busy and stay safe.

This is part four of our series on the coronavirus and the wider effects it has on our industry. It is amazing how quickly things have changed.

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Notaries and New York 202.7

What does New York Executive Order 202.7 mean for notaries?

As part of the pandemic response, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order concerning online notarizations. The order opens the door for closings performed in New York to be done remotely, at least temporarily.

The change in notary procedures allows commerce to continue without contributing to the spread of the virus. For example, deeds are legal documents that transfer real estate from seller to buyer and must be notarized. The audio-video notarization allows real estate closings to continue without violating social distance rules.

Times Herald-Record

How are Notaries Affected?

The truth is, we don’t know. There are a lot of deals being made right now to keep the banks doing business. And New York State Executive Order 202.7 would be a part of that.

Here is what we do know.

The governor’s order removes a lot of rules that governed how a signing occurs. This is happening all across New York state. This is a break on national rules on a significant number of loans. The repercussions of this are yet to be seen.

Right now it allows New York notaries to act as an online notary to perform closings. The notary involved, as well as the location of the signing, must both be in New York. The property itself does not need to be in New York, but the closing and online notary must both be in New York.

What the long term effects are remains to be seen. We all know online notarizations are on the horizon, but we don’t know if this will speed things up, or if people will game the system and make people put the breaks on. If we had to bet, it would probably be on the former.

How About Rules?

There are a lot of caveats to this law, as well as social interactions that would affect how a loan closing is performed.

Social distancing. A new phrase to most of us until a month or two ago, but a phrase that dominates our lives now. The new rules are designed to allow closings while keeping social distancing.

It is affecting closings, not just in New York, but across the country. Some buyers refuse to leave their house and that causes signings to go awry. Some buyers are asking the notary to slide the docs under the door.

But, I’m sure we all know that is a no-no.

The rules seem endless, but we suppose that is what you do when you don’t have any.

Notaries Under the New Online System

The world is changing. It is transitioning more quickly than any of us could imagine (minus a few doomsday preppers, who are looking like geniuses now). What comes from it is going to alter a lot of things.

We imagine that the federal regulations on certain rules will return soon. But, it will only accelerate the move to online signings. Proponents of online signings will use this as a casus belli.

There will still be a significant amount of signings that will need to be done in person.

Why Not Online or Mobile?

Exactly, why not?

Even with the day online notaries are on the horizon, that does not mean that every signing will be online. There will be a lot of signings that will still have to be done in person.

So just like we are looking at the possible realities of the future, so should you.

This is part three of our series on the coronavirus and the wider effects it has on our industry. It is amazing how quickly things have changed.

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Are Notaries Essential Business?

It has only taken a couple of weeks and the landscape of our daily lives has changed, possibly forever.

Most of the nation is now under stay at home, or safer at home orders. With people only allowed to travel for things like groceries, or essential business.

This will change the notary landscape forever. But, at the moment, we should focus on our immediate business and the safety of ourselves, our families, our friends, our clients and everyone else.

Which Notaries are Deemed Essential?

Some notary functions have been declared an essential business via a memorandum for the financial services sector. Or in simpler terms, mortgages and other types of loans.

United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steven T. Munchin levied the mandate. It goes into great detail as to all of the sectors of financial services are essential.

If you do not have a copy of the memorandum, we advise you download it and carry it with you if you have a signing. Some localities are requiring it be on person, while others are more lax. It’s probably easier to just print and carry it, as keeping up with every local development isn’t easy.

Right now, local restrictions override any federal orders, so make sure you know your local travel orders or any other instructions mandated by your local leaders, at least as best as you can in this rapidly changing world.

Real Estate and Titles Keep Moving On

Real estate has not stopped. A few of the rules have changed, but the engine remains the same, even if it slows down.

The market has quickly changed along with everything else. What was hoped to be a banner home selling season has stood back. But, lower interest rates are now driving incredible interest in refinancing.

Craig Haskins, chief operating officer with Knight Barry Title, said a common misconception he is seeing is people think “a lot of our real estate business has just stopped.” “We’ve been deemed an essential service across the country. Even if your county courthouse is closed, there’s a good chance your transaction can get finalized,” Haskins said. “Also, as an industry, we’ve shown our ability to innovate quickly through all of this, and I hope it continues when some normalcy returns.”  

Housing Wire

What About Other Notary Functions?

The first thing that comes to mind are weddings.

And the rules are all over the place.

In some locales weddings are banned, in some you can have them, but no marriage license will be until a later date. And in some places the rules are different than that.

That is why it is important to know your local rules and what you can and cannot do.

What About Safety?

This crisis has started a rush towards remote online notarizations. Some states that have not approved them have given the option of performing a signing remotely.

When traveling to a signing, please follow the recommendations from the CDC. They have a lot of additional information on the site, like how to clean various items and what to do if you think you may be sick.

At the signing follow the above recommendations. But, remember, your safety is paramount.

This is part two of our series on the coronavirus and the wider effects it has on our industry. It is amazing how quickly things have changed.

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