Are Remote Closings Possible?
The Supreme Court order that was issued on March 27 concerning closing real estate transactions via video has been misinterpreted by some, so here are the facts.
As of March 27, closing via video conference is possible where the attorney and the signing party can see and hear each other, and the signing party is in the same room with a witness and a notary public. The original signed, witnessed and notarized documents would have to be overnighted to the closing attorney. This order provides for the attorney and the signing party to be in two separate locations, but does not comply with the social distancing order, since the witness and the notary public must be at the table with the signing party.
Governor Kemp is expected to sign an executive order making closing via video one step simpler. We expect that it will allow the signing party, the witness and the attorney (who will be the notary for the transaction) to be able to see and hear each other and witness the signing. Then the signing party will have to overnight the signed documents to the closing attorney to be notarized and witnessed. This does support the social distancing order, since all parties are in separate locations.
“E-signing,” “e-witnessing” and “e-notarizing” are not allowed in Georgia, and will still not be allowed, even if the Governor signs the emergency order mentioned above. If Georgia adopts a Remote Online Notary (RON) act and amends the recording statutes, then fully remote closings would be possible, but that can’t happen in time to help with COVID-19 isolation.