MARCH 2019

Fidelity National Financial recently completed its first digital real estate closing utilizing a remote online notarization (RON) and digital signature process. This was the first such transaction for Fidelity in Texas, where state law allows escrow officers commissioned as online notaries public to perform fully digital closings using a combination of video technology and digital signatures. A Texas Fidelity affiliate used secure, RON technology to connect the property sellers in Austin with an escrow officer in Pearland. To complete the transaction, several documents were digitally signed by the sellers and notarized remotely.

"As consumers' lives become increasingly mobile, we are evolving our service to include a broad range of digital tools that allow us to meet them wherever is most convenient." said Jason Nadeau, chief digital officer for Fidelity. "Remote online notarization is just one part of this wider toolset, and allows sellers and buyers to close on a real estate transaction when and where best suits their schedules. Moving the already complex process of a real estate transaction closing online requires the coordination of many different moving parts and, as expected, our Texas team pulled it off seamlessly for our customer." ( Read complete article. )

Thanks to all of you who attended the PRIA Winter Symposium in Greenville , SC in late February. And a special thank you to all who attended the PRIA Local Workgroup. We had a record attendance and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many of you interested in participating in or starting your own PRIA Local Chapters around the country.

There was a stimulating discussion with people from California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin about the concerns that having a PRIA Local chapter at home might be able to help.

We at PRIA Local look forward to helping you keep your conversations and problem solving going, so thank you for your interest! And please contact us anytime for more information.

Highlights from recent PRIA Local Chapter Meeting

Co-chairs: Government,, and Business,

The SE Minnesota Chapter of PRIA Local met on March 13, 2019. The group discussed the name change from PREP to PRIA Local and then opened the meeting with the following discussions: 1) Remote Notaries and Electronic Signatures (Bert Black, Legal Advisor/Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office); 2) Subdivision Plat Processes (Mark Engel/Olmsted County Planning Supervisor and Mark Severson/Olmsted County Surveyor); 3) Septic Systems (general discussion for the group on current county processes); 4) Legislative update; 5) Updates - from title agents, law offices, lending institutions; and 6) C ounty recorder updates. Their next meeting will be held on May 8, 2019. (See this Chapter's PRIA Local webpage for minutes and other documents.)

On Thursday, March 21, PRIA will host a webinar on electronic notarization focusing on the path the legislative process took in Nevada. Lenora Mueller, notary administrator in the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, and Larry Burtness, Figure Technologies and former recorder in Washoe Co., will outline Nevada’s efforts to legally allow for electronic notarization. The webinar will be facilitated by Marc Aronson, Pennsylvania Association of Notaries.  To register for this webinar, click here .

The webinar will have the following takeaways:
  • Communication between stakeholders is critical for success.
  • The administrator, recorder and vendor roles in the process are different.
  • The administrator and recorder need to focus on practical, workable regulations and procedures.
  • The process does not end.

On Friday, April 5, PRIA will host a webinar entitled: "Remote Notarization" by Michael Chodos from Notarize. To register for this webinar, click here .

Webinars are complimentary for PRIA members and their staffs. Non-members pay $25.


excerpted from PRIA's In Touch 3/8/19 by Andrew McDougall, content marketing specialist, Notarize Inc.

Over the last year, nearly 75 percent of companies have cited fraud as a growing concern to their business. Two-factor authentication, Face-ID, and other innovations are the latest technologies to help curb this fear, yet the real opportunity to ensure trust in a digital world has not been realized.

There’s a clear opportunity to reinvent identity verification and data security for the better. The challenge, however, is that the technology used to support public service roles have has not met the standards of consumers and the digital demands of industry.

With remote online notarization, we’re seeing the next evolution of the driver’s license. Consumers upload their license, enter the last four digits of their social security number, answer knowledge-based authentication questions, and confirm their identity through audio-video communication with a commissioned remote notary.

The process delivers a multi-layered approach to security and identity verification to ensure the person on the other end of the transaction is who they say they are.

Here are three opportunities the industry faces:
  • Offering fraud prevention through modern securities
  • Using technology to empower notaries to be their best
  • Providing access for consumers around the world

In the future, the majority of transactions for America’s most important economic sectors will occur online. How we ensure the security and trust of those transactions will shape the future of trust in the Digital Age.

Notarize just published a book on remote online notarization, which you can download at no cost here .


If you were fortunate enough to attend last week’s Winter Symposium in Greenville, then you also were introduced to the recipients of the Ernst Scholarship for 2018-19, both of whom attended the conference, courtesy of Ernst Publishing.

Is there a recorder in your state who could benefit from PRIA membership? Or perhaps it's a business partner that you would like to introduce to PRIA. You can provide a non-PRIA member with the opportunity for a one-year scholarship in PRIA, including membership and registration for one PRIA conference (annual 2018 or winter 2019).

Two Carl Ernst Scholarship Awards are available - one for government and one for business organizations that meet the basic criteria. Each scholarship recipient will be selected by a committee based on outstanding contributions to the property records industry, and will be deemed eligible in one or more of the following ways:

  • Recipients are not currently PRIA Members
  • Recipients have demonstrated exceptional service in local, state or national affairs
  • Recipients have demonstrated exceptional accomplishment in their chosen field
  • Recipients have demonstrated service consistent with PRIA values

Each award is valued at $2,000.

Click here for an application form and then forward that application to a colleague in another county or business that meets the award criteria. Or, you can complete the application yourself and submit to .

Applications are due in the PRIA offices by June 15, 2019. Selections will be made on or before July 15.


excerpted from Patch 3/8/19

A Philadelphia man has been charged with 45 counts related to stealing six Philadelphia properties, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the arrest and charging of Robert Stokes, 50, for crimes related to stealing six Philadelphia properties.

Notary stamps and signatures that Stokes used were the same and fraudulent, the DA's office alleges. Stokes is also accused of using the same Pennsylvania driver's license and signature when he recorded the fraudulent deeds with the Visitor Register at the City Hall Department of Records. ( Read complete article .)


excerpted from Housing Wire 3/8/19

That’s it everyone, home price appreciation has officially slowed its growth for the tenth consecutive month, according to a recent report from Black Knight. At this point, the housing market really shouldn’t be surprised, countless reports point to a market slowdown just over the horizon.

And Black Knight’s data further proves the slowdown is coming in fast. While home prices are still up on an annual basis, the slowdown continues nationwide and, importantly, is not being driven by seasonal effects. December marked the 10th straight month of slowing annual home price appreciation, falling from a high of 6.8% annual growth in February to 4.6% at the end of the year.

But hey don’t fret, the slowdown could give way to an increase in home sales from many prospective homebuyers. ( Read complete article .)


excerpted from ALTA Advocacy Update by ALTA Vice President Kelly Romeo, March 4, 2019

I spent the last week in February at the PRIA Winter Symposium. The Property Records Industry Association ( PRIA ) brings together government and business professionals, all of whom are interested in the quality, accessibility and preservation of the public record. As the primary source for constructive notice, our public land record is a critical pillar of support for real estate and mortgage finance transactions. It's a rare privilege for me to be immersed in conversations surrounding how it works now and consider innovative possibilities for the future.

Like ALTA members, many of the recorders and clerks I know through PRIA make their jobs look easy -- perhaps too easy -- tempting some innovators to presume that new technologies like blockchain and AI can be implemented easily to make existing processes quicker, better, cheaper or even unnecessary. Does this sound familiar?

During the PRIA Winter Symposium, members of ALTA's Real Property Records Committee joined me and ALTA Senior Director of Grassroots & Government Affairs Elizabeth Blosser to listen to speakers and exchange ideas about eRecording, document rejection, leveraging parcel identification numbers (PINs) to support geographic information systems (GIS), eNotary, remote online notarization (RON), data security, data privacy and cybersecurity resources available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community Voluntary Program . I learned a lot!

One of the opportunities we have through PRIA is to encourage you to participate in "PRIA Local," which brings land title professionals together with local recorders, lenders and Realtors. Would you like to be a part of your PRIA Local chapter or start one of your own? Please reach out to me at if you're interested in learning more, or visit the PRIA Local website. Imagine what you'll learn and how those relationships can help you leap forward professionally.

For me, attending conferences like PRIA is one of my best tools to continue to deliver for ALTA members. Not only do I get to learn what's on the leading edge of our industry, but the opportunity to share ideas with peers is invaluable.


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