I n an ever-evolving technological world, a growing number of professions, especially real estate, are transitioning from human interaction and communication to algorithms and artificial intelligence. Being a Florida notary is no exception.

Important legal documents typically require notarization. But what exactly does that mean? Well, in simple terms, a notarized document is a document that has been certified by a notary, who is an official in charge of verifying the identities of everybody signing the agreement, witnessing the signatures, and then marking the document with a notary stamp. With technology, fairly-new hybrid versions of notarization have begun to appear in numerous states, including Florida. Instead of being burdened with copious amounts of paperwork, people interested in having an agreement notarized could use electronic means to sign documents, albeit, still in the physical presence of a notary who would proceed to electronically stamp the deed.

Florida has joined twenty-one other states in authorizing the use of remote online notarization (RON). The bill, which was a key initiative of the Florida Land Title Association, was signed into law by Governor DeSantis and will become effective January 1, 2020. RON is a process whereby a signer and a notary public use audio and video communication to notarize the signer’s electronic signature on electronic documents. In states where RON is permitted, personal appearance requirements are met by this interactive audio-video conference. RON will allow for notarizations to occur in both commercial and residential real estate, especially in Florida where often times international clients cannot be physically present at real estate closings. ( Read complete article .)


First of all, thank you to the many attendees who joined us at the PRIA Local Workgroup session in Colorado Springs, CO at the 2019 PRIA Annual Conference. It was a pleasure to hear the first hand accounts about the Chapters, and about the benefits people received from starting or attending their local PRIA Local Chapter meetings. We heard from people in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

It was especially wonderful to hear about some new Chapters who've set dates in the very near future for their upcoming "first" Chapter meetings. Utah will be having a meeting on September 19, 2019 and the Upper Peninsula Michigan Chapter will be meeting in October. The Pure Michigan Chapter will also hold two meetings in different locations in October, and many other states are planning on starting their own Chapters soon.

C heck the PRIA Local Map to help find a Chapter meeting in your area or contact Carolyn Ableman , PRIA Local Coordinator, to find out more or to start your own Chapter. You can always find other Chapter agendas and minutes to inspire you with relevant topics and speakers.

Please note that PRIA's new website is still under construction so if you see some old sample documents that still say PREP, please contact Carolyn to get the updated versions ready to use.


excerpted from Record-Courier 9/4/19

Effective Oct. 17, statewide recording fees for most documents will increase by $6 due to the passage of HB 166 by the Ohio Legislature. The new recording fee for the first two pages will be $34 (previously $28). Each additional page remains the same as current law at $8. Half of all recording fees collected are required to be submitted to the state to the credit of the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. ( Read complete article .)


The Colorado Council for the Advancement of Blockchain Technology Use gave lawmakers and the governor’s office a potential path to blockchain implementation to consider with the release of its final report last week.

The council, which was created by former Gov. John Hickenlooper in June 2018, continued after Gov. Jared Polis took office in January with the goal of identifying barriers and opportunities for the emerging technology.

Within the 30-page document are detailed explanations about antiquated statutes, laws and regulations, believed to stand in the way of blockchain development in certain sectors. The council outlined potential legislative actions and other solutions that could allow the technology to flourish if enacted. ( Read complete article. )


This has been the year of the ransomware attack. Compared to the same time last year, ransomware attacks were up 500 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to Malwarebytes Labs. While all organizations can fall victim to this threat, a recent series of incidents shows that state and local governments are particularly lucrative targets.

The first high-profile incidents of ransomware hit in 2017, most notably when a global outbreak of a variant named WannaCry took down nearly a quarter of a million computer systems in 150 countries, costing around $4 billion in financial losses. But while WannaCry wreaked havoc across the globe, few organizations actually paid the ransom. Indeed, 72 hours after the attack began, hackers had only been paid about $50,000, and even months later, they appeared to have netted less than $150,000. One reason few paid is that those who did pay did not get their data back, so word quickly spread that paying the ransom was futile. But attackers have gotten more sophisticated. Instead of randomly targeting victims, as they did with WannaCry, they are now directing their efforts at entities with the resources to pay a hefty ransom. And cities are attractive targets.

In the first half of 2019, there have been at least 22 ransomware attacks against U.S. cities. In Baltimore, for example, the attacks shut down most of the city’s servers, and the attackers demanded 3 bitcoins (about $18,000) to restore each affected system or 13 bitcoins (about $76,000) to restore all the city’s systems. The FBI advised against paying, and the city ultimately decided not to, but the recovery was expensive. The city’s director of finance estimates the attack will cost Baltimore at least $10 million , in addition to another $8 million in lost revenue.

While Baltimore did not pay their ransom, other jurisdictions have — and they have paid a steep price. In March, Jackson County, Ga., paid hackers $400,000 to recover access to its systems after it fell victim to a ransomware attack. In June, Riviera Beach, Fla. , paid $600,000 to hackers after a similar attack, and weeks later, Lake City, Fla . , paid nearly $500,000 after an attack shut down its phone lines, email system and online payment portal. ( Read complete article . )


excerpted from TaftMidwayDriller 9/5/19

In August 2019, Siskiyou County (CA) District Attorney Kirk Andrus said he’s been aware of the real estate fraud prosecution fund option for many years but said his office waited to pursue the avenue until they could determine that the county had the right kind – and in sufficient numbers – to warrant applying an employee to the effort.

The Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office will soon begin investigating and prosecuting local cases of real estate fraud, thanks to resolution that was passed with a 4/5 vote by the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. California Government Code section 27388(a) allows the county to charge up to a $10 fee when a real estate document required by law is recorded with the county. Those monies are then collected into a County Real Estate Fraud prosecution trust fund. The DA’s office opted to make that fee $6 per transaction. ( Read complete article . )

excerpted from HousingWire 9/1/19

As lenders aim to close loans faster, reduce costs and deliver a seamless borrower experience, implementing a comprehensive eClose platform is an increasing priority. Docutech is the industry leader in dynamic document services, eSign and eClose technology — providing a streamlined mortgage process.

Docutech introduced Solex eClosing in late 2017, a solution that enables loans to be as “e” as they can be. Since inception, Solex has helped leading lenders close over 19,000 mortgages electronically, providing the competitive advantage of a complete digital mortgage offering. ( Read complete article. )

excerpted from ALTA Advocacy Update by ALTA CEO/COO Diane Tomb, August 26, 2019

"Last month, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) released a report finding that the largest banks have more work to do to improve diversity. The report followed hearings in March and April as well as letters sent to those banking institutuions from Waters and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH).

Diversity and inclusion are a priority for Waters. Earlier this year, the committee created a subcommittee on the topic. Beatty is chair of the subcommittee. In the report, the committee found that no large banks have a female or minority CEO. Additionally, it also found that banks do not have any chief diversity officers who report directly to the CEO. Looking at the bank's boards, the committee found that only 29 percent of directors are female and 17 percent are minorities.

The report further found that only one out of 25,000 bank employees is dedicated to diversity and that half of banks tie diversity metrics to performance, but none tie it to compensation. As part of the report, the committee recommended that banks increase employee recruiting through affinity groups and minority institutions of higher education, close the pay equity gap and increase investment in leadership and development programs to build a diverse talent pipeline."


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