ALTA Updates Best Practices FAQs to Address Notary Selection
December 7, 2023
ALTA issued a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) to its Best Practices that addresses the role of the title or settlement agent in the selection of a Notary.
Pillar 4 of the Best Practices focuses on settlement processes.
Here’s the new FAQ:
Q. Pillar 4 of Best Practices 4.0 refers to situations where a third-party signing professional is retained by a Consumer. Does this mean that a seller should always be permitted to select their own Notary?
A. No. Pillar 4 identifies who is responsible to oversee signing professionals, including third-party signing professionals (aka notaries). As stated in Pillar 4, if the Consumer (which includes a seller) in a transaction is being permitted to select their own notary, then the vetting of that notary remains with the party selecting the notary:
“For a third-party signing professional contractually retained by anyone other than Company (e.g., the lender, Consumer, or an attorney representing any of these parties), the responsibility for verifying that the third-party signing professional meets applicable standards rests with that party.”
However, there are many instances where aspects such as the Title Agent’s internal policy or risk mitigation concerns, contractual requirements between a Title Agent and the Title Insurer, and/or requirements imposed by a lender, result in the seller, purchaser, or other ancillary parties to a transaction not being permitted to select their own notary and instead utilizing a Title Agent’s selection of a verified notary.
It is worthwhile for the Title Agent to review their contractual requirements with the Title Insurer, their own policies, and to actively address any concerns, including of potential seller impersonation and fraud (see, www.alta.org/news-and-publications/news/20230509-Red-Flags-and-Tips-to-Help-Prevent-Seller-Impersonation-in-Real-Estate) that would drive a decision as to whether to permit any third party request to provide their own notary.”
Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or firstname.lastname@example.org.