While many businesses have slowed down or been ground to a halt by COVID-19, one that is getting a boost is the digital notary business.
Every year millions of documents – such as real estate transactions and citizenship forms – require a notary to witness and authenticate legal instruments.
Historically, that has required in-person human interaction. But Florida is one of a handful of states that allows virtual notarization for most transactions for homeowners, title companies and real estate agents, mortgage brokers, business owners and others.
Notarize is one of the companies that offers virtual notarization. Notarize CEO Pat Kinsel said his company has seen its real estate volume increase by 400% over the last month nationwide.
“It’s doubling almost every week,” Kinsel said. “I think Florida is actually growing at a faster clip.”
That’s prompted Notarize to announce a hiring spree. The company plans to add 1,000 notaries from Florida, Nevada, Texas and Virginia. The jobs are a mix of full-time and contracted gig positions.
“Florida is at the forefront of redefining how people will buy homes online. It's one of the first states that passed legislation last year,” Kinsel said.
The vast majority of forms can be virtually notarized in Florida, according to Kinsel, with two exceptions: wills and marriages. Kinsel said wills are set to be allowed to be notarized online in Florida later this year, though.
Kinsel, who is based in Boston, said Jacksonville is one of the top cities nationwide right now for real estate transactions requiring notaries.
“I think it's one of the top five cities in the country that people are relocating to right now. And just those natural demographics and people being outside the state but wanting to own Florida real estate – in Jacksonville – just makes the perfect environment for something like online notarization,” Kinsel said.
For traditional notaries interested in making the jump to the online world, they must complete an online education training course and apply for what’s known as a digital certificate. Kinsel said Florida law allows any Sunshine State notary to serve a national audience.
His company has been growing rapidly, with currently about 250 or so workers, not counting the 1,000 he intends to recruit in the coming months.
Notaries interested in learning more can read the state’s Remote Online Notary Public Q&A here.