Mobile notaries seeing industry boom amid COVID-19 pandemic – New York Daily News
Whether you’re signing a will, buying a new house or signing a loan — nothing gets past a notary responsible for making sure your John Hancock is legitimate.
But with in-person notary services shutting their doors to protect against COVID-19, pricier mobile notaries — who travel to clients — are seeing a small boom in their industry.
“It’s definitely been very busy lately,” said Alexandra Sherer, 25, a notary with Metro NYC Notary. “We’ve probably had 30% more clients since the shutdown started.”
Metro NYC Notary has been in business for about 3 to 4 years, serving people across the New York metropolitan region.
While their clients are mostly on the wealthier side and willing to pay the extra cash for the personalized service, the pandemic has brought in some unique patrons, Sherer said.
“I did have two clients who had coronavirus, and we had to actually do it in the hallway,” said Sherer, who’s also a law student and campaign manager for Upper East Side Republican State Assembly candidate Lou Puliafito.
“I’m also getting people who’ve tried to go to a UPS and they simply can’t find (a notary) because a lot of these places are understaffed now,” she said.
In March, Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order allowing for documents to be notarized virtually. The order was recently extended through Sept. 4.
The new rules have opened the floodgates for all state notaries, but have been particularly beneficial for real-estate lawyers trying to keep business afloat.
“New York City has been such an archaic system for years, so it’s been a transformation,” said Steven Matz, of the Manhattan-based firm Matz and Katz, PC.
“Remote (home) closings are the only way we do closings now. It’s sort of become the norm,” Matz, 58, said.
Online notarizations come with some hiccups, as several states like New Jersey don’t allow such alternatives.
Edward J. Bryant, who founded the Manhattan-based Concierge Notary Services, said he’s had to make adjustments to his business in this new, virtual world.
“It’s very contact-driven, taking IDs, taking credit cards,” said Bryant, 33, about the notarization process.
“But the executive order has allowed us to adapt and evolve our business model to meet the needs of those who can’t necessarily travel to a place where it’s safe,” he said.
There’s also the issue of apostilles, a form of authentication that notaries can issue for documents being used in other countries.
Normally such authentications required notaries to go to the Department of State Apostille office in lower Manhattan. Now, the only way to do it is to snail mail the documents to Albany — and it’s not always a seamless process.
“I had an issue recently where I went to UPS and sent it to Albany, but it’s been over a week and they haven’t gotten it, so I had to have UPS open an investigation,” said Sherer.
Despite the learning curve and uncertainty whether remote notarizations will continue, Matz is already thinking ahead about permanent changes to the real-estate industry.
“We used to sit around the closing table (with all the documents) and think, ’Gosh, how many trees have been killed for this?’” he joked.
“The efficiency and eco-friendliness (of online notarizations) have been a real advantage,” he said. “It’s bringing New York City into the 21st century.”