Lawyer or notary for real estate?


Having to choose between a lawyer and a notary for real estate transactions still propels a lot of people to conduct some basic research. The confusion usually stems from the overlap between a notary and the lawyer who facilitate different estate transactions.

The mobile notary market is set to reach over $1582 million by the end of 2032. Like other industries, notarization continues to get more practical and efficient. With remote online notarization, the process of notarization has become more authentic, secure, and safe.

Let’s take a look at the unique role of a lawyer and a notary and what you should opt for to process real estate transactions successfully:

What is a real estate lawyer?

A real estate lawyer is an individual who was been trained to specifically help organize and submit legal documents related to the sale or purchase of the real estate. Unlike a notary, a real estate lawyer can legally represent their clients in court and offer legal advice.

A real estate lawyer serves to help facilitate real estate transactions and ensure that it is carried out in accordance with state law. In addition to preparing the documents, real estate lawyers can oversee the registration and signing of the transaction documents.

A real estate lawyer is authorized to notarize documents.

What is notary public?

A notary public is an individual authorized by their state to oversee the signing of legal documents. They are tasked with ensuring the document signers’ identities in addition to applying their stamp and seal to the document, ensuring its legality.

A notary public is not qualified to represent an individual in a court of law or offer legal advice.

The role of a notary public

A public notary is responsible for verifying and reviewing the authenticity of critical documents. The consent of a public notary is essential before an attorney can step in or make the closing of a real estate transaction.

At its core, public notaries are individuals who stamp documents. Without their seal of approval, you cannot process a transaction. The fundamental responsibilities of a notary public include notarizing estates, power of attorneys, and deeds. Public notaries also notarize legal documents like trusts, loan documents, contracts, affidavits, and licenses.

Whether it’s protesting bills of exchange or taking statutory declarations, the role of public notaries continues to evolve. However, it is crucial not to confuse the notary public with a lawyer. And that’s because lawyers pass a bar exam. It means a notary public cannot offer legal advice.

Role of a lawyer

A lawyer can serve as an official notary, but a public notary cannot perform duties as a lawyer. Hiring a real estate lawyer comes into play when you want an experienced lawyer to review and organize the legal documents before you can move forward with your transaction. Unlike a public notary, a lawyer has the credentials to represent you in a court of law and offer professional legal advice.

A real estate lawyer plays an important role if you’re dealing with potential unforeseeable events and need answers to situational questions prior to the closing date. A lawyer has the qualification and experience to serve as a notary. It means a lawyer can check registration and witness the signing of documents.

Purpose of real estate lawyer and notary public

The real estate lawyer or notary involved with your particular case will serve several important functions throughout the transaction, including:

  • Ensuring that the seller is indeed the rightful property owner and that the property can be sold and is free of any charges or liens.
  • Preparing closing documents, such as mortgage papers, title transfers, property transfer tax forms, etc.
  • They will prepare a statement of adjustment, which is a document detailing how much money will be transferred between the buying and selling parties. This total sum represents the amount that will be exchanged between the two parties and accounts for any potential additional costs, such as reimbursements for pre-paid bills.
  • Communicate with the seller’s lawyer to register the transfer, ensure payment, and complete the transaction.

Some states require lawyers to complete a real estate closing

Several states require real estate transactions be carried out via a real estate lawyer, meaning that a notary cannot be used. These states include Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Real estate closings: When to hire a notary public vs. lawyer

When it comes to choosing between a public notary and a lawyer, take into account your needs. Although lawyers are experts in litigation, public notaries specialize in estate planning and real estate closings.

Public Notaries are ideal choices if you want standard notarizations. Similarly, when it comes to invitation letters, authenticating international documents, authorizing the travel of a minor, supporting affidavit, and conveyancing – getting a public notary makes more practical sense.

Similarly, if you want help with notarizing estate-related transactions, follow the lead of others and get in touch with a public notary. In British Columbia, public notaries are more suited to notarize personal property, purchase or sale covenants, manufactured homes, title transfer, mortgage refinancing, and purchase or sale of residential property.  

Whether you’re in Vancouver, Maryland, Connecticut, or South Carolina, you should opt for a lawyer if you want legal advice or legal representation in a court. Lawyers have a higher education than public notaries and can better understand the complexity of legal matters that lead to court and involve contentious issues. You can get help from a notary signing agent to learn about the role of a real estate agent, title insurance, and how a title company approaches escrow and liens.

The advantages of hiring a remote online notary

More Satisfying Notary Experience

Remote online notarization offers lenders and borrowers a more fulfilling and satisfying user experience. Remote notarization requires less hassle and accelerates the notarization process. After experiencing remote online notarization, you’re bound to stick with it.

Higher Efficiency

Remotely notarizing documents makes the notarization process more efficient for home buyers and sellers. For starters, you don’t have to cover long distances or cross state borders just to notarize documents.

 Improved Safety and Security

One of the benefits of getting public notary services is that it allows you to notarize the documents from the safety and comfort of your home.

A dedicated platform like PandaDoc Notary helps users notarize documents anytime and anywhere. From the perspective of the principal, RON eliminates the need to meet the public notary in person.

Reduced Printing, Postage, and Paper Use

RON shifts the entire notarization process to digital, which means little to no printing, postage, and paper use. It is a great way to save these expenses and use saved time to focus on critical tasks.  

Speed up the Entire Notarization Process

When everything is digitized, you can count on documents to get emailed, notarized, and signed at the same time. In fact, there is no need to jump back and forth between notarizing and signing.

Also, remotely notarized documents are filed, searched, and stored on dedicated storage that allows you to recall information in an instant.

Final thoughts

The fact of the matter is that traditional style notarization still exists, but paper-based and in-person notarization is gradually fading. After all, individuals and entities want efficient and cost-effective notarization that does not require dealing with endless notary technicalities.

If you’re not familiar with the current legal system, it makes all the more reason to distinguish between a public notary and a lawyer. Some differences are quite apparent, while some differences require you to pay close attention. In hindsight, the majority of estate transactions require a public notary. But when there is a need for legal advice to take legal action, you’ll need to hire the services of a lawyer.


Why do real estate documents need a notary?

Real estate documents are serious and binding contracts that must be notarized to ensure their validity. Notarizing real estate documents not only guarantees that a transaction is protected against fraud, it also ensures the document is signed in accordance with local state law.

Do you need a lawyer to notarize real estate documents?

Some states require a lawyer to be present when real estate documents are notarized. These states include Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

What documents are notarized at real estate closing?

When carrying out a real estate closing there are several common documents that you are likely to encounter. These include:

  • Deeds: A document that transfers the home’s title from the buyer to the seller.
  • Deed Of Mortgage or trust: A deed of trust adds a neutral third party agent to hold the rights to a given real estate until a loan is paid off or defaulted on.
  • Power of attorney documents: A document that legally permits a selected agent to oversee the real estate transaction.
  • Affidavits: An affidavit is a legally sworn statement that specifies that the property being sold belongs to the seller.

PandaDoc Notary Platform

A new paradigm of remote online notarization is here, and the PandaDoc notary platform makes a perfect choice. With PandaDoc Notary, public notaries can use digital tools to conduct remote online notarization acts in a secure fashion. PandaDoc Notary platform offers a flawless signer experience.

You will find the remote online notarization process to be more efficient and smoother on PandaDoc Notary than on other notary platforms. On PandaDoc Notary, you can send, sign, store, and notarize documents and agreements without disruption in a matter of minutes.

Check the PandaDoc Notary platform to schedule your first appointment with a public notary and follow through with a remote online notarization process.