February 2020

As we get acclimated to the new year and work on keeping those New Year’s Resolutions, it is a good time to evaluate what Oregon laws took effect on January 1, 2020. Fortunately, there are two new laws that should make you more productive in 2020:

Electronic Signatures Can Be Recorded (See House Bill 2425)

A few years ago the passage of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“Act”) helped Oregon’s recording system keep up with the ever changing technology we are using.  After a few years of living with the Act, some clarifications were needed.

One item that was not clear in the original Act was whether e-signatures were “original signatures” under the Act and could be recorded. The historical rule and practice was the Recorder needed the “wet ink” on the document before recording it. As the Act was implemented, some counties were accepting e-signatures, others were not.

House Bill 2425 amends the Act by clarifying that “original signatures” can include e-signatures. This cleans up any confusion and should make recording consistent across the state of Oregon.  This authorizes county recorders to record electronic documents or documents bearing e-signatures, leading to greater convenience, expedited closings and expand the use of popular programs such as DocuSign for executing deeds, trust deeds, and other recorded documents.

Senior Lienholders Can Provide Payoff Information (See House Bill 2459)

If a property has multiple liens on it, sometimes the junior lien is sold, assigned, or foreclosed upon. When this happened, escrow agents, co-owners who may not be on the senior lien, successors-in-interest, and junior lienholders needed to have precise payoff information from the senior lien holders in order to evaluate whether to payoff, refinance, or put property up for sale. Most times, the senior lien holder refused or hesitated to provide this information. The common justification for not providing the payoff information was to protect the privacy of the borrower.

Starting this year, senior lien holders can now provide payoff information to junior lienholders. The payoff information may only be requested by the party or an “agent of the person” (i.e., attorney, realtor, etc.) of the who holds a lien on the property. The senior lienholder can now provide the itemized payoff without the borrower’s consent. Note that this law does not change or alter any federal or other state laws that may apply.

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