Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is Ruffo?

+

Ruffo is a digital platform that makes it easy to buy a home abroad. Our mission is to make the purchase of your home easy, convenient and secure. Learn more about our history and team here.

How does Ruffo's remote signature service work?

+

Ruffo works with you to successfully complete the signature of documents abroad from your computer, tablet or smartphone, eliminating the need for international flights or consular appointments. Using remote online notarization, you can designate Ruffo or a third party of your choice to serve as attorney-in-fact to sign transaction documents locally on your behalf. This process can be completed in approximately 15 minutes.

What is remote online notarization?

+

Remote online notarization is a novel notarization process available in the United States that allows for the notarization of documents using videoconference and e-signatures instead of traditional in-person notarization. It is a much more convenient process and offers more security than traditional in-person notarization. Ruffo’s notaries use remote online notarization to notarize documents.

How does remote online notarization work?

+

Step 1-Review and sign off on the document you will be signing.

Step 2-Validate your identity by uploading photos of your U.S. identification document.

Step 3-Further validate your identity by answering questions related to your personal history in the U.S. You will have two minutes to answer these questions and must answer at least 80% correctly.

Step 4-Meet by videoconference with your notary. The notary is present while you electronically sign the document. The notary electronically signs and places his or her digital seal on your document. The notarization process is completed within minutes. In accordance with applicable law, all notarization video conferences are recorded so that any legally authorized party can view and verify your notarization remotely.

Step 5-Download the notarized document.

Sellers

How does Ruffo benefit me?

+

Ruffo allows developers and real estate agents to close more sales in less time, at no cost to the developer or real estate agent. With Ruffo, it is no longer necessary to wait for your buyer to travel abroad to sign documents or go in person to a consulate to sign a power of attorney. The transaction documents can now be signed as soon as they are ready, increasing the likelihood of closing the transaction and reducing costs related to properties that have been fully built but for which title has not been transferred to the buyer.

How does Ruffo benefit my buyer?

+

With Ruffo, signing documents for a home purchase is easier, faster and cheaper for your buyer than traditional methods.

I want to partner with Ruffo. How do I start?

+

Click here to send us a partnership request. After we review your request, one of our representatives will contact you.

My company is already a Ruffo partner, but I don't have a Ruffo account. How do I get one?

+

If the company you work for already has a partnership with Ruffo, click here to send us a new account request. We will verify the request with your company and then send you an email with instructions.

I want my client to take advantage of Ruffo's services. How do I start the process?

+

After logging into your Ruffo account, click on the “New Matter” button. Complete the short form with information regarding the buyer and property, and Ruffo will take care of the rest.

How much does Ruffo’s remote signature service cost?

+

Ruffo’s remote signature service does not have any cost for developers or real estate agents. For your buyer, the cost for drafting the power of attorney, remote notarization and apostille of the power of attorney starts at US$150.

Who can use Ruffo’s services?

+

Currently we are only serving buyers residing in the United States (including Puerto Rico).

Who can be appointed as attorney-in-fact?

+

Your buyer may appoint as attorney-in-fact (i) a friend or family member of their choice or (ii) Ruffo. If Ruffo is appointed as attorney-in-fact, Ruffo will not sign any document on behalf of your buyer without buyer’s express written consent.

How, when and where are the documents for the home purchase signed?

+

The attorney-in-fact appointed by your buyer manually signs, in the country where the property is located, the documents for the purchase of their home. The documents are signed on the day, time and place that you agree with the attorney-in-fact. If Ruffo is the attorney-in-fact, you can schedule a signing appointment from your dashboard on the Ruffo website by clicking the “Schedule Signature” button.

How long does it take the buyer to appoint an attorney-in-fact?

+

Your buyer can complete the process of appointing an attorney-in-fact to sign the transaction documents in 15 minutes from their computer, tablet or smartphone. Actual time will depend on your buyer’s availability.

How do I get a copy of the signed power of attorney?

+

As soon as the notarization of the power of attorney is completed, we will send you a digital copy of the signed power of attorney.

Do the powers of attorney processed by Ruffo comply with the requirements of the Dominican Registry of Titles?

+

Yes. Article 38(c) of the Registry of Titles Regulation requires that the signatures on a power of attorney for the purchase of real estate be notarized. Article 21 Paragraph III of the Notary Law recognizes the validity in the Dominican Republic of acts executed by notaries in foreign countries if they are apostilled by the competent authority. The powers of attorney processed by Ruffo are notarized by a notary in the United States and apostilled.

Are powers of attorney notarized using remote online notarization (such as the powers of attorney processed by Ruffo) legally valid?

+

Yes, they are.

Since Ruffo uses notaries in the United States, the validity of the notarial act is determined by the law of the United States, not the law of the Dominican Republic. In the United States, numerous states have laws that allow their notaries to notarize documents using remote online notarization. The notary who will notarize your client’s power of attorney is commissioned in a state that allows remote online notarization. Dominican authorities will recognize the validity of the notarial act in a power of attorney that is validly notarized under the law of the state where the notary is commissioned and apostilled under the 1961 Hague Convention.

What is an apostille and who obtains it?

+

An apostille is a certificate that certifies the signature of a public official (such as a notary) on a document for use in another country. In the United States, the Secretary of State of the appropriate state is the government authority that provides an apostille. Ruffo is responsible for obtaining the apostille.

How long does it take to obtain an apostille?

+

Given the operational limitations of state agencies due to COVID-19, the standard time to obtain an apostille in states where Ruffo has commissioned notaries is between 3-4 weeks.

We are ready to file the transfer of title and mortgage with the Dominican Registry of Titles. Is it possible to expedite the apostille process?

+

It is possible to request expedited processing of the apostille (approximately 5-7 days) for an additional fee. Please If you would like to request expedited processing of the apostille, please check the appropriate box when completing the new matter form. If you have already submitted a new matter, please click here to request.

What other documents can Ruffo obtain for the buyer?

+

Ruffo can assist the buyer in obtaining a no prior ownership certificate from the Dominican National Cadastral Directorate (to apply for the Low Income Housing Voucher).

Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

+

Click here and complete the short inquiry form. After we review your inquiry request one of our representatives will be in contact with you.

Buyers

How does Ruffo's remote signature service work?

+

Using Ruffo’s platform, your buyer can designate an attorney-in-fact to sign the documents for the purchase of their home. Your buyer can complete this process in approximately 15 minutes from their computer, tablet or smartphone, eliminating the need for international flights or trips to the consulate to sign documents.

What are the steps for signing documents using Ruffo's remote signature service?

+

Step 1-Follow the link in the invitation email to create your Ruffo account by answering a short form and verifying your identity.

Step 2-Fill out a short form so we can customize your power of attorney or affidavit.

Step 3-Pay for the remote signature service using your credit or debit card.

Step 4-Review the draft power of attorney or affidavit, as applicable. Step 5-Complete the remote online notarization of the applicable document.

Step 6-Review the draft contract or document to be signed locally by the attorney-in-fact (promise of sale, definitive purchase contract, mortgage, etc.).

Step 7 -The attorney-in-fact executed the contract or document previously approved by you.

How do I prepare my computer, tablet or smartphone for remote online notarization?

+

To notarize a document remotely using the Ruffo platform you need a web browser such as Google Chrome or Safari. To perform the remote online notarization, both you and the notary must have a reliable internet connection, a video camera, a speaker and a microphone. If two persons are signing a document (e.g. two spouses signing a power of attorney) each signatory needs to have his or her own device for the notarization session.

What are the identity documents I can use to verify my identity to the notary?

+

Before starting the remote online notarization session, it is necessary to verify your identity. To verify your identity you will need to take a picture of the front and back of your ID card using your smartphone. The following identification documents are acceptable as long as they are not expired:

● Driver's license issued by a U.S. State.
● Identification document issued by a U.S. State.
● U.S. passport.
● U.S. Green Card.
● U.S. Employment Authorization Document (Employment Authorization Document).

We recommend that you have your identity document ready before starting the remote online notarization session.

What is knowledge-based authentication?

+

Remote online notarization laws require that the signatory validate his or her identity by answering questions which pertain to such person’s identity and historical records. These questions may ask you to correctly identify addresses you have lived at, telephone numbers you have had or vehicles you have owned, among other matters. The signatory has two minutes to answer the questions and must answer a minimum of 80% of the questions correctly. These questions are presented in English because they are derived from public and proprietary records in the United States, which are in English.

What happens if I fail the knowledge-based authentication test?

+

If you fail the knowledge-based authentication test, the notarization will be automatically locked for 24 hours. After 24 hours you may restart the notarization session. We will send you an email notifying you when you may proceed. If you fail the knowledge-based authentication a second time, please email us at support@ruffo.io to discuss alternate notarization options that do not require knowledge-based authentication.

Is a remotely notarized power of attorney or affidavit legally valid?

+

Yes, it is.

Article 21, Paragraph III of Dominican Law No. 140-15 recognizes legal validity of notarial acts notarized by foreign notaries if they are apostilled in accordance with the Hague Convention of 1961. In the United States, numerous states have laws that allow their notaries to notarize documents remotely using electronic signatures and videoconferencing. The notary who will notarize your document is commissioned in a state that allows remote online notarization.

What is an apostille and how do I get one?

+

An apostille is a certificate that authenticates the signature of a public official (such as a notary public) on a document for use in another country. In the U.S., the Secretary of State of the applicable state is the government authority that provides an apostille. There is nothing you need to do to get an apostille! Just sit back and relax as Ruffo handles the job.

Do I have to reside in a specific state to use Ruffo's remote signature service?

+

You can use Ruffo’s remote signature service if you live in any of the 50 United States or any of the U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. We can only offer the remote signature service for individuals who have a valid U.S. social security number.

Ruffo’s remote signature service is not available to individuals living outside the United States.

Who can be appointed as attorney-in-fact?

+

You may designate (i) a family member or friend of your choice or (ii) Ruffo as your attorney-in-fact.

How much does Ruffo’s remote signature service cost?

+

The cost for drafting the power of attorney, remote online notarization and apostille of the power of attorney starts at US$150. If you appoint Ruffo as attorney-in-fact to sign transaction documents on your behalf, the cost starts at US$200.

At what time can I sign and notarize a power of attorney or affidavit?

+

You can notarize documents Monday-Friday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm EST. No prior scheduling is needed. After completing your identity verification, you will be able to start the remote online notarization session with the notaries available at that time. If there are no notaries available at that time, you can close the window on your computer and continue the notarization session at another time of your convenience.

Can I notarize a power of attorney or affidavit if I do not speak English?

+

You and the notary must be able to communicate directly, in the same language, without the involvement of a third party, including an interpreter. Generally, we can coordinate the notarization with a Spanish-speaking notary. If you would like to coordinate your notarization with a Spanish-speaking notary, please check the corresponding box when completing the remote signature form on our website.

Where can I get legal advice?

+

Ruffo is neither a law firm nor a substitute for an attorney or law firm. Neither we, nor our notaries, are authorized to provide any legal advice.

Although we provide general information through our website, neither Ruffo nor any of our notaries can provide any advice, opinion or recommendation regarding your specific legal situation or rights.

If you have any questions about your power of attorney, affidavit, other documents or transaction, or about the electronic signature of your power of attorney, affidavit, other documents or about the validity or acceptance of your document by the intended recipient, please consult with the recipient and your legal counsel. Please review our Notice of Limitation of Services.