Industries from music to telecommunications have been completely revolutionized by innovative new advancements in technology. Consumers can now buy almost anything online – from cookies to cars. Information is available on-demand via search and our colleagues, friends and family are just an email or text away. But what about the start-to-finish homebuying process?
Today, demands from younger homebuyers and innovations developed by some of the biggest players in mortgage technology have increased the interest in improving the homebuying process. From the first online search for a neighborhood to the purchase contract to the closing, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, nearly all buyers predominantly used the Internet (and a real estate agent) during the home search process. Millennials and Gen X buyers were the most likely to use mobile or tablet applications and search engines during their search for a home.
Regardless of the technology adoption speed and scale, the reality is that the next generation of homebuyers is already here – millennials. And they have higher expectations of all transaction processes, especially buying a home. The industry is turning its attention to innovation in the closing process to meet these needs.
During the “Utilizing Technology in Closings” panel that I moderated at the ALTA Annual 2016 conference, experts agreed that “it’s OK to take a crawl, walk, run approach” to utilizing technology in closings. Our three panelists offered some “easy on-ramps” to better closing experiences for the consumer. Consider the following:
- Microsoft’s Steven Daugherty showed how the easy-to-implement Skype for Business Online can be used to not only securely communicate with buyers and sellers, but also to “walk through” the documents using screen sharing.
- NotaryCam’s eClose360 is a turn-key solution for improving the signing experience, CEO Rick Triola explained. By combining their panel of certified notaries with a secure authentication and video conferencing platform, no in-person meeting is required. It is no surprise that NotaryCam continues to grow – especially in the international arena, which accounts for over a quarter of its business.
- Pavaso’s Nancy Pratt shared her viewpoint with title agents that the consumer experience can be greatly improved today through eClosing – while the industry sorts out the tougher issues around eNotarization, eRecording and others that really have little or no impact on the consumer experience.
During the Q&A session, Dawn Lewallen, Senior Compliance Counsel at Stewart Title Guaranty, warned, ”Some state laws are catching up to the technology, but it is still important to make sure the technology vendor you choose can do what the law [and your title insurance underwriter] currently requires in your state for the notarization and recording of documents.”
Regulatory pressures and risk tolerances have prevented the “whack the stack” concept from reducing the amount of paperwork in closings, but settlement agents can still improve the experience through video communication, remote notarization and ready-to-go eClosing solutions that exist today. The tools exist, so maybe it’s time to consider your own digital transformation starting today.
By digitizing the homebuying process, not only are errors reduced, but we’re delivering the products and services the way customers want it. By providing options and flexibility using the method they are most comfortable with, we’re enabling a better experience for homebuyers of all ages.