Opinion

Texas remote notary law a tipping point for online mortgage closings

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America's historic shortage of new houses has homebuyers and sellers scrambling to close real estate deals pronto. At the same time, consumers lead busier lives than ever: U.S. unemployment is at an 18-year low, and many households are in transit to accommodate multiple careers. A technology that helps bring everyone together is getting the go-ahead and lubricating mortgage transactions across the country.

Remote, online real estate closings — conducted virtually via computer, tablet or mobile phone — let consumers close on homes faster, wherever they may be. And they're catching on.

In 2011, Virginia became the first state to legalize e-notarization, a necessary part of the e-closing transaction. Virginia-based notaries have been helping consumers in all 50 states (and worldwide) conduct virtual loan closings ever since.

Texas and Nevada recently became the third and fourth states to permit their notaries to perform remote notarizations nationwide. Considered a real estate bellwether, Texas is expected by many in the industry to be the tipping point in online closing adoption.

Historically, e-closing has been cast as a creative workaround that lenders can invoke to meet the needs of "edge case" customers. For example, we recently helped a military family relocate from Washington state to Georgia. All the closing documents were ready to go — but they needed to be executed right away, or the family would lose the sale of their home. The husband was still in Seattle pending completion of his assignment there. His wife was on the way to Georgia but was delayed in Illinois along the way. His mother, who lives in Missouri, was a cosigner on the title.

Our professional e-notary, based in Virginia, worked closely with the escrow officer and met the husband, wife and mom in our proprietary virtual closing ceremony. Participants from four different states came together for a flawless closing that was finished in an hour.

But we know better than to pigeonhole e-closing as a fringe technology — and so do savvy lenders and title companies, who have found that making virtual closings broadly available to all customers is an incredible competitive differentiator.

When given the choice, very few consumers opt for a traditional closing over a virtual one. Today's consumer doesn't need an extenuating circumstance to prefer the convenience, security and time savings of a virtual closing. This is especially true for high earners and millennials, groups most lenders are actively courting; perhaps that's why e-closing has already proven such a hit in tech hubs like Seattle.

To mortgage lenders and title companies that have been biding their time, waiting to offer e-closing when "the time is right" — the wait is over. There are reliable vendors available today that understand the importance of the closing transaction and deliver incredibly consistent results.

Virginia made e-closing possible seven years ago with its authorization of remote, online notarization, and now Texas has blown the doors wide open. It's time to get your tech in place — or get left behind.

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Digital mortgages E-docs Mortgage technology Real estate Housing inventory Housing market Texas Virginia
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