Digital Closings: How to Improve the Customer Experience
A great customer experience is essential for good business, and is especially important when it comes to title agents. Being able to promptly service customers, answer their questions and perform a thorough review can be the difference between gaining repeat and referral business or not. The best way to provide stellar customer service is to stay at the cutting edge of innovation.
Many real estate lenders are finding a competitive edge by offering a “full digital close,” meaning the entire closing process — including all document reviews, signatures, and notarization — is handled online. eSigning, document preview, eNotes, video conferencing tools, digital notarization platforms are that cutting edge in today's market.
The ability to notarize documents remotely, in particular, makes the closing process smoother and less prone to error. The pain points in accuracy, timing, and convenience don't have to exist — title agents can alleviate those complications by embracing the "full digital close."
The benefits of a seamless, fully digital closing experience
In a typical sale, buyers use digital tools to search for a home, put in offers, and apply for a loan. But when closing day comes, they run into a serious reality check: the convenience of digital comes to a complete stop, and they have to suddenly do the last leg of the home buying process in person. Closing day involves heading to a strange building to sign a stack of papers in front of a person they don't know.
Buyers and sellers now have another option: The full digital close means buyers can purchase a home and complete the entire process online, even through closing day.
Today's customers are primed for that kind of seamless experience. The largest group of potential buyers in today's market are Millennials, and they are very comfortable making large purchases online. Social distancing requirements mean that even more buyers are willing to entertain a home purchase sight unseen. According to Redfin, 63% of homebuyers in 2020 made an offer on a home that they hadn't personally visited — that's almost double the rate pre-pandemic. It makes sense for the closing to be a remote experience when buyers are already searching for homes, making offers, and applying for loans remotely.
The trend in buying a home sight unseen is just one reason to ensure that your business has the technology to meet customer demand. When buyers get to the closing stage, they are relieved to have found a home but somewhat stressed out by the documentation that goes into purchasing. A full digital close will reduce the stress of the process while exceeding customer expectations around the time and investment needed to close on a sale. Below are five more reasons to invest in a full digital close.
More flexibility for your team and your clients
We learned during the pandemic that flexibility can make or break a business in today's competitive environment. The ability to get things done without being tied to brick and mortar is invaluable. With a full digital close, notarization becomes completely seamless.
Remote online notarization (RON) takes away the frustration by leveraging an online conferencing platform to complete authentication and provide notaries 24/7. It's also much more convenient than using a mobile notary, which still requires that they visit the person’s home at a set time. Online notarization is also a great perk for clients who flip houses and perform a high volume of deals throughout the year.
A digital closing also means something special to the buyer: all relevant parties can join the closing remotely. That means clients don't have to purchase their home alone. They can have all of the people who helped them get to this point — their real estate agent, attorney, and even close family — attend the closing.
More control for your title agents
A smoother customer experience is possible not only because documents are shared digitally but because real-time notifications allow title agents to keep things moving, quickly identify errors and course-correct when needed.
The closing process is highly collaborative, and there are many dependencies involved in getting to closing day. Home insurance is required before an agent can produce a title, and the home insurance can't happen without the appraisal; meanwhile, your lender must produce a good faith estimate, which they can't do without your proof of income. The list is endless when it comes to documentation and timing. A digital closing can help ensure all of the documentation and approvals fall into place at the right time by making it easier to submit documents and share them as soon as they are ready.
Digital closings also provide space for catching and correcting errors quickly. Even the most minor error can halt the closing process, so it's essential to identify those errors and fix them right away. When a client submits a document, the title agent receives a notification. They can then check the paperwork right away, and if there is, for example, an inconsistency in the spelling of a client's name, they can flag that immediately. A mistake that might take weeks to surface can be corrected in real-time to ensure the closing stays on track.
Remote online notarization also helps title agents manage their workload in a smarter way. With a dedicated closing platform and the participation of all stakeholders, title agents can manage the process from a single source and quickly contact relevant stakeholders when they need something from them. Collaboration and coordination are significantly easier to achieve in a fully digital closing.
The digital close is just plain faster
These days, establishing a fully digital home buying experience is the foundation for a positive customer experience. When the process is fully digital, clients have more transparency, more security, and more flexibility. Whether traveling abroad or at home taking care of an elderly parent, they can still achieve this major milestone via a secure platform with responsible experts who can help them every step of the way. Life doesn't have to come to a standstill when purchasing or selling a home.
Even better, the whole process happens in a shorter period. Digital review means you can skip the overnight shipping and send documents in just a few clicks. That kind of convenience means you can collect documents 10x faster than the traditional pen and ink process. In a competitive real estate market, efficiencies like this can mean a faster time to close and more profitability for your business.
Improved compliance and security
An intelligent digital platform means you can build better authentication into the closing process so that all parties involved benefit from better security. Multi-factor authentication can help identify fraud before a closing begins, and the session can be encrypted to ensure sensitive information is secure.
Compliance is also a concern, given that regulations vary from state to state. Notarize's digital platform is built to be compliant no matter which state you are in. Our platform scans and reviews 14.5 million state-specific regulations to ensure the integrity and legality of each deal — meaning clients can feel secure knowing that they've checked all the boxes in making their purchase remotely.
A positive impact on the environment
Cutting back on paper use is one of the major ways for companies to go green. As clients look to do business with environmentally-conscious companies, they may prefer to work with a company that emphasizes a paperless closing process. With the full digital close, lenders can minimize printed documents, and clients can positively impact the environment through their patronage.
The future of digital closing
There may be clients who still prefer to purchase or sell a home in person, but the data points to clients wanting more flexibility in the process. The option for a full digital close should always be on the table should a client decide they want to take that route. With that option, your business will remain at the forefront of meeting customers where they are — and staying one step ahead of them as their needs evolve.