TitleBytes News & Happenings

Leveraging Technology in 2018

Feb 5, 2018

Lisa Rozmarniewicz, Capital Title Insurance Agency

“If we, as an industry, are able to keep our focus on how to continually leverage technology for our clients and our business, everybody wins,” Ben Niernberg, EVP, business development Proper Title, LLC. So, how can we leverage new technologies, and keep the customer experience in the forefront? I believe there are at least 3 technologies that can help benefit the consumer, streamline their transaction and create efficiencies in our business.

eClosings A recent trend has shown a drop in buyers and sellers sitting in the same room for a closing. For some companies, this is happening more than 50% of the time. When this occurs, a title company often pays two separate closers to meet with each party to go over paperwork and notarize signatures. However, today we have other options. For documents that do not need a notarized signature (i.e. buyers of cash transactions, seller documents – all but the deed), a package can be sent to the customer electronically, through a secured portal to be reviewed and signed at their leisure. DocuSign seems like a natural choice, since the customer has likely signed and initialed the purchase agreement with their Realtor through this portal. With DocuSign, there is no fear of a missed signature, as the customer cannot progress to the next page unless all signature/initials have been completed. For those customers that want someone to go over their documents with them while they electronically sign, technology like Facetime or Skype can be used.

There can also be a hybrid-eClosing where some documents can be signed electronically, and other documents, such as the promissory note and security instrument can be printed, and then wet-signed. Consumers seem to embrace this technology. A pilot program conducted by the CFPD of borrowers using eClosings compared to those using paper documents saw a 17% increase in customer satisfaction. According to President and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, Mat Ishbia, “eClosings will be more of a standard practice next year (2018) and I think the majority of closings will be done this way by the end of 2019.”

Remote Notary Closings This closing, conducted “live” between a closer/Notary sitting in one location and a buyer or seller sitting at a different location, uses technology like Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts to simulate what has traditionally taken place in the closing room. The session will be recorded and stored for a specified amount of time for auditing purposes. The remote closer guides the customer through documents while signatures are witnessed. This will be a big timesaver for the title company, but also a huge convenience to the customer. Imagine a buyer or seller being able to close their transaction in the comfort of their own home, on vacation, or at their place of employment. Currently, Note: Michigan does not yet participate as the Secretary of State does not recognize the validity of remote notaries.

Cryptocurrency Some markets are seeing the rise of currency alternatives to fund real estate transactions. Bitcoin seems to be the cryptocurrency of choice by these early adopters when sellers are willing to accept Bitcoin.

Ben Shaoul, president of Magnum Real Estate Group states, “Cryptocurrency is something that has been asked of us — ‘Can you take cryptocurrency? Can we pay that way?’ — and of course when somebody wants to pay you with a different form of payment, you’re going to try to work with them and give them what they want, especially in a very busy real estate market.”
With the rise of foreign investors in Michigan (particularly Detroit properties) who are currently very comfortable with cryptocurrency, it is best to have an open mind when looking at currency alternatives. Some sellers will accept Bitcoin, while most will want the Bitcoin converted to U.S. currency.

Realtor/broker Jay Parker believes that Bitcoin is a fad and a gimmick. “I think that people that are using bitcoins to try to market their properties are doing it with the very purpose of getting you to write about it, getting their properties exposure”, said Parker.

Like any new process, transition to new technologies will require both the ability and the will for providers and consumers to fully embrace. “The industry of real estate is notorious for lagging behind in technology and innovation”, said Brian Hull, President of Martis Camp Realty. Are you ready to hop on the train and be one of the innovators for our industry in Michigan? It will certainly be an interesting ride!

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