An eClosing involves using some combination of electronic documents, electronic signatures, electronic notarization, and electronic recording.
An electronic document is a “native digital” document, as opposed to a scanned-in image of a paper document.
An electronic signature is a sound, symbol, or process applied by the signer to an electronic document in place of a wet-ink signature. eSignatures can take many forms, but the three most common versions are holographic (aka hand-drawn with a mouse, finger, or stylus), cursive typeface, and standard typeface.
An electronic notarization is the process of applying the notary’s electronic signature and notarial stamp or seal to an electronic document.
And lastly, electronic recording is the process of recording the electronic document in the county records in its original digital form without breaking the document’s tamper seal. This is different than the form of electronic recording that exists in many jurisdictions today which simply involves uploading a scanned-in image of a paper document.
An eClosing is the electronic execution of some or all real estate closing documents in a secure digital environment. eClosings allow for a more efficient and streamlined closing experience for sellers, borrowers, lenders, and third parties.
eClosings can occur in several different variations ranging from Hybrid eClosing to In-Person eClosing to Remote Online eClosing. Key documents such as the promissory note and security instrument can be printed to paper and wet-signed, while other documents are signed electronically. Our website can provide you more information on the different types of eClosings.
eClosing real estate will provide many benefits including:
Electronic access to documents prior to the closing
Fast commission check for the real estate agent, typically
In an eClosing, whether hybrid, full or remote online, you will need an online platform to house documents electronically and to enable electronic signatures and electronic notarizations. These types of platforms are typically referred to as online collaboration platforms or digital closing platforms.
Attorney’s clients don’t just do business in Texas or even regionally anymore, it seems everyone is buying, selling and developing real estate all over the country. A Texas attorney may know the title insurance regulations and Basic Manual inside-out, but when they move to work in states that issue American Land Title Association (“ALTA”) forms, it can be a whole new ball game.
Texas attorneys know what types of coverage are available in Texas, but may get intimidated when looking at all of the coverages available in many ALTA states. There are 107 ALTA approved Endorsement forms, many with variations for specific transactions. Further, not all endorsements are available in every state issuing ALTA policies, so the task can be daunting.
The easiest way for a Texas attorney to understand many of the endorsements is to relate them to the coverages available in Texas, for example:
Texas Access Endorsement (Form T-23) insures unimpeded vehicular and pedestrian access to a parcel of real estate. The ALTA 17-06 Access and Entry Endorsement provides basically the same coverage, but ALTA sometimes takes it further, they also have an ALTA 17.1-06 which insures vehicular and pedestrian access through an indirect manner (i.e. an insured easement estate), and a 17.2-06 which insures what utilities are available to the property. So, where Texas has 1 endorsement, there are 3 ALTA variations.
The Texas Form T-19, Restrictions, Encroachments and Minerals Endorsement provides the same coverage on a Loan Policy as the ALTA 9-06 endorsement. However, where Texas can modify or delete language from the T-19 that the underwriter is not willing to provide, ALTA has additional endorsements that provide lesser coverage or modified coverage;
Texas form T-19.1 Restrictions, Encroachments and Minerals provides similar coverage to the T-19 on an Owner Policy, but in ALTA, those coverages are all in separate endorsements, the Restrictions are covered in the ALTA 9.1 or 9.2, Encroachments in the ALTA 28 series of endorsements and Minerals in the ALTA 35 series of endorsements.
Texas T-38 Endorsement is used when Mortgages are being modified, ALTA has 3 versions of a modification endorsement, the ALTA 11-06 insures against loss by reason of invalidity or enforceability as a result of the modification and priority over intervening matters, while the ALTA 11.1-06 provides the same coverage as the ALTA 11 but also includes a statement as to specific subordinate items and the ALTA 11.2-06 provides the same coverage as the ALTA 11 but also increases the amount of the policy arising out of the modification.
Texas T-3 Assignment of Lien Endorsement insures the assignment document and down dates the policy to the recording of the assignment, the ALTA 10 insures the effectiveness of the assignment but does not down date the policy, while the ALTA 10.1 insures the effectiveness of the assignment and down dates the policy as to taxes, assessments, intervening defects, liens or encumbrances, recorded federal tax liens and bankruptcies.
However, ALTA has many more endorsements than Texas, and they get revised periodically, and several states modify the ALTA endorsements to comply with their state laws. It’s impossible to keep up on all of the ins and outs of ALTA coverages and endorsements, so it’s important to have good resources to tap as you represent your clients.
One of the best ways you can do that is to have a good relationship with a national title insurance company which handles closings all over the country and are very familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the available coverages in other states. Another great resource is a current ALTA Endorsement Manual. First American Title Insurance Company and many other underwriters publish them annually. You can access First American’s current manual through the Republic Title website. This guide will provide each endorsement form and give a brief explanation of its uses and the requirements for the issuance of each.
While the endorsement manual is very handy, attorneys need to understand that the forms can be modified in many states, either to comply with each state’s laws or to limit coverage as determined by their state title insurance associations or regulations. There are also states that don’t use the ALTA forms (i.e. Texas, Pennsylvania, New York to name a few) but have produced their own forms. In those instances, it’s great to have a National Underwriting Attorney or National Underwriter in your contacts that you can call to discuss the variations and availability in the state or region your client is working.
There is no question that the current pandemic has significantly reshaped every aspect of our daily lives. When it comes to real estate closings, there is also no question that the need for contactless, virtual mortgage closings is real and urgent. Before COVID-19, eClosings were growing at a modest pace as the industry collaborated on solutions to facilitate broader adoption, including acceptance of Remote Online Notarization (RON). Then everyone was told to stay home, and industry collaboration ignited with a new and passionate purpose.
As Harry Gardner, Executive Vice President of eStrategies for Docutech™, a First American® Company, pointed out in a recent HousingWire webinar, coronavirus has shifted the digital mortgage closing from a “nice-to-have” into a “must-have.” The number of settlement services providers offering digital mortgages has nearly doubled during the pandemic. The current environment has changed the RON eClosing debate from “Why should we do this?” to “How can we do this now?”
In response to the need to facilitate contactless real estate closings, governmental agencies, the GSEs, lenders, and settlement services are all moving with a new sense of urgency to enable borrowers to close on the home of their dreams easily via digital connections.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced expanded acceptance of RON-closed eNotes, now in 45 states plus the District of Columbia. A number of state governors signed executive orders permitting forms of RON, and pending RON legislation at the Federal level could make remote notarizations legal everywhere. More county clerks are getting on board with the idea that remotely notarized Deeds of Trust are legally valid and should be accepted for eRecording, a very significant step toward nationwide RON acceptance. This kind of progress on the state and local level is what we have been waiting for to truly achieve a paperless mortgage.
Perpetually focused on customer experience, Docutech offers RON capabilities within Solex eClosing. Now, notaries can eSign and eNotarize documents remotely while the borrower benefits from the same streamlined experience application through closing. No need to meet in-person, secure and convenient.
One of the most important considerations for moving RON eClosing into mainstream operations is the concept of eEligibility. Mark Ladd, Vice President of Regulatory and Industry Affairs at Simplifile, explained the nuances of eEligibility, referencing the “three legs of the stool” as Recordability, Insurability, and Marketability. Understanding your recordability, knowing if the underwriter will insure the transaction, and, if you’re connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, knowing if they will accept that eNote in the secondary market. Understanding how “e” each transaction can be, as early in the process as possible, provides lenders with support for the three legs of the stool.
The July 2020 DFW area real estate statistics are in and we’ve got the numbers! Take a look at our stats infographics, separated by county, with MLS area stats on each county report as well! These infographics and video are perfect for social sharing so feel free to post them!
To see past month’s reports, please visit our resources section here.
For the full report from the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center, click here. For NTREIS County reports click here.
LinkedIn is one of the most under-rated but highly valued networking sites you can be using in 2020! The most important thing to remember about LinkedIn, at its core, it is an online resume. It’s also likely to be among the first handful of results to come up on a Google search, and might be the first place a potential client looks to review your credentials. Most clients won’t choose a real estate agent who appears to lack knowledge, education and expertise. So it’s wise to set yourself up for success and utilize this powerful tool.
So, YES, LinkedIn is extremely important and a must-have in today’s digital world. It’s also the perfect place to promote yourself, your real estate listing, and boast about the skills you bring to the table.
Here are the top 6 things you should focus on with LinkedIn:
Fill out each section to include all levels of education, all accreditations and current and past positions. Include a high quality professional photo of yourself. Be sure to include a LinkedIn Banner image that includes a call-to-action (your phone number, your email, etc). Your headline should be catchy and stand out. Be sure to fill in your summary section to include real estate listings and other statistics that will jump out to potential clients. Be sure to use keywords or phrases (real estate, real estate agent) throughout your headline and your summary to increase search engine optimization. Also encourage previous clients to give you a recommendation so your LinkedIn profile is a non-stop shop for anyone who comes across it. Upload videos and links to enhance your profile. Customize your URL and use it everywhere (advertising, business cards, posts, etc).
61% of real estate agents on social media view it as a way to connect to the community. LinkedIn revolves around businesses, employees and their connections, so it’s the perfect network for real estate agents who work in an industry predicated on connections, referrals and being involved in the community. Reach out to everyone in your sphere, alums, etc. Remember LinkedIn is the best social media platform for professional networking, which means connect with everyone. Take advantage of the biggest networking platform ever!
This is where many real estate professionals go wrong. What doesn’t work is just content about listings (remember the 80/20 rule) in hopes of generating sales leads. What does work is highlighting your professional experience, education and network strength.
Try these 6 content ideas to maximize your effectiveness on LinkedIn:
Share real estate news, industry updates or trends. Don’t forget to include a caption with your thoughts and opinions as well as a call to action soliciting others opinions and thoughts. Remember, it’s about engagement so ask questions.
Share information or updates about your local city. Remember people are very patriotic when it comes to the city they live in, so find local information to share. Also, now that LinkedIn allows the use of hashtags, include local hashtags in all your posts so anyone searching for that hashtag might come across you, and in turn check out your profile.
Thoughtful and conversational posts. Try something that will resonate with others such as your struggles, wins, inspiration, or something you overcame. These are going to be the best conversation starters you can share on LinkedIn. As real estate agents, you go through a lot, so sharing that will resonate with your audience.
Networking events you’ve attended. Include connections you made and give them an @mention, photos, food, the service, highlight the event, the vibe and your takeaways. It shows your connecting with people in your local city. Often times you’ll hear people say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That’s why this works.
Native video uploads. Every platform, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, wants you to use the video feature that is native inside the program. This doesn’t mean go to YouTube and share it to LinkedIn. It means, open up a post on LinkedIn and use their Video icon and shoot native video within LinkedIn. This will keep connections engaged longer in the LinkedIn program and hopefully on your profile. Our best recommendation for video ideas would be “value added” for the consumer (i.e., Buyer/Seller Tips, Market Updates, community highlights, business you’ve interviewed, etc.).
Write LinkedIn Articles. When you write an article on LinkedIn, everyone in your connection list receives a notification. You couldn’t ask for better advertising than that. If you are a blogger, this is a perfect place to use the content you’ve already created and post it within LinkedIn as an article.
So, take the time, get your profile set up for success, start connecting with former and current clients, friends, colleagues, etc. and work on creating great content.
One of Republic Title’s most popular CE classes is consistently our “Instagram: I Have An Account, Now What?” class. We all know how important it is to have a presence on social media for your real estate business, but how do you create content, know which hashtags to use and most importantly, connect with buyers and sellers? Our technology trainer Annette Carvalho is here to help! Read on for Annette’s top takeaways from our popular class and visit us at www.republictitle.com/residential-education for a full list of upcoming CE classes.
Use Hashtags and Link to your Website
Using the “Stair Step” approach, users can spread out hashtags using the Stair step approach (hashtags with lower #’s mean you might be seen more. So if you did 27 hashtags (which we don’t necessarily recommend) use nine that have 0-50K followers, nine with 50K-100K followers, and nine with 100-250K followers, etc.
Make sure to include contact information – including your website – in your Instagram bio.
Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are temporary and only hang around for 24 hours. This allows you to post lots of content without bombarding your followers. And your followers are watching! According to embedsocial.com, Instagram stories are used by 500 million users every day.
Connect with your sphere by turning on “Post Notifications”
Because Instagram is always changing their algorithmic feed, you may not see everyone that you follow consistently. Make sure to turn on Post Notifications for the accounts that you want to make sure and see. This allows you to respond to their posts in a timely manner.
Use Direct Messages
Did you know that you can direct message up to 50 people at a time?
GeoTag your Posts
Searching by “Places” is an entire search category on Instagram. Make sure you are using this feature!
Use Instagram Live
This is a powerful tool that Instagram is promoting – you will reach more of your audience using Live since Instagram features those videos in a different way.
A best practice in using Instagram Live is to promote your live video in advance with email or Facebook. For example: “Catch me LIVE on Instagram Friday at 10am where I will share my 10 biggest tips for getting your home ready for the market.”
Buying or selling a home is one of the most important undertakings of a lifetime. When buying or selling a home, there are many real estate terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Check out this list of commonly used terms that you may find helpful during the process.
AIR: Adjustable Interest Rate
AMORTIZATION SCHEDULE: A schedule showing the principal and interest payments throughout the life of the loan.
APPRAISED VALUE: An opinion of the value of a property at a given time, based on facts regarding the location, improvements, etc. of the property and surroundings.
CD/CLOSING DISCLOSURE: This form is a statement of final loan terms and closing costs. Sometimes referred to as ICD or Integrated Closing Disclosure.
COMMITMENT: The document by which a title insurer discloses to all parties connected with a particular real estate transaction all the liens, defects, and burdens and obligations that affect the subject property.
CREDIT REPORT: A report on the past ability of a loan applicant to pay installment payments.
DOCUMENT PREPARATION FEE: A charge by an attorney for preparing legal documents for transaction.
ESCROW FEE: A fee charged by the title company to service the transaction, to escrow monies, and cover documents. Usually split between buyer and seller.
ESCROW ACCOUNT: Funds held by the lender for payment of taxes and insurance when due. Usually does not include maintenance fees.
HOA ASSESSMENT FEES: Charged by the homeowner’s association as set out in subdivision restrictions.
HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE: Protects the property and contents in case of loss; must be for at least the loan amount or for 80% of the value of the improvements, whichever is greater.
INSPECTIONS: An examination of property for various reasons such as termite inspections; to see if required repairs need to be made before funds are received, etc.
INTEREST: Money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent.
LOAN TITLE POLICY: Required by the lender to insure that the lender has a valid lien; does not protect the buyer.
ORIGINATION FEE: A fee the buyer pays the lender to originate a new loan.
OWNER’S TITLE POLICY: Insures that the buyer has title to the property, that there are no other claims as to ownership. Among other matters, it also insures access to the property, the right to occupy the property, good and indefeasible title, and that there are not other types of specific liens against the property.
POINT: 1% of the loan amount.
PREPAIDS: Items to be paid by the buyer in advance of the first scheduled payment of the loan (Homeowner’s Insurance Premium, Mortgage Insurance Premium, Prepaid Interest, Property Taxes and a maximum of three additional items).
PREPAYMENT PENALTY: Charged by the lender for premature payment of a loan balance.
PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE: Insurance against a loss by a lender (mortgagee) in the event of default by a borrower (mortgagor).
REALTOR FEES: An amount paid to the REALTOR® as compensation for their services. RECORDING FEES: Charged by the County Clerk to record documents in the public records. RESPA: Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
RESTRICTIONS: Certain limitations or conditions related to the future use of the property put on the property by a prior owner. These restrictions stay with the property until they expire or are amended as per certain procedures set forth in the restrictions.
SURVEY: Confirms lot size and any encroachments or restriction violations.
TAX CERTIFICATES: Certificates issued by taxing authorities showing the current year’s taxes, the last year the taxes were paid, and any delinquencies to be collected at closing.
TAX PRORATION: Means that the payment of the taxes for the year of sale are divided between the Buyer and Seller, usually based on the amount of time the Seller owned the property during that year. Prorations, and how they are calculated, are typically addressed in the Contract of Sale.
TIL: Truth in Lending.
TIP: Total Interest Percentage; the total amount of interest the borrower will pay over the loan term as a percentage of the loan amount.
TOTAL OF PAYMENTS: Total amount paid after all payments of principal, interest, mortgage insurance and loan costs are scheduled.