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.
Expediting eClosing and RON in the Current Environment – What You Need to Know Now