Real Estate Transactions Go Virtual

Real Estate Transactions Go Virtual. The traditional real estate closings with a room full of people and stacks of documents are becoming a memory, as …

To streamline work flow, Freedom Mortgage uses a digital verification service called AccountChek to review the borrower’s income and employment information. Other mortgage-specific software includes Encompass by Ellie Mae, which Mr. Bensimon uses to originate loan packages, and SnapDocs, a platform that can be combined with Encompass to facilitate interactions and digital closings.

New systems designed to simplify the lending process for borrowers include Better and Morty, a mortgage broker that acts as a middle man between the home buyer and the lender, securing a package and then walking the borrower through the closing process.

Jeanne Casey, a principal at MetaProp, a venture capital firm focused on real estate technology, noted how QuickenLoans, one of the largest online lenders in the country, has helped catalyze these younger companies. “Having those digital roots is paving the way for the digitization of the overall mortgage industry,” she said. “We’ve seen so much activity and focus in the space.”

Appraisals

Traditional, in-person appraisals came to a halt earlier this year under the state-mandated lockdown in New York. Because appraisers are the “eyes and ears of mortgage lenders,” according to Jonathan Miller, of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, what happens to this industry directly affects the lending industry. By the summer, as restrictions lifted, Mr. Miller found himself doing a mixture of in-person interior inspections, “drive-by” exterior appraisals, and reviewing photographs of a home’s interior.

Mr. Miller sees this hybrid approach as the new reality of his work. “Until there’s a vaccine,” he said, “we’re going to do all three.”

Notaries

Since March 31, an executive order by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has allowed notaries in New York to sign documents using audio-video technology instead of signing and notarizing documents in person.

Dawn Pereyo, an underwriter and past president of the New York State Land Title Association, says this work flow is the way of the future. Twenty-nine states, not including New York, have already enacted permanent remote online notarization (RON) legislation. “The executive order has allowed us to start down the road of RON,” she said.