The pandemic changed the way people do everything from work and school to grocery shopping and medical appointments and the real estate industry has been working to keep pace with the demand for digitization. HousingWire recently spoke with Brendon Weiss, co-founder of EscrowTab, about how lenders can streamline their eClosings with the help of IPEN.
HousingWire: What are some of the potential challenges lenders and borrowers face when it comes to the traditional in-person signing process and how can in-person electronic notarization, or IPEN, solve some of those challenges?
Brendon Weiss: Lenders and homeowners will agree, the traditional in-person signing process has long been plagued with inefficiencies. Challenges accompanying the traditional methods used to complete in-person signings are not ‘new’ obstacles – they were only made more obvious in recent years as digitization has accelerated in an increasingly tech-forward world. Can you imagine needing to pay for groceries using cash or checks? We can’t either. Soon, we believe printing and signing hard copies of loan documents will also largely be a thing of the past.
In-person electronic notarization (IPEN) is quickly gaining industry-wide traction with lenders, title agencies and settlement companies due to its convenience, cost savings and improved borrower experience. IPEN allows a signer and notary signing agent in the same location to apply the signer’s electronic signatures to digital documents. The notary signing agent is then allowed to eNotarize the documents without any paper involved.
To better understand the advantages of IPEN, first consider the implications of facilitating traditional in-person notarization. All documents are paper records, which come at a financial cost to print, costs related to administrative hours to prepare, process and maintain. Paper records can be more susceptible to data security risks or human error – such as skipped pages or incorrectly-placed signatures. Handling tangible paper records with or without having to correct human error can result in delayed processing time.
As the traditional in-person notarization process can involve hundreds of paper records, you’re also losing the eco-friendly appeal with modern borrowers expecting a paperless process.
IPEN enables eClosings with enhanced security, compliance and accessibility for all parties involved and depending on the vendor, can be more quickly implemented than other solutions available in the market. An IPEN solution like EscrowTab helps streamline closing operations with reduced loan lifecycles – all the while adding value to the borrower experience with convenient full eClosing options.
HW: IPEN provides both lenders and borrowers with a level of automation that a traditional signing doesn’t. How are current market conditions necessitating flexible and convenient solutions like EscrowTab?
BW: At a time when margin compression is high and closing volume is low, implementation of a solution like EscrowTab would position lenders and title agencies for streamlined efficiency throughout your business.
While some solutions take months to implement, EscrowTab bypasses the bottlenecks of system integrations and allows companies to start enjoying cost savings sooner rather than later.
EscrowTab’s solution is designed to work as close to paper as possible, except better. This includes functionality like allowing for edits to the document in real-time without redrawing the docs, and the ability to clear a single page if a borrower signs in the wrong location. And because all EscrowTab’s services – DocPrep, eNote creation, eClosing and eVault – were designed and built in-house, everything works seamlessly to the benefit of the users.
HW: Why would a lender, title agency or settlement company choose an In-Person Electronic Notarization (IPEN) method over remote online notarization (RON), which has been the talk of the media for the past few years?
BW: In-Person Electronic Notarization (IPEN) has been around for many years, often referred to as simply electronic notarization. Even though this type of notarization has been legal nationwide, and it holds versatile advantages over other notarization methods, there haven’t been many companies providing a simple, intuitive IPEN-based product.
Only 40 states have legislation in place permitting the use of RON. Of those 40, several are still operating under temporary emergency orders enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary orders may – for now – still allow the use of RON; however, there’s no guarantee which states with temporary policies will pass permanent legislation.
A nationwide IPEN solution offers simplicity and consistency for the notary signing agent and the borrower. In the states with approved use of RON, all parties must meet multi-factor verification requirements. Acceptable multi-factor requirements are state-specific and may include knowledge-based authentication (KBA), automated authentication of government-issued photo ID, or visual inspection of ID through two-way video technology. Accessing multi-factor verification requirements may not be feasible for all parties, who may have inadequate technology means or feel intimidated by the process.
When employing IPEN methods in eClosings, tangible paper documents are eliminated, but the in-person connection that is very valued by many borrowers, title companies and signing agents, remains. Tech-shy borrowers can feel confident as they move through a simplified eClosing process with guidance from an industry professional by their side.
HW: What is EscrowTab bringing to the market that lenders and title agencies haven’t experienced yet and how will you continue bringing value to the industry?
BW: Recent years forced global adaptation to remote work – not just work, but adaptation to living a digitally-enabled life. It’s safe to assume fast-tracked acceptance of digitized operations is a trend borrowers would want to see spill over into other processes – especially if that results in enhanced convenience for all parties. Borrowers’ expectations for efficiency will only continue to rise. For lenders and title agencies, the question is no longer ‘If’ you need to offer eClosing solutions, but rather, ‘How?’
There are many eClosing solutions lenders and title agencies can choose from to ensure borrowers a modern, secure experience. Where EscrowTab has a leg up on the competition is our simplicity and accessibility – and ability for lenders to maintain their current processes.
EscrowTab employs In-Person Electronic Notarization using an EscrowTab-enabled tablet and stylus. We are the only eClosing platform that allows borrowers to sign notarized documents and eNotes with a forensically-verifiable handwritten electronic signature on each page that needs to be signed.
Lenders can implement eClosings without retrofitting existing operations to a new software – drastically reducing time and resources required for the post-close quality control process.
With EscrowTab, lenders can also rely on their trusted partners – the title agencies and settlement companies – to drive this process forward. Lenders simply ship docs to title agencies like they do today, allowing the title agencies and settlement companies to do what they do best – close loans.
Title and settlement will gain efficiencies for their organizations, for the lenders, and to close loans the way borrowers expect – technology-driven and eco-friendly.
EscrowTab offers efficiency without disruption, as it’s designed to work seamlessly with the processes lenders, title agencies and settlement companies already have in place. We’re here to help simplify, not complicate, your business with a truly ‘plug and play’ eClosing solution.
To learn more about seamless electronic closings and IPEN, visit escrowtab.com.