From shopping for a mortgage and looking for a real estate agent to touring homes and signing the real estate closing documents, the process to buy a home has long been an in-person transaction.
Despite massive competition in the industry to be first to move away from in-person requirements and release an “end-to-end digital mortgage,” there are still glaring parts of the real estate process that require people to meet face to face. These holes in the “fully online” process became blatantly obvious these last few weeks as the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the industry into unfamiliar territory.
There are only five states left in the nation that do not have a stay-in-place order in at least some parts of the state, with a total of 38 states issuing a statewide order that urges residents to stay at home.
Although this is not how anyone imagined we would get there, in just a few weeks a decade-long movement to fully digitize the home-buying process was kicked into overdrive.
That’s not to say that the industry hasn’t had its share of success when it comes to digital innovation. One of the most game-changing moments for the industry was when Quicken Loans announced the launch of Rocket Mortgage, its fully online mortgage, at the end of 2015. Rocket Mortgage pushed the digital mortgage conversation to a whole new level and forced companies to start innovating on the digital side.
Five years later, the focus is on the one area that can still bring the fully digital mortgage concept to a screeching halt: the closing process. The real estate closing, in simplest form, is where the buyer and seller, along with interested parties, come together to sign the final mortgage documents, and the buyer gets to walk away with the keys to the house.
In the current social distancing environment, two of the biggest inhibitors to closings are the varying regulations around remote online notarization (RON) and the fact that not every county allows eRecording.