In most places you can get a RON, now it’s time for AI

HW Annual experts discuss moving beyond RON

In many states across the U.S. (with some exceptions), remote online notarizations are becoming widely accepted. Now, experts say it’s time to move on to the next step: artificial intelligence.

At the onset of COVID-19, the housing industry was forced to figure out how it would continue to help Americans fulfill their dream of homeownership amid stay-at-home orders. Many states issued emergency RON legislation to make remote closings possible.

Even now, as we see more industries opening up and stay-at-home orders lifting, experts say RON legislation will likely continue to push forward, with NotaryCam CEO Rick Triola even expressing his hope that we have a 50-state solution by the middle of next year.

Now, on a HousingWire Annual panel, experts explained that it is time for the housing industry to move its focus to the next big breakthrough: AI.

The panel, moderated by FinLedger Managing Editor Mary Ann Azevedo, included SoftWorks AI Ari Gross, Assurance Financial Chief Digital Officer Katherine Campbell and Xcentric Consulting Founder and HW+ contributor Scott Petronis. The panelists forecasted what’s ahead by looking at tech priorities for 2021.

“We’d like to see RON get further on board, but then to get to the next experience level – you can apply, you can eSign, you can do your disclosures online, you can get an eNote and some places you can do a RON,” Campbell listed. “It’s now time for AI. It’s time for artificial intelligence to come in and really enhance that experience. And that is where we are headed next year for sure.”

The housing industry is now looking to AI to take it to the next level and enhance the digital mortgage experience, and the outlook surrounding what AI can do and what it should be used for has changed significantly.

In its current state, AI helps optimize the role of current workers, rather than take over their job, Gross explained. While AI could play a more complex role later on as technology develops, for now fears of AI taking over jobs seems to have subsided among housing professionals.

Through COVID-19 and more people working from home, AI has become essential to business continuity, he said, pointing out that smart machines were able to take much of the work on themselves for companies, giving them peace of mind.

Petronis agreed that while we won’t see an AI takeover of human jobs, it will make for a better customer experience.

“It’s not simply about the ‘I’m going to replace people with bots,’ or artificial intelligence or machine learning,” he said. “But it’s that people can be optimized, just like technology can be optimized. People can be doing the things that people are best at, like, having those interactions.”

Petronis explained that bots are actually terrible at customer interactions, no matter how great people think they are. They’re always going to feel like a robot.

“So how do you take those two things and blend them together to create that level of productivity?” he asked.

2020 brought many changes to the housing technology landscape, including the sudden widespread acceptance of RON and heightened technology interactions throughout the real estate process. While we have taken to calling many things this year “the new normal” that we all certainly hope is not normal in 2021, it seems the tech advancements made in real estate this year may be one of the changes brought by the pandemic that is now here to stay.

“Frankly, if anybody thinks that after COVID we’re just going to go back to paper and pens, it’s never going to happen,” Petronis said.

And he gives two reasons:

The demographic that expects increased tech capabilities has now become the predominant demographic in the country. And secondly, they have also become the predominant demographic of people that are actually buying and selling homes.

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