InsightsNot Business As Usual: Accelerating the Expansion of Virtual Closings

When the year began, the mortgage industry was already poised for a volatile 2020. The new decade would inevitably bring new challenges due to the looming presidential election, macroeconomic pressures and the increasing dominance of millennials in the housing market. Still, Fannie Mae predicted that 2020 would see $2.5 trillion in origination volume. Lenders prepared accordingly. Then, with the addition of a global pandemic, the year became more volatile than anyone could have imagined.

Before COVID-19, lenders were already challenged with finding ways to close more loans faster, increase their operational efficiency and provide a superior borrower experience. However, the emergence of the coronavirus amplified all of these pressures and added new ones, like keeping up with rapidly evolving regulatory guidelines while protecting not only their staff, but borrowers too. Meanwhile, origination volume continued to build.

“The bottom line is, lenders that were best positioned to deal with the volatility were ones that had strategic partnerships with scalable settlement service providers,” said Jim Gladden, SVP, Originations Strategy. “ServiceLink has been solving for these kinds of challenges for decades, and given our leadership position in the market, we were able to leverage our solutions to keep lenders’ pipelines flowing.” For many years, ServiceLink had already been developing and investing in technology to deliver an end-to-end digital mortgage experience. This effort was aimed at meeting the changing preferences of today’s tech-savvy consumers and helping lenders deliver an exceptional borrower experience all the way through the closing. By anticipating consumer trends and implementing leading digital mortgage technology, like EXOS, ServiceLink was poised to help lenders deliver a streamlined virtual closing experience.

Subsequent social distancing guidelines accelerated the importance of meeting consumers’ demand for online signings. Studies show that consumers not only want eClosing solutions, but expect them. In short, an eClosing is a mortgage closing in which at least one document is signed electronically. According to a recent survey conducted in partnership with Javelin Strategy and Research, the amount of physical paper that has to be signed at the closing is among consumers’ chief complaints about the mortgage process.

  • 89% of consumers surveyed agreed that eSignatures are easy and convenient
  • 88% agree that eSignatures save time in large transactions like obtaining a mortgage
  • 79% expressed interest in using eSignatures specifically for mortgage applications

While traditional closings typically involve in-person notarization and signing of documents, ServiceLink’s EXOS Close platform uses virtual technology to ensure the health and safety of all parties. Its solutions comply with government regulations in all 50 states and Washington D.C.

Through a nationwide network of high-performing notaries, ServiceLink offers:

  • Remote Online Notarization (RON): The borrower and notary enter a video session where the borrower eSigns and the notary eNotarizes the documents.
  • Remote Ink-Signed Notarization: The borrower and notary enter a video session where the borrower physically signs the documents and then mails them to a notary for notarization. Availability of this process is based on temporary executive orders and varies by state.
  • In-Person Electronic Notarization (IPEN): The borrower sSigns the closing package in-person with the notary, and the notary eSigns and eNotarizes applicable documents.
  • Limited Power of Attorney Closings: The borrower signs one document, the limited power of attorney, in the presence of a notary. The rest of the closing is virtual.
  • Hybrid Closings: The borrower reviews and signs part of the closing package prior to closing. This electronic review can be combined with remote online notarization – for an entirely remote closing – or with an in-person closing solution.
  • Traditional Closings: The borrower and signing agent meet in-person to review, sign and notarize the closing package.

“Through our suite of closing solutions, we help lenders and their borrowers continue closing even in challenging environments and allow them to utilize the latest options permitted by their local requirements. In many cases, that means we facilitate the remote signing of documents securely and efficiently,” said Marc Bator, Principal Product Manager for EXOS Close.

Tech-savvy notaries were critical to ServiceLink’s ability to adapt quickly to increased virtual closing volume. According to Bator, “ServiceLink’s panel of notaries and tech stack left us uniquely prepared for the urgent need for virtual closings. Our focus on streamlining processes has led us to create a Platinum Panel: a group of RON-licensed notaries who have dedicated their availability specifically to ServiceLink RON transactions. Because of this preparation, we have the capacity to easily transition our pipeline from traditional to RON closings without missing a beat.” During this time of rapid change and overflowing pipelines, lenders are looking to gain efficiency by digitize previously manual elements of the origination process – like closing scheduling.

“Combining our EXOS Close digital scheduling with any of our virtual closing options allows lenders and consumers to leverage our capacity as effectively as possible,” said Bator. “Using EXOS Close scheduling, consumers can schedule their virtual or in-person closing event for the exact date/time of their choice – eliminating uncertainty and online waiting rooms. The digital process ensures process efficiency for the notary and the borrower – ultimately helping the lender close faster and with less friction.”

As interest rates stay low, applications for refinances will continue to mount. Lenders will continue to strive to keep up with demand and changing regulations. EXOS Close helps manage both, while keeping the transaction on track and providing a superior consumer experience.

Visit https://www.svclnk.com/exos/virtual-close/ for more insight into these solutions and to learn which option would best serve your borrowers’ needs.

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