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Equity National Title, DCU Execute Their First Remotely-Notarized E-Closing

Equity National Title, a national settlement services provider, and Digital Federal Credit Union, better known as DCU, a non-profit financial cooperative serving members nationwide, have completed their first remote notary-enabled e-closing. 


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The closing took place in Virginia.  According to James K. O’Donnell, Esq., President of Equity National Title, the process began when DCU approached him in an effort to advance and accelerate its remote notary closing program. “DCU continuously seeks to use the best available technologies to improve the process for its members—and always has,” said O’Donnell. “Using our eWays technology, we were able to identify pending mortgage loans in the DCU pipeline that would benefit from remote technology and which could do so in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”  According to O’Donnell, the eWays technology is a first-of-its-kind “e-closing” hub for mortgage lenders designed to advise of the types of digital closings available at a zip code level.  The portal was designed to help clarify for mortgage lenders whether key authorities in each zip code accept none, all or some combination of the four existing types of closing:  fully digital; hybrid; remote notary or traditional.  The website can be seen at https://www.eclosingsbyequity.com/.


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“Although the technology is innovative and forward-thinking, our biggest success was that we were able to maintain the personal element of the closing experience,” said Harry Tsianatelis, Mortgage Operations Assistant Manager for DCU. “We take great pride in providing borrowers a first-rate experience from start-to-finish.”


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Tsianatelis observed that the transaction was a success for the member. “I spoke to the member the day after the closing, and I was happy to hear he felt comfortable in communicating with the closing agent. 


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We want to utilize technology to enhance our mortgage closing process without sacrificing any valuable components from the traditional experience. I think we were successful in that goal.”

While DCU and Equity National Title had previously collaborated in the use of eWays for a mortgage in Florida, this was the first instance in which a remote notary was used to complete the closing. “Remote notarization is yet another welcome and modernizing enhancement to the closing process which puts the borrower first,” noted O’Donnell. “We’re proud to say that the use of this technology positions DCU and Equity National Title in a very small and elite group of lenders and service providers able to provide the best and most straightforward process for members. This remotely notarized e-closing represents the first of what we fully expect to be many to come in 2019 and beyond.”

Equity National Title Launches Transaction Management Application

Equity National Title, a national settlement services provider, has launched a transaction management application which allows all parties to monitor the status of a real estate transaction in real time. Equity National Title partnered with Salem, Massachusetts-based Easy Mortgage Apps in the design and production of the new app. It is believed to be among the first to allow REALTORS, loan officers and consumers to securely monitor their transactions from the moment they enter Equity National Title’s workflow until the real estate closing.  

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The app will allow users to place orders; generate quotes; receive and share status updates and even determine whether an eClosing is permissible and, if so, in what form. All functions are available to the user 24/7 and any authorized user with Internet access can access the information. Users can also upload documents (such as missing identification; buyer authorizations and the like) and see scheduled closings, including the location (and map directions) and parties expected to attend. The app also sets forth the process in a series of timelines, including important dates and milestones, as well as current status.  The app is available for Apple devices.

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“The industry has talked for decades about an easier way for REALTORs, loan officers and borrowers to know where the transaction stands without having to call the title company,” said James K. O’Donnell, Esq., President of Equity National Title. “It has historically been one of the chokepoints of the transaction. With the Equity National Title app, authorized users simply have to log in—at any time of the day—to see exactly where their deals are. No voice mails. No waiting. No miscommunication.”

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According to O’Donnell, the app came about after a series of anonymous surveys Equity National Title conducted among mortgage lenders and REALTORS. The consensus finding in the surveys was that loan officers and REALTORS alike sought, above all else, responsiveness and clear communication from their title and settlement services partners.  Easy Mortgage Apps President, Michael Kelleher, agreed. “The idea of using an app to cut unnecessary waiting and uncertainty from the process was past due for the industry, and we were delighted to partner with Equity National Title to make it reality. In fact, we went from concept to launch in about 90 days.  Both partners were on the same page with the same focus:  eliminating as much wasted time and needless delay from the title transaction as possible.”

O’Donnell continued, “As important as compliance and service are, we’ve been told repeatedly that our lender and REALTOR partners want, above all else, to know exactly where the transaction is at all times…and not have to wait or dial into a website to chase that information.  The app will save users an enormous amount of time and help improve the L.O.’s ability to serve her own clients as well as the clients’ real estate agents.

O’Donnell is quick to confirm that security is not compromised for convenience with the Equity National Title app. Users must undergo a three-step authentication process, including an initial authorization which identifies (and later confirms) the device being used by the authorized party. The access to the production system is also not direct, but instead, routed through an intermediate server designed to prevent unauthorized access to the platform.  The app has no connection to or access to NPPI whatsoever.

Equity National Title Now Conducting eClosings With Pavaso

Equity National Title, a national provider of title and settlement services is now able to deliver eClosings with Digital Close through Pavaso, Inc., a provider of digital closing solutions for the mortgage industry.

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More specifically, Equity National Title can now deliver hybrid eClosings in which select documents, such as the Deed and Note, are printed and “wet-signed,” but much of the closing package is executed electronically. ““An awesome closing experience for our customers and their borrowers is our primary focus and the digital closing experience is one that more and more of our lending partners are demanding,” said Jim O’Donnell, President of Equity National Title. “Pavaso’s technology is being used by a number of our lender clients, and we’ve found that they deliver fantastic support as well as flexibility through the hybrid option when we need to close on any combination of paper and digital.”

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Pavaso’s Digital Close accommodates paper, hybrid or fully digital closings.  It also enables efficient online communication and collaboration between the real estate agent, lender, title/settlement agent and borrower during the entire closing process. The digital closing platform provides built-in eSign and eNotarization capabilities, allowing borrowers to sign and notaries to verify and stamp documents digitally. Although there are still some traditionally wet-signed documents, this allows the majority of the closing package to be executed more efficiently and securely.

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“Each time a national provider like Equity National Title adopts an eClosing process, the digital transformation of the mortgage becomes much more widespread—even much more mainstream,” said Mark McElroy, President and CEO of Pavaso. “With a large title network for digital mortgages emerging, it’s really only a matter of time until eClosings are a staple for businesses.”

The Movement Away From Paper Closing Continues

Equity National Title (Equity) recently collaborated with Mid America Mortgage to conduct three e-Closings, including one in Austin, Texas. Equity is a national title/settlement agent offering a full array of title and settlement solutions for mortgage lenders, home builders and Realtors.  Mid America Mortgage is a multi-state, full-service mortgage lender serving consumers and mortgage originators through its retail, wholesale and correspondent channels.

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The e-closing process, which did accommodate the “wet signing” of certain documents before a notary as required by state law, allowed the home buyers to review all pertinent closing forms online well before the scheduled closing.  The homebuyers were also able to “e-sign” all documents not bound by state law to be physically “wet-signed” in person. Post-closing and recording of the deed were part of the digital process as well.

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Jamie Edelen, 27, a first-time homebuyer in Austin, Texas, had been warned by friends to expect the worst at closing.  He was regaled with an ample list of horror stories in advance. But he found reality to be quite different.

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“The actual closing took ten minutes.  My Realtor said it was the fastest she had ever seen in her career. I was able to review the documents in advance from work at lunch time.  I actually reviewed and signed a few of the documents on my phone while in line at a Subway.” Edelen said that he signed “a few” documents in person at the office of the closing agent (those documents required to be physically signed before a notary by Texas law), but that most of the heavy lifting took place prior to the actual closing. When advised that not all mortgage lenders have e-closing capabilities, he responded “E-Closings make perfect sense.  Why wouldn’t you have them?”

“Although we’ve been talking about it for years, the e-Closing is here,” said James K. O’Donnell, Esq.; President of Equity National Title.  “In this case, Equity was quickly able to acclimate itself with Mid America Mortgage’s requirements, including its electronic document preparation provider, and execute a perfect settlement for the buyer.”

O’Donnell believes that e-closings will quickly become the standard, and that before long, settlement services firms will no longer have the option of an all-paper closing. “Right now, a rapidly growing number of the closings Equity is doing are e-closings. We project that number will only be going up…and quickly. We are ready for them, and we don’t believe the e-closing will be a ‘nice-to-have’ option for long.”

Owner and CEO of Mid America Mortgage, Jeff Bode, said he believes e-closings are going to play a crucial role in lenders’ ability to meet the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s expectations. “Mid America has been performing e-closings throughout our entire retail division, and our customers have really embraced the process,” Bode said. “Both our borrowers and our referral sources have expressed their appreciation for the quick funding of the loan, and with the CFPB’s focus on improving the borrower experience, it’s hard to imagine why more lenders haven’t embraced e-closings.”

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