Actual Property Transactions Go Digital

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Real Estate Transactions Go Virtual

To streamline the workflow, Freedom Mortgage uses a digital verification service called AccountChek to verify the borrower's income and employment information. Other mortgage-specific software includes Ellie Mae's Encompass, which Mr. Bensimon uses to create loan packages, and SnapDocs, a platform that can be combined with Encompass to facilitate interactions and digital closings.

New systems designed to simplify the lending process for borrowers include Better and Morty, a mortgage broker that acts as an intermediary between the home buyer and the lender, secures a package, and then walks the borrower through the closing process.

Jeanne Casey, principal at MetaProp, a venture capital firm focused on real estate technology, noted that QuickenLoans, one of the largest online lenders in the country, helped catalyze these younger businesses. "These digital roots are paving the way for digitization of the entire mortgage industry," she said. "We saw so much activity and concentration in the room."

Traditional in-person assessments were discontinued earlier this year due to the New York state lockdown. Since appraisers are the "eyes and ears of the mortgage lender," according to Jonathan Miller of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, what happens to this industry has a direct impact on the credit industry. During the summer when the restrictions were lifted, Mr. Miller performed a mix of personal interior inspections, passing exterior assessments, and reviewing photos of the interior of a house.

Mr. Miller sees this hybrid approach as the new reality of his work. "Until there is a vaccine," he said, "we'll do all three."

As of March 31, an order from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo allows New York notaries to sign documents using audio-video technology rather than personally signing and notarizing documents.

Dawn Pereyo, underwriter and former president of the New York State Land Title Association, says this workflow is the way forward. 29 states, excluding New York, have already enacted Permanent Online Notarial Notice (RON) law. "The Executive Order enabled us to follow the RON path," she said.

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