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Expert Insights: Navigating the eClosing Process

This piece originally appeared in the November 2021 edition of MReport, available here.

At Evolve Mortgage Services, Tim Anderson is responsible for overseeing the deployment of the company’s end-to-end digital eClosing platform and developing strategic partner relationships. A digital mortgage pioneer, Anderson has over 35 years of industry experience and has held executive management positions with Pavaso, DocMagic, Docutech, Black Knight Financial Services, Stewart Title, Freddie Mac, and HomeSide Lending.

MReport recently had a chance to speak with Anderson about how mortgage eClosing platforms vary considerably based on how many service providers are required to operate the platform.

What is an eClosing platform?
Anderson: An eClosing platform is the technology that assists loan production staff, closers, and title companies with the collaboration and execution of documents in a secure online environment. A proper eClosing platform includes loan disclosures, eClosing documents, and investor acquisitions. Ideally, eClosings would be a single process on a single platform from a single provider.

Does this mean that multiple providers are needed for an eClosing platform?
Anderson: No, it doesn’t, but that’s what is generally happening today. In most cases, lenders are relying on multiple platforms from multiple providers to close loans. In fact, some are utilizing multiple different platforms from multiple different providers: one platform, like Docusign, is a primary provider for eSigning; an eClosing platform; a SMARTDoc eNote normally provided separately from their doc prep provider; eNotary; an eVault; and the MERS eRegistration platform. We are one of the few, however, that offers a complete eClosing solution, delivering a superior, end-to-end consumer experience.

What is wrong with using other providers that offer integrated systems to multiple platforms?
Anderson: While other providers are presenting their eClosing solutions as an integrated single platform, on the backend you’ve potentially got four different pricings, four different licenses, and four sets of negotiations, all provided by different platforms. As a result, these platforms are rarely integrated well with each other. Lenders and title companies that use them are constantly performing workarounds and keying in data to keep closings on track. In addition to wasting time and money, this strategy also creates a fragmented and confusing experience for the borrower, because they are constantly being shuffled from one platform to the next. Finally, if you have any system glitches, which one do you call for support?

What makes a good end-to-end experience for borrowers?
Anderson: First of all, you need eClosing technology that’s capable of providing borrowers with a seamless digital experience. That means one platform that contains all the components needed to close loans, from origination and underwriting to a full library of SMART Docs, eDisclosures, a full eClosing, remote online notarizations (RONs), MERS eRegistry services, and an eVault. With a single platform, borrowers no longer need to hop from one system to another, experiencing different UIs, and lenders can create a truly digital mortgage process. Because digital mortgages are still relatively new, a good eClosing platform also needs to be intuitive without requiring a lot of training. It needs to think like borrowers do and have a clean and simple UX, or user experience. A good UX is one in which borrowers do not need much assistance, if any, because the process is so logical. Artificial intelligence is now helping the process to become even more intuitive.

How does your platform differ from competing platforms?
Anderson: Among eClosing technologies, having the eNotary, eNote, eDocs, and eVault components in one platform like we do is fairly unique. Most of the competition is private labeling and remarketing various technologies and combining other platforms and services to do what we do with our single, end-to-end platform. We’re also the only provider capable of providing a full library of SMARTDocs, not just a SMARTDocs for the note. So now, for the first time, all the data on the documents can be verified and used downstream to electronically board the loan. It also solves a major remaining issue for most, and that is not having to manually tag or create templates to support eSign and eNotarization of the documents. Believe me, this is a major advantage for those who have attempted to properly tag the number of documents in a closing package. Plus, with our recent acquisition of E-Notary Seal, we can provide RONs in every state where they are legal. In other words, we have all the pieces required for a digital eClosing on a single system. Our clients have just one contract and one platform that is fully “e” all the way.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at David.Wharton@thefivestar.com.

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