In talking to several law firms about remote closings, I was amazed how everyone seemed to have moved on from the pandemic. Business as usual. All the firms have established the precautions you would expect, so there really isn’t any reason to think in-person closings aren’t safe. As one prestigious Atlanta firm states on their website; “the excitement of closings are back”.
It’s certainly debatable if the “excitement of the close” is shared among all the participants. I would contend it’s not. Still, what would you expect the lawyers to say? The “closing” is their value added service. Why admit that it’s an old and out-of-date service. What’s wrong with relying on a Notary Public? Quick, anyone under 40 know what that is?
Because of the pandemic, our Governor signed an executive order for the State of Georgia to finally allow for remote real estate closings. This opens up a previous closed world. As agents, we need to all make sure this door stays open. The benefits of the 21st century are obvious.
Aside from being a huge time sink for all involved, Consumers surveyed reported the closing process having three main complaints; no time to review closing documents, overwhelmed by the volume of material and the number of errors found at the closing table. Digital closings fix all of these issues.
Digital closings offer efficiency paper simply can’t. Do you think your clients would appreciate closings taking 15 minutes? First American Title cut their closing time from 60 minutes to 20 minutes using digital technology. Speaking of paper; it’s a hassle. Paper creates needless manual labor in terms of scanning, uploading and printing. It weighs a ton, takes up space and is physically vulnerable to our atmosphere. Digitizing documents and workflows eliminates much of the labor associated with a closing.
Sounds great, what’s the catch? Well, Lawyers may have difficulty justifying those $800 closings fees they have been getting since the dawn of time. Most of the United States uses Title Company employees to conduct closings. Here in Georgia, we require our real estate closings to be conducted by an actual lawyer. Why? Money of course, our legal community was able to create a State-sanctioned cottage industry for themselves which they also run and manage. Who, but a cabal of lawyers could pull that deal off?
Most, if not all, Atlanta law firms specializing in real estate offer a remote option. But, it’s kind of like that veal dish that isn’t on the menu but you can ask for. The fact is, it’s not in the best interest of any law firm to promote e-closings. Status quo works for them. Their whole act is for a lawyer to sit at a $20K dollar table and flip a huge stack of papers while everyone sits around eating chocolate. (The excitement of the close is back, baby!)
Remote closings are the future. But, it’s up to the Agent community to determine how fast we get there. We must be proactive and request the remote close option as much as possible. As a collective, agents have the power to dictate, or at least help mold, closing policy going forward. For decades, or ever, we have always done what the legal community told us to do. Now, we can tell them.
I don’t want anyone to think this just another anti-lawyer screed. It’s not, it is an acknowledgement the interests of the legal community might not align with the interest of an agent’s client. Remote closings offer lower cost, have greater accuracy and increase security. Consumers going through an e-closings cite greater efficiency, control and understanding of the process.
I encourage all agents to spend some time with their chosen law firm and learn about their remote closing processes and procedures. Become your own remote close expert. Data says your clients will thank you for it.
What another reason to use and promote remote closings? It is estimated our current closing model consume 960,000,000 pieces of paper every year. eClosings would save 1,200 acres of trees each year!
PS - Attention law students and recent lawyers. The real estate industry’s “closing business” is ripe for disruption. It’s a huge market, meaning serious money, whose business model is dated, costly and wildly inefficient. If you are interested in exploring a career in changing industry dynamics and creating something anew, please contact; Jeff@wyndrealty.com