Why eClose is poised to revolutionize the closing process for service members everywhere
While cutting-edge technology has long played a role in the real estate and mortgage industries, customers are increasingly elated at the prospects of a more potent and personalized lending experience. Given the complexity of the modern homebuying process, certain lenders are actively prioritizing the borrower’s journey, finding new and innovative ways to reduce headaches, eliminate friction and provide much-needed convenience.
This is perhaps no more apparent than at the closing table. Buoyed by digital advancements that enable greater flexibility and ease, buyers, notaries, real estate and title agents can now complete home closings 100% remotely online. Across the industry, digital closings have soared 228% since 2019 and adoption of remote online notarization—a key digital innovation—soared by 547% in 2020* as lenders and legislators worked together during the COVID-19 pandemic to add both safety and convenience to the closing process.
For borrowers, this means not just a “low-touch” but a “no touch” experience; an amazingly simplified, flexible and streamlined solution that’s incomparable to the previous model of assembling at the seller’s house and plowing through hours of mind-numbing paperwork.
While the euphoria (and the gratitude) is pretty universal, there’s one prominent class of homebuyer who is especially delighted by these recent innovations: the hardworking men and women who comprise our modern military. And now, as of June 2021, they have a new reason to rejoice: Ginnie Mae, the housing sector’s largest backer of government-issued loans, has approved the use of Guaranteed Rate FlashCloseSM eClose for both home purchases and refinances. This is great news for service members looking for a VA home loan.
As more and more states and counties begin to allow eClosings as a viable alternative to face-to-face traditional closings, many military personnel are optimistic they can finally achieve the American dream of homeownership—even when deployed abroad and physically absent from the closing table.
Military personnel and the homebuying experience
The men and women of the armed forces have long experienced difficulties trying to successfully coordinate with notaries, real estate agents and title companies as part of the closing process. In addition, since many home purchases involve a co-signer—most often a spouse— this also creates challenges when deployed abroad or stationed in a remote area within the U.S.
The necessity to be in the same physical space with the notary public while signing the promissory note and poring over the many attending documents didn’t necessarily prohibit the home sale, but it introduced a road map for delays and complications that was anything but seamless.
Buying a home is likely the most gratifying and momentous purchase individuals will make in the course of their life, but even so, there are frequent hiccups along the way. As such, enterprising lenders are always trying to find ways to optimize and streamline mortgage processes for homebuyers who consistently face challenges. Historically, service members have been near the top of that list.
FlashCloseSM and the implications of digital technology
When Guaranteed Rate introduced its digital FlashClose technology a few years ago, this greatly enhanced the buyer's ability to rapidly navigate the closing process with only a few in-person touch points. This was a boon for all participants in the closing process—including retired and active military personnel—and coupled with Guaranteed Rate’s already heralded Digital Mortgage, demonstrated a capacity to adopt state-of-the-art technology to push new efficiencies and revolutionize the homebuying process.
The advancements of FlashCloseSM represent a hybrid approach: e-signatures, digital collaboration and a few compulsory in-person moments together at the closing table. As of 2021, it’s been approved for use in all 50 states. This is an incredible step forward in reducing stress, improving accuracy and saving precious time.
However, FlashCloseSM didn’t necessarily solve every issue for service members trying to close loans from distant locations. In an effort to further transform the closing process, Guaranteed Rate rolled out FlashCloseSM eClose, enabling remote homebuyers to close loans online, quickly and securely. A small step for Guaranteed Rate, a giant step for homebuyers everywhere.
FlashCloseSM eClose and the future of digital closing
Introduced in 2020, the Guaranteed Rate FlashCloseSM eClose platform advances on the hybrid model by offering homebuyers the opportunity to engage in a fully remote, fully digital, zero-contact closing process. This means signing documents remotely on a video call and closing loans from anywhere in the world. Not just an advancement, but a true leap forward. The streamlined aspects of FlashCloseSM eClose deliver incredible time-saving efficiencies that enable you to close not just faster, but smoother and smarter.
Additionally—and significantly— these technological developments eliminate the health implications of face-to-face contact that have plagued buyers everywhere over the last 18 months. Closing on your home via a tablet or smartphone enables all participants to safely avoid airborne contagions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The eClose difference
Both the hybrid and fully electronic FlashCloseSM measurably upgrade the closing process via game-changing digital advances, including early access to pivotal documents and e-signature tools. However, FlashCloseSM eClose’s next-generation notary technology sets it apart and makes it particularly attractive to today’s busy, physically distanced homebuyers, such as military personnel who can’t always find the time to appear at the traditional closing table.
What’s great now is that service members can stay engaged in the process even if they are stationed abroad, allowing families to share in the day-to-day excitement that underpins the path to homeownership. The built-in camera on your smartphone or tablet not only helps conduct the business of homebuying, but it brings you and your family together in a spirit of joy and collaboration.
Remote access to closing documents also means that the burden is no longer entirely on the homefront spouse to gather all documents, meet with key stakeholders and finalize the details of the purchase alone. eClose technology invites military personnel to meet with the online notary at a time of their choosing (within the prescribed window), adding much appreciated versatility to the process. Co-signers can be spread out across the room or across the world.
“I really feel like Guaranteed Rate is more and more becoming a technology company that does mortgages,” said Pablo Cortes, Managing Director of VA Lending. “As a market leader, we already have the expertise and personalized service that our customers love, but now we’re bringing game-changing digital solutions—flexible solutions that are particularly beneficial to our men and women in uniform.”
FlashCloseSM eClose: tech that builds trust
Let’s take a look at how eClose works, step by step:
- Proactively opt-in to the eClose process.
- Receive relevant documentation at 12.01 a.m on the day of the official closing. This enables plenty of extra time to review any last-minute details or unfamiliar terms.
- eSign all non-notary documents via Guaranteed Rate’s secure online platform.
- Sign and notarize documents in the closing package via secure webcam with licensed, remote notary available 24 hours a day. This entire process is done completely through the Notarize** platform and digitally recorded.
- Download and save everything as a PDF. This makes it easy to find when you’re thinking of refinancing or have to answer tax-related questions.
Bonus: Not only are the closing documents easy to save and locate, but it’s an environmentally friendly process free of paper. You may not have originally thought about it like this, but in 2021 arranging for a digital mortgage is one small way of doing your part to save the planet. Sometimes it’s as easy as choosing eClose to reduce your carbon footprint.
The serenity factor
If it sounds straightforward, streamlined and simple, that’s because it is. It’s designed to be accessible and flexible: Given a secure internet connection and a built-in, functional camera, all you need is a cell phone, tablet or laptop and you’re in business.
With FlashCloseSM eClose, Guaranteed Rate has enabled a new, robust, legally compliant process for closing home loans in the digital age. No more ink-on-paper signatures. No arduous and stressful paper-driven paloozas. Signers can e-sign separately and outside of normal business hours.
With advanced access to all documents, you can ensure a measure of serenity by sharing relevant files with your real estate attorney and going over everything before signing—without feeling rushed. Digital technology shouldn’t just be a catalyst for process acceleration, it should also check that most elusive of all boxes: peace of mind.
The future of eClose
With Ginnie Mae putting their stamp of approval*** on FlashCloseSM eClose (alongside Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), the future looks bright for increased adoption of Guaranteed Rate’s eClose technology. After all, Ginnie Mae’s authority within the industry is incredibly important when serving VA customers. There’s little doubt that this designation will further incentivize the use of eClose for active duty military personnel.
And while Ginnie Mae approval has only recently been authorized (one of only a few in the industry) for Guaranteed Rate’s FlashCloseSM eClose, it’s already yielding amazing results. Initial analysis indicates superior customer satisfaction on loans closed through eClose as opposed to other methods. Everyone from loan officers to software engineers to those on the front lines guiding borrowers through the process are delighted to be part of a next-generation closing solution.
Unsurprisingly, these numbers are also reflected throughout the wider homebuying population. Without getting too analytical, it seems that when the process is explained and the benefits are made clear, the vast majority of borrowers want to partake in a digital closing that's more secure and seamless than it’s antiquated, paper-based predecessor.
More states are getting on board
In a highly regulated industry, full eligibility and access does not happen overnight. Currently, 38 states allow for full electronic closing using e-signature software and accessing remote notaries. And those numbers are steadily surging upwards.
Naturally, while there are ample reasons to be optimistic, a dozen states have yet to be approved for eClose. By demonstrating to state regulators the virtues of a process that’s both seamless and secure, Guaranteed Rate is confident of getting the remaining states on board. As more and more homebuyers—like our military personnel—choose eClose, the company is bullish that state adoption will increase and all parties working on closing transactions will be the beneficiaries.
Service members, seamlessness and the eClose difference
While there’s more than one way to achieve a positive homebuying experience, saving time and reducing friction is always a good place to start. Some lenders understand this better than others, and that’s why it’s important to choose wisely when considering who to work with—particularly if you're a service member and time and travel are at a premium.
What might be seen as a simple (albeit highly gratifying) convenience to one homebuyer, can be indispensable if you’re in the military and stationed abroad. With no physical access to the traditional closing table and all that entails, innovations such as FlashClose eClose can be game-changers, allowing essential documentation to be released, reviewed, signed, notarized and saved by multiple parties (if applicable) in sequence or simultaneously.
Think about it for a moment: No more power of attorney. No more process delays. No more fear of missing out due to situations beyond your control. FlashClose eClose is a seamless closing solution for today’s homebuyer, one that we’ll soon be wondering how we lived without for so long.
*According to the American Land Title Association
**Notarize is a third-party vendor that specializes in seamless, legal, online notarization.
***eClose eligibility requirements still apply (e.g., property, state, loan criteria, etc.)
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