How Does a Fully Digital Home Closing Work?

Close your home online from your desk, or from around the world. All you need is a WiFi signal.  

You’ve secured your new home, agreed on a deal, and are ready to finish the final steps. But before getting keys in hand, it’s time to spend a few hours signing piles of paper.

The chore is tedious, and not exactly eco-conscious, which is why Redfin Mortgage and Title Forward are now offering fully digital closings, which will allow customers to close a home purchase completely online. With a fully digital closing, or eClosing, homebuyers can opt to sign in pajamas, on vacation, or during a lunch break. What used to take hours can now be done in under an hour, as long as you have a good internet connection and a webcam.

So what does it take to close digitally? We spoke to Jason Bateman, head of Redfin Mortgage, and Angela Lozano, national operations manager and general counsel for Title Forward to ask how it works:

What is a fully digital home close?

Jason: “It takes what is traditionally a burdensome, paper-laden process, where you sign 200 pieces of paper until your hands are sore, and turns it into a completely digital, convenient, faster experience. It can happen from anywhere–a coffee shop, your lunch break, anywhere in the world.”

What are the steps to close a home digitally

Angela: “You’ll log into our platform–Notarize, our eClosing provider–and the only requirements are a good internet connection and webcam in order for the buyer and notary to see each other. You then click in different places to sign or initial, and a notary walks you through each page so you understand what you are signing.”

Is an EClosing secure?

Angela: “It’s a state-approved process that’s fully vetted and authorized. The purchaser completes a verification at the beginning for identity protection. The purchaser can literally hold up their ID to the webcam and the notary can verify it as a legitimate form of ID.”

How are digital closings different from a traditional close?

Jason: “Redfin customers are tech savvy. They find a house online, set up a tour online, upload their documents and apply for a loan with Redfin Mortgage online. And then they’re hit with, ‘sign hundreds of pieces of paper,’ and suddenly this process isn’t digital anymore, but rather, extremely manual and old school. The digital close brings the closing process in line with the entire Redfin experience.”

Who should close a home online?

Jason: “Everyone who lives in a state where it’s available! Our customers can now sit in the moving truck, sign online, get the keys, and walk right in. Investors can buy a property in a different state. We had one investor in California buy a property in Texas without coming to Texas because he signed digitally. It’s especially convenient for people who need to travel on closing day, or are in professions that can’t take off of work, like a nurse at a hospital. We also had a couple with a newborn that didn’t want to take the baby to an attorney’s office. Really, there’s no good argument not to do it.”

Angela: “For another set of buyers on a cash deal, the husband closed in Indonesia while his wife did it in Monaco, and they purchased a house in Virginia. There are so many conveniences to not having to leave your home or workplace.”

Where are eClosings available?

Angela: “If you use both Redfin Mortgage and Title Forward, eClosings are available in Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, Tennessee, Illinois and Washington, DC.”

Jason: “If it’s a cash purchase, Angela and the Title Forward team can do it where they operate. In addition to the above, that includes Colorado, Georgia, Wisconsin, South Jersey, Orlando, Tampa, and South Florida. Further, Redfin Mortgage is also available in Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado and Georgia.”

How much time does an eClosing take to complete?

Jason: “A digital closing usually takes about 45 minutes, compared to around 2 hours for a typical paper closing. You don’t have to take time off work or hire a babysitter or travel a long distance to get it done.”

Are there extra fees associated with closing a home online?

Jason: “With Redfin Mortgage and Title Forward, there is no additional charge for this service. It’s free!”

What’s next for fully digital home closings?

Jason: “Right now our signing experience has a notary’s face on one panel and your documents in the other. Next, instead of seeing one face, you’ll be able to see multiple. Your real estate agent or mortgage adviser can attend, much like in a traditional closing. We’re also making it possible for two people to sign at the same time from different locations on a non-cash deal.”

If you’re starting the home search, visit Redfin Mortgage to find out what you can afford and get pre-approved for a loan. Once you’ve found your dream home, contact Title Forward to learn more about our title insurance and settlement services.

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