How to Close on a Home Virtually Without Ever Leaving Yours

Redfin has been investing in digitizing real estate transactions for years, and with social distancing as a requirement in U.S. society right now, the digital revolution is happening faster than ever. We’ve built technology to tour homes via video chat, make online offers, and now buyers and sellers can sign the final paperwork electronically to close the deal.

Close electronically? Tell me more

Electronic signatures have been around for over a decade now, but buyers and sellers still had to show up in person to sign the final documents in front of a notary. Finally, some states are now allowing completely electronic closings, called eClosings. 

Even in states where eClosings are legal, not every lender can do them, but Redfin Mortgage has invested in the technology to support eClosings. eClosings let you skip the handshake, the paper exchange, and the crowded title office, and instead sign all your closing documents online via video-chat with a notary. 

In April 2020, 12% of our planned closings are eClosings, up from just 3% in the first three months of 2020. It’s safer than an in-person closing, given the rapid spread of coronavirus, but it’s also faster and way more convenient. You can complete the final paperwork for your home purchase in an hour or less, about half the time of an in-person closing, from anywhere in the world—or from the comfort of your couch. 

For a true, one-stop, digital real-estate experience, we recommend also using Title Forward*, Redfin’s in-house title company to eClose your transaction.

Not all eClosings are created equal 

There are two types of eClosings, but only one lets you close entirely online:

  • Remote Online Notarization (RON) eClosing: These are fully digital closings. All documents are signed electronically via video-chat with a notary. 
  • Hybrid eClosing: These are partially digital closings. Most documents are reviewed and signed electronically prior to the closing, but you’re still required to sign some in-person with a notary. This is faster than a traditional closing but lacks many of the benefits of a fully digital closing

eClose eligibility depends on your state, county, lender, and title company

Fully digital eClosings are new to the scene and not every state and county has passed legislation that recognizes them as a valid way to close on a home. 

Today 82% of states allow fully digital eClosings: 

  • Statewide availability: 11 states
  • Availability in the majority of counties within a state: 29 states
  • Availability in some counties within a state: 2 states
  • Not yet available: 9 states

If you’re looking at homes for sale in Atlanta, GA, Sacramento, CA, or any other state not highlighted above, check back soon. States are moving quickly amid coronavirus to pass eClose legislation and we’ll continue to update every month as more legislation passes. 

Prepare for your eClosing

To ensure the smoothest possible closing, you should follow our eClosing Day Checklist: 

  • View your documents before the closing, and ask your lender or title agent any questions beforehand
  • Use a device with a webcam, microphone, and speakers
  • Sit near your internet router for a strong wifi connection
  • Sit in a well-lit room because you’ll need to show your ID
  • Bring the required identification—you’ll need your social security number and two government-issued IDs 

My state doesn’t eClose – now what?

Hybrid eClosings are still a good option because they take less time than a traditional in-person closing, and they’re available in every state. Angela Lozano, Head of Title Forward, shared that “due to the spread of coronavirus, we’re sending mobile notaries directly to our customers for closing. Just last week, we completed a closing in someone’s driveway!”

Regardless of where you meet, take every precaution you can:

  • Skip the handshakes
  • Bring your own pen 
  • Keep attendance to a minimum—only signers should attend
  • If you have cold or flu symptoms, let your title company know. They can work with you to schedule a safe closing time and location.

eClosings are here to stay 

Coronavirus has changed the world. For real estate, it’s pushed technology to the forefront and led to safer ways to buy and sell a home. And while we can’t say for sure how long social distancing measures will be the new normal, we know that eClosing is a fast, convenient, and safe way to close the deal on a home, which makes it a great option no matter the circumstances.

*More details on Redfin Mortgage and Title Forward here.

 

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