In the last couple of years “portals” or websites that enable end users (i.e. home buyers, etc…) to read, fill out and digitally sign documents have become more popular. Many mortgage companies have been using secure portals for years so borrowers can complete their loan applications and upload their supporting documentation so it’s not exactly a new concept.
About a year ago when I heard NextDeal had created a secure portal for title agents, I was intrigued, but not without reservations. The portal, preDOCS, was created to allow buyers, sellers and borrowers to complete all of our opening package documents online, everything from the Statement of Identity to Payoffs, HOA and wire instructions. Afterwards they can read and sign all of our non-notary documents including our authorizations, disclosures and privacy statement.
I knew some of my colleagues in the industry were skeptical of this technology. I had heard things like, “Homeowners won’t use it” and “Your real estate agents won’t like it because they like to get this information from their clients”.
I decided to take a chance. A pre-closing documentation portal integrated with our title production software (Resware) could shave some serious time off each file and transmitting wire instructions securely without using email was at the top of my to-do list. Quite frankly, I hoped this would work so we never had to try to read a hand-written homeowner intake form again!!
Fast forward to the end of 2018: Having spoken to many of our top customers to explain why we were going to try this technology, they promised to also give it a chance. After several weeks of going through NextDeal’s on boarding process to customize the portal, we launched. Almost immediately, the completed documents started showing up in our files. The first few weeks our return rates started out in the low 50% range and then quickly climbed. For about a year now we have been averaging about 75% document completion within the first week of the file being opened. Superb! The time savings was obvious.
Our agents loved it. When they realized they no longer had to handle social security numbers, bank accounts and other highly sensitive information they were relieved. What was too coincidental, as we were getting started, was another title agent and their realtor-customer’s emails were hacked which sadly resulted in a large loss. Using the preDOCS system safeguards everyone in the transaction (and recently NextDeal announced a $500,000 cyber policy, per transaction, to further protect us.)
The bottom-line is we are saving over an hour per file and I almost never have to decipher homeowner handwriting!