Today, I’m pleased to announce our latest innovation for real estate closings: Qualia RON. An eClosing product that makes it possible to close on a home how and where you want.
This product is the industry’s first and only remote online notarization (RON) solution built directly into a title & escrow system of record. This is a significant milestone for our users, their clients and our team here at Qualia— it marks a major step toward a true end-to-end, modern real estate closing experience.
Qualia RON is the culmination of months of research, interviews, and other incremental feature releases that we introduced in response to unprecedented events during Q2 2020. The pandemic catalyzed significant industry change. It made remote work solutions a necessity, infrastructure to support stakeholder collaboration a must, and solutions to meet consumer demand for digital eClosing options a fundamental requirement for real estate businesses.
Remote work demonstrated the necessity of cloud-based technology
In response to COVID-19, businesses of all types shifted to some form of remote operations overnight. Many businesses across industry verticals struggled from an operational and coordination perspective; meanwhile, title & escrow professionals on Qualia’s platform transitioned to in-home offices without any interruption to their workflows. They seamlessly accessed their files and managed communication with their partners and clients remotely through our cloud-based tools.
Our recent survey data indicates that remote work is likely here to stay in some capacity. Cloud-based systems are a must-have for partially remote or fully distributed teams. In addition to powering remote operations, the shift to the cloud will also ultimately enable the entire ecosystem to work together. This may be what excites me most about the future of real estate.
Industry collaboration is more important than ever
The pandemic made clear how crucial collaboration is for real estate businesses. This coordination took place both online and offline. Mortgage lenders, title & escrow businesses, and underwriters worked closely together to coordinate on fast-moving legislative changes and GSE guideline modifications. The importance of cross-business collaboration during the pandemic highlighted the value of what we have been building at Qualia: a single system of record to streamline stakeholder coordination.
We built on this foundation in Q2 and developed some of the fastest-moving feature releases in the history of Qualia. In response to the needs of our users, our engineering and product teams rolled out a video chat feature within Qualia Connect to enable secure face-to-face communication between transaction members including mortgage lenders, real estate agents, buyers, and sellers. We also developed real-time, in-app county closure notifications to help title & escrow agents adjust quickly to changing closure statuses. These features ultimately ensured real estate operations could continue efficiently so that purchases and refinances could take place securely during the pandemic.
Refinances drove the market, spotlighting the need for immediate contactless closing solutions
In Q2, the low interest rate environment continued far longer than what industry analysts expected at the beginning of the year. The pandemic and economic shutdowns encouraged federal entities to push interest rates lower, sparking even higher demand for refinances. In Q2, refinance volume accounted for 56% of total volume funded in the quarter (compared to just 21% in Q2 2019).
Real estate professionals were undoubtedly essential service providers during the record-level refinance spike. They took on a newfound responsibility to protect signers through safe closing options that limited physical contact. The influx of refinances and the concern for the safety of all transaction participants created urgent demand for contactless signing options.
Our team again acted quickly to develop solutions. Across the country, local executive orders were allowing for remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) which enabled homebuyers to wet-ink sign physical documents from the safety of home over video chat. We launched Qualia Connect Video Chat to enable title & escrow agents to deliver RIN while maintaining superior security standards.
COVID-19 pushed remote transactions from nice-to-have to a necessity
While RIN enables contactless closings in the immediate term, it is not a long term solution. Fully-digital closings through remote online notarization (RON) are now not just a nice-to-have but a necessity to meet consumer demand.
Over the past several years, adoption of remote online notarization (RON) has been slow. This was not surprising, as there were many barriers hampering real estate professionals’ ability to evolve. Mortgage lenders faced resistance from GSEs and others on the secondary mortgage market to accept RON. More broadly, regulators were slow to propose or pass RON legislation.
COVID-19 and the need for social distancing turned RON from a slow march to a full on sprint. Consumers demanded safer transaction experiences leading to the broader acceleration of digital payments across all sectors. Real estate was no exception. Consumers were no longer backseat passengers accepting a signing experience that hadn’t changed in generations. They were now in the driver seat demanding digital, contactless closing options.
Industry regulators, local legislators, county recording offices, underwriters, and GSEs all responded at record-speed to allow RON and RIN. Qualia responded as well to develop our RIN solution and today our RON solution.
Our latest innovation: Qualia RON
Qualia RON marks the first and only remote online notarization solution built directly within a title & escrow system of record. This means that title & escrow agents will not need a separate point solution to complete a RON transaction. All documents, e-signing capabilities, communications, and remote notarization systems are built into a single system.
Qualia RON is also the first solution built to enable the end-to-end, modern purchase experience homebuyers expect. The digital closing room experience is simple for anyone to use, regardless of their technology know-how.
I highly encourage you to explore Qualia RON and its expert design by visiting the product page here and to request a demonstration with one of our product experts.
The road ahead
Qualia RON is a crucial component of the real estate purchase experience of the future. Title & escrow agents can directly and securely manage the digital signing experience for clients throughout the closing process. Meanwhile, the consumer can experience a completely digital, stress-free and transparent closing from the comfort of their own home.
All of the pieces are now in place for a completely digital home purchase. The seismic shifts that took place in the first half of 2020 will fundamentally change the closing experience. We look forward to helping real estate professionals deliver an Amazon-like purchase experience that makes buying a home a stress-free process worth remembering.