National real estate brokerage Redfin announced today that it will now allow customers to buy a home and close on it completely online thanks to a new partnership with an online notary startup.
The partnership between the Seattle-headquartered brokerage and Boston-based Notarize will let buyers close on their mortgages when they use Redfin’s title and settlement company, Title Forward, and lending company, Redfin Mortgage. The partnership has already produced two all-digital closings, both in Texas. In a statement Redfin said that it “continues to schedule more digital closings as consumers learn about this option.”
Jason Bateman, head of Redfin Mortgage, told Inman the company anticipates that 10 percent of its November closings will ultimately be all-digital, with that number growing as more customers learn of the option.
“I would expect in the coming months a good portion of our closings to be performed this way,” he said.
The news of all-digital closings comes on the heels of Redfin’s most recent earnings report, where the company slightly exceeded analyst expectations. During a call with investors, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman touted the company’s mortgage and title enterprises, saying that they would play an important role in future expansion.
Kelman indicated that the goal of further building up those sides of the business was to make closing on a home a faster, easier experience.
The partnership with Notarize appears to move the company in that direction by streamlining a process that in the past has required doing reams of in-person paperwork.
“The traditional route is you take off work, you drive across town, you spend three hours sitting in an office,” Bateman said. He added that digital closings eliminate the need for that burdensome, in-person experience.
The service is available to anyone using Redfin Mortgage in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington D.C.
Wednesday’s digital closing announcement follows a long-running effort on the part of Redfin to disrupt the entire homebuying process. Among other things, the company has tried to change the way listings are displayed, launched 1 percent listing fees, and is growing its iBuyer program that offers homeowners all-cash for a quick sale.
In a statement Wednesday, Notarize described itself as the first provider of a “scalable platform for completely digital mortgage closings,” which have grown by 50 percent each month since launching last year. The company has completed a total of “hundreds” of online mortgage closings, it also reported.
“Our closing solution is a natural fit for Redfin because their customers are accustomed to a digital, mobile product,” Patrick Kinsel, founder and CEO of Notarize, explained in a statement. “No longer do customers have to leave work, find a babysitter, coordinate schedules or travel to ‘The Closing.’ Our technology integrates to seamlessly deliver an easy, intuitive experience, so that buyers can get on to moving and unpacking boxes in their new home.”
Bateman added that he believes the service offers an advantage to investors, who might be buying properties in states where they don’t reside, and to those who might be traveling when they need to be closing on a home.
And in every case, he added, a digital closing means a person can “literally be sitting in the moving truck across the street from the new home and sign everything.”