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The Complete Digital Real Estate Experience: Realogy and Notarize Come Together to Close the Online Transaction Loop

Jul 7, 2018 by

July18_TRG_Cover_300x420Technology is becoming increasingly central to every aspect of our lives, and the buying and selling of homes is no exception. Not long ago, brokers had to convince agents to include photos with their online listings, and communicating with clients using video and text message was unthinkable. However, the proliferation of smartphones and advancements in web-based technology over the past decade dramatically changed how the real estate business is conducted. Real estate agents and consumers are now armed with a device that is a phone, a computer and a camera, right in their very own pockets.

As a result, Realogy Holdings Corp. has been working diligently to digitize the real estate process, seeking to streamline its many moving parts for all those involved in the transaction: buyers, sellers, brokers, agents, lenders, mortgage investors, title companies, government entities, and more.

As the leading and most integrated provider of residential real estate services in the United States, with more than 190,000 affiliated agents, Realogy has impressive access to data and assets that can translate into tools and innovation. Realogy spends more than $ 200 million annually on technology and is laser focused on its strategy to build, partner and buy best-in-class solutions designed to optimize agent recruiting and productivity by providing a more seamless user experience for agents.

“We have always been dedicated to creating exceptional real estate experiences for our customers,” says NRT President and CEO Ryan Gorman. “While we place great value on personal and face-to-face communication with our customers, we want to lead the industry with digital solutions that elevate and simplify the process of buying and selling.”

As Title Resource Group (TRG) Chief Strategy Officer Walter Mullen aptly puts it, “It takes a village to make a real estate transaction come together. From looking at homes with a local agent to securing the mortgage loan to the transfer of legal title, a mound of paper requiring signatures stands between the purchase agreement and the closing of the deal.”

As the real estate transaction forges ahead into the digital age, an increasing number of busy consumers are more empowered thanks to the ability to have required documents not only signed, but now also legally notarized online, as an increasing number of states pass legislation allowing digital remote notarizations.

Ryan_Gorman_PQ_p93In February 2018, the National Association of Secretaries of State adopted nationwide standards for online notarization. In June, Texas became the third state to authorize its commissioned notaries to perform online notarizations for signers from around the world who appear live before the notary on a screen via real-time, two-way audio-video conference software. According to Notarize, the first notary public platform to enable legal online document notarization, eight states have now passed laws allowing online notarizations (at press time), with additional states considering laws this year.

In a move to advance the digital real estate experience for its affiliated sales associates, mortgage and title companies and its customers, TRG’s parent company, Realogy Holdings Corp., has now made an investment in Notarize. The expected addition of digital notarization to Realogy’s suite of offerings will advance the company’s goal of providing agents with a completely digital real estate transaction.

“Notarize technology will allow TRG to better serve the growing number of customers who prefer online digital solutions,” says Don Casey, president and CEO of TRG. “Moving toward a full digital closing has been one of our strategic objectives for some time, and Notarize has helped tackle the legal and technical barriers to help make the digital real estate transaction a reality. Realogy’s investment in Notarize positions us at the forefront of change as the industry takes a step toward making buy-sell transactions, refinancing a home or executing a lease 100-percent digital.”

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(L to R): Nikolaos “Nik” Athanasiou, Chief Operating Officer, Guaranteed Rate Affinity; Don Casey, President & CEO, TRG; Walter Mullen, Chief Strategy Officer, TRG

“We believe that remote notarization will provide a timely and distinct advantage for today’s mobile buyers and sellers and for military stationed abroad,” adds Casey. “The enthusiasm for the technology is company-wide.”

“We expect this online option will provide security and technical flexibility to our customers, who would no longer have to find babysitters or take time off from work to sign before a notary,” says Scott McCall, CEO of Title Resources (TRG’s Underwriter). “We are excited to continue to move toward modernizing the closing process and bringing the chore of signing paperwork into the 21st century.”

“From a title perspective, it’s a great tool for people with daytime conflicts,” Casey explains. “They can come to the virtual closing table long after business hours or even while they are traveling.”

PQ_p94_300pxThe electronic option brings state-of-the-art efficiency to the traditional real estate transaction and helps eliminate potential failure points, explains Gorman.

“It has long been a logistical challenge—and a pain point for buyers and sellers—to have to drop everything, drive to an office and sit before that notary to sign real estate-related documents,” says Gorman. “We are always looking for innovative technologies, such as those offered by Notarize, to make the home-buying and -selling process seamless.”

Realogy mortgage partner Nik Athanasiou, COO of Guaranteed Rate Affinity (GRA), is glad to see the practice gaining momentum.

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(L to R): Adam Pase, Co-Founder & COO, and Patrick Kinsel, Founder & CEO, Notarize

“There is no question that remote notarization puts the customer in the driver’s seat,” he says. “It streamlines the mortgage process, eliminating the need for overnight mail service, fax or hand-carried paperwork—and provides absolute transparency because customers input their own information at the time and place that works best for them.”

Government entities will also benefit in this further digitization and streamlining of the real estate transaction. “Freddie Mac is proud to be one of the early pioneers to accept electronic loan documents,” says Sam Oliver, vice president of Major Project Execution for the Single-Family Business at Freddie Mac. “We’re excited to continue working with Notarize to make 100-percent online e-closings a reality. Their partnership with Realogy and Freddie Mac via Guaranteed Rate Affinity will provide a more convenient, secure and end-to-end solution for borrowers today.”

The rapid acceptance of remote notarization comes as no surprise to Adam Pase, co-founder and COO of Notarize.

PQ_p95_300px“We are taking a historic process into the present,” says Pase. “So much of the real estate transaction has been conducted the same way for decades, but customers are expecting a new experience that empowers them on their terms, anytime, anywhere. Now, Realogy’s companies will have the opportunity to be the vehicle to provide this solution to its customers.”

Founded in 2015, Notarize serves a national audience, empowering notaries in Virginia, Texas and Nevada to serve customers online in all 50 states on a 24/7 basis, with new states expected to come online soon.

“Our goal is to provide our brands and agents with leading-edge technology to help customers overcome last-mile problems,” Gorman adds. To him, Realogy’s investment with Notarize validates the company’s longstanding commitment to industry-leading technology solutions and leveraging these tools at scale.

Realogy has been demonstrating its commitment to far-reaching digital solutions with recent innovations such as ZapLabs, an IT transformation project designed to keep agents and consumers better connected throughout the real estate transaction, and its FWD Innovation Summit, which brings technology start-up companies focused on real estate in front of the company’s decision-makers. The company’s lead management program is also leveraging AI to increase lead quality and conversions.

Just this past February, Cartus, the company’s relocation arm, launched its Leading Edge Analytics Practice (LEAP) platform, using predictive analytics, data science and artificial intelligence to drive improved levels of service.

The program’s interactive timeline, for example, uses advanced analytics and data acquired over millions of moves to help human resource and mobility managers predict and update employees’ relocation journeys as each move progresses.

A 2017 report from the National Association of REALTORS® on real estate in the digital age confirms that while the initial search for property may have begun online, 88 percent of buyers in 2016 worked with an agent to find their home. But as digital devices play a larger role in every phase of daily life, and consumers continue to seek out new ways of doing business, maximizing technology can be a challenge.

It is a challenge Realogy, NRT, TRG, Guaranteed Rate Affinity, Title Resources and Notarize take on with enthusiasm.

As Mullen says, “We are going where the consumer is heading.”

For more information, please visit www.TRGC.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post The Complete Digital Real Estate Experience: Realogy and Notarize Come Together to Close the Online Transaction Loop appeared first on RISMedia.

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Real Estate and Retirement

Jun 20, 2018 by

Little known secret: A retirement plan that works well for agents is the Solo 401(k). You can save up to $ 54,000 ($ 60K for agents over 50) a year and deduct it from your taxes.

The post Real Estate and Retirement appeared first on RISMedia.

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The New ‘Real Estate’ Tech Players: Don’t Trust the Billion-Dollar Valuations

May 23, 2018 by

Realty ONE Group Founder Warns Virtual Real Estate Models Are Nothing More Than ‘Get-Rich-Quick Schemes’

The real estate market is more polluted than crowded. There are a number of respected, well-recognized national and international brands that have been making a positive impact in people’s lives for decades. However, history has a way of repeating itself, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, there are several “get-rich-quick schemes” that are built on an unsustainable and weak operational foundation.

Valuations are often difficult to justify, as the public market dictates the estimated value of a product and service. For instance, how can cloud-based brokerages—for example, eXp Realty, a relatively new real estate organization with some of the lowest production-per-agent stats—be valued as high as $ 1 billion on the stock market while a respected real estate company like RE/MAX traded at a lower market cap this week and is more than 10 times larger, hugely profitable, and has an established brand? Realogy, the giant of the industry, has been profitable, as well. Conversely, some of these newer firms with high valuations have been losing money for years while continuing to dilute their equity to fund operations and their multilevel marketing commitments. More importantly, they motivate agents to recruit other agents to benefit indirectly from earned commissions, which is a dangerous message, as top producers are being distracted from their core business, and clients may suffer along the way.

There are many warning signs that everyone needs to be aware of with these new “tech plays.” I was a former stock broker and computer programmer, who became a top-producing real estate professional, and then created Realty ONE Group in 2005. Tech is sexy, but most times it’s a shiny new toy, unfortunately.

With this new crop of virtual real estate models, speed to market isn’t the only variable. It’s easy to throw something together to create hype, but it’s much more difficult to take the time and diligence to understand your customers (aka real estate agents), create a solid and realistic UVP for their businesses, and build it so that it is scalable, adaptable and fault-tolerant. On average, about 10 – 50 errors occur per 1,000 lines of delivered code, developed with a level of structured programming. Otherwise, the system is not scalable, and not robust for that matter. A virtual real estate company may have millions of code behind it.

Scaling to large adoption takes serious strategy work. Ability to get this far doesn’t prove a team has skills to scale. When cracks start appearing in the model, to what lengths will the leadership reach to protect everyone’s interest in their organization? In a day of real concern around privacy, how much right do technology companies have to access sensitive and private data for “market analysis and product and/or service recommendations?” Will they never sell consumer lists?

Net net, residential real estate is a people and face-to-face relationship business. At most times, it’s an emotional and significant transaction, especially when primary homes are involved. No two transactions are alike when it comes to resales in residential real estate.

Jewgieniew_Kuba_60x60Kuba Jewgieniew is the CEO and founder of Realty ONE Group. To learn more about the services, support and coaching programs Realty ONE Group provides to its growing family, please visit www.realtyONEgroup.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post The New ‘Real Estate’ Tech Players: Don’t Trust the Billion-Dollar Valuations appeared first on RISMedia.

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