The number of title agents who said they conducted eClosings in 2020 more than doubled from the year before, according to a new survey.
The 11th annual Voice of the Title Agent report, produced by The Title Report, found that 2020 was a profitable year for title agents, in spite of the pandemic. Nine out of 10 said their business improved in 2020, up from 80% who reported that the previous year.
During the pandemic, technology—in particular eClosings—became more essential for title agents to perform their job duties. The percentage who said they are already conducting eClosings went up by more than 114% from last year, while those who said they completed more eClosings in 2020 than in the year prior rose 150%.
One survey respondent said the pandemic will result in a permanent change to the title industry: “There will be a ‘real estate pre-COVID’ and a ‘real estate post-COVID.’ I doubt that the old way of doing business with bricks and mortar will come back. … Remote online closings are becoming much more common.”
About 20% of respondents said they don’t expect to use eClosings at all—down from 25% who said the same last year.
Here’s a sample of their reasons as to why eClosings are a no-go for them:
- Potential fraud: “I do not intend to do eClosings. I feel that they just open the door to liability and claims of fraud.”
- Technology: “I’m set up, but the software is so awful that I stopped.”
- Resistance to change: “I like ink, and I will not lie, and neither does ink! Sorry, been at this for 39 years. I will quit before I do eSigning, especially loan docs, and I will not remote online notary.”
Meanwhile, other agents said that while they’re ready for eClosing, their partners are not. “We are ready and capable, but lenders are not,” one agent said. Another said, “We just need lenders to get there.”
Interestingly, many lenders looking to start the eClosing process have found that a common roadblock is getting their business partners—including title agents—on board.