coronavirus-virtual-real-estate-tour

A mortgage closing traditionally is a time of celebration with a closing attorney, notary, Realtor, buyers and members of the mortgage team in attendance.

Things have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic forced banks to modify the way they conduct business.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve begun referring customers to closing attorneys who offer drive-in services,” said Mark North, mortgage regional sales manager with United Community Bank. “With these services, customers can stay in their cars while the attorney passes documents for signature through the window.”

Drew Miller, SVP director of mortgage for PrimeSouth Bank, said having no face-to-face meetings has been a challenge logistically, and closings are now being done via web cam.

“It hasn’t been too bad, everyone is in the same boat and we all are having to make adjustments. We have great customers that know we have the best intentions for them,” he said. “The receiving and gathering of documents has been a little more time consuming. Everything we do has to be logistically thought through now.”

North said his bank has also been supporting remote closings.

“With this method, attorneys and customers connect via live video conference and review the closing documents together,” he said. “The attorney is able to walk the customer through the documents and answer any questions, then the notary confirms identification and witnesses the signing via video. Any Realtors or loan officers that would traditionally attend an in-person closing are able to watch the live video conference as well.”

They have been able to be successful because the bank’s digital mortgage application allows all customer documents and disclosures to be delivered and signed electronically and securely uploaded. Customers have also been able to continue applying for mortgage loans while maintaining a safe distance, North said.

Borrowers can also opt for a virtual closings via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or other video conferencing systems, he said.

Miller said the number of closings have been steady.

“It’s running a very close parallel to last year’s numbers.,” he said. “We are very fortunate.”

North said his bank is also seeing lots of closings.

“COVID-19 has not materially impacted our ability to originate mortgage loans for new homeowners or existing homeowners who are refinancing,” he said. “In fact, our business is up 127 percent … from 2019. Our purchase mortgage business is up 53 percent from 2019.”

The good news is the banks have been able to modify the way they conduct business during a pandemic in a safe manner that makes everyone comfortable with the process.

“We are thankful that the majority of our staff have been able to successfully work remotely and continue interacting with customers via the telephone, email or our secure web portal,” North said. “And because our digital mortgage application allows all customer documents and disclosures to be delivered and signed electronically and securely uploaded, customers have been able to continue applying for mortgage loans while maintaining a safe distance.”