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WEBINAR

3 Proven eClosing Strategies for 2024

Mortgage industry trailblazers share eClosing insights you can’t afford to miss, including:

  • 3 eClosing strategies, backed by STRATMOR Group research
  • How PRMI & Elevations Credit Union leveraged these strategies to outpace the competition
  • Plus, a candid Q&A session with industry experts
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WEBINAR

3 Proven eClosing Strategies for 2024

Calendar  June 5, 2024    Time 11:00AM PT / 2:00PM ET

Join mortgage industry trailblazers as they share eClosing insights you can’t afford to miss.

Grab a coffee and come prepared to learn:

  • 3 eClosing strategies, backed by STRATMOR Group research
  • How PRMI & Elevations Credit Union leveraged these strategies to outpace the competition
  • Plus, a candid Q&A session with industry experts
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Webinar Overview

New industry research reveals that certain mortgage lenders outpace the rest. How do these mortgage lenders outperform the competition in efficiency, cost reduction, and loan production speed?

Hear fellow mortgage executives from PRMI, Elevations Credit Union, and Snapdocs discuss:

  • 3 eClosing strategies to utilize in 2024, backed by STRATMOR Group research
  • How PRMI & Elevations Credit Union leveraged these strategies to outpace the competition
  • A candid Q&A session answering the burning questions you have about eClosing

Speakers

alyssanorth

Alyssa North

Senior Vice President of Operations, PRMI

Chelsea Nelson - VP Mortgage Operations - Elevations Credit Union | LinkedIn

Chelsea Nelson

VP of Mortgage Operations, Elevations Credit Union 

Profile photo for Alex Smith

Alex Smith

Sr. Director Customer Success, Snapdocs

Read the full webinar transcript:

Alex Smith

Let's get into it. We have a highly requested Lender Coffee Chat on the 3 Proven eClosing Strategies Lenders are Using in 2024. We're fortunate to have some exceptional mortgage leaders as our guest panelists today and we're excited for them to share their eClose experience and recommendations with you directly. So, first off, let's do a round of introductions. 

My name is Alex Smith. I'm a senior director of customer success here at Snapdocs. Our customer success team partners with lenders, title settlement, notaries, investors, and the secondary market to really help achieve your eClose goals. And as mentioned, I'm joined by two exceptional guest panelists today, Alyssa North and Chelsea Nelson. Alyssa, I'll pass the mic to you first.

 

Alyssa North

Thanks, Alex. My name is Alyssa North. I'm the SVP of Operations at Primary Residential Mortgage. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

 

Chelsea Nelson

Hi, everybody. My name is Chelsea Nelson. I'm the VP of Mortgage Operations here at Elevations Credit Union.

 

Alex Smith

Wonderful. Appreciate you both being with us today. Today we're going to give a quick overview of a recent STRATMOR Group study that compared the loan production speed for about 150 lenders that they surveyed. Then Chelsea and Alyssa will take us through some of their eClosing journeys and discuss three strategies that they utilized to ensure eClosing success at both Elevations and PRMI. And as I said, we'll save as much time as we can at the end for live Q&A. 

 

Research Overview: Loan Production Timelines of 150+ Mortgage Lenders

 

Alex Smith

To set the stage a little bit, we recently hosted a webinar on lender research conducted by the STRATMOR Group. That research surveyed about 150 lenders and analyzed the number of days it took for a loan to get from application stage to shipping or delivery to the secondary market or investor. The study found that the average lender spends more than 70 days on each loan, whereas Snapdocs lenders were more than 18 days faster than peers in the study, reporting an average of 52 days. During that webinar, we received a ton of questions on how Snapdocs customers are being so efficient where many of their peers are not.

So we decided to host another coffee chat and share some additional insights from other participants within that STRATMOR study, specifically Elevations and PRMI. The goal today is to give you a chance to hear their stories and to answer your questions in real time, and hopefully give you some perspective on how you might be able to operationalize some of these efficiencies as you work them into your own business.

Before we jump into pre-submitted questions, I wanted to get a little bit of background on both organizations. So Chelsea, I think I'll start with you. Can you give us a little bit of background on your decision to go digital and what the biggest learnings or benefits have been so far in your eClosing journey?

 

Lender Spotlight: Elevations Credit Union 

 

Chelsea Nelson

Yes, thank you. We made the decision to go to the digital experience back in 2019. We went live in 2020. We made the decision because we wanted to be ahead of the market. We knew that the market was headed in that direction and we wanted to be at the forefront of that. In addition to just being a standout in the market, we wanted to make our members' experience of closing easier.

This not only resulted in easier closings for our members, but it also had natural benefits for our title partners. The things that we learned and the benefits so far were faster closing times, less errors at the table, proactively answering members' closing questions because they had an opportunity to review their loan documents. That helped mitigate errors because they would reach out to us and tell us if we had something wrong, so it's not at the table.

To make sure that we would get the highest percentage of hybrids, or hybrids with eNote that we could, we set up our operating systems to start any eligible loan as a hybrid or hybrid + eNote. That way the sales team would have to opt out as opposed to opt in. We know when you have to opt out, you'll tend to get more questions as to why you're opting out.

Then after adoption, we continually reached out to the sales teams that were opting out and asked them why, what was the apprehension? Why aren't they leaning into the hybrid or hybrid + eNotes? Because it created such a different member experience. Some of the pushback that we got was "it's new." We understand that, so we asked them to lean in. We wanted to make sure that we were thoughtful about how we rolled this out.

We did that by having - since we only lend in Colorado - we had one closer as the champion of it for all the sales teams and then continued to provide that source as a people and tactical resource as well. So those members had a better experience from the voice of our sales team. From there, we were able to exponentially increase our hybrid rate within about six months. At this point, we send 100% of our closings via Snapdocs. We have a very small borrower opt-out rate because we set the proper expectation with them through our sales team.

 

Alex Smith

That's awesome, Chelsea. And then you said you're doing wet, hybrid with eNote and then you're doing fully eClosed or remote online notarization, correct?

 

Chelsea Nelson

We do, yes. We waited for Colorado to establish a temporary RON. So we didn't roll out RON at that time. When it became a more permanent status, then we rolled that out. Again, very thoughtfully and cognizant of the additional steps a RON would take. We armed our sales team to precheck those questions to make sure that our members were not only prepared, but also technology savvy enough and had the right resources to effectively close on RON.

 

Alex Smith

That's wonderful. Your results are exceptional. Congratulations. 

 

Lender Spotlight: PRMI

 

Alex Smith

Let's move on to Alyssa. Can you talk to us a little bit about PRMI and your eClose journey and your decision to go digital?

 

Alyssa North

Sure. It's pretty similar to Chelsea's. We went digital in 2018. The initial provider that we had, we were with them for two years and really wanted to scale, which inevitably led us to move to Snapdocs. But again, just like Chelsea, we wanted to be ahead of the curve and knew that the market was headed more towards digital closings.

And again, just like Chelsea, we defaulted our system to force loans down the most “e” path they could be based off of different parameters and qualifications within the loan, and left it up to the borrower or settlement agent to opt out if they chose. That's how we have achieved our higher adoption as seen on the slide - seven times higher than the industry average.

So we're pretty proud of that. We are just now over about 4,200 transactions that have gone through our vault and we run all of our loans through the Snapdocs process. We do have some that unfortunately are still wet just because of housing authorities and things like that. We lend everywhere with the exception of New York. So we do follow the legislation and changes closely.

But unfortunately, we have some transactions that can't be hybrid, but again, everything that can goes through the Snapdocs process and there are just so many different benefits. I know we'll talk about some of these later. But again, just to echo Chelsea, faster delivery, noticing defects and things a lot sooner within the transaction, not when the closing docs come back in-house.

It definitely helps with reputation, right? Nobody likes to go back to the borrower after they closed on their transaction asking for corrections. So the eClosing process virtually eliminates the need for that because it forces the borrower to sign things correctly the first time. So, it's just been a phenomenal transition for us and we're so pleased with our results.

 

Alex Smith

That's wonderful. And then you mentioned some pushback from housing authorities.

Are you seeing them becoming more receptive to hybrids and hybrids with eNotes over the past year?

 

Alyssa North

We have definitely seen progress. There are a few that are on board that we are now working with and doing eNotes with. We definitely are the squeaky wheel - every chance I get, I ask our investor partners. I usually do a monthly or quarterly check-in with the majority of the partners that we sell loans to. And that's generally one of the first things I ask them: how are you coming on your eJourney and where is that on the roadmap? So the more industry pressure and noise we can make, I think the more likely they are to make that transition.

 

Three eClosing Strategies for 2024

 

Alex Smith

Absolutely. That's awesome. Thank you for sharing. Let's talk a little bit about the strategies that both PRMI and Elevations are utilizing to really build out eClose at scale. I want to talk through strategy number one. And this really comes from the STRATMOR data - that there is a significant difference in the success that lenders who partner with Snapdocs have versus those who may have another partner out in the market.

So I would love to get a better understanding from both you Chelsea and you Alyssa on how you delivered such great outcomes. And it sounds like the first thing to do is select the right eClose provider. So Alyssa, I may tee that up to you first. What was your process in selecting an eClose provider?

 

Alyssa North

Sure. So as I mentioned, we started our eClose journey in 2018 and we didn't know at that point what we didn't know, right? So at that point, we selected a provider that had an integration with our LOS and was cost-efficient. As I mentioned, that partner was great initially to go through the growing pains, but we knew pretty quickly into the partnership that they were not able to help us scale our eClosings.

So when it was time to find a new partner, we created an RFP, sent that out to potential partners and really prioritized what our needs and must-haves were for a potential partner. They were scored based off their responses which allowed us to condense down the list and then just demo everyone that made the cut. But I will say, I think the most important thing - because this is such a relationship business - was to get to know the company and the team that would be supporting you and make sure that they align with your own organization's objectives, goals and values. And that's really what we found with Snapdocs.

I think the differentiator between you and several other vendors was that white glove service that you would offer. One of our challenges with our first partner was settlement adoption and we just could not break down that barrier and we didn't have the bandwidth internally to really train them on the system and get them accustomed to it. So a lot of our transactions were actually papered out. Whereas when we moved to Snapdocs, we just sent you guys a list of our 8,000 plus settlement agents that we partner with and you could tell us how many were already accustomed and used to the Snapdocs eClosing platform. And we had a fairly high percentage. I want to say it was 87% - don't quote me on that, but it was very high. So that gave me a lot of confidence that we were partnering with the right firm.

And even if we ran into somebody that wasn't familiar with your system, you guys took that on yourself and would help us get them trained. So I really look at you guys more as an extension of the PRMI team, not just a vendor. So in my opinion, that was the differentiator and really important in what I applied when making the decision.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. And how about for you Chelsea? Given that the member experience is so paramount to the credit union? How did the evaluation process look on your side?

 

Chelsea Nelson

It was similar. We had not been with a vendor previous to Snapdocs, although we did vet other ones and have entertained conversations. One of the key factors that I felt aligned with Alyssa on is: one, is this a partner? Do you and your cultures align? Do you feel like they can be an extension of you? We had a similar experience when it came to title partners. If we had pushback for a reason, we had Snapdocs - they're willing to reach out, train, provide resources. I provided resources for our sales team. Snapdocs was amenable to the fact that I had some suggestions and questions and branding requests so that we could get that information out for our sales partners to help the members.

As we are member-centric, we want to make sure their experience is great. That was the other piece that really stood out to us from other vendors - the fact that we as the lender or financial institution were in control of when our members got the documents. So with other vendors, when you're sending out your loan documents, they have to hit the title company first and then you're beholden to that title company's timeframe. My background in title lends itself to knowing that a lot of times those title companies have a jam-packed day and those documents are being sent out in mass quantities at the end of the day.

Whereas when the lender has control of the documents, they can send them out as soon as they're ready and they're prepared to field those questions via phone calls or via the Snapdocs chat as the members come back in. That also allows us to understand when the eSign portal opens up to the members. They can review the documents, then it opens up based off of the early sign date we set, and then that's when you have that additional opportunity. And you're not guessing: when am I going to get those questions? Am I going to have enough time to not only answer questions specific to the loan, but what if we did find a mistake? And if we're waiting on a third party - as great as our title partners may be - being beholden to their timeframe is not necessarily an ideal situation. And so that was one of the biggest factors for us as a partner.

 

Alyssa North

Awesome. And to add to that, sorry, Alex, let me just add one more thing. Also with Snapdocs, if there is any issue or question at closing, the borrower can actually reach directly out to Snapdocs, which is incredibly helpful for us. So it doesn't take any of our employees offline to solve the issue. With our prior vendor, we became the liaison because we didn't have access directly into their system if something went wrong.

So that delayed closing. The fact that our borrowers can reach directly out to the Snapdocs team is incredibly helpful. And then we've always had a standing call with our Snapdocs team as well to review reports and reconcile where we are and brainstorm ideas of how to increase and really scale success, which is something that we didn't have with our prior vendor either.

 

Alex Smith

That's incredibly helpful context. Then maybe a follow-up question for both of you: we often hear apprehension that some lenders are uncomfortable with borrowers reaching out directly to sales staff if they're trying to discuss an issue. How have you guys managed that internally? Has that proven to be a challenge at all?

 

Alyssa North

It has not been an issue for us at all.

 

Chelsea Nelson

Both our closers would reach out to the Snapdocs support staff. Our sales team wouldn't necessarily reach out directly. They would utilize the closers since we have such a valid connection. But outside of normal business hours, the speed at which the response was there and then the clarity of the response was on point.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. I appreciate that. Well, I think that's a good segue. We had a couple of pre-submitted questions that I think tie nicely into your growth strategy number one. And I think the first question - this is probably more for you, Alyssa - what is the most common issue that comes up when you're switching eClosing providers?

 

Alyssa North

Well, honestly, it was fairly easy. I think I would say the biggest challenge that we ran into was ensuring that everything was transferred from our prior eVault to the new eVault. And honestly, the challenge that we ran into was our prior vendor not offering a ton of support in getting that done. So really the transition to Snapdocs was easy. It was just getting the help from the prior vendor. And I mean, really that resulted in us receiving a double invoice honestly because the prior provider didn't get everything moved out as timely as we had expected and per our contract.

 

So I would just caution anybody that is anticipating moving or looking at moving that you really go back and read your contract and make sure that you're holding the prior vendor accountable to that because that is the biggest challenge that we ran into.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. I think it's often a maybe misconception that once you've selected an eVault, you're married to that eVault forever. So you're a perfect example of having the flexibility, as your business adjusts and changes, to move to another provider. 

Awesome. Another pre-submitted question here. So how do you ensure compliance with various state and federal regulations related to eClosings? Chelsea, maybe I'll start with you.

 

Chelsea Nelson

Yes, wonderful. Thank you. So we exclusively lend in the state of Colorado. From a regulations and compliance standpoint, eClosing was already permitted, or at least hybrid eClosing was permitted. Then during COVID, RON (Remote Online Notarization) was temporarily allowed. We did not proceed at that time because we didn't want to have to go back if necessary.

However, as soon as it became permanently approved by the state, we moved forward quickly. We had already done all of the legal due diligence on our end as the financial institution, making sure that we were comfortable moving to full RON and complete digital closing. That way, as soon as the regulation passed, we were ready to proceed.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. And then Alyssa, how about for you, given the added complexity of lending in 40-plus states and working with housing authorities? How do you navigate state and federal regulations, as well as investor requirements?

 

Alyssa North

Yes, so we built logic and hard stops within our LOS that will take all the parameters of the loan and determine which direction the loan has to go. So again, we force loans to be as digital as possible based on the states and the parameters of the loan. But surprisingly enough, we do not have a lot of traction on RON.

We don't get many requests for it. We've done a handful of them. That is something that we're working to launch on a larger scale, which will be a little bit more difficult to ensure we're in compliance. But again, we manage everything with business rules and hard stops within our LOS.

 

Alex Smith

That makes sense. I think in a purchase environment, navigating RON or a full eClose has a little more complexity because the seller is involved in choosing, whereas for refinance or home equity, the lenders have more control. So that gives you a bit more flexibility in controlling the end experience for the borrower and the member. 

Again, as a reminder, please keep submitting questions our way. You'll see the question and answer box - click "Ask a Question" at the bottom right-hand corner. Let's jump to strategy number two. So, making eClosing a part of your company culture - both Alyssa and Chelsea, you've stated that eClose is the standard for your business. And you've taken an opt-out approach where all loans are opted into a version of eClosing. Chelsea, maybe you want to kick us off here. How did you prepare your company and organization for that switch?

 

Chelsea Nelson

I think the biggest piece, as you have outlined here on the slide, is to give the "why" as opposed to just saying "we're making this change." Start with why you're making this change. Why do we want to do it as an organization? What benefits is it going to give us as an organization? What benefits is it going to give your sales partners, the loan officers, as well as arming them with information to explain the "why" to their referral partners such as real estate agents, and for the member.

At the end of the day, being a credit union, we're member-centric, and this provides an easier, more efficient way to close. It's more accurate for them to get their documents. So starting with the fact that the end result - the member - is going to benefit from it helps mitigate some of the pushback that you're going to get and enables those "whys."

When you get pushback from the loan officers of "why would I want to do this, it takes away face time with the member," then you need to explain why they would want to use that time to sell to them, cross-sell them, or talk to them more about future transactions and if they have any people they can refer you to. Same thing with your real estate agents - make them understand why, as an organization, you can stand out in the market.

You have the metrics to talk about. It's faster to eClose, with shorter turnaround times. When your members are getting to the closing table, they're not preparing as they were previously for two hours out of their day. When we talk through a purchase transaction, that's one of the most stressful things that our members are going to go through, and we can mitigate some of that stress through time. The gift of time is so impactful for some of these people.

So that gift of time allows the two-hour closing to be pared down to about a 20-minute closing - that speaks volumes. So start with that "why," and then arming your sales partners with information, training, and resources so they feel comfortable and confident to direct those members through the portal. That only enhances the ability to increase the hybrid flow.

 

Alex Smith

And I think the second part of this question is really around finding the right champions internally. Alyssa, how do you navigate that throughout your organization?

 

Alyssa North

Yes, change management is probably the hardest thing to work through when you're launching anything new. So we took a phased approach. I identified one of our larger divisions to launch first and really have them become the champions because I felt the rest of our divisions and branch partners would fall in line once I had a proof of concept and could show them data of how much improvement the first division I launched had seen with regard to closing times, borrower satisfaction, and decreased requests back to the borrower for corrections, things like that.

 

So they really became my unpaid sales force and got the rest of the company excited. We just marketed that to our branch partners across the country as often as we could and showcased their success.

 

Alex Smith

All that change is always so tough, and having your biggest vocal champions internally help carry the flag and get others on board just leads to much better success and faster success at the end of the day. That's awesome.

Chelsea, anything else to add as far as champion engagement on your side?

 

Chelsea Nelson

We did very similar to what Alyssa described - we championed with one closer then extended that out. But for the sales team, when we launched, we initially launched with just the signing options of wet. So that's the preview options - we still sent via Snapdocs, and there was no actual signing of the document, as well as your hybrid option and partial wet-sign.

When we entered into the world of eNotes, again, it was scary. It was also very scary to understand, and we were educated by Snapdocs that your eNotes are the document, right? It's a digital signatory document. So what we utilized was we had an employee who was going to have their loan closed, and we asked, "Can you be our guinea pig?"

They understood the “why” and the direction that the organization was going, and they were so happy to help. We were able to get very candid, real-time feedback - this makes sense, this was ambiguous, this was hard, this was cool - and then be able to utilize that information and expand exponentially very quickly.

 

Alex Smith

That's great. Awesome. Well, I think that's a perfect segueway. We had another question from the audience. So how have eClosings impacted the borrower/member engagement? Chelsea, let's start with you. It sounds like you guys are measuring member satisfaction throughout the process.

 

Chelsea Nelson

We are. So we utilize NPS (Net Promoter Score) and we send it out on an ongoing basis. When members get a mortgage with us, they have the survey sent out. It is a survey specific to their mortgage, but covers the entire mortgage process. So in those surveys, we'll get feedback on all different aspects. The closing piece stands out, and we've had members talk about how easy it was, how quick it was, how it was nice that they could do the first part of it at home and then go to the title company for the rest.

We also celebrate those surveys and get those out as well to re-engage and just reiterate to our organization that this move we made is working and impacting members in a positive way. We don't just have that over metrics - we have it in words, and those words come directly from the members.

 

Alex Smith

It's such a value-add at the end of the day when you go from an hour or two to 15 minutes. If you have the opportunity to preview and electronically sign documents in advance, it's a much smaller package at the closing table. Alyssa, how about you? Anything you guys are doing to gauge borrower satisfaction when it comes to eClosing?

 

Alyssa North

Yes, we also send out NPS surveys, though nothing specific to the eClosing experience per se. So a lot of the feedback that I have is more anecdotal. But I will share that when we launched with Snapdocs, we had our first discovery meeting here at our corporate office in Salt Lake. I invited our closers to that meeting, and I had one closer speak up and say that she had recently closed on her own transaction, her own personal transaction, through Snapdocs, and it was the easiest, fastest, best closing experience she had ever had. So that just gave me more validation that I made the right decision.

 

Alex Smith

That's amazing. Let's go to strategy number three here, and it revolves around utilizing AI and automation to really increase your efficiency throughout the process, eliminate as many manual tasks as possible, and then really reduce or drastically reduce the post-closing time.

Alyssa, I'd like to hear from you first. How are you utilizing the Snapdocs platform and AI within your business to streamline your overall process and reduce errors?

 

Alyssa North

Yes. One of the best things about the Snapdocs platform is that the loan docs come directly into Encompass - they're automatically indexed. Where I had previously leveraged an outsource company to do all of that post-closing indexing for me, I was able to reduce headcount there, saving me a little bit of money every month. 

And then we also utilize the CQC (Closing Quality Control) process, which does a cursory review of the closing documents and will call out to my post-closing team if something is missing. So it drastically decreases the amount of time they have to spend preparing a package for shipment to the investor and makes it a lot easier for them to identify those missing documents or any errors that need to be remedied before shipping. I have decreased headcount there by eight people. So that's a pretty significant savings in headcount and time for my existing staff.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. And so you're catching those errors prior to shipping to the investors, is that what you're saying?

 

Alyssa North

Exactly, yes. So it makes for a faster sale as well. And then a benefit to that is better pricing that our investors give us, which in turn, we can pass back to our partners. So there are just so many benefits: decreased warehouse line time, better pricing, fewer errors, less reputational risk (again, going back to borrowers asking for corrections), and then of course, the reduction in headcount that I was able to achieve in my post-closing team just because of the automation within the Snapdocs process.

 

Alex Smith

That's terrific. Chelsea, anything to add there on how you're utilizing AI within your business?

 

Chelsea Nelson

The automation of the scan backs that I have is undeniable. I mean, the amount of time saved, especially during high volume periods - and it might sound a little comical, but literally having a person standing at your fax and just sitting there scanning documents back in is time not well spent, as well as being hard on machinery. So that piece alone is probably one of the biggest lifts that we've got, and we were able to reduce that as well based on that automation.

 

Alex Smith

Wonderful. Maybe let's go through one more pre-submitted question. I think it ties in here nicely. And I think Alyssa and Chelsea, you both touched on this. It sounds like you've been able to decrease or reallocate resources throughout the business. You're getting better pricing on the secondary market. Anything else that you guys are seeing throughout the process? Maybe mitigation of reputational risk, anything like that?

 

Alyssa North

It definitely mitigates reputational risk again without having to go back to the borrower for corrections. And it also improves your relationships with your investors. We're also being highlighted in a study by Freddie Mac just because of our eNote adoption and the success we're seeing there. And again, with better pricing going back to our partners, I could go on and on about the benefits of eClosing and the ROI is endless. 

Just again, the warehouse interest - if you utilize that (Chelsea, of course, doesn't as a credit union) - but that's usually important as well because the longer our loans dwell on the warehouse line, the more we're paying obviously, and it makes us look better to our warehouse lines if we have to ask for an increase during high volume times. Again, not going back to the borrower - I mean, the benefits are endless. I could go on and on.

 

Chelsea Nelson

I would echo that. I mean, you mentioned the ability to reallocate staff. And so we went through repurposing staff to better utilize that functionality, as well as the efficiencies that are created from scan-backs. The fact that you're digital, whether you're doing hybrid or full eClose, that in itself creates efficiency. To connect this, here at Elevations we went from boarding our loans in 7 to 10 days from funding to now down to 2 to 3 days.

It allows our members to look in and see their mortgage online in our digital platforms sooner and faster. That allows us to sell them faster. The ability to utilize eNotes to deliver to the investors is faster, then you get better pricing in the secondary market. So the return on investment has so many different facets, and in secondary marketing, we've seen profits increase exponentially, as well as really realizing staff efficiencies in the company versus items that are not necessary as we move to the digital closing platform.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. And then Chelsea, are you utilizing Snapdocs throughout the business for both mortgage and consumer lending? So, is it the same experience for the member for both purchase and home equity?

 

Chelsea Nelson

We'll be moving to that very shortly. We have not previously, but as we have moved our home equity products to our own operating system for Encompass, all things Encompass are all things Snapdocs. So anything that we're sending out of Encompass will be going through Snapdocs. We're really excited about this organizational shift so that we can utilize, again, shorter closing times, less time that members are sitting at the table. So yes, we will be doing that.

 

Q&A 

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. Well, great to hear. I think that's a good segue into some live Q&A. Let's go with the first one here. Is there a predictable timeframe when remote online notarization, commonly referred to as RON, will be utilized throughout the mortgage industry? Chelsea, let's go to you first. What's your perspective on RON?

 

Chelsea Nelson

It's hard to determine when it would be widely accepted. With my background in title, I know digital closings were always very, very scary. Again, I've been here a decade, but I did title for over a decade as well. And so 10 years ago, it was still widely unaccepted. We need more visibility, and let's have a great call to action. The more we have in the forces of bringing this to our partners, bringing this to the investors that we're moving forward with, asking "Is this acceptable?" is the biggest proponent of what's going to move the needle faster. But I do foresee the exponential RON provision out in the market probably within the next handful of years.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. And then you touched on it a little bit. It sounds like you guys aren't seeing demand maybe at the branch level or from borrowers today. Is that pretty accurate?

 

Alyssa North

It is, yes. But I mean, it's still something that we want to offer and again, we're still making sure our voice is heard and letting every investor know that that is something that we'd like to offer. So, again, just more industry requests and needs for it. I think people will fall in line.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. Let's look at another one here. So it looks like a question around the quality control feature. Alyssa, I know you're utilizing what we call Closing Quality Control within the Snapdocs platform. How's that working for your business today? What's the timeframe look like from signature to shipping?

 

Alyssa North

Our turnaround for shipping is same day in some cases. It could be a couple of days just because of how our capital markets process is set up and we offer PMI products. So the loan has to be back-reviewed, ready for shipping, and then it goes to our capital markets team to be allocated to the best execution investor. That skews my timeframe a little bit. If the investor had already been determined, we would probably be shipping loans the same day the docs hit our system.

But the Snapdocs CQC (Closing Quality Control) process is amazing. It cuts my reviewer's time down by about 30 minutes. It was taking them anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes to review a file, just because of how thorough the review is that I require before it goes out. The CQC process will already bring to their attention and call out what is missing from their checklist. 

We have prescriptive bundles within Encompass for documents that are required to be included before shipment. Those tie together and let my shippers or reviewers know what's missing, without them having to open every single loan and look through every document to make sure that it's completed and signed accurately before they ship. So it cut out a significant amount of time. It's incredibly helpful.

 

Alex Smith

And Alyssa, those notifications are triggered to both your internal staff as well as to the title or settlement provider. How has that helped your engagement with title or settlement when they fail to upload something or something's missing, they miss a signature or notary stamp? How has that level of engagement been?

 

Alyssa North

Oh, it's been phenomenal. It cuts down the amount of follow-up that we have to do internally, right? Because they're getting the auto notification directly and then as soon as title provides the document, my internal team is notified so they can jump right back in the file and get it out. And everything is built within a pipeline so they don't have to open the loan to see what's come back. It's been phenomenal.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome, great to hear. We got another question. I love sending the uploads back into Snapdocs, providing that immediate communication back to the notary. Great commentary there! 

Both of you mentioned making eClosing part of your default or opt-out process. It sounds like you haven't gotten much pushback from borrowers and members. Is that fair?

 

Chelsea Nelson

That's fair. Yes, we utilize rules within Encompass that does the same thing. Ours is more heavily on the compliance services product and loan-specific situations as far as what we can do. But if it's hybrid eligible, it starts as that and it has to be opted out if there's a situation where the sales team has a strong opinion that the members would not benefit. So starting with "yes," I think, is key.

 

Alyssa North

And honestly, I think it's what consumers expect or they wouldn't know any different, especially if they're eSigning their initial disclosures. I mean, to them, it's a seamless experience. Why would they expect to wet sign closing documents when they're eSigning everything else? And everyone is living their life at such a fast pace and they just want to get it over with. So for them to be able to log in, preview their documents, eSign what they can, and then maybe stop at the title company or meet with the mobile notary over a cup of coffee to wet sign their notarized docs - or in a RON situation, they can do that from home in their pajamas - it's, I think, what consumers expect. So I don't think that's why we haven't received as much pushback. 

Some of the pushback we receive is from loan officers wanting to attend their own closing, and we just have to inform them they still can, but now they have more time to celebrate them buying a home or giving them whatever gift they brought and getting referrals and talking to them and getting to know them a little bit rather than sitting through 45 minutes of them signing paperwork.

 

Chelsea Nelson

Couldn't agree more.

 

Alex Smith

Yes, that's a great point, Alyssa. And Chelsea, you mentioned real estate agents and how you partnered with them to get them comfortable with a hybrid or fully eClose. What's that experience been like, engaging with realtors?

 

Chelsea Nelson

I will have to give that credit to my sales partners. That was definitely not me talking to the agents, but it was the sales partners. And the same thing Alyssa mentioned happens with the agents. We're having this conversation with the members and saying, "We're going to have this eClose adoption." There were a couple of referral partners that were apprehensive, thinking, "Oh, we're going to talk to them about closing and that's our face time too."

Right. That's their opportunity to get in there and their time to shine, if you will, when they get to come in and be there talking to the borrowers. And so we had our sales team lean very similarly by saying this is a celebratory moment. Let's let that be the focus as opposed to the nitty-gritty of documents and numbers because that should have been all done ahead of time and we have the opportunity to do that ahead of time.

We're already used to, as an industry, doing our figures ahead of time, giving our members or borrowers that bottom line way prior to closing. At least that's the goal. So by the time we get to closing, let's have that be a fun event and not just all about going through documents.

 

Alex Smith

Absolutely. It can be so stressful when you're sitting there waiting, going back and forth between lender and settlement. So that's terrific. 

Couple more questions here. So how would you recommend a company get started with eClosing? So really from hybrid to eNote - say a lender is doing just wet or hybrid closings today. How would you recommend they progress along that lifecycle? Alyssa, maybe I'll start with you first since you've got a little bit more experience, given you've had two rounds of implementing eClosing providers.

 

Alyssa North

Yes, I would say start with a champion internally that knows all the ins and outs and can work directly with your partner to get everything set up. Of course, you have to engage with MERS®, get that approval, identify the partners that you sell to that accept it, and then configure your system to make sure that those are the investors that you sell to.

But really as far as change management and buy-in, like I said, in our shop, we just defaulted to it, didn't really give the option, and it's worked out really well.

 

Chelsea Nelson

Yes, I mean, just to get your champions in the different departments and get their buy-in and then that's your unpaid sales staff - they're the ones that are selling for you. This makes it easier. This makes it faster. And lead with the "why."

 

Alex Smith

Yes, then how do you navigate identifying which of your investors or your aggregators were accepting eNotes? How was that process?

 

Chelsea Nelson

Our secondary market VP has good relationships with all of the secondary market investors that we have. And so it's a consistent, continued conversation every time they meet with them. So Fannie and Freddie, they obviously were adapted to it right away. And very similar to what Alyssa said, we reached out saying, "Okay, what did you do? Why is it working for you? So we can get it to work for other people." Because they obviously are wanting to get those eNotes over. 

But then consistently having those conversations with any investors you have. "Why are you not set up? How can we help you get set up?" We allow ourselves to be a good partner for this and continue the conversation in the forefront. Talk about it early and often.

 

Alyssa North

Yes, we did the same thing and you just ask the question. You'd be surprised when you talk to your account executive at each investor that doesn't allow eNotes yet. And if you let them know that they're missing out on volume because they lack that offering, they're going to do what they can to prioritize that on their roadmap.

So it just always needs to be part of the conversation. Express the importance of eOfferings to your organization. And they'll get to work on it. Albeit slower for some, but still, squeaky wheel, right?

 

Alex Smith

How did you work through MERS® approval? What was that like? So maybe to take a step back. How did Snapdocs guide you through the implementation of the eVault and then your MERS® approval process?

 

Chelsea Nelson

With ours, Snapdocs did most of it. I think you guys did it for us, really. That really wasn't a hurdle for us. I mean, we had been doing MERS®, and then we moved all the way through MERS®, and as we came across questions, Snapdocs was an incredible partner. "Oh, we've got this, we'll handle that, this is information we need, let us do this." So, I feel silly — we didn't do a lot of it.

 

Alyssa North

I think there might have been a small questionnaire or addendum we had to fill out and send to MERS®. But aside from that, like Chelsea said, I think Snapdocs managed the majority of that for us.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. Looks like we have a question here about managing rules within your loan origination system. How did you do that within your loan origination system or Encompass? What was your guide to getting those rules configured? Alyssa, maybe we start with you.

 

Alyssa North

So I just took what each of our investor partners would allow, took that to my business technology team, and once a loan met certain characteristics based off of each investor - so my trigger was once the investor name was updated in Encompass, it would run through that logic and force the Snapdocs closing type to be whatever was eligible for that investor.

 

Chelsea Nelson

Same, and we start the business rules with the investor. Does that investor allow it? If not, then it goes down to a more granular level if the investor allows it with a specific product. And then the final layer that we did was whether it was a trust or power of attorney. Those ones we're still not able to do eNotes on. So although we can utilize hybrids on trusts, we can't do it on eNotes.

 

Alyssa North

Yes, we ruled those out as well in our logic and we've not yet completed our Ginnie Mae approval. So our offering for eNotes is strictly on conventional today.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. And then to clarify for trusts or POAs. Are those done as wet hybrids? How are you managing that internally today?

 

Chelsea Nelson

Our attorneys are exclusively wet for trusts and POAs. Same for us.

 

Alex Smith

Yes, I see other questions. Just looking through the list here. How do you get executive support to move to eClose?

 

Chelsea Nelson

So for us, it was one of our sales managers who wanted to be at the forefront of the market. Then explaining to the executives, this is where the industry is going and if we're one of the first to do it, it's going to stand out. Specifically for us being a credit union, that stands out even more in that space because credit unions are historically known to move a lot more slowly and be nervous about bringing in new digital initiatives. 

And so letting them know that this would make us stand out, this could potentially get us market share and improve the member experience. The executives heard that and were on board almost immediately.

 

Alyssa North

Yes, a similar story for us. Showing the return on investment - it was a no-brainer decision.

 

Alex Smith

Great. Let's look through here. Oh, here's a good one. Are borrowers/members having to log into multiple platforms to facilitate signing through Snapdocs?

 

Chelsea Nelson

Yes, they do. Yes, they have to sign in for our point of sale platform and then for closing. And that's why arming the sales team with all of the resources and information upfront is so crucial because they have to have that conversation up front.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. So you've got the member doing the application within the point of sale, and you're setting the expectation that they'll be receiving a secondary email when it comes to closing. So they'll authenticate and complete the closing there. How about for you, Alyssa?

 

Alyssa North

 

Yes, same similar situation. They log into the point of sale, do the application, and then they receive the email to log in for their closing. But I don't really think they know it's a separate platform and the emails are white-labeled. It looks like it comes from us and they just have to go through the MFA process and it's very easy to log into.

 

Alex Smith

That's great. Have you seen any major pushback from the cost of say a hybrid or an eClose from either borrowers/members or the executive staff? We'll start with you Chelsea.

 

Chelsea Nelson

Not necessarily from the executives. They know the high-level overview. And so, the cost was something definitely discussed. But as far as the hybrid model, members are already signing all of the upfront stuff and it was only a natural progression for the closing to at least have a partial if not total digital experience. 

So with that, there was a little bit of pushback with multiple logins - I'll be very candid about that. And so arming the salespeople with the appropriate information and letting them know that this is going to create efficiencies in closing for you and give you time back in your day. Those were the pushback pieces that we needed to mitigate.

 

Alyssa North

Yes, we don't really get a ton of pushback. I mean, I guess in the environment that we're in, loans are so hard, everyone is fighting for the same loans. Ours are having a harder time getting approved, everything is so expensive. I would say that the minimal cost was a challenge, but we've mitigated that in our organization and don't really get pushback at this point.

 

Alex Smith

Okay. Awesome. Did you get any pushback from say title/escrow/settlement for participating in a hybrid transaction?

 

Chelsea Nelson

Just the opposite. They absolutely love them. From our perspective, it gives them time back in their day. With members reviewing the documents ahead of time, this reduces the amount of data to be adjusted for closing exponentially. So the fact that they can - even with RON, we have to be proactive with our title partners that we haven't done before because they have to do some additional steps to make their documents, the real estate side, to put in there. But once they get used to it, then they experience how easy RON can be. And then with hybrids, we're talking such a minimal package and those few documents to go through. They've been great partners.

 

Alyssa North

Yes, I would agree with Chelsea. That was one of the biggest drivers for us to move to Snapdocs - the percentage of settlement agents that had already partnered with Snapdocs on at least one transaction. And anyone that hadn't partnered with Snapdocs, you guys take on that training and get them comfortable with the system. So, our partners love it.

 

Alex Smith

Awesome. Well, terrific to hear. Thank you both Alyssa and Chelsea. Thank you for all the questions today. We are coming up on our time here. I really appreciate everyone joining.