What is an e-closing?

An “e-closing” refers to a real estate closing process where the parties to the transaction (e.g., sellers, buyers, brokers, and attorneys) can access closing documents online so that they can be reviewed and electronically signed prior to the actual closing date. And, instead of receiving a huge stack of papers, the parties get copies of pertinent documents on a CD or other media. Electronic closings can make the process easier, faster, and greener.

E-closings (as well as other paperless transactions) are possible for two reasons. First is the acceptance by federal law (under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, or E-SIGN) of electronic signatures in lieu of pen and ink (or wet) signatures. Second, new technology is being offered by several companies that allows for a safe, secure, and password-protected process that prepares, transmits, and stores legally binding documents, such as disclosures, loan instruments, and settlement statements. For example, members of the mortgage finance industry (including Freddie Mac) are implementing this technology because it can save time, money, and trees.

E-closings allow the parties to review documents beforehand, facilitating communication among the parties, and reducing the chance of mistakes or other problems on closing day. Once all of the documents have been approved, the parties affix their signatures through a digital pad or stamp, or other device that automatically encrypts it so that it can’t be altered. Each party signs once, and the captured signature is automatically applied to all the signature blocks (so, no more hand cramps or scribbled signatures). Documents that require a witness and/or notary can also be signed electronically.

If all goes well, the parties may not even need to actually meet on closing day. Deeds and mortgages can be sent electronically to the proper registry for recording. Any disbursements can also be made electronically. And finally, the documents can be digitally archived for future use.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2012