While we’ve made it through the worst of the pandemic, now is the time to take a look at the lasting impacts it will have on our industry. There will no doubt be many more unexpected benefits to analyze in the coming months, but here, I’d like to share two such benefits that have come about as a result of the shift to remote closings.
Since I’m in the document management business, as well as being a broker, I’ve had a few hundred conversations with agents over the past year-and-a-half who have had to switch to a paper trail that is completely digital. They have repeatedly said that one unexpected benefit associated with remote closings is the fact that they prevent those heated moments at the closing from ever taking place.
Any real estate agent who has been in the business for a few years has had to learn how to navigate the emotionally charged conversations between buyers and sellers who have developed animosity toward each other. We all know it comes with the territory, but what if we could prevent them completely? What if both sides didn’t have to meet at closing, avoiding any confrontations that could arise? If the paperwork signings are simply a matter of people logging into a system from the comfort of their own home, we make the final step of the process much smoother on both a practical and emotional level.
A related benefit is the impact on first-time buyers. For people who have never bought a home before, closing can be an intimidating experience. This is especially true if the sellers they are purchasing from have bought and sold several homes within their lifetime. We’ve all seen first-time buyers arrive at the closing to meet the sellers for the first time and begin to question whether or not they can trust the people sitting on the other side of the table. As their agent, we’ve already done our due diligence to ensure our clients aren’t being taken advantage of, but it can still be a concern for those who have never been through the process before. By shifting to a “new normal” where it’s commonplace to sign the documentation without an in-person meeting, we have made the experience much less nerve-wracking for first-timers.
A calmer closing in and of itself is its own benefit, but the unexpected part comes into play over the longer term. A negative closing experience will become a lasting memory that stays with the client, even if every other part of the process was positive. The long-term benefits of this are bigger than we could possibly measure. Clients are more likely to come back to us for repeat business and recommend us to their friends and family.
Allen Alishahi is president of ShelterZoom, the technology company behind DocuWalk. For more information, please visit www.docuwalk.com.