Reuven Gorsht, co-founder of a company that has developed technologies for digital and paperless real estate closings, says processes that are being adopted during the COVID-19 crisis are likely to become more widespread once the threat has passed.
“The silver lining of this crisis is that some of the virtual changes and technologies that are now being deployed across the real estate industry will become permanent fixtures,” says Gorsht, co-founder of Toronto-based Deeded.
“We’ve always had reasons to resist adoption of new technologies because we had a choice. We could meet a client face-to-face. We could hold a physical open house. Now that clients are actually experiencing this new technology and are able to do things remotely, I believe those behaviours will stick,” says Gorsht.
The impact of COVID-19 has made it challenging for buyers and sellers who are planning to close their transactions over the next few weeks or even months. The process carries “specific requirements for signing documents and client identification that require in-person meetings, something that is increasingly difficult to manage at a time that calls for social distancing,” says the company in a news release.
It says the Law Society of Ontario issued a special bulletin to allow remote commissioning of documents as a special measure to deal with the disruption caused by the virus. Title insurers and some lenders have indicated flexibility, the company says, and regulatory bodies and law societies across most Canadian provinces have announced adjustments to their requirements as well.
Deeded says it has developed an online virtual closing platform that includes remote video signing and online ID verification for their clients. The entire process is paperless and is done with advanced security protocols to protect against fraud, it says.
“Our vision has always been to bring the entire closing process online, making it transparent, convenient and human, in order to meet the demands of the 21st Century home buyer or seller. Little did we know that our vision would quickly become the reality by which real estate and mortgage transactions are closed,” says Gorsht.
Deeded says it is leveraging technologies such as digital identity authentication and secure online signing to bring the closing process online and make remote signings possible. A recent Deeded client who couldn’t make it back in time from Latin America and got separated from his Toronto-based family was able to close on a property via video, says Gorsht.
Deeded has also adjusted key processes such as electronic fund transfer, key pickup and drop off, as well as its notification system that keeps everyone on the deal informed of its progress, the company says.