Summary: There are scenarios where you could purchase, finance, and close on a home without leaving the comforts of home. Much of this is enabled by technology and some of it is regulated by state law. Nevertheless, buying a house–from your house–is possible.
The digital economy has changed so many facets of doing business. It is little surprise, then, that real estate conveyance is likewise in the process of transformation. Not only is searching for a house begun online, but it is also sometimes completed there as well.
In fact, in a growing number of instances, offers are made, accepted, and contracted through electronic communication.
Moreover, financing can be obtained entirely through lender websites and portals. With a growing acceptance of electronic signatures and notarizations, even settlements are doable on a remote basis. The era has arrived when you can buy a home without having to leave the house.
The Evolution of Realtor Websites
It was not too many years in the past when real estate brokers and agents would tote large binders full of data on, and photographs of, the listed properties in their charge. With this voluminous information in hand (it often took two), Realtors would share with prospective buyers the particulars of each house that fit their desires.
Those that proved intriguing were then visited and walked through. This was a labor-intensive process for the agent, and time-consuming as well. Still, it was tried and true, then technology advanced.
In the earliest days of Internet availability, things remained the same within the profession, the knowledge needed to construct websites was not widespread, and buying that knowledge was often a budget-buster. Furthermore, little was known about the rules of marketing online, if any rules existed at all.
Nobody wanted to make trouble for themselves until things were clarified. Fortunately, there is strength in numbers so the National Association of Realtors (NAR) promoted a way for multiple listing services to get their listings online for the benefit of their broker members. It would help agents publicize properties for sale, generate leads and close sales.
To access this internet data exchange (IDX) was still pricey but, in the early years of the 21st century, technological advancement helped to reduce costs and make IDX affordable to rank-and-file agents. Essentially, IDX is a connective medium between the Realtor websites and their respective MLS listings.
As years advanced, high-resolution photography and streaming video became available. This allowed for virtual tours of houses, a significant innovation that helps buyers walk through without having to visit the property. Portals like Zillow and Trulia also gained in popularity, though these are not always as comprehensive or up-to-date as those sites informed by IDX.
Getting a House under Contract in WA State, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado
Those wishing to buy a home without having to leave the house best retain a buyer’s agent. This professional can advise regarding a reasonable offer and then forward that offer to the seller’s agent. The seller’s agent, in response, will communicate an acceptance, counter-offer, or rejection.
As negotiations ensue, all of the particulars can be hashed out in writing, emails, telephone, and video conferencing. Once the terms are agreed upon, the Realtor forwards it to the participating attorneys for review. Again, the buyer is not required to show up anywhere.
There are additional reasons to have a buyer’s agent. This person can help you locate the best property possible, for one thing. They can advise regarding negotiation strategy as well as find other professionals, mortgage representatives, home inspectors, attorneys etc., to make the home purchasing process more productive and less stressful. Best of all, they can do it all on the phone or any other device that you would prefer.
Obtaining a Mortgage from the Comfort of Home
Millennials and their Gen-Z successors are notoriously impatient. The old-school slowness of dictating information to a loan officer or, alternatively, making heads or tails of a hard copy loan application is vexing to anyone who grew up with contemporary information technology.
Even more frustrating is mailing in requested verification documents only to be told they are insufficient. Needless to say, younger borrowers embrace the online application experience with gusto. Most algorithms detect inconsistencies and notify applicants before they ever hit the SEND button.
Equally appealing is the ability to upload documentation that confirms the application information. If, for example, a pay stub or bank statement is not recent enough for underwriting consideration, an applicant will know soon after submission rather than wait days for the bad news.
A problem that once took days, if not weeks, to resolve can now be settled within a few hours. From insurance declarations to employment verifications to tax forms, nearly every supporting document can be delivered to the lender electronically. This spares applicant’s trips to the post office or visits by a loan officer to collect updated papers.
As lender websites grow more sophisticated, prospective borrowers can utilize calculators and other such features to estimate payments and determine which loan product best suits their needs and financial capacities. These features, nevertheless, are no substitute for the advice and knowledge of a seasoned loan officer.
Still, much of the routine minutiae of applying for a mortgage is streamlined and simplified by the automation afforded by information technology. When scientific advances complement human wisdom and experience, the results can be very satisfactory. In terms of time and convenience, online loan applications have created a new lending environment.
Legal Settlement from the Kitchen Table
It is possible to close on your new property without leaving your present dwelling, with a few caveats. First of all, federal judges have ruled more than once that electronic signatures, in and of themselves, are valid executions, equal to those of pen and ink.
Yet the question of admissibility in court is less clear cut. Two things must first be established, whether the named signor intended to electronically affix the signature, on the one hand, and whether the document itself was not subject to corruption or tampering. If the security of the document is not authenticated, a judge might refuse it.
Another reason an electronic document might be problematic is that it might not be enforceable. If a disputing petitioner questioned the competence of the signers or argued that they were misled, coerced, or otherwise manipulated into signing, then closing documents may be considered without effect by a court of law. Of course, these problems can plague hard copy documents as well.
This places the onus on the settlement agent in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon. Whoever provides the closing docs, supervises the signing and notarizes the documents is charged with exercising judgment regarding the fitness and intent of those executing the deed, note, mortgage, etc.
Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado all allow for electronic notarization. According to the National Notary Association, remote notarization requires a signer to appear before the notary by means of video conferencing and webcam technology.
For this specific type of e-notarization, Idaho enjoys full legal implementation while Washington has a provisional implementation,. due to COVID-19, until the authorizing law takes effect in October 2020.
Approving legislation is still pending in other states. Even with the provisional approval of Remote Online Notarizations, the majority of mortgage lenders will not allow the closing documents to be signed via a remote online notarization and still require an in-person notary to oversee you signing the final loan documents. A hard copy closing is possible at home for those willing to receive a settlement agent.
How a Loan Officer Can Help
As noted above, automation does not substitute for knowledge and experience. A competent loan officer knows about all the exceptions, caveats and qualifications related to technology and real estate transactions. You can also learn about the best rates and the most effective loan products for your financial aims. Make an appointment with a seasoned professional to learn more.
Since 1992, Sammamish Mortgage has been assisting residents in the Pacific Northwest to fulfill their dreams of owning a home. We offer mortgage programs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. If you have any mortgage-related questions, please Contact us. You can also View Rates directly on our site or even Apply Instantly. Of, you can just get a Rate Quote instantly.