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E-Close Software OK?

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Posted On: 02/12/2014

Question:

We are selling our home and will move to another area before closing. To save a trip back to our current community, can we do our house closing electronically?

Answer:

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There have been huge advances in closing patterns during the past few years. In many areas, it's entirely common to have a closing right in your dining room.

However, the fact that closing locations can be more flexible does not mean the process has evolved.

The party conducting the closing is generally seen as an agent of the settlement process. That is, they do not represent the buyer, the seller or the lender. Instead, their job is to assure that the closing process is completed correctly.

Why is this important?

Closing is complex and everyone benefits when the paperwork is right. Also, new rules from Washington require that lenders properly complete all forms.

As an example, in one settlement, a line on the good faith estimate of closing costs had been left blank and the result was a surprise $1,200 credit to the borrowers.

Another thing that does not change regardless of closing location is the paperwork. While there has been a movement toward electronic closings and the use of electronic signatures, the overwhelming majority of closings continue to involve plain old paper. Paper is easy to handle and signatures are easy to confirm. No software or electronics are needed to decipher what paper says.

That's a big deal, because real estate documentation may need to be reviewed years if not decades from now for tax and estate purposes. If kept in an electronic format, will that information been available in 10 or 20 years?

Just think of all the files kept on 5.25-inch floppy disks common in the 1980s, disks that most computers can no longer read. For most homeowners and borrowers, the easier and surer option is to have everything on paper.

Peter G. Miller is the author of The Common-Sense Mortgage and a veteran real estate columnist. Have a question? Please write to peter@ctwfeatures.com.

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