Prior to the Covid pandemic, notarizing sellers’ docs at RE/MAX Concepts required transaction coordinators to contact the seller at least a week prior to closing, schedule them to come to the Des Moines office, and then set up a courier to shuttle the documents back and forth between the brokerage and the settlement company.
The process wasn’t always the most convenient, especially for clients who struggled with taking time off work. After Covid hit, many didn’t want to risk meeting people face to face and some found it physically impossible.
Time also became a huge factor for many of the brokerage’s 300+ agents when they had to pause from selling to chase down a notarized signature.
After Covid hit, the state of Iowa deemed real estate an essential service in March 2020 and rushed through approval of remote online notaries for real estate sales.
RE/MAX Concepts immediately saw the benefits of Notarize.
“We had trialed all the notary services, and Notarize was the smoothest one of all by far,” says Transaction Coordinator Emily Campos. “The signing setups were seamless, whereas we found the other digital notary services cumbersome. With some of those other options, you had to use a computer with a webcam and a phone and then do part of the signings on one device and the other part on another. There were two or three emails and you had to follow different links. We were worried about the consumer not wanting to use it because it was such a difficult process. And we knew that if the clients were giving the agents pushback, we would probably have a huge drop-off in how many people wanted to use it.”
So when Director of Operations Jaimee Moore saw the dotloop announcement of the integration earlier this year, the brokerage immediately jumped on the opportunity.
Since the dotloop Notarize integration went live in May 2021, RE/MAX Concepts has discovered an overwhelming positive response from their agents, transaction coordinators and sellers.
If a seller is traveling, located out of state or otherwise not able to meet with a notary face to face, the remote online service offers a welcomed convenience.
The Notarize integration has been especially helpful in situations, such as when one spouse is out of the country; a client was quarantined in a hospital or in a nursing home; or when an ex-spouse needed to sign and notarize a child support affidavit. Without the integration, getting a notary would have been nearly impossible, says Campos.
“In the instance of an ex-spouse, when the sale of the property doesn’t provide any incentive for that person to sign, having the convenience of the remote notary service makes the process so much easier,” adds Transaction Coordinator Tracy Tague.
The dotloop Notarize integration has also conferred huge time-saving benefits for RE/MAX Concepts’ agents, who previously may have had to take time away from selling to chase down a notarized signature or “lost” closing documents that had been couriered to a closing. Now, they can simply send an email with the links and focus on the business of selling, says Moore.
For RE/MAX Concepts’ four transaction coordinators, the integration has added flexibility in their day. Whereas before they were needed in-office every day, now the TCs rotate with one to two in the office at any given time.
“Not having to be there every day and being able to send the links from home has been a huge timesaver,” says Campos.
So far, the integration has been well received among clients with engagement rapidly increasing. Tague, who’s completed 50 remote online notarizations to date using the dotloop Notarize integration, estimates that about 40% of her clients opt for the remote notary service. While Campos, who’s completed 60 of the transactions, says 60-70% of her sellers say yes to the remote online option.
“We even have some clients who live down the street from the office but would rather do it from the comfort of their couch,” says Campos.
RE/MAX Concepts’ recruiting efforts have also prospered from the dotloop Notarize integration, according to Director of Agent Services Bekah Kentfield.
“We like having cutting edge technology and advertising that to agents,” she notes. “Being one of the first in our market to offer that service is a huge plus.”
RE/MAX Concept’s status as a market leader in real estate technology became quickly apparent when an agent from a competing brokerage needed a remote online notary to service a client who was in an airport and had a mere hour between flights to sign documents. After hearing that RE/MAX Concepts had the Notarize integration, the agent quickly reached out to Campos, who walked her through the steps on the Notarize website.
“She was really excited to have that option,” Campos says.
To date, the brokerage only uses the remote online notary service for home sellers since not all lenders accept remote online notarizations for buyers’ closing signatures and many lenders have their own eSignatures on their platforms. However, RE/MAX Concepts’ staff is hoping that will change and they’ll be able to use Notarize for buyers’ mortgage closings in the future.
Additionally, not all of Iowa’s counties accept remote online notaries on documents that supplement the deed. “But they will take them through dotloop, which they’re already familiar with,” says Campos. “In that case, the client gets a link from Notarize and the documents for signatures through dotloop.”
The dotloop Notarize integration is a relatively easy process, enabling real estate professionals to legally notarize documents online in less than 15 minutes. Check out this free on-demand webinar to learn about the integration and the online notary process.
The integration allows clients to review, sign and notarize their real estate documents 10 times faster than they would with conventional means. Once the documents are notarized, the documents are instantly synced with dotloop.
In addition to the time savings, transaction coordinators and clients like the security features of Notarize, including the front-end ID verification process, which confirms the signer’s identity using Notarize’s proprietary ID verification tools.
“This makes me feel better because when we’re signing in person, honestly, I don’t know that I would always be able to tell a fake ID from a real one,” says Campos. “The sellers like it too. They’ve told us how the ID verification was a little intimidating but in a good way. It gives them peace of mind to know there are steps in place to protect their identity.”
As Moore points out, “Fraud is increasing in the real estate world and so this takes some of the liability off our shoulders with the security scanning.”
Once the remote online notary has been set up, dotloop autofills the seller’s information into the documents; and, when the notarization is complete, dotloop loads the notarized document in the loop.
Teams and brokerages who are thinking about using the dotloop Notarize integration might take a cue from RE/MAX Concepts’ staff, who first tested the process with a few agents to gather early feedback.
“We started with just a few agents who were selling their personal properties. That was helpful to get their feedback,” says Kentfield.
Then, the transaction coordinators explained to the first few sellers using the integration that they were trying a new platform and asked if the client would be willing to share their experiences.
“We received nothing but great feedback from them,” says Moore.
Moving forward, the brokerage expects more of their agents will encourage their selling clients to use the remote online notary service, and they’ll definitely be talking about it in recruiting meetings.
“It’s in the package of services we provide to new agents,” says Kentfield. “We try to be a full support brokerage, and this is just another great example of a resource that we can offer our agents. Best of all, it’s seamless to them — they don’t have to do anything on their end, which is always a benefit.”
Dotloop is the leading transaction management software for real estate professionals and has partnered with Notarize, who is transforming the notary process by bringing convenience and trust into the transaction.