Q&A WITH PATRICK KINSEL, CEO & FOUNDER OF NOTARIZE
While the headlines and most of the real estate tech industry talks about big listing and transaction sites, some of the most exciting innovation is happening on the edges of the real estate industry. What do I mean by “on the edges”? I mean areas of the industry that are currently archaic and still doing things as they have for decades using paper, snail mail and in-person appointments.
To me, the real estate industry is one massive “old-school” industry as it relates to “process”. While much of the actual industry (meaning the transaction, development and construction) is one with much innovation, leading-edge thinkers and progressive ideas, the “process” of getting things done really sucks. Everything takes forever and is still dominated by way too much paperwork.
One of the most exciting companies I have had the pleasure of connecting with recently is Notarize.com. They bill themselves as the first on-demand remote electronic notary service allowing anyone nationwide to legally notarize a document from their iPhone 24/7. Really amazing stuff. The team at Notarize has some amazing pedigrees and include Fifth Wall as one of their investors. A winning combination, for sure.
While Notarize isn’t a pure real estate startup, it has the potential to impact so much of the industry from buying a home to office space transactions and more. The old-fashioned way of driving to a bank or finding someone to get something notarized is a thing of the past with this innovative new startup. I personally think they have enormous upside potential!
It’s applications like Notarize where the real estate industry can really drive efficiency and modernize how things get done from a process perspective.
Here are some highlights of my conversation with Patrick Kinsel, Founder & CEO of Notarize.
Michael: What’s the background on Notarize.com?
Patrick: People need notarizations for some of the most important moments in their lives, including buying a home, signing a will, leasing an office, starting a business. While most processes leading up to these transactions can be done online — searching for a home, securing a mortgage, drafting a will, obtaining a business license — they’re forced offline to paper and snail mail the instant they must be notarized. Notarize is the first digital notary public platform allowing any person or business to get their documents legally notarized online and has served tens of thousands of individuals and businesses (on every continent, except Antarctica). While putting your life on hold to visit a notary is frustrating, collecting notarizations is doubly so - with Notarize for Business organizations can streamline their operations, provide their customers a better experience and collect notarizations from people who can simply click to notarize documents online.
Last week’s launch of Notarize for Mortgage made Notarize the first platform to enable an entirely online mortgage closing process. With the launch, Notarize has successfully completed the first-ever online mortgage closing in partnership with lender United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) and Stewart Title. At launch, the platform serves 5 national lenders and is scaling to support additional lenders and borrowers across the country. Verified by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Notarize for Mortgage platform digitizes the entire closing process with technology to securely coordinate lenders, title companies and borrowers online.
M: How big is the company currently? What markets do you currently serve?
P: Notarize is scaling rapidly. The company currently employees more than 45 people with more than 100 notaries available on our platform. Notarize has more than 2,000 businesses on our platform, many of whom are collecting hundreds or thousands of notarizations per month. Notarize serves the mortgage, title, construction, commercial real estate, legal, property management, insurance and banking industries as well as any consumer who needs a document notarized.
M: What’s the origin of Notarize For Mortgage?
P: In a time where almost every process is digitized, the eMortgage industry was standing still. In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed a law allowing mortgages to be executed electronically, followed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae approval in 2002. However, only approximately 5,000 of the nearly 10 million mortgages in 2016 were completed digitally - borrowers signed electronically, but were still required to meet with a notary in person. The Notarize team saw an opportunity to help the industry catch up with that demand and spent two years building the product, gaining approval from key players like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and arranging the partners required to launch Notarize for Mortgage. The platform launched with five leading mortgage lenders, including UWM, Lenda, Mid America Mortgage, Eagle Home Mortgage, and WEI Mortgage LLC. The product is bringing the industry into the digital age – enabling borrowers to close online whenever and wherever they choose.
M: How does it work?
P: The simplest way to understand how it works is to watch this video. I’ve also attached an infographic explaining the entire process. Other solutions available before Notarize for Mortgage allow a borrower to sign on a tablet with a stylus instead of on paper with a pen, but still require people to travel to meet for the closing and lack the convenience borrowers expect and efficiencies the mortgage industry requires to fully digitize their operations and go electronic. Working with lenders, the GSEs, and title companies to ultimately deliver a superior user experience for the borrower, Notarize for Mortgage digitizes the entire eMortgage process and is:
Entirely online and paperless - available to borrowers on any computer, iPhone or iPad.
A collaborative platform for lenders and title partners to prepare and manage closings.
Designed to prevent errors and to ensure properly executed closings.
Integrated with an eVault and MERS to accelerate sale into the secondary market.
Verified eClosing, eVaulting and eNote platform with both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
On demand, with dedicated online notary signing agents.
Available via APIs to automate the closing process.
M: Who is your target audience?
P: Notarize for Mortgage’s audience includes borrowers, lenders, and title companies – anyone in the mortgage industry benefits from online closings.
M: What types of marketing tactics are you using to get the word out about the new product?
M: What’s next for Notarize?
P: Notarize looks to further enable customers to close a mortgage anywhere at any time, leading the mortgage industry into the digital future. Our mission is to help people execute the most important transactions of their lives and we will continue to invest in tools to educate and empower borrowers during the closing process. We also believe that digitizing the closing creates countless opportunities for technology to improve other aspects of the mortgage process and we aim to help the industry gain efficiencies and reduce costs, which have risen from $2,291 in 2008 to nearly $8,887 today.
With partners in Michigan (UWM), California (Lenda), Texas (Mid America Mortgage and Stewart Title), Florida (Eagle Home Mortgage), and Virginia (WEI Mortgage LLC), we are working toward expanding to support a national audience. With legislation passed this year to allow notaries in Texas, Nevada and Ohio to perform remote notarizations, we will be opening offices to serve those markets from a local operations center.