State of Digital Mortgage eClosing Adoption: From Base Camp to the Summit

Despite the rapid growth of digital automation with digital point-of-sale solutions, loan origination systems, automated underwriting, and data aggregation, the adoption of mortgage loan eClosing technology has been slow—until recently. The eClosing vision is two decades old, but the complex interplay of federal, state, and county regulations; huge data requirements; and incomplete technology solutions previously held back progress. The US mortgage market has now caught up with the vision!

Advances in data management, systems integration, cloud technologies, industry collaboration, and regulatory progress have made eClosing solutions a must-have technology. In 2022, system adoption has moved beyond early adopters and other technology pioneers to the early majority of lending technology innovators. Opportunity for dramatic improvement in the loan closing process is now happening, and the road to lender success and customer satisfaction is much clearer.

We asked mortgage executives about their knowledge/perceived value of eClosing, the relative importance of eClosing technologies relative to other technology, lender closing process readiness for digital transformation, current and planned use of eClosing IT, current and planned IT spending on eClosing technologies, and anticipated benefits.

Key Findings

  • Readiness: Lending people, processes, and technology must be ready for digital transformation. This survey shows that 65% of lenders believe their closing (contract signing) processes are at or better than the market in terms of readiness.
  • Adoption: This Celent survey reveals that one in seven survey participants perform eClosings, and during the next year approximately 41% of lenders surveyed plan to implement digital eClosing technology. During the past four years, digital mortgage eNote documents created during eClosings increased at an 187% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), albeit from a relatively low base.
  • Adoption Depth: There are different levels of digital automation in mortgage closing. Hybrid paper/digital document eClosings currently dominate, but full mortgage eClosings (with remote online notarization and eNotes) transaction volumes are growing.
  • eClosing Technology Spending: Technology spending on eClosing is increasingly significantly in 2022. Sixty-four percent of lenders surveyed are increasing eClosing IT spending in 2022 compared to 2021 spending levels. Of that group, 30% are increasing IT spending by more than 10%.

In summary, the industry has left a metaphorical base camp to climb the mountaintop and reach full digital transformation, many more lenders are now climbing the mountain, and some are getting close to the summit. Despite the flurry of activity over the past few years, much work remains for institutions to offer customers fully digital, automated mortgage closing process and digital contract signing—and doing the same for mortgage investors such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mortgage eClosing adoption rests on more than sound technology. It also requires transformation of people, processes, and new technology. We recommend putting into practice a rigorous eClosing systems research, vendor assessment, selection, and phased implementation process. This approach has been distilled by Celent from lender conversations, case studies, vendor research, and this mortgage lender survey. Figure 1 maps out a phased implementation path for adding eClosing technologies to the existing mortgage technology platform. This path is explained in detail throughout this report.

Figure 1: Celent’s General Recommendations for eClosing Technology Adoption

The Early Majority Is Ready and Will Propel the Industry

To further support the assertion that eClosing adoption will grow steadily and reinforce the survey results, we examine how fast the industry will climb that eClosing mountain. Figure 2 shows conceptually how we can think about where eClosing technology adoption is along a time continuum, and how fast it may grow in the future.

Figure 2: Thinking Conceptually About eClosing Technology Adoption

This bell curve is Celent’s annotated adaptation of Geoffrey Moore’s well-known methodology for analyzing technology adoption cycles and the different types of technology adopters. Twenty years ago it was the IT Enthusiasts and Visionaries who looked at the potential of technology innovation perhaps more than the immediate financial benefit and return on investment that drives actual adoption. Just prior to the subprime mortgage crisis, eClosing and eNote technology investment and pilot projects were growing and ready to generate transaction volume. The Great Recession crushed those dreams, but the industry is in an era of steadily rising adoption during the current Great Recovery we are in today. The largest cohort of mortgage lenders are Pragmatists that have or are implementing eClosing solutions.

Download the full report

Celent clients can download the report here: State of Digital Mortgage eClosing Adoption: From Base Camp to the Summit.

Firms that are not yet Celent clients can download a complimentary copy of the report, courtesy of SimpleNexus, an nCino company, here.

Talk with us! SimpleNexus, an ncino company can share best practices, learnings, and case studies that can help you develop a technology strategy, evaluation, selection, and implementation to complete the last mile in digital mortgage loan origination.

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