Reimagining the home closing experience
A long conversation over lunch sparked what later became Deeded.
I had recently closed on a new home and was still shaking my head after being charged thousands in fees I did not anticipate. My co-founder’s closing went much smoother, but his excitement of buying his first home quickly shifted into misery when he spent 4 hours in traffic going to the lawyer’s office to pick up the keys for his new home.
After speaking with dozens of recent home buyers and sellers, we quickly learned that our home closing experiences weren't just isolated cases. The most anticipated part of every real estate transaction was being done with it, yet the closing is, by nature, the most complicated and slowest part of the proceedings. A good home closing experience was defined by consumers we spoke with as "uneventful" as opposed to the exciting, happy and memorable moment - as it should be.
So, what do a couple of crazy entrepreneurs decide to do? We decided to build a company can deliver the home closing experience that we wished we had.
We spent weeks summarizing all the feedback we heard from consumers and speaking to dozens more, including lawyers and top industry executives. We noted and prioritized common pain points and spent a few more weeks trying to come up with solutions to each pain point.
While it is still way early to declare victory or claim we've solved anything, we couldn’t be prouder of of the foundation we’ve built.
“Closing is like a black box – you never know what’s going on”
By far, the top concern we heard from home buyers and sellers was a lack of communication and transparency during the closing process. Many claimed the process shut them out and kept them waiting. Consumers didn’t know if any work was being done on their deal. They were clueless as to what is expected of them or if any issues arose during closing.
In some professions not hearing anything can mean good news (think your doctor, after your physical). However, for those who are in the midst of the most significant transaction they’d ever make, not hearing is a cause for stress and anxiety.
Today’s real estate customer has an amazing number of tools at hand to make the process easier and faster for them. They can search for home online, compare prices or review amazing virtual tours. Outside of Real Estate, we can track our Uber, Pizza delivery or Amazon order by the minute. Yet when it comes to closing their real estate transaction, as one of our interviewees called it, it is often a “black box”.
Building a Transparent Home Closing Experience
We built a technology platform that lets everyone involved in the transaction stay on top of all the steps involved and always know what’s next.
Closing a Real Estate transaction involves collaboration between several professionals – each with an important role to play. Through each step, the client and professionals helping them (such as their Realtor, mortgage broker or lender) receive real-time notifications and can even log into a personalized portal to see details that are relevant to their role in the deal.
Everyone involved in the deal knows the exact progress (in real-time) and there's never a question as to what's next. With every step intuitively laid out for clients, their stress levels subside and they feel engaged in the closing process.
Our goal is that you’ll never feel like your transaction is in a "black box". Instead, an open and transparent experience engages the home buyer or seller and guides them throughout the entire process.
“I saw the bill and was just speechless”
We know that buying or selling a home is an expensive proposition. In fact, according to a CBC article, Real estate commissions, land transfer taxes, legal costs and fees for inspecting and surveying homes make up almost two per cent of Canada's economy. Fees can add up to tens of thousands of a home owner's hard-earned dollars.
Now imagine walking into a Starbucks, ordering your drink, and when you get to the cash register, they tell you it’s going to be $200. I know that sounds absurd, but without understanding exactly what you’re on the hook for in terms of legal fees and disbursements, you’re just asking to be shocked!
Numerous buyers and sellers we spoke with experienced some degree of “sticker shock” when they finally saw their legal bills at closing. While many firms and the Law Society of Ontario have made strides to standardize the way prices are advertised for Real Estate closings, consumers still find pricing confusing.
Since an everyday homebuyer is unaccustomed to the ins and outs of real estate purchases, consumers often don’t know what they need included in their legal services. Extra fees can easily add up at closing, leaving consumers surprised and sometimes shocked.
Pricing You Can Understand and Anticipate
We felt that consumers deserve transparency and understand what they are going to pay for closing their deal.
We published our pricing calculator on our website. It tells you exactly what will be included in your fees and what to anticipate as charges.
We also know not every deal will require the same amount of time (and hence costs), so we committed to letting consumers know of any anticipated additional costs the moment we know.
“I’m self-employed. Taking a day off work means no income for the day”
Almost every Real Estate transaction ends with a signing appointment. This is the time where you will meet with your real estate lawyer and sign the required documents to make your purchase, sale or refinance transaction official.
Between work, family, travel and hobbies, we all lead busy lives. We heard many examples where buyers and their spouse needed to take time off work and commute to the lawyer’s office during business hours to sign their deal. One couple had travelled 150km each way to meet with their lawyer. The ordeal took an entire day and cost them thousands in lost wages.
Virtual Home Closing Experience
Just as entire industries are being transformed by the next generation of services that are built around the convenience of consumers (think Uber Eats, Amazon or Instacart), we felt that no consumer in this day and age should ever have to be inconvenienced to close their Real Estate transaction.
Technology and new legislation have recently made it possible to close a transaction over video conferencing. It isn't only simple and convenient, but our technology also makes it paperless and secure. All you need is access to a device with a webcam and a high-speed internet connection. There's no printing, scanning and couriering of documents (and hence no costs of these add-on expenses either - we pass those savings to our clients)
At Deeded, virtual signing is a standard part of our service. This means you can sign when you want and where you want, including evenings and weekends.
“I left a voicemail, and another one 2 hours later… crickets!”
One of the Realtors we spoke with described how their client, a first-time buyer nearly ended up in the hospital right before closing. They had received news of a delay from their bank and were trying to reach their lawyer…for two days! As the stress levels rose, the health of the client got the worst of them to the point their could not easily breath.
Without any ill intent, their lawyer and his staff were so busy that they didn’t have time to check voicemails and return calls.
The Chef Never Picks Up the Phone, The Host(ess) Does
We know and appreciate that things can get very busy. There’s a reason why when you call a restaurant, the chef doesn’t pick up the phone – the host or hostess does.
Our dedicated home closing advisors serve as the front line for clients and industry professionals. Their job is to proactively reach out to clients, respond to any inquiries, and most importantly, be the critical conduit that can escalate matters to the lawyers and staff.
We also know that deals rarely get done during business hours. Offers are often negotiated on evenings and weekend and questions can arise at any time. That's why we've made our team available on evenings and weekends and they are reachable by phone, text or email.
At Deeded, we are on a mission to build a seamless, transparent and human closing experience. However, we feel like we are just scratching the surface.
For us, everything starts from the experience we’d like to achieve for our clients – the same experience we wished we had when we closed our last home.1