Originally published on Stewart.com
Many of us have had to have a document notarized. Notaries oversee the signing of important legal documents, whether it be updating a will, granting power of attorney, or in the real estate world, signing the many documents required for buying or selling a home. Historically notarization happened only in person where the notary verifies the identity of the signer through various forms of identification. But what if we told you there is a company that makes signing and notarizing important legal documents ‘Amazon-easy’ for millions, a platform that allows it all to be done online, securely and safely, known as remote online notarization (RON)? Insert NotaryCam. NotaryCam was acquired by Stewart in 2020 and named Brian Webster president in August 2022. He’s tasked, among other things, with increasing adoption of the company’s RON products and services in the mortgage and real estate sector.
We recently caught up with Brian to learn about his journey and get his thoughts on how the company is changing RON and eClosings.
Q: How did you end up in real estate technology?
A: After leaving the Navy, I met a mortgage banker playing golf and drinking beer and I thought that seemed like a pretty good gig. No, but really … I had just finished my finance degree and meeting this mortgage banker led me to reflect on my experience from when I bought my first house. I didn’t really deal much with the loan originator except when he swooped in, told me what kind of loan and rate I was getting and had me sign some documents. Nothing about the experience left a good taste in my mouth, so when I was contemplating getting into mortgage lending, I knew I wanted people to have a better experience buying their first home than I did. I wanted to become a trusted advisor to help homebuyers understand the process, what they were getting into, and what their best options were – and not just put them in the loan that was best for me.
As an originator, I turned away a lot of business much to the chagrin of my production manager but gained a lot of trust and respect … ultimately that led to a lot more opportunities down the road. Eventually, I moved to Maryland and joined a technology firm building product pricing eligibility and automated underwriting systems. That’s when I really started digging into the mortgage tech side and understanding the entire ecosystem from point of sale to delivering into the secondary market to servicing and default servicing.
I added tools in my toolbox along the way to bridge the gap between business and technology. When Stewart came calling, it was a perfect fit for my background and experience.
Q: If you could describe NotaryCam in three words what would they be?
A: Simple, secure, seamless.
Q: Who benefits most from this platform – real estate professionals? Homebuyers and sellers?
A: I would say it’s homebuyers and sellers who benefit the most. We provide them with a user-friendly, convenient mechanism to get their documents notarized, regardless of the type of document and regardless of location. We provide security and trust around the transaction, so all stakeholders know the person signing the document is who they say they are.
And it’s not just real estate transactions; we actually have more customers outside of real estate. This technology can benefit anyone from a business entity to an individual signer, providing a simple, secure, seamless process regardless of the type of document or industry.
Q: Do you think in-person notarization will ever be completely replaced?
A: No. Just like any type of digital transaction or online service, I think there will always need to be an option for face-to-face interactions, whether that’s a notarization or going into a bank to sign papers. It is a personal preference. I don’t think as a society, there is a desire to get rid of the human experience. So, no, I don’t think in-person notarizations will ever be completely phased out.
Q: How has RON changed the real estate industry?
A: Remote online notarization transformed what was once a very clunky process to allow anyone with an internet connection to get documents signed and notarized online. It delivers the type of customer experience people are used to in other aspects of their lives – ordering shampoo from Amazon, shoes from Zappos or dinner with DoorDash.
For the title and settlement community, RON creates operational efficiencies and security around the transaction for which they are responsible. Title companies can optimize their internal operations and implement a stronger QC process as part of the transaction.
Those upstream efficiencies also apply to lender-partners finalizing transactions and delivering loans into the secondary market. This technology lets them close and deliver faster, saving time and money, and they have more certainty that every “t” is crossed and every “i” dotted.
Q: Now that we’ve gotten through the difficult questions, best donut flavor?
A: Oh, glazed. But you’re talking to a crusty old white guy.
Q: Do you have another sweet you prefer?
A: I’m not a sweets person, but does crème brulée count? That’s my go-to. I can never pass up crème brulée if it’s on the dessert menu.
We thank Brian for taking the time to share his journey. NotaryCam, a pioneer of remote online notarization (RON) and identity verification/authentication technology, has surpassed one million successful RON transactions (with a 99.8% customer satisfaction rate) and grew its real estate footprint by 36% in just 11 months since Brian took on his leadership role. The company is a 2023 HousingWire Tech100 award winner, and Brian made Inman’s Best in Finance list for 2023.
Brian holds degrees in finance and nuclear engineering. He’s a 10-year Navy Veteran and previously held senior leadership positions at both Freedom Mortgage and Wells Fargo, where he led digital transformation initiatives focusing on eMortgage program implementations and served as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Electronic Signatures and Records Association and the Residential Standards Governance Committee for MISMO.
It’s critical for providers in the real estate industry to create user-friendly and customer-focused experiences that empower consumers to understand the real estate process. This has become a priority for Stewart and our family of companies and having leaders like Brian aboard advance our journey to achieve this mission.
Learn more about NotaryCam’s services at notarycam.com.
Want to learn more about the home buying and selling process? Visit stewart.com/home for more.