Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Simplifile:the last mortgage mile

We're getting closer to the paperless mortgage. Investors are beginning to understand it, which is opening the doors for more lenders who want to take advantage of the lower operating costs made possible by going electronic. But for much of the country, the mortgage process still ends by papering out.

The hitch is the County Recorder's office. Despite some great work by organizations like the Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) and the Real Estate Information Professionals Association (REIPA) along with the inspired leadership of some of the nation's foreward-thinking County Recorders, it's not easy to get your documents recorded electronically.

While some of the country's largest counties have spent six figures on systems to make it possible to electronically record and index public records, homeowners who don't live in the most populous counties may never get away from the paper. At least that's been the conventional wisdom, but at least one company is out to change that.

I met the guys from Simplifile, Provo, Utah, at the American Land Title Association's (MERs setting up to act as electronic depository for notes, with the blessing of the MBA, it's up to the Recorders to really enable end-to-end paperless mortgage lending. If Simplifile can deliver on its promise, which depends upon the network of counties it can establish, the industry might cross that hurdle sooner than expected.