People sending money at south oak

Tools for Safer Real Estate Transactions

Dec 02, 2022 Technology Share:

Did you know that, according to a 2021 ALTA wire fraud survey, 1 in 3 real estate transactions is targeted for wire fraud?

Wire fraud attempts are on the rise, and they’re also getting more sophisticated. To counter this, everyone involved in a real estate transaction must take measures to prevent these attempts and maintain the integrity of the transaction.

At South Oak, we’ve been dedicated to preventing wire fraud and protecting our customers for a long time. We’re constantly evaluating and adapting our processes to do this even better. Recently, we’ve adopted new digital tools, including CertifID and Paymints.IO to ensure that our clients have safer, more enjoyable closings at South Oak.

CertifID for Wire Transfers

CertifID is a new tool that we’ve adopted at South Oak to protect all wire transfers associated with real estate transactions from wire fraud, including funds wired by the buyers for closing, the wiring of seller proceeds, as well as mortgage payoffs wired by South Oak to lenders.

Home buyers receive secure wiring instructions through the CertifID platform, eliminating the risk of fraudulent wiring instructions sent through email. Sellers are able to provide verified wiring instructions through the platform, ensuring that their seller proceeds go exactly where they need to go. Additionally, CertifID provides verification for all mortgage payoffs, which are also vulnerable to fraud.

CertifID also provides up to one million dollars in insurance to South Oak for wiring seller proceeds and mortgage payoffs. In the unlikely event that something does go wrong with a CertifID transaction, South Oak also has access to a dedicated team of wire retrieval experts.

How CertifID improves the closing experience

CertifID brings both additional security and a more streamlined experience to everyone who closes at South Oak. Blake Dobbins, attorney at South Oak Title and Closing in Birmingham says, “With CertifID, you don’t have to worry about the safety of your wire.” Every wire transfer has several layers of protection, from account verification to the additional insurance and retrieval team.

When using CertifID, buyers and sellers have peace of mind, knowing that they aren’t going to click the wrong link or enter the wrong account number. Dobbins continues, “Wire fraud is terrible, but fraud associated with real estate transactions is especially devastating.” Buying and selling a home is stressful enough; CertifID helps eliminate stress about the safety of your wire transfers.

By implementing CertifID, we’re also able to provide a more streamlined closing experience. Buyers know to expect all wire transfer instructions to come from CertifID. Sellers are also able to enter and verify their account information with CertifID prior to closing.

“Before CertifID, sellers would give us their account information at closing or, more recently, through Qualia. But occasionally, these instructions would be inaccurate. Innocent mistakes, such as an incorrectly transposed digit, would often be caught by the bank – but there were no guarantees,” Dobbins explains. CertifID not only verifies the accuracy of the account information but also provides insurance on the wire itself. An added benefit to CertifID is that by gathering account information in CertifID, potential keying errors are also eliminated.

What to expect when using CertifID

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you’ll receive both an email and a text from CertifID. (Your closer will let you know when to be on the lookout for this.) Both the email and the text will contain a link to login to the platform. The entire process should take about two minutes.

With so many scams coming through text messages and email, clients may be a little wary of clicking that link. Dobbins assures clients, “Extra caution is totally understandable. If you want to be certain that the message came from CertifID at the request of South Oak, you just need to call. Anyone in the office can verify quickly that this request has been legitimately sent.”

Once you click the link, you’ll verify your device as well as your identity by answering a few security questions. No login or password is required, and you don’t need to create an account. There’s nothing to keep or remember after you complete this process.

After verification, buyers will receive their wiring instructions through CertifID. Dobbins says, “We will never provide wiring instructions in an email or over the phone. Only trust wiring instructions that come through CertifID.” Buyers will also have the option to purchase optional insurance (up to one million dollars) on their wire transfer.

The seller will key in their account information, including routing number and account number, for their seller proceeds. All information will be verified by CertifID. At closing, the seller will have an opportunity to review their wiring instructions and sign off before the seller proceeds are distributed.

Why use CertifID for wire transfers?

Dobbins says, “It is impossible to overemphasize the risk of wire fraud. Every real estate transaction and every wire we send is vulnerable. Our job is to aggressively protect our clients and protect ourselves. CertifID is simply the industry’s best solution for protecting real estate transactions from wire fraud."

All wiring instructions and information are shared through CertifID rather than through email. CertifID is virtually unhackable, and transactions are backed and insured.

Paymints.IO for Earnest Money

While CertifID is used to protect wire transfers, Paymints.IO is used to provide a safe and easy way for buyers to deposit their earnest money. Paymints.IO can be used anywhere in the United States to deposit earnest money for transactions closing at South Oak.

Paymints.IO eliminates the need to send a check through multiple parties or go to the bank to initiate a wire transfer. Earnest money deposits can be made in five minutes from your couch. And when you’re buying a home, anything that saves time and energy is a huge help.

How Paymints.IO improves the closing experience

Paymints.IO makes the process of depositing earnest money incredibly easy and straightforward. Not only is it as easy as logging into your bank account and paying a bill, but it’s also safe and has better security than your typical wire transfer. And of course, it ensures that every earnest money deposit is applied to the correct file, every single time.

Dobbins says, “Agents have been asking for an earnest money solution for years. Paymints.IO is the first solution we’ve found that really fits what we’re looking for and meets our rigorous standards.”

What to expect when using Paymints.IO

To deposit earnest money with Paymints.IO, all you need to do is visit the earnest money page on the South Oak website. Buyers will need to read and sign the earnest money agreement on our website before logging in to the Paymints.IO portal.

The Paymints.IO portal uses Zelle for earnest money transfers. After logging in to your banking institution through the Zelle platform, buyers are able to see their bank account details and initiate an earnest money transfer. Buyers will also input identifying information for their transfer to ensure that their deposit is applied to the correct file.

Why use Paymints.IO for earnest money deposits

Simply put, Paymints.IO just makes earnest money deposits easier for everyone. Dobbins explains, “There have been several changes over the past few years in the way earnest money is handled. Agents no longer hold earnest money checks from their clients; instead, these checks are held by the settlement agency. Unfortunately, this means the check either has to be passed from the agent to the closing company or the buyer now needs to either bring in a check or go to the bank to initiate a wire transfer for earnest money.”

Paymints.IO also ensures that earnest money deposits are always applied to the correct file. “Before Paymints.IO, there were multiple ways the earnest money could arrive at South Oak. And unfortunately, the money didn’t always have the right information attached to it. A buyer could correctly send an earnest money wire to South Oak, but the wire doesn’t come with identifying information. Without this information, it’s not always clear which file this money was attached to,” he continues. Because Paymints.IO gathers all of the identifying information at the time of the transfer, buyers never have to wonder if their earnest money made it to the correct place.

Dobbins says, “We know there have been several changes at South Oak recently. In the past year, we’ve brought Qualia, Paymints.IO, and CertifID to our clients. We also know that people can be wary of change. But at the end of the day, we’re bringing these tools to our clients to make real estate transactions with South Oak as easy, safe, and seamless as possible.”

If you have questions about CertifID, Paymints.IO, or any other aspect of closing at South Oak, contact your closer or your local South Oak office. We’re always delighted to answer questions to ensure you have an enjoyable, stress-free closing at South Oak.