Social distancing workaround: local lender launches drive-up closing table


Customers sign at the drive-through closing table. (Photos by Michael Schwartz)

Many otherwise mundane tasks are proving to be trickier than usual in the coronavirus era. This apparently includes closing a mortgage.

But a local lender has found a solution to a particular situation created by the increased volume of loans in the face of the required social distancing.

Here is the drive-up fence table.

Innsbrook-based CapCenter, which offers home purchase loans and mortgage refinances, last week launched an in-car closing table that allows borrowers to pull over in the company’s parking lot, s ” sit at a table and sign their closing documents with a pen that they can either throw away or take home, then get back into their car and drive away.

Headquarters of CapCenter in Innsbrook.

Bryan Piacentini, COO of CapCenter, said the idea is to allow borrowers to complete the process without entering the building, without being too close to CapCenter representatives, and without having to touch more than the pen.

“We adapt over time for sure,” said Piacentini. “We have exploded at a time when it has become operationally extremely complex to do business. It’s weird.

The set-up is rudimentary, consisting of a pop-up tent and tables in front of the company’s headquarters at 4510 Cox Road and a cache of 5,000 pens, CapCenter branded caps and cleaning supplies.

The idea arose after the company realized the logistical challenges of fulfilling its loans – most of which require the “wet signature” of certain documents with a physical signature. The company has most of its offices inaccessible to customers and most of its 141 employees, the majority of whom are working from home as the pandemic unfolds.

COO Bryan Piacentini

“We thought, ‘Let’s send this out of the office as much as possible,” Piacentini said. “They take the pen and the hat and go on their way.”

The training process also allows CapCenter to keep the faucet in circulation at a time when the volume of loans is almost unprecedented. While the company’s home purchase loan volume has been buzzing for the past few years, Piacentini said refinancing volume started to rise last year as interest rates fell to low. record levels in recent months. And since then, it has become a gangbuster for CapCenter and its competitors.

“The whole industry is completely behind,” he said of refinancing, refusing to share figures in terms of volume, citing competitive reasons.

CapCenter is a private mortgage lender that finances its loans with a line of credit, then consolidates and sells the loans to investors. Its main selling point to the public concerns so-called “no-cost” mortgages and refinancings, in which CapCenter covers most of the typical closing costs and costs.

It has been around for about 20 years and only gives loans in Virginia and North Carolina. In recent years, it has also launched a real estate brokerage house which now has 10 agents. His competitive angle on this side of the business is to charge salespeople a 1.5% commission, up from the usual 3%.

Piacentini said the company is in hiring mode to try to keep up with volume, and recognizes that the coronavirus-fueled slowdown could open up a larger labor pool after a streak of rate d regularly high employment.

“We are definitely in hiring mode for loan officers, agents. We would probably do a little more distance training these days, but yes, we are hiring, ”he said.

Regarding the drive-through closures, Piacentini said they were done by appointment only and expected to do 15 to 20 closures a day at the moment.

“We probably need to get more pens in the direction of things,” he said.

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