Guest Post by Josh Luksberg, Vice-President, Connecticut State Manager at First American

Spring, of course, is an extremely busy and exciting time in the real estate industry. Since the spring market performance is typically a huge indicator of how your entire year will look, let’s take a look at the top four topics to stay informed on over the coming months:

Regulation Changes

What will happen to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB)? We all know the impact that TRID and CFPB had on the industry. Now that the current political regime is focusing on de-regulations, and clearly has the CFPB right in its crosshairs, what will happen next? Will the lenders continue to closely monitor and scrutinize their third party settlement agents through closed lists and increased vetting procedures?

Interest Rates

How will an increase in interest rates impact the market? If interest rates rise, we should see a decrease in the number of refinances from 2016, but how will that affect a growing purchase and sale market? Further, will the mere threat of another interest rate hike result in a short-term refi boost, similar to what we saw late in 2016?

Cyber-Crime and Cyber-Fraud

Cyber-Crime and Cyber-Fraud became an extremely important topic in 2016. The real estate industry is currently under siege with threats to divert funds from their intended recipients. No one expects this issue to go away anytime soon, and all parties involved in a real estate closing need to remain diligent at all times. This is especially true when trying to compete for business. The ability to differentiate yourself from your competitors, by proving to lenders and/or realtors that their transactions are safe with you, is a tremendous selling point.

The biggest question from my perspective is how far does one go to put protective measures in place? Will the additional expense of putting such measures in place be justified by an increase in business? It is also particularly important to understand what you need to do if in fact you are a victim of a fraud scheme. How quickly you are able to react can be the sole factor determining whether funds are recovered.

Integrations

Integration was one of the key words for me in 2016, and will continue to be something of great import in 2017. Making sure that your software system allows you to be as efficient as possible is the goal. I expect that integrations between title companies, lenders, e-recordings, and even online title searching, will result in major changes to the industry in the not so distant future. Everyone is looking for ways to streamline their business. The ability to handle more files, in less time, while not increasing staffing, is something that all volume title operations are seeking. In 2017, I think all title agents should be assessing their current software, and asking themselves if there are better solutions available in the marketplace.