At the Proptech CEO Summit held last month, former Trulia President & COO, Paul Levine, noted that automation of the real estate transaction process is a potential $100 billion opportunity. “To me [the real estate transaction itself] is a 10x bigger opportunity than the opportunity that Trulia and Zillow and others sort of got so far.”
Levine’s comments match what he discussed with Qualia’s CEO earlier this year during Qualia’s Executive Insights Series. Digital, streamlined experiences are rapidly transforming buyer expectations. And the transaction process (driven by title & escrow businesses) is next to be transformed.
Meanwhile, rising insurance costs, along with regulatory compliance demands have dramatically increased the cost of doing business for title & escrow businesses. These growing demands coupled with consumer expectations for digital, streamlined experience are elevating the potential of automation.
Automation in the title industry, a strategic approach
As evidenced by Levine, the potential of automation for title & escrow businesses is exciting; however, automation is not a catch-all solution for every operational problem. The successful integration of automation requires a careful look at processes and pain points.
Bill Gates says that “automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Gates’ words ring true for many businesses who believe automation is a silver bullet. Gates and others recommend that businesses steer away from adopting a particular tool and instead analyze pain points to identify the best tool for the job.
Often, areas of repetition are the best candidates for automation. In title & escrow, there are a number of repeatable tasks that require careful adherence to regulatory compliance. Automation streamlines these tasks and frees up employee energy to carefully review documents and work on critical tasks related to client success and business development.
Examples in title & escrow software
Below are a few areas where automation is currently transforming repetitive daily tasks and freeing up employee time.
Automation, coupled with end-to-end transaction management software, is eliminating the monotony inherent in information exchanges during title production. For example, Qualia’s software, which integrates with many underwriter platforms, allows information keyed in an underwriter platform to automatically populate in a title agent’s files on Qualia.
Automated workflows allow companies to streamline their tasks and collaborate efficiently. Automation uses if/then rules to ensure a task or workflow is completed the same way every time without errors. This allows businesses to maintain high levels of process-related compliance. Technology also allows third-party integrations with underwriters and vendors to sync essential information and further automate workflows.
Traditionally it takes weeks to collect relevant information and compile reporting on profitability, trends, and open transactions. Companies now use automated reporting to gain an instant, high-level view of their business performance data.
Consumers today expect transparency and control no matter their purchase. Automation delivers real-time progress updates for certain aspects of client communication. For example, on Qualia Connect, when an agent completes certain tasks, the system automatically updates a “progress tracker” viewable by a homebuyer.
Daily reconciliations and month-end reporting are tedious work. It’s a detail-oriented process that carries important implications for compliance and the security of clients’ funds. Where once, title & escrow businesses printed spreadsheets and compared them line-by-line, now automation creates massive efficiencies that replace these processes with technology that automatically detects discrepancies between files.
Automation often incites apprehension around job security; however, other industries have successfully integrated technology and automation to transform jobs rather than replace them. In the past decade, automation took over monotonous tasks across several industries, allowing employees to focus on uniquely-human tasks such as problem solving, client relationship management, and other people-driven skills.
Business accounting, for example, transformed from a traditional process of paper receipts, bank statements, and spreadsheets to a modern, automated accounting process. Today, transactions sync to cloud-based software in real-time and AI categorizes transactions automatically.
Accountants initially resisted the change and feared its impact on their future job security. Now, automation is nearly ubiquitous and embraced among accountants. As a result, accountants now deliver new value to businesses. Where once they performed repetitive tasks such as calculations and number-crunching, now accountants execute more people-centered activities such as client consultations and financial advising.
Similarly, title & escrow professionals are primed to evolve alongside technology and automation. As title & escrow businesses adopt new technology-driven processes, title & escrow work can reorient around its fundamental, service-providing function.