If last year’s path toward digital innovation was a steady plane ride, this year title & escrow agents and mortgage lenders have been leaping from the plane and ripping their paracords.
This was the metaphor CATIC CEO Jim Czapiga used to describe the disruption real estate professionals faced during the pandemic. Unprecedented volume tested systems and workflows while government office closures and the need for socially-distant closings forced businesses to craft innovative solutions.
We joined Czapiga virtually to discuss the changes real estate professionals currently face. He spoke with us about equipping what he calls “change agents” who are ecosystem-minded innovators that will be the growth entities of the future.
Catalysts of change: equipping early adopters to push the market forward
When Czapiga thinks about widespread industry change, he first thinks about the 5-10% of businesses who are early adopters of technology and systems that are driving real estate forward. Then there’s the 80% who have more of a “herd mentality” to change and finally the 5-10% who are completely resistant to change.
To engage the early adopters, Czapiga put together a “catalyst committee” of CATIC representatives, title agents, and other partners (including Qualia) who are focused on identifying new ways to build a safer and more efficient closing ecosystem.
“[The committee’s goal] is really to let our agents know what they need to do and the tools they need to stay in the game,” he said. The committee’s aim is to help independent title agents in CATIC’s network continue to provide value to lenders, real estate agents, and other stakeholders. “It’s about equipping our agents with the value message and the tools they need to stay competitive,” he said.
The concept of equipping “change agents” ultimately boils down to educating title agents on changes, helping them discover the right technology, and encouraging them to focus on solutions that strengthen partnerships to create a unified real estate ecosystem.
At the onset of the pandemic in March, CATIC’s first order of business was to ensure employees were safe. Then, CATIC sought to educate its agency base with the tools and information they needed to navigate the pandemic.
CATIC offered digital training including remote online notarization (RON) videos and also sent out hundreds of local alerts and information in real-time when local executive orders were released. The goal was to ensure title agents who were accustomed to in-person closings were equipped with the proper tools to handle closings safely, whether in-person or remotely.
The right technology
CATIC’s catalyst committee evaluates third party providers to vet which ones are focused on creating an “Amazon experience” with easy-to-use interfaces that enable positive user experiences on the title agent, client, and end-consumer side.
The right technology not only improves the user experience, but it also creates efficiencies that benefit the entire ecosystem. Czapiga said his team of consultants help “extol the virtues of workflow changes for title agents to demonstrate how the technology will make them more efficient and productive.”
A focus on solutions for the broader ecosystem
The pandemic made clear how important strong partnerships are for agility and business continuity. Real estate closings require coordination from a variety of stakeholders including title & escrow companies, mortgage lenders, real estate agents, and underwriters.
Overall, Czapiga said that the industry must move away from legacy systems that hinder stakeholders from working together efficiently. “For example, some institutions have legacy systems that are 25 years old and don’t talk to anything,” he said. “This forces everyone to use insecure and inefficient processes in order to work with them.”
Are businesses ready to overhaul their outdated systems?
Right now, most businesses are focused on keeping their heads above water. “I think most are in a bunker mentality because of the volume they are experiencing,” Czapiga said. “Every week it seems like a new record is hit, and businesses don’t have the bandwidth or time to change systems.”
Czapiga said that once volume slows down, he expects mortgage lenders and title & escrow companies to seriously evaluate their systems and how they interact with partners to enable better transaction experiences.
Qualia is building the infrastructure to support a single system of record for real estate transactions. To learn more about Qualia’s title & escrow workflow software click below to schedule a demo.