Today there are new ways in which technology is being leveraged to deepen local ties and expand regional footprints. At our Future of Real Estate Summit (FORES21), we discussed the limitations and untapped potential technology holds in helping title & escrow businesses build that local expertise and capture the local nuances to deliver closing services.
Max Lamb, Director of Business Development at Qualia, connected with Josh Terry, Partner at Tennessee Title Services, LLC, and RPR Insurance, and Bharat Das, CEO of Pippin Title, to explore this topic in more detail.
Overcoming challenges at the local level
“This past year has given many examples of helping our customers and meeting needs at a local level,” said Das. He explained that during COVID-19, state requirements to close on a property were constantly in flux. In addition, courthouse closures impacted the ability to move transactions forward. Homebuyers were increasingly frustrated with uncertain closing timelines. The timeliness of closing was more critical than ever as clients wanted to take advantage of record-low interest rates but were faced with limitations at the local level.
Das stressed the importance of consistent, clear communication on timelines for a better consumer and client experience. “Having a technology infrastructure and the Qualia Marketplace integration allows us to deliver that experience to customers and overcome local challenges, ” said Das.
In Tennessee, Nashville has long been a desirable location and is expected to be among the hottest housing markets this year. iBuyer models are now entering the region and Terry said that Tennessee Title is equipped to handle their unique closing needs. “Local customs in our middle Tennessee markets can present [iBuyers] with challenges,” Terry said. “Tech-centric companies perform closings at a much quicker pace…fortunately for us, we were able to keep the momentum that iBuyer models are accustomed to [thanks to our technology capabilities].”
Technology to account for local nuances
Tennessee Title is a growing title company with ten locations across the state and continues to expand. When evaluating new vendors to work with to aid in their continued expansion, Terry and his team gauge their efficiency, speed, and technology.
Qualia Core is Tennessee Title’s centralized, secure, cloud-based system of record. All files and documents can be accessed with ease from anywhere with an internet connection. And through Qualia Marketplace, all the closing services such as title search, release tracking, surveys, and notaries can be ordered online and accessed in one place. Terry and his team can efficiently collaborate with existing vendors and find new vendor resources as they expand into a new region. Ultimately for Terry, it’s about leveraging the technology to handle various functions and free up his team to do more.
Pippin Title is a New York-based technology company that provides services to title businesses across the country. One of Pippin Title’s key services is title search which is locally nuanced and must meet different requirements depending on the county and state. Pippin Title can successfully deliver nationwide title searches with a two-pronged approach:
- As a Qualia Marketplace vendor, their clients are able to easily order title search reports directly within their core workflow software. In addition to increasing their exposure to new clients, the benefits of this significantly simplified order submission have resulted in greater customer satisfaction and overall improved operational efficiency.
- Plus, having “boots on the ground” searchers in more than 3,000 counties across the country gives them that local drill-down approach to get documents from courthouses and access local databases to find records.
This combination empowers Pippin Title to provide highly localized services and an exceptional client experience.
An operational challenge: expanding into new markets
Tennessee Title’s market reaches from Memphis to the Tri-Cities. Even before the pandemic, flexibility and remote access were top priorities so that the business could effectively serve all of its metropolitan and rural markets regardless of proximity to Tennessee Title’s main offices.
Terry and his team rely on key relationships with smaller vendors who have local market expertise in remote areas that Tennessee Title does not have physical offices. Tennessee Title leverages integrated, cloud-based technology to effectively interface and operate with vendors. Therefore, it’s important that these vendors also embrace similar technology. Terry and his team have been able to promote digital synergy among their smaller local vendors and larger vendor networks alike with the goal to get everyone working on the same, connected system. In their next phase of growth, Tennessee Title will continue to partner with new local vendors that fit into their technology and processes.
For Pippin Title, technology has played a crucial role in the businesses’ expansion across the country as well as enabling local reach in various markets. A cloud-based infrastructure has allowed them to seamlessly operate nationwide. Das gave the example of the unexpectedly harsh winter storms that hit Texas this past February. His teams in the impacted regions were unable to work for a period of time. Despite these challenges, Pippin Title was able to keep business moving by distributing the work through their cloud base capabilities, with little disruption to their clients’ transactions. Das said that providing clients with real-time updates is essential to Pippin Title’s service offering. Having the right technology in place also allowed them to keep customers apprised of the process during the storms.
Delivering better closing experiences
The digital transformations in real estate will continue post-pandemic. Das believes that there is no going back. For title agents, the speed and efficiency in closing a transaction will be paramount to their success.
“Furthur digitization, advanced logistics, improvements in the processes that people use to perform real estate transactions need to step up and suit the needs of the consumer,” said Das. He predicts that companies that can deliver a better experience to the homebuyer will be the ones that thrive in the real estate industry this year and into the next.
Whether it’s a large or small title company, as Terry said, it’s all about leveraging the technology to handle the manual, repetitive tasks so that teams can focus on the client experience.
To watch Das, Terry, and Lamb’s conversation from the Future of Real Estate Summit, click below to watch a recording of the session.