Stephanie Brower, GM of Title & Closing Operations at Orchard, will speak at this year’s Future of Real Estate Summit (FORES21).
Brower will discuss Orchard’s entry into title & escrow and how Qualia’s technology enables her team to grow to new markets and deliver the modern home purchase experience consumers expect. We caught up with Brower before the event to discuss Orchard’s vision for homebuying and why she decided to get into the title space.
Qualia: The theme of this year’s Future of Real Estate Summit is “Real Estate is Local.” What does that immediately call to mind or mean for you?
Brower: “Real Estate is Local” calls to mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to real estate customer service best practices nationally. What will work well for a customer in Atlanta, might not work for a customer in Austin. Services and verbiage need to be localized in order to meet the needs of customers in a given market. Emphasizing specific value props for each market will lead to greater success and more trust in your product. Spending time on research and getting on-the-ground feedback from customers is essential both at launch and on an ongoing basis.
At Orchard, we hire on-the-ground local agents to work for us, rather than transferring existing agents over to new markets, because we value their first-hand experience in the market. This is especially helpful because each market will have different laws and regulations so having this knowledge is important. On the title side of things we hire local escrow officers/closers and confer extensively with our underwriters for their practical working knowledge of best practices.
Qualia: You’re the GM of Title & Closing Operations at Orchard. What is Orchard’s vision for homebuying/selling and how do closings fit into that picture
Brower: Orchard is radically simplifying the home buying and selling experience from search to close. Traditionally, homeowners looking to purchase their next home face a stressful and uncertain process—they have to either sell their old home first and move twice or buy as a contingent buyer and risk not getting their dream home. We pioneered the ‘buy before you sell’ model which solves the problem which plagues a majority of homebuyers: having to sell your old house before buying your new one. Orchard’s Offer Boost option is particularly attractive to customers in competitive markets by giving them the option of using Orchard’s cash to secure their dream home. Cash offers are more likely to be accepted by sellers—a huge benefit in the current competitive market environment.
Our customers have access to top-of-the-line technology, including the Orchard Dashboard which allows them to manage their entire transaction, from search to close, in one place. Orchard’s platform is fully integrated and has the ability to offer customers mortgage, title, and insurance options all under one roof.
In the traditional closing process, the customer has to deal with multiple parties who rarely communicate with each other. It’s overwhelming. Orchard launched Orchard Home Loans to make it easier on customers. This complements our affiliate title businesses, Orchard Title and Orchard Title of Texas, giving customers the option of a true one-stop-shop in home buying where they can close on their home with just a few clicks.
A smooth closing requires synchronization of all parties. To provide a consistent, optimal experience for customers we needed to build a title and escrow business that understands the Orchard product offering and mirrors Orchard’s commitment to customer delight.
Qualia: You’ve worked in leadership positions within the tech-enabled real estate industry for a number of years now at Workframe, Bungalo and Amherst Residential. What drew you into title and settlement?
Brower: Some folks are drawn to a specific industry and care deeply about working in that space, but for me the critical deciding factors when considering any role are:
- Culture of my immediate team and opportunity to lead/impact a large group of diverse folks
- Value of the end product to customers
- Strong leadership team with a direct and respectful workstyle
Additionally, while I did not have direct experience leading title prior, I knew how critical the business is from having led brokerage and mortgage teams and immediately understood the value I could drive for our team and customers.
We have a forward-thinking, dedicated, and relentlessly customer-committed team across the title & closing division which truly impresses me every day. I could not be more thrilled and honored to lead this group and am looking forward to our continued innovation and growth throughout 2021.
Qualia: What’s something you’re personally working on right now that you’re eager to discuss at this year’s Future of Real Estate Summit?
Brower: At Orchard Title we’ve successfully implemented a talent development program to promote folks into roles as escrow officers, funding, title, and team lead roles. Providing clear paths for advancement and training for motivated folks who join our team at all levels has been a huge focus and is the future of ensuring retention of top talent as we scale nationwide.
Having a tech-enabled, customer-focused team is critical to winning the category and the best way to fill those roles at scale is to build the talent in-house.
To hear more from Brower, register today for Qualia’s Future of Real Estate Summit, taking place on March 11th.