Today’s “empowered consumers” have access to more online resources than ever before to aid them throughout their homebuying journey, from search to closing. During the pandemic, the “empowered consumer” took full advantage of digital mortgage and closing options made available to them through lenders such as Better and Rocket Mortgage. In fact, Better reported a 200% increase in online mortgage applications from March 2020 to February 2021.
Despite the increase in homebuyers taking advantage of digital self-serve experiences, homebuyers still want human touchpoints. In other words, homebuyers still need real estate professionals to guide them through what remains a complicated and often stressful process.
Qualia’s 2021 Homebuyer Sentiment Index found that homebuyers rank the closing process as the most stressful and complicated part of the homebuying journey. As a result, they expect some hand-holding and communication, and information from real estate professionals before they reach the closing table. As homebuyers seek a more self-serve, digital experience during the homebuying process, title agents can leverage automation and technology to deliver real-time communication—freeing themselves up to help homebuyers through the more complicated parts of the transaction. Read on to learn what today’s homebuyer expects during the closing process and how you can deliver.
Homebuyers want more face-to-face communication prior to closing
Qualia’s survey found that 55% of future homebuyers would like to receive face-to-face communication prior to the closing date. For first-time homebuyers, the desire for face-to-face communication was even higher (60%). Additionally, when asked, “what would you value most in a future closing?” first-time homebuyers were more likely than returning homebuyers to say they valued “clear explanation of closing documents” the most.
Automated communications can help title agents exceed these expectations. By automating communications such as status updates, title professionals are freed up from fielding the back and forth calls and emails from clients about the status of their file. For example, with Qualia Connect, title companies can set up triggers within a workflow so that custom, automated messages are sent to the appropriate parties throughout the closing process after a particular milestone occurs.
When the consumer is provided real-time updates on the basics of their closing (i.e. progress on major milestones), the title agent can focus their attention away from repetitive follow-ups and status updates. Instead, they can focus on delivering information to homebuyers and sellers about what they can expect to help alleviate any confusion about the closing documents. Our survey shows that this is an area of great need. According to the latest Homebuyer Sentiment Index, homebuyers find the closing process to be the most stressful and complicated part of the real estate transaction itself. Only one in five homebuyers reported that they understood all of the closing documents signed during the closing.
Homebuyers also want digital touchpoints during the closing process
Today, there is still a gap between the amount of technology homebuyers expect during their closing process and what they actually use when they close. For example, Qualia’s survey found that the majority (51%) of future homebuyers anticipate using a digital signing platform to eSign closing documents; however, only 40% of recent homebuyers report using an eSign platform. Similarly, 45% of future homebuyers expect to use a secure mobile app or web-based portal to exchange information and receive updates, yet only 27% of recent homebuyers report using one.
As title agents know, each client and consumer want to communicate differently and they want choice when it comes to those interactions. For example, some homebuyers want to communicate via phone while others prefer to ask questions over email or within a secure portal. Technology can help title agents communicate in the manner a particular homebuyer desires without needing to make a mental note of each transaction parties’ preferences.
Title & escrow is a highly nuanced and localized process. There will always be a need for the title professional to be at the center of the transaction because of their expert knowledge to navigate the complexities of each unique closing. The digital transformation taking place in the real estate industry is not a replacement for the expertise these title agents possess—in fact technology is enabling this expertise to make its way to the homebuyers who need it.
Learn how Qualia Connect can help free up title professionals so they can engage with their clients and provide that high-touch experience.