Mortgage lenders rely on title & escrow companies for essential information throughout the mortgage process, yet most of this information lacks real-time access and transparency. Title & escrow is essentially a “black box,” but it doesn’t have to be. 

During a recent National Mortgage News webinar, Qualia Manager, Lender Sales Team, Ty Cieloha, sat down with Todd Howard, President of Redstone Title Services, LLC, and Meg Eldridge, Originator and Branch Manager at Colten Mortgage, to discuss how to optimize lender-title relationships.

Lender-title relationships can make or break the borrower experience

When it comes to borrower experience, communication between lenders and title companies matters. “The consumer doesn’t understand the difference between the lender, the title company, and the realtor,” Howard said. When a borrower communicates a piece of information to one point person in the transaction, they assume the information is relayed to all necessary parties. 

In this sense, the borrower views all the parties working on their transaction as a single team—not multiple entities. “The moment a file is opened, the lender and title company are contractually bonded,” Eldridge said. These parties must act as a single, unified team to move the transaction forward. 

Strategies to strengthen relationships & create transparency 

Eldridge and Howard offered a few strategies for lenders and title companies to foster deep connections and operate as a single team. 

Start off new partnerships on solid footing 

Just like any relationship, first impressions are everything. Eldridge takes multiple measures to ensure relationships with new title partners start out on solid footing. She will first introduce her team of loan assistants, processors, and main points of contact and she will then pick up the phone to introduce herself. “I make it personal upfront,” Eldridge explained. 

Howard agreed that first impressions are imperative in any lender-title relationship. By establishing a personal relationship from the beginning, both teams feel comfortable communicating freely with one another without hesitation. Part of the introductions should invariably include specifics around who to contact from the team. “We recently moved from an assembly line process to a teams-based process,” Howard explained. “This allows us to offer a single point person so that you know who your main point of contact is on a closing from start to finish and can develop that relationship.” 

Educate yourself on the other side of the transaction

Understanding the other side of the transaction is fundamental for ensuring seamless, on-time closings. For example, a title processor that understands the loan process will know that if a borrower changes a name on a particular form the loan will need to go through the entire loan underwriting process again. “Make sure your entire staff understands what it means to get a mortgage loan [and] make sure you’re speaking the same language as the mortgage team,” Howard said. 

Eldridge agreed that understanding the entire transaction process from both sides is imperative. Her team runs regular lunch and learn sessions with their title partners to educate them on the loan process and where potential hiccups can occur in the process. 

Eliminate straight-line communication

Oftentimes someone from the title company will talk to a borrower and then the borrower will have a separate conversation with the lender where the new information is exchanged. “This creates a gap where what the borrower tells the title company and lender are not the same thing,” Eldridge said. “One thing we work on is making sure that communication is a circle and not a straight line.” 

To create circular communication, it’s important for lenders and title companies to establish a “single team” mentality upfront and maintain consistent communication throughout the transaction. Howard recommended that title companies and lenders “tickle the file” by providing regular notes and updates on the progress of the closing. It’s also helpful to have a single space where the entire transaction party can convene to exchange information and receive updates. Howard leverages Qualia Connect to provide regular milestone updates to the entire transaction team and the consumer in real-time. 

Communicate issues early and often

When an issue arises that impacts a transaction, it’s tempting for one party (either the lender or the title company) to solve the problem internally and to protect partners from the burden of solving the issue with them. In reality, these problems often need to be resolved together. 

For example, a title company may come up with a solution to a closing issue independently and later learn that the resolution won’t work because of the lender’s investor requirements. “Let the [other party] know when problems come up right away and work as a team to solve them,” Eldridge said. 

Establish a single team mindset with the right tools

There’s no replacement for a human-centered relationship, and both Eldridge and Howard advocated for lenders and title companies to focus on establishing relationships with their transaction counterparts. However, relying solely on personal relationships to ensure smooth operations is a misstep, and one that both Eldridge and Howard agreed should be avoided. 

It’s important to have the right systems in place to streamline operations with outside partners. This is where technology is increasingly playing a role. Qualia, the system of record for thousands of title companies across the country, is making lender and title touchpoints easier. Our platform brings the many points of interaction between lenders and title companies (from order opening to post-closing) into one common system. 

To learn more about Qualia’s lender solutions, click below to schedule a time with one of our lender product specialists. 

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