Real estate purchase activity naturally ebbs and flows with the seasons. There’s usually reliable data that point to exactly when these rises and falls will occur in the calendar year. This year, however, the rhythms of the real estate market went out the window. Refinance activity soared for the entire year due to the persistently low interest rates (which are expected to continue into 2021). Meanwhile, high purchase and resale activity surprised those who expected a slowdown during a pandemic.
At the Qualia-sponsored HousingWire event, “Looking Ahead: How to Build on 2020’s Housing Tech Boom,” Angela Lozano, National Operations Manager at Title Forward, and Jim O’Donnell, President at Equity National, discussed how they’ve leveraged outsourcing, automation, and other technology to reduce employee burnout and exceed client expectations during unprecedented volume.
Technology must-haves in 2021
Lozano and O’Donnell outlined the technology that businesses must adopt to effectively scale their operations in 2021. Both emphasized the importance of implementing secure technology that meets industry standards and protects non-public information.
Third-party and vendor integrations
Lozano and O’Donnell both pointed to the use of outsourcing as a useful and necessary tool to manage the peaks and valleys of the market. The challenge that persists with outsourced assistance is that there is still quite a bit of management of the vendor. This is where integrated technology comes into play. For example, in Qualia Marketplace, title agents can order services directly from their core workflow and continue to manage the process within the associated file.
Lozano also noted the value of third-party providers like Simplifile for e-recording who can further streamline digital processes. “Any third-party you can integrate with [through your operating system] is a must-have in a virtual world,” she noted.
Customer & client portals
Back-and-forth communication and status updates are not an efficient use of time, nor are they a proactive and positive way to interact with clients and customers. Customer and client portals like Qualia Connect enable all parties to convene in one place to view progress towards different milestones and to obtain documents.
As the industry advances digitally, there will be more opportunities for all stakeholders involved in a transaction to automate their exchanges with one another. This will help limit the number of clicks and rekeying necessary to complete a task and create efficiencies. With automated solutions, teams can move from completing a few files per day to completing dozens of files per day.
Building a plan to scale
Successfully optimizing technology requires a keen understanding of the core systems in use as well as how people are using those systems day-to-day. Lozano and O’Donnell offered three tips for scaling technology solutions.
- Develop a deep understanding of your core technology platforms. Understanding the ins-and-outs of your software’s capabilities will help you determine whether it can scale to meet your needs. “We’re frequently requesting tweaks to make our systems more efficient and customized to our client’s preferences,” O’Donnell noted.
- Shadow your team to identify efficiency opportunities. Lozano stressed the importance of spending time with each team to watch how they interact with their systems to complete tasks. “It’s eye-opening to see which buttons they click and how long it takes them to transact in the system,” she said. (For a full plan on how shadow your team’s operations, click here.)
- Identify ways to streamline communication. “Get away from emails and find ways to notate files so people can get information easily without having to retrieve it from someone else,” Lozano said.
What lies ahead
This year’s events have pushed many industries online. In the year ahead, choosing the right technology and working to scale digital operations effectively will set successful businesses apart. “One thing this pandemic has brought to light is our need to get out this antiquated world we’ve been living in,” Lozano said. “If there’s one silver lining, it’s that this pandemic has pressed the fast-forward button to us getting there.”
To learn more about how Qualia is enabling tech-forward businesses to scale their operations, click below to schedule a conversation with a Qualia specialist.