As partner demands and consumer expectations increase in changing market conditions, it’s more important than ever to deliver smooth, consistent, and on-time closings. According to a recent consumer survey, 49% of borrowers responded that a faster closing process would have resulted in a better closing experience. With this insight, title companies must prioritize speed during transactions. Identifying time-consuming tasks, leveraging automation, and optimizing workflows can help businesses deliver the fast closings that consumers demand.
One opportunity to increase efficiency is to automate and outsource the title search process. Title searches can be time-consuming and require processors to follow up multiple times to finalize. Optimizing the title search process can save valuable time and enable greater consistency for more predictable timelines. We recently connected with Kim Armstrong, VP of Title Production Services at DataTrace, a nationwide title solutions provider, to understand the top challenges that title companies face when managing title searches and how to improve the process with outsourced vendors.
The basics: what is a title search?
Title searches are a prime function to automate because they are required for nearly every real estate transaction. As many title professionals know, a title search examines a home’s chain of ownership and validates that the current owner (the seller) is the true owner of the property. The title search also reveals any property claims or liens that could disrupt the transfer of ownership. If there are any issues with the title (also known as title defects or clouds on title), the title company works to resolve these issues to ensure a clear title by closing day. This is a lengthy process that involves many steps to complete depending on the location and age of the property.
Common title search challenges
In her role at DataTrace, Armstrong has seen firsthand the challenges title companies face when managing the title search process in-house. One of the most salient challenges is speed. To complete a title search, processors perform a long list of tasks, including accessing a title plant and/or field abstractor to do a search on the property and owners, locating all liens, taxes, and any encumbrances, and reviewing the chain of title and all pertinent documents before finally delivering the commitment to the appropriate parties. Executing this process for multiple properties can result in a significant amount of time spent on title searches.
Another challenge is regionality. Armstrong explained that most title agents face difficulty maintaining expertise in multiple geographies, making the title search process especially difficult in unfamiliar regions. Processors must navigate county-specific databases and courthouses to find accurate records. If processors are unfamiliar with regional differences in recordkeeping, this process can take significantly longer. Differences in recordkeeping can also make it difficult to standardize internal processes across regions—especially if businesses are trying to expand into new or unfamiliar markets.
Automate title search ordering with outsourced vendors
According to a recent Qualia Marketplace user survey, over 70% of respondents stated that they used external abstractors to complete title searches. Outsourcing to experts and automating orders for title searches and other closing services, like collecting HOA documentation and tax certificates, can create significant time savings that give processors bandwidth for other more important tasks. For example, in Qualia Marketplace, users can set up rule-based automations to assign and place orders with their preferred vendors.
Armstrong also encouraged title companies to use software integrations to improve vendor management and scale operations. With integrations that plug directly into a title agent’s workflow, title agents can submit orders, get timely status updates, and receive completed orders all in one place. For example, processors can use Qualia Marketplace to automatically order title searches from local and national title search providers without leaving their core workflow software. With these automations, processors were able to enter title search information into the commitment 5 times faster than not using Marketplace.
Automating title search order management can also help title businesses operating in multiple regions standardize their workflows across markets. Rather than remembering how to request title information from databases and courthouses in several different states or counties, processors can follow a single workflow to acquire the required information. In Marketplace, users can set location-specific automation rules to order services based on where the closing takes place.
Lastly, by outsourcing and automating tedious and frequent functions like title searches, title companies can avoid over-hiring during periods of high volume, only to lay those people off when volume subsides. Leveraging technology that simplifies workflows can enable businesses to deliver faster closings, expand more easily into new markets, and pivot quickly as market conditions change.
Since 2018, Qualia customers have placed over one million title search orders in Marketplace. Talk with one of our product experts today to learn more about how to simplify title searches in Qualia Marketplace.