As technology, market conditions, and client expectations evolve, title agencies must examine their businesses to ensure they’re prepared for what’s to come. Making impactful operational improvements now sets title agencies up for faster growth when market conditions improve and helps them navigate future market cycles better than their competition.
Alex Brown, Director of Title Strategy at Qualia, recently shared top themes for title agencies looking to future-proof their business. These themes can help title agencies implement effective strategies that position them for success when volume returns.
Four themes for title agencies looking to future-proof their operations
As title agencies plan for their business’s long-term future, these four themes can help them identify crucial areas to invest their attention.
1. Security: prioritizing security at each stage of the transaction
Fraud is an issue across industries, but one that hits real estate particularly hard. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) found that from 2016 to 2021, losses from business email compromise (BEC) increased by 566%. As the title industry continues to digitize and more employees are working remotely, it’s inevitable that fraud and attempted fraud will continue to increase as well. Brown explained that although more technology options are available to real estate professionals than ever before, many of these tools can open the door to additional security risks—especially if key stakeholders aren’t following best practices for security.
He advised that title agencies do their due diligence when vetting potential technology. Practicing vendor due diligence can give title agencies peace of mind that their business partners are prioritizing security and protecting their data. Secure technology partners also take the burden off of internal IT resources, which enables teams to allocate resources to additional business objectives. For example, instead of using multiple, siloed tools to share and store sensitive information, title agencies can invest in a single, cloud-based portal with security features like two-factor authentication, security logs, and necessary certifications and standards, such as SOC 2 Type II and maintenance of ALTA Pillar 3 best practices.
2. Efficiency: standardizing workflows for scalable processes
Brown shared two main areas where title agencies can improve their efficiency: people and systems.
The people side of efficiency involves training employees to help them complete transactions faster and giving them the tools to be successful at their jobs. This tactic works well up until a point, as people doing tasks themselves can only cut down so much time without technological assistance.
The systems side of efficiency involves creating standardized processes that enable more efficient operations—an area where companies can really maximize efficiency gains. This method starts with identifying inefficient processes that are slowing down transactions. Brown noted that during the housing market in 2020 and 2021, title agencies were less concerned about operational efficiency and more focused on staying on top of high volume. Now, during a down market, title agencies have more time to assess their operations and workflows through the lens of efficiency.
Brown said that title agencies can improve existing workflows by using automation to reduce repetitive tasks and standardize workflows. These improvements can simplify processes and save agents valuable time during transactions. Agents can, for example, use technology that triggers automatic information requests to collect information from buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and lenders. Leveraging these automatic requests means that agents don’t need to take time out of their day to send simple reminders for basic information. It also standardizes how agents collect information to reduce the need to rekey information into their title production software. As a result of using information requests in Qualia Connect, Qualia users reported receiving basic information back from clients five times faster than without Connect, according to a recent user survey.
3. Client experience: delivering a differentiated client experience
Taking good care of clients has always been important to businesses, but as clients’ expectations change, so do good customer service practices. Brown explained that in a tighter market, it’s becoming increasingly important for title agencies to not only adapt, but to differentiate themselves from their competitors. He said that the new differentiator for title agencies is providing their clients with options to customize their own closing experience. Doing so will make it more likely that 1) clients engage with a title agency and 2) that they come back for future business.
According to Brown, allowing clients to “self-serve” during transactions is one way that title agents can provide them with options. Self-serve alternatives enable clients to monitor their progress online and finish simple activities, such as providing information and signing paperwork, without having to contact their title agency for all information regarding their closing. Self-serve solutions not only give customers more transparency, but they also free up title agents’ time so that they may focus on more pressing tasks.
4. Preparing for ‘what’s next’
Many title agencies are looking for “what’s next” in the industry to help improve the longevity of their business. To accomplish this, Brown encouraged title agencies to consider long-term strategies for client experience and operational improvements. He explained that the industry is heading toward a model that gives clients more options for how they want to close.
This additional flexibility enables homebuyers and sellers to choose if they want an in-person closing, a fully digital closing, or something in between. Title agencies that offer a variety of closing types are usually more attractive than those with less flexibility and that only offer in-person closings. While increased options are a differentiating factor now, Brown said it will be table stakes in the future. He encouraged title agencies to make these changes now to be prepared for increased volume as market conditions improve.
Lastly, Brown shared that title agencies should look for integration opportunities with consistent sources of business, such as lenders and real estate brokerages. If a lack of integrations makes it difficult for other closing parties to collaborate with one title agency, they may choose to work with a more fully integrated company. For example, title agencies with an automatic order opening process offer a much better experience compared to emailing back and forth with clients just to open an order. Brown said that these operational improvements contribute to greater client satisfaction over time. Title agencies that are easy to work with and make an effort to adapt to modern client needs will inevitably create new business opportunities while fostering existing relationships.
Want to learn more about how to differentiate your business and become more efficient? Speak with an expert today.