2020 has been a historic year for the mortgage lending and real estate industry at large. Across the nation, settlement agencies have experienced record activity from an influx in refinances and rebounding home sales. These fluctuations in volume point to the importance of the vendor ecosystem for increasing operational efficiency.
Not all vendor relationships are created equal, however. During a recent October Research Webinar, Charlie Carpenter, founder and attorney at Forward Law, and Chuck Haney, founder, president, and CEO of Sign X, joined Qualia’s VP of Marketing, Matt Kaufman, to discuss how the right technology and partners can make all the difference.
For title operations large and small, outsourcing is the name of the game
As we’ve discussed in the past, outsourcing is not a solution for every process and it should not be used for tasks that provide business-differentiating value to your clients. Carpenter explained that outsourcing was a tool that enabled his team to focus on customer service. “Most of the issues that arise during the closing process happen before the actual signing,” Carpenter explained. “So [the signing] was something I felt we could outsource.”
Carpenter outlined several key benefits of outsourcing including:
- Cost advantages. “You can get several jobs completed in the closing process for a much lower cost [than increasing headcount],” Carpenter said.
- Efficiency increases. Specialized service providers have greater proficiency in their field of expertise, which enables them to work more efficiently.
- Focus on business differentiation. By outsourcing certain tasks, Carpenter noted that his team could focus on providing title expertise and customer service to clients instead of focusing time and energy on tasks outside of their core business.
- Access to skilled resources. With outsourcing, businesses can tap into professionals with more specialized knowledge and credentials (such as certified notaries with remote online notarization experience).
How to evaluate vendors for the best partnership
Haney discussed several criteria businesses should consider when evaluating a potential vendor partner.
Haney stressed that excellence does not mean perfection. His team never promises perfection because challenges in the closing process are quite common. Instead, he promises excellent customer service with a focus on responsiveness and availability. “Your vendor should be responsive not only to you but your clients and customers too,” he said.
Ease of order and fulfillment (integrations)
Many vendors directly integrate with title software. For example, Sign X directly integrates with Qualia Marketplace. This enables title & escrow agents to open orders and communicate on that order directly within their software system instead of jumping from one vendor portal to another.
“The ability to integrate is a huge advantage,” Haney noted. Carpenter also added that integrations enable his team to move away from email communications. “Sometimes on an email, I have no idea what file a vendor is even talking about,” Carpenter said. “Within Qualia, the message is attached directly to a file.”
Security standards that match your own
The mortgage lending and title industry have taken great strides to ensure security standards that protect client data. These safeguards go out the window when a vendor with sub-standard security measures enters the transaction. “All the security protocols put in place by the lender and title company are sacrificed by the vendor,” Hany noted. He encouraged businesses to look at their vendor’s security protocols from start to finish.
Most vendors offer error and omission coverage (E&O). Haney encouraged businesses to look for more coverage from their vendors. “An online notary could be at a Starbucks [for example] working on a file and a hacker could gain access to their system. That would not be an E&O claim. You would need cyber insurance,” Haney explained.
Automation is alleviating pain points in the title-vendor relationship
For many settlement agencies and firms like Forward Law, one-click confirmations, made possible through integrated technology, enable stronger partnerships. “There’s a lot of wasted time with emails and back-and-forth communication that doesn’t need to happen,” Carpenter said, “The industry is ripe for automation… I want more efficiency and streamlined communication [with vendors].”
To hear more from Carpenter and Haney about evolving vendor relationships, click below to download a recording of the October Research webinar sponsored by Qualia.