The title industry is currently undergoing a seismic, digital shift. Leaders from Qualia, LemonBrew, and First American believe now is the time for the industry to unify to define the future of real estate transactions together.
Earlier this week, during the virtual TET Conference, Qualia Director of Product, Charlotte Brown, joined LemonBrew Head of Operations, Jeff Medley, and First American Director of Venture Investments, Paul Hurst. The panel discussed what lies ahead for real estate transactions after the coronavirus, how their businesses are innovating at the speed of change, and why collaborative partnerships are the way forward.
A common goal: end-to-end real estate transactions
To kick off the discussion, Hurst asked Brown and Medley to comment on how their businesses are working together to solve the points of friction inherent in the traditional closing process.
Both Qualia and LemonBrew aim to deliver an end-to-end real estate transaction experience for consumers through technology. LemonBrew offers homebuyers a single-brand experience from start-to-finish by housing a real estate brokerage, mortgage lending business, and title & abstract business under one roof. The business currently operates in 22 states and has plans to expand nationally.
LemonBrew uses Qualia to power its back office title & abstract operations and leverages Qualia’s API to maintain the LemonBrew brand throughout the closing process. They also uses Qualia Marketplace to quickly and effectively deliver title & escrow services in new regions through knowledgeable local vendors.
Innovating towards a better real estate closing experience
LemonBrew and Qualia share a similar goal for end-to-end transaction experiences. This stems from a common vision to eliminate opacity in the home purchase process and to empower consumers with a seamless transaction that makes sense from day one.
“The entire closing process from the angle of the consumer is built around a general lack of knowledge and transparency,” Medley said about the way a homebuyer is often blindly brought into the final closing. “A realtor, attorney, or lender will bring the buyer into the transaction and there’s a general unfamiliarity between the parties. We look at how technology and platforms such as Qualia can help eliminate those gaps.”
Brown agreed that the closing experience is largely a “black box” for consumers and that visibility and end-to-end transaction experiences are important to empower consumers. “Qualia is here to be the technology infrastructure and backbone for the [end-to-end transaction] movement,” she said. “Ultimately, you need a shared system of record for the whole transaction. We power the back office for title & escrow and we can extend that to other parties through tools like Marketplace and Connect to bring everyone on to a single platform.”
What lies ahead post-coronavirus?
While the pandemic has certainly been tragic on a global scale, Medley and Brown nodded to the fact that it has pushed the real estate industry forward in some meaningful ways—notably toward more streamlined transaction experiences.
“We’ve talked about title & escrow being under-resourced by technology and part of that is because there’s also not a lot of fluency when it comes to tech,” Brown noted. “Much of the time we are educating our clients on the benefits of being web-based…COVID-19 has amplified that message, and the interest in technology within the industry has accelerated.”
Medley agreed and also noted that the pandemic has exposed holes and pain points in LemonBrew’s business model which pushed his business to act aggressively to innovate. “We looked at [coronavirus] as an opportunity to help more from day one,” he said. “We increased the size of our teams by about 25% and looked at what we could learn from this.”
Medley also noted that COVID-19 has pushed remote online notarization (RON) conversations forward and that the momentum will likely continue after the pandemic. “Once you unlock the door, you really can’t close it again,” he said in reference to RON. “The days of walking into a closing with 95 pages and signing for an hour are disappearing.”
Brown also noted that COVID-19 is a “good moment to get collaborative agreement about what everyone wants [RON legislation] to look like.” Brown believes that RON will follow a similar path as TRID whereby a national crisis helped expose the pain points in the real estate transaction and pushed legislators to put forth consumer-minded solutions.
Collaborative partnerships: the way forward
In addition to a collective movement toward streamlined, digital transactions, the panelists agreed that innovating in isolation is not the way forward. A collaborative mindset will push the entire industry into the future for an improved homebuying experience.
“When something really works, it works for everyone,” Medley said of the innovations his team is working on in the payment space. “We’re working on bringing our platform to the marketplace as a whole… [when we share platforms that work] we can remove parts of the transaction that create delays and keep the industry in an antiquated system.”
Hurst added that creating end-to-end systems will invariably require synergistic partnerships and API integrations. “Otherwise it’s operational mayhem to try to pull off [an end-to-end experience] under one roof.”
To learn more about how Qualia is partnering with high-growth real estate ventures like LemonBrew to deliver an on-brand, end-to-end purchase experience, click here to learn more about our Connect API.