Real estate closings are inherently local. Title & escrow operations are often tied to local customs, regulations, and what clients in a particular region expect. Finding the right title production software is crucial to ensuring your operations can run smoothly.
We sat down with Qualia’s Senior Manager of Title Strategy, Aubri Holler, to discuss how businesses can evaluate their title production software system from the perspective of local requirements. Before joining Qualia, Holler owned and operated her own title agency in New Jersey and also worked as a consultant to advise title agents in the state. Holler currently lives in New Jersey where she continues to keep a finger on the pulse of the local market.
Local factors play an essential role in your software selection
Organizations of any size shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluate title production software. Rather, businesses should look at the local market and the demands from clients and consumers in their area to inform which software criteria are the most important for their business.
Holler offered a couple of challenges New Jersey agents face as examples of the local factors that might impact software selection.
- Seasonality & volume fluctuations. New Jersey title agents and attorneys face an unusually seasonal business. The market undergoes sharp increases and decreases at defined times throughout the year. Just like the rest of the country, New Jersey sees an uptick in transactions during the spring and summer months; however, title agents and attorneys also experience upticks during other defined times throughout the rest of the year such as November and December.
- Unique client expectations. This varied seasonality is especially challenging when it comes to delivering transparency to clients during periods of high volume. New Jersey agents often have a “dual client relationship.” This means that they serve their primary source of business (their client) as well as their client’s primary source of business. In this sense, title agents must be very aware of where their communication responsibilities lie and take care to efficiently relay information to the correct parties so that information can be properly conveyed to the consumer. Taken at scale, this communication challenge can be especially overwhelming and operationally difficult.
Evaluate and weigh software functionality with local factors in mind
In addition to thoroughly analyzing the provider from a security perspective, Holler recommended that businesses observe the following 5 features & functionality when evaluating software providers. The importance of each feature should be weighed according to the unique demands of the local market. Holler offered a few New Jersey-specific examples to illustrate how a title company might weigh these different factors from a local lens.
1) WORKFLOW AND AUTOMATION CAPABILITIES
Establishing a repeatable workflow is the key to creating and maintaining a consistent customer experience and effectively tracking performance. Consistency reduces training time and expense, helps staff become experts in their roles, and increases the productivity of all employees. For these reasons, advanced workflow capabilities are one of the most important factors for New Jersey title businesses to consider.
New Jersey title businesses often house internal title examiners and production teams in addition to closing and processing teams. Transactions tend to bounce between these teams, making it difficult for title agents to track who is working on a transaction at a given time. Capabilities such as Task Dependencies in Qualia enable title agents to keep track of what needs to be done next, how to prioritize their work, and who is working on a transaction at any given time. These types of tasking capabilities ultimately enable greater consistency and overall productivity.
If the software does not have sufficient workflow and tasking capabilities, the title processing functions will ultimately be managed and tracked outside of the system. This creates blind spots for the agents and the business as a whole. These blind spots often lead businesses to mismanage productivity gaps by hiring more people to fill gaps during high volume rather than looking at the processes themselves to discover efficiency drivers. In the case of New Jersey, where volume fluctuates often, this mismanagement can lead to a persistent hiring challenge.
2) DOCUMENT & CONTACT MANAGEMENT
Document and contact management are two complicated and critical aspects of managing a transaction. Document management is essential because each document in the real estate transaction serves a significant role. Document organization, tagging, and defined naming conventions are useful features so that each person working on a file can have a clear understanding of what has happened and what still needs to be done within a particular file.
Contact management is especially important for New Jersey agents because of the complexity of the “dual client” relationship. Contact features that provide transaction history reporting, fields for client-specific preferences, and a 360-degree view of the person with whom a title agent needs to communicate are important in delivering excellent customer service.
These features are also beneficial for appropriately managing communication portals where authorized outside parties (homebuyers, sellers, real estate agents, lenders) can submit information and engage during the closing. For example in Qualia Connect (an integrated communication portal that ties directly to the title agent’s workflow in Qualia Core), agents can provide real-time updates to specific contacts on the progress of the closing. These status updates enable clients such as real estate agents to gain transparency into the transaction and maintain positive relationships with homebuyers and sellers throughout the transaction.
3) INTEGRATIONS WITH PARTNERS
Integrations will often make or break the ability to create workflows that automate repetitive, administrative tasks that take up the valuable time of subject matter experts (SMEs). For example, in New Jersey, integrations with major vendors like Data Trace, Charles Jones, Title Wave, and Action Title Research can save title agents time that would otherwise be spent following up on title search orders and other services manually; rekeying information back into the title production software; and managing a separate billing and invoicing system with each outsourced vendor.
Relationships with underwriters, real estate agents, transaction coordinators, loan officers, and processors are vital to your organization’s operations. The software provider should have the flexibility for custom integrations, plus demonstrate existing integrations and interoperability with a wide range of lenders, underwriters, eRecording services, and other vendors.
4) INTUITIVE DESIGN
Often, users need to be able to access transaction information quickly. The design of the software should allow for easy access to information on the transaction, as well as ease of data entry. An intuitive user interface can also enable easier onboarding of new team members as well as a more prescriptive use of the system by the entire team for greater operational consistency.
5) ESCROW ACCOUNTING FEATURES
Escrow accounting features should help agents comply with ALTA best practices and safeguard against the risk of loss from fraud. Systems that allow for automated daily reconciliation, positive pay, and automatic reports help ease the added stress of daily escrow account management requirements as well as the time-consuming end of month tasks. Escrow accounting features should also allow for dual approval processes.
Discover a software provider that meets your localized needs
Real estate will always be local, and discovering a technology partner that can help you meet your local market needs is the baseline for success.
While Qualia is used by title companies nationwide, the platform was built with local title operations in mind. Qualia actively invests in establishing relationships at a local level and is committed to constantly expanding our in-depth knowledge of local operations in all 50 states. Qualia’s native adaptability to local markets makes it a prime choice for title companies looking to successfully serve their local market or extend their expertise to multiple markets.
Interested in learning more about how Qualia works in your state? Click below to schedule a time with a Qualia product specialist.