As our team reflects on this past year, we are grateful to be part of such an energized and resilient community. 2022 has been a challenging year for the real estate industry. After record-breaking volume over the past few years, the housing market has cooled significantly. But, regardless of these challenges, our community has taken initiative to continue driving real estate forward.
Slower markets gave many organizations time to reassess their strategies to find new, more efficient ways of collaborating between internal teams, clients, and business partners during transactions. At the local level, many of our customers were recognized for outstanding service to their communities, including Bluegrass Land Title, a Best of Lexington award winner in the Title Category, ROC Title Agency, named to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s annual Best of Las Vegas list, and Marc Canner of Canner Law, who was named one of the top real estate attorneys in Boston by Expertise.com. Additionally, Allied Title & Escrow was recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in D.C. by the Washington Business Journal. We are proud of our community’s progress in these markets to deliver simple, secure, and enjoyable transactions.
Keep reading for some of the top highlights and exciting innovations this year in the real estate sector.
Real estate is local: making an impact in local communities
Real estate professionals have long played an integral role in their local communities. Deep local knowledge combined with interpersonal connections means title agents, lenders, and real estate agents are in a unique position to help build better communities. These characteristics were evident in 2022 as real estate professionals donated their time and resources to give back to the communities they serve, both nationally and locally.
Businesses across the country organized fundraisers for charitable organizations, such as Guaranty Closing and Title Services, which supported veterans by raising funds for Old Glory Honor Flight. Many companies also incorporated charitable giving into their business models. Two examples include Charity Title Agency, which donates 100% of its profits each year to charity, and Stewart Title, which supports local communities through its Community Service Awards Program.
In October, the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation announced that they reached $1 million in donations, an amount that will undoubtedly continue to grow as we close out 2022. Since 2017, the foundation has supported title professionals’ charitable efforts by providing grants to 501(c)(3) organizations supported by ALTA members. In 2022, one of these grants included a $10,000 emergency grant to aid Florida victims and evacuees after Hurricane Ian. Throughout this year, ALTA members came together to sponsor and donate to a number of ALTA Good Deeds fundraisers at industry events. Major donors included Fidelity National Financial, Westcor Land Title Insurance Company, and Liberty Title.
Expanding access to homeownership with innovative approaches
Increased inflation and economic struggles meant that affordable housing was out of reach for many Americans in 2022. Instead of waiting for a change, companies across the real estate industry found innovative ways to enable more options for homeownership. During FORES22 in April, two company leaders, Adena Hefets, Co-Founder & CEO of Divvy Homes, and Alex Lofton, President & Co-Founder of Landed, shared their thoughts on addressing housing affordability. They said that lack of supply is one of the biggest barriers to affordable housing and that new homebuying models, such as rent-to-own and down payment assistance, can expand access to homeownership.
Another trend with the potential to improve affordability is the rise of digital closings. In 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the SECURE Act. If the SECURE Act becomes federal law, it will allow nationwide use of remote online notarization (RON) technology and set universal baseline standards for RON usage. This type of legislation helps remove barriers that have made it difficult for the industry as a whole to adopt digital closings.
While one of the main benefits of digital closings is greater efficiency, they can also help make closings more affordable and accessible. Digital closings can help lenders and title companies reduce costs and offer more affordable rates while giving homebuyers greater flexibility in how they want to close on their homes. For example, digital closings can mean that a homebuyer doesn’t have to take time off work to sign closing documents. These capabilities can make closings easier and more accessible for those with less flexible schedules.
Industry focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion
At FORES22, ALTA CEO Diane Tomb shared that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are top of mind for ALTA—especially in driving forward a more inclusive future for homeownership. During her discussion, Tomb said, “[We should be asking ourselves] do we look like the customers we are serving, and if not, how do we get there?”
One initiative bridging this gap is Axis Lending Academy, which aims to increase diversity in the mortgage lending space by providing free education and career opportunities to support a new generation of learners. Its COO, Paul Gigliotti, recently joined Qualia’s Mortgage Minutes podcast to discuss how lenders can redevelop themselves in a slower market to prepare for 2023. He encouraged businesses to “realize what the next wave of homeownership looks like” and create teams that are focused on collaborating with a wide range of future homebuyers.
The year ahead: using 2022 as a springboard for 2023
Navigating real estate’s cyclical nature is nothing new to industry veterans. Many business leaders responded proactively to the challenges of 2022 to take advantage of the ups and downs of the market. They used this time to go back to the drawing board and ask themselves, “how can we do this better?”
Many executives we spoke to this year offered their perspectives on identifying opportunities amid uncertainty. These included implementing more agile and interconnected workflows, discovering new business ventures, and making long-term investments. Those investments were designed to both improve client experience and enable them to handle periods of high volume more efficiently. These improvements will put businesses in a position to adjust quickly as market conditions inevitably change again.
As we collectively shift our focus to 2023, our vision for the future remains unchanged: develop the infrastructure you need to work more efficiently, strengthen your business’s connectivity with your clients and partners, and meet any unforeseen challenges of the time. We look forward to partnering with you to make homebuying a simple, secure, and enjoyable experience.
For additional highlights from this year, view Qualia’s 2022 Year in Review Infographic.