MReport May 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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16 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY Sales, WFG National Title, it is im- portant to bring process efficiency and transparency to the customer. This is where technology has made the process more streamlined for consumers and lenders. "On the retail/consumer side and agent side, digital applications like MyHome are creating a more transparent process that keeps them advised of where they are and what's next in the process," Slonaker said. "On the institu- tional or lender side, technology is providing the same digital experi- ence but even greater transpar- ency with where exceptions are and managing through service level agreements and data." But the best outcomes for customer experience begin "when all the parties involved in support- ing a real estate transaction—the lender, title and settlement provider and the real estate agent—are com- mitted to delivering superior customer experience," said Chris Leavell, COO, First American Title Insurance Company. "Our emphasis on providing this experi- ence shapes our investments in technology and innovation, and fuels how we approach the shift towards a more digital real estate closing process." Tech for Title T he title industry is modern- izing quickly, driven by rising consumer expectations," said Nate Baker, CEO and Co-Founder, of Qualia. "The biggest opportunity and challenge in title is to take a lesson from Amazon and make consumer obsession the north star of every title company." While it has made considerable strides in technology, the title in- dustry today also faces challenges stemming from the increased pace of technological innovation, and the introduction of new real estate transaction business models. "iBuyers such as Opendoor and Zillow Instant Offers are attracting billions of dollars of investment, and a heightened ex- pectation from all clients for their buying experience driven by the click-button nature and immediate gratification of the Amazon-type purchase experience," Baker said. From a lender's perspective, the wide disparity in processes and technologies used throughout the industry is one of the biggest chal- lenges facing title companies today. "There are so many differ- ent processes used across title companies and their agents that it can create inefficiencies on the closing side for real estate agents and mortgage lenders," said Matt Clarke, CFO and COO of Churchill Mortgage. "Likewise, if you combine the process disparity with the rapid pace of techno- logical change, and the industry's move towards e-closings, there's much work to be done to facili- tate a streamlined, digital process for title companies, realtors, and lenders alike." As the industry looks to overcome this challenge of pro- cess and innovation, and move towards a digital experience to improve the front- and back-end customer experience, "digital transformation will continue to remain in focus in the title space," Slonaker said. "We will increas- ingly see more integrations with marketing/CRM and LOS/POS systems with a seamless digital experience as integrated options and services through a seam- less digital solution are put in place. Through these solutions, the lender/client will be able to achieve greater savings, a better customer journey and a winning equation in a tough market." According to Jack Goisse, President, American Home Title LLC, the title industry is already feeling the impact of new technolo- gies such as blockchain, remote online notary, eClosings, and other such technology designed to reduce costs, increase quality, and create a better consumer experience. "These technologies will likely play a large role in the industry's approach to data and cybersecurity, which are prominent areas of risk," Goisse said. "The costs and time invested in implementing the right solutions, employee awareness, training, and the proper insurance or risk management safeguards will continue to escalate." Sharing a personal experience he had with a closing recently, Ben Hall, VP, Premium Title said that it was a good reality check on how far the industry had come in terms of technology. "With three active children and a working spouse, I didn't have overly specific expectations. I wanted it done fast, accurately, and with the least amount of disruption to my personal and professional life," he recounted. "The majority of the documents were signed electronically and correspondence was largely man- aged through a mobile app. It was relatively painless and fun." But…it took way too long. "It just goes to show that, though the industry has made significant technological advance- ments in the last decade, there's great work to be done before the consumer is truly in the driver's seat," Hall said. As consumers look for speed and ease, the future adoption of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digitized records would certainly improve efficiencies and security in the title process. But to really make these technologies effective, "title companies will need to look outside their lane and identify strong partnerships and synergies across the loan lifecycle," Hall said. Building Partnerships T wo key elements when working with title companies are relationships and resources," Clarke said. "Relationships lie at the core of the mortgage business and it's important for lenders and title companies to work together with honesty and integrity." Additionally, Clarke said that these relationships are the difference between great cus- tomer experience and one that's unsatisfying for borrowers. "If you're working with the right title company, information should move quickly and efficiently between two companies. This will ensure borrowers close on time and create a highly referable lender process," he said. Baker agreed. "The closing expe- rience provided by these companies is considered an extension of the lenders' and brokerages' brand they partner with," he said. "That brand association has grown even more as technology advancements create more of a divide between forward- thinking, technology-enabled companies and those that continue with outdated business practices." "Title agents provide a valuable resource in assuring the consumer that their property rights would be well protected. Yet, much of their work goes unnoticed. The lack of visibility to the consumer of the value of the effort is a challenge." —Mary O'Donnell, CEO, Westcor Land Title Insurance Co.

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