Posturing for Progress

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Strategic Relationship Success Keeping the consumer first is best practice for any company, but how can organizations engage the customer and get on the same page? By Mark L. Meyer T he Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and various other federal and state regulators are charged with the noble objective of protecting consumers in financial transactions. In the real estate settlement services world, and most particularly the home purchase space, questions persist among regulators about strategic relationships between business partners—such as mortgage companies, title providers, real estate brokers, and homebuilders—and the impact on the consumer. Properly designed and structured relationships between complementary service providers to a home purchase, however, can be one of the most important contributors to a buyer's positive experience. The Complex Home Purchase World A residential home purchase may well be the most complex and involved financial transaction consumers will endure. In the process, they may have to interact with 25 to 30 different people and a dozen companies: real estate, mortgage, appraisal, title, insurance, inspection, and others. Left to chance, the odds of the transaction closing smoothly, and with minimal stress, are not good. Strategic relationships between high-quality settlement service providers and business partners, however, have proven effective for establishing productive purchase and financing processes for all involved in a home purchase. The home purchase business is the most sought-after channel for settlement service providers. It offers an ongoing flow of transaction opportunities for those who perform admirably and are accountable to their real estate and builder relationships and their buyers. Therein lies the key. Strategic relationships between business partners do not last if consumers are not well served. For example, homebuilders will drop a title and escrow company verily if their customers' transactions are not closed in a proper, timely, and courteous manner. Real estate agents will avoid a mortgage company if loan officers are hard to reach, ill-informed, or not in tune with the purchase process and status. In all cases, service providers who are not cost competitive and not deemed to provide the consumer value (a quality service for the price) The M Report | 23

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