As real estate professionals, one of our primary “partners” in every real estate transaction is a title company (along with lenders, appraisers, inspectors, stagers, landscapers, plumbers”¦ well you get the idea).
I was recently asked by a title company representative, “What is the most important thing a title company can do for you, a real estate broker?”
My response was simple:
Ask a home buyer or seller what is the most important thing their agent can do for them, and I bet you’ll find Communicate at or near the top of the list.
Communication is key in this business.
The Escrow Process
There are a TON of steps in the escrow process that have to be completed ”“ sometimes in a specific order, sometimes things can be done in parallel ”“ for a real estate transaction to close. It is important for the agent, and to a lesser extent the agent’s broker, to know when these steps are initiated and/or completed.
As such, communicating with the real estate agent is crucial for any title company. Some title companies communicate very well. Others”¦. let us just say, “not-so-much.”
Recently, First American Title company developed “myFirstAm”, and online tool that agents and brokers can use to search for property information, open escrow, calculate title and escrow fees and create “estimated cost sheets” for their clients. First American isn’t the first title company to do this, most major title companies provide some of these services. What puts myFirstAm ahead of their competition, as far as I can see, is the ability of this system to send text messages and/or emails when title and escrow processes are initiated and completed. The agent, the broker, and even the client can be set up to get all these notifications, or a user-definable subset of the services.
I was fortunate to be able to provide some input into this system prior to launch, and to help beta test it, and it really does solve the problem of communicating between title and agent/client. Gone are the sometimes incessant phone calls between agent and escrow officer. “Where’s the preliminary title report?” “Do you have loan docs yet?” “Are the buyer/seller scheduled to sign?” “Has the loan funded?” Blah blah blah. Answers to those questions, and more, are swift, accessible and fully automated.
Now, I have no idea who difficult this system is to use from the escrow officer’s perspective. To be blunt, I don’t really care ”“ that’s their problem. Where I do care is how easy the system is to use from an agents perspective. And myFirstAm has that covered. It’s a powerful, but simple and user-friendly system.
Enough about that”¦
This post wasn’t intended to be a review of myFirstAm (though it headed down that path). I am curious as to what other title companies have an all-inclusive product like this? Not just “ordering escrow” online, but also a system to monitor, track and receive process updates via text and email. Are there others? What I’d really love to see here is a discussion about what title companies can do to improve their service to agents, and agent’s clients. Do we even agree that communication is the key component for a title company? (I’m assuming here that their title insurance products and related services are worthy, with competitive rates).
I know a LOT of people in the title business. Some of you are reading this right now. I know you are, so don’t be shy! Agents, here’s an opportunity to chime in with what you’d like to see a title company offer. How can a title company help you? Real estate buyers and sellers ”“ you’re welcome to participate too!
Please don’t bash any company or individual by name, this isn’t the place for that. But an open honest discussion would be interesting to have.
Disclosure: I was not compensated by First American for beta testing, participating in the myFirstAm focus groups, or for writing this post. Well, I did get a sandwich and a pen for being on the focus group. But other than that, no compensation was requested nor delivered.
Photo Credit: Last Conversation Piece by Cliff1066 on Flickr. CC Licensed.