Let’s admit it. In the world of the title agency, client interaction is one of the biggest push-pull situations we know. On the one hand, of course we want to be there personally to talk to the REALTOR, buyer, seller or even loan officer. Every time, so that we can deliver the human touch…and better than our competitors do. On the other hand, all of us want the closing done as soon as possible, as smoothly as possible. Especially the same clients who are calling us to find out where the closing will take place. Over and over again.
The two things don’t always align perfectly. And, guess what? That push-pull is only getting stronger.
Let’s start with the “pull,” or the drive to get the closing done faster and more smoothly. We’re entering one of the first—and strongest—purchase origination markets we’ve truly seen in years. Costs will be higher. Efficiency is an imperative. Everyone wants the transaction closed. The real estate agent wants her client to be happy and, for the selling agent, receiving a commission is important too. That can’t happen until after closing. The title agent wants to move on to the next order. And, of course, the lender wants the threat of fall through or fall out to be over.
The “push” of customer service also starts with the change of market cycles. Unlike the typical refinance mortgage, the purchase mortgage involves quite a bit more customer service. For starters, there are usually two real estate agents involved. There’s also a seller. And the buyer, in most instances, is a lot more anxious as well. It’s a much more emotional transaction. The period between sales agreement and closing is notoriously agonizing for everyone, but especially the real estate agents and their clients. If a refinance falls through, there’s a little disappointment. But when keys and moving plans are on the line, it’s a crisis if the closing doesn’t happen.
Now, add in the drive for even more transparency. TRID may be over five years old, but it continues to have a profound effect on the number of questions a title agency needs to resolve before closing, and usually, during the last day or two prior to close, when things are most chaotic. It’s a good thing that consumers now see their settlement costs before arriving at the closing table. But it also amounts to more time away from making the closing happen for the title agent’s staff. Push. Pull.
This pressure point will only get stronger in coming years. Consumers are being shown every day by other industries how easy life can be with online and digital transactions. Today, we deposit checks with our phones, sign student loans on iPads and order groceries, clothes and furniture with a swipe or a click. Increasingly, Americans are expecting an Amazon-like experience when they buy homes, too. It’s also clear that regulatory and enforcement agencies will be doubling down on their pressure upon the industry to make things more transparent.
All of this adds up to a growing concern for the title agent. A purchase market, where margins tend to be a bit slimmer, is not the time or place to have to add additional FTE’s to manage call volume or email inquiries. Of course, there are other solutions. AI based solutions. Conversational AI powered solutions. Well, at least one…and we here at Alanna.ai should know!