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Archive for the ‘Title & Escrow’ Category

          The last couple of years have been frustrating, exciting, and down right frightening. We have all seen our business decrease and have had to make major adjustments to our business operations.  One of the things I have learn over the last couple of years is the great variety in attitudes that title company owners and managers have.  Some are frustrated and have a negative attitude which is seen in their company and in their relationship with their clients.  Others just accept the situation, and try to make the best of it, and address problems as they arise.  Finally, there is a small group of individuals who are optimistic and are planning for better times and are make plans to adapt and grow as the market improves.

          Everything I have read says the hay-day of real estate is gone.  The fast growth and inflated real estate values together with the easy at which mortgage funds were available has evaporated, and will probably not be back.  The recovery from the Great Recession will be slow.  From what I have gathered, the real estate market is beginning to improve, but there are still problems which need to be cleared before we see any real growth and improvement.  There needs to be a settling or reduction in mortgage foreclosures and the large inventory of lender owned property needs to be reduced.  But, these event will come and we need to plan now for the future.

          The title and escrow industry has seen a change in business models and relationships with clients, customers and competitors.  First, the searching process has changed.  No longer does a searcher complete an extensive review of land records.  Large title insurance companies are sending their searches off-shore to control costs.  Many companies are completing a “short” search. These practices have been implements to reduce costs and to improve production time.  Second,  the closing process has changed.  Software has improved the production and accuracy of settlement statements and closing documents.   It has also improved the way information is delivered to our clients and customers.  The use of independent notaries has changed the way many lenders and title companies complete the closing process.  Laws and regulations have placed more restrictions and requirements on real estate closings.   Third, employment situations have changed.  Compensation has increase and in many cases has been a burden to many companies. The competition to keep employees and to avoid the pirating of staff has strained the financial ability of many title and escrow companies.  With the reduced number of closings, many of these high priced individuals are no longer affordable.   Fourth, real estate has changed.  In the past, stocks, bonds, and other securities have had problems with fraud.  Real estate was viewed as a stable and secure investment.  However, real estate is now plagued with fraud and questionable tactics.  Each title and escrow company has had to implement a better program to protect itself against these fraudulent transactions.  With the liability of title insurance claims and the fiduciary liability of escrows, there needs to be improved procedures and practices within the title and escrow company.

          Attitude will make a difference when addressing the problems and changes in real estate. Many companies have had minimal problems in the pass and feel that their past operational procedures will continue to provide protection against claims and financial problems in the future.  Some title companies have just increase their reserves to cover the increased claims problems.  No longer can a title company sit back and address problems as they arise.  There needs to be an aggressive plan of attack.  Each title and escrow professional must understand the types of problems associated with real estate transactions and closing today.  The competition for business is huge.  But we cannot let this competitive nature blind us to the problems that our industry is facing.   Let’s all become aware of the problems and do those things than will make the title and escrow industry the respected and professional industry we all know it is.

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