How to Talk to Homebuyers About Title Insurance
Title Agent Tips Training and Education

How to Talk to Homebuyers About Title Insurance

Justin Nedell

New websites, applications, and digital marketing have changed the way that consumers begin their search for a home, but more importantly, the amount of information available to them. What used to be a phone call to your family member asking for their recommendation in selecting a neighborhood has now become an online process, learning all the steps to buying a home along the way.

This creates an opportunity for title companies to not only educate homebuyers on their role in the real estate transaction but also empower consumers to feel confident that they are working with the right company. Helping the homebuyer understand the role of title insurance and how it protects their investment can be supported with digital marketing, face-to-face conversations, and strategically providing the right resources.

We spoke with Andi Bolin of Stewart Title Company and Linda Grahovec of Fidelity National Financial Family of Companies to hear their thoughts on why the future is bright for title companies willing to make the effort and how to go about it. They are both members of ALTA’s Homeowner Outreach Program (HOP) and support its effort to connect title agents to the consumer through training, education, and marketing strategies.

 

You can also listen to the full Title Talks podcast by clicking here.

 

Title Agents Need to Better Connect With Consumers

It’s no surprise to hear that the average homebuyer and seller doesn’t have a strong understanding of what a title agent does. They’re often leaning on their real estate agent to have a broad understanding of all the moving pieces in a real estate transaction. 

Yet real estate agents are incredibly busy and can’t devote the time to fully understanding every part of the process – home inspections, title insurance, closing services, attorney services, appraisals, and more. As Linda said, “They can’t be experts on everything.” This opens up the possibility that the real estate agent isn’t able to answer all the questions that a homebuyer has about a title company’s role. 

Consumers are the ones buying title insurance, so shouldn’t they fully understand what it does for them? Ultimately, it’s better to take control of the information surrounding title insurance and title agents rather than allowing others to explain it for you.

In the future, consumers may even feel more inclined to select a title company to work with instead of relying on their real estate agent’s recommendation – just as they have done in finding their home and a mortgage lender.

Speak Up Sooner Rather Than Later

Andi points out that the commodity offered by title companies is something unique. Title insurance protects against the past, not the future. Therefore, the policy, and protection offered, are only fully seen after the closing is done and the policy has been issued. No one likes a surprise expense, so having the conversation in advance avoids any confusion with the homebuyer.

“We have to tell our story in advance to show them and be advocates for ourselves in order for them [homebuyers] to understand why they have this line item at closing and what the value is to them to have this expense.” - Andi Bolin

 

A title company should have a good relationship with the real estate agents, as their customers, so that they can strategically jump in to educate the homebuyer about their role instead of assuming the real estate agent will do it.

 

Advertise Your Product and Value

It’s not the first time that marketing for a title company has been mentioned as an opportunity for the industry. However, only some companies are stepping forward to make that connection with the consumer and create a brand for their company. In today’s world, consumers are turning to the internet, so why not take the opportunity to reach them in a way they use every day.

“Real estate agents and attorneys advertise all the time for their services. Why aren’t we [title agents] advertising?” - Linda Grahovec, upon her entry into the title industry

 

New generations of homebuyers, especially Gen Zers and Millennials, are getting smarter about the homebuying process. They’re doing their research beforehand and coming to the table better equipped to ask questions, compare options, and make the big decisions. The question is, do they fully understand what a title company does?

The Homeowner Outreach Program (HOP) is Here to Help

Being a small business means that there isn’t always room in the budget for additional marketing resources. While professionals in the real estate transaction probably have a basic understanding of the title agent’s role, the homebuyer is the one that probably lacks it the most. That’s where HOP comes in.

Their mission is to provide resources to not only title agents, but real estate agents or other real estate professionals to make conversations with the homebuyer easier. HOP understands that digital marketing is an expensive and daunting job so they provide free materials for companies to use.

 

Their website offers a range of items, including:

  • Printouts that allow you to place your own company logo and contact information on them.
  • Presentation resources for use during the process with a homeowner or even internal staff.
  • Digital marketing content pieces for blogs and social media.
  • Internal training resources for use within your title company.
  • Spanish language materials for applicable markets.
  • Communication templates to help facilitate smarter, more effective communication with homebuyers.

 

Members of HOP see the need for title companies to do a better job of explaining their role in the transaction process because this hasn’t been a successful initiative in the past, as Andy explained. She says she joined HOP because “I know how important it is for us to educate buyers on what they’re purchasing.” It starts with a conversation, but providing materials and answering all the questions that a homebuyer has before will make the conversation easier.

 

PropLogix also has these and other great resources for title agents, real estate agents, and consumers:

 

Cover the Basics (Don’t Overwhelm Them)

What might be interesting to those in the title industry is not always interesting for everyone else outside of it. Consumers have to balance their own careers, families, and much more while taking on the process of buying a home so a title company should avoid overwhelming them. Give them the right resources at the right time and remember to cover the basics.

In today’s competitive market, many homebuyers are waiving contingencies to compete in bidding wars, but Andi and Linda caution homebuyers to weigh the risks and rewards. 

“You don’t have an Amazon return policy with a home,” Linda says. 

Buyers and sellers are locked into the terms of the real estate contract they sign, so there is often little recourse for those who experience homebuyer remorse.  If buyers willingly skip home inspections, land surveys, or other kinds of property research like permit searches, title insurance can’t help. 

Many consumers confuse homeowners insurance with title insurance, so both Andi and Linda feel it’s absolutely necessary to distinguish the two policies. Unlike other lines of insurance, title insurance protects against the past, not the future. It’s important to be concise about the many ways that a title company protects homebuyers.

“We’re in the asset protection business,” explains Andi, but it’s up to the consumer to conduct thorough due diligence before acquiring the asset by insisting on the right research in the real estate contract. If you acquire a money pit, title professionals will ensure you own it free and clear of liens, but they can’t fix a leaky roof or faulty foundation. Being an educator in this market will potentially save many consumers from major financial losses.

 

Empower Your Consumers Every Step of the Way

Providing the information through digital marketing is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discussing title insurance with homebuyers. Andi recommends opening up the line of communication throughout the transaction process.

She highlighted a commonly used expression, “measure twice and cut once.” Her suggestion is to be talking to the consumer at the beginning of the transaction process, in the middle, in the end, and even afterward.

Communication has to be continuous so that when it’s time to send the wire (or make the cut), everyone is fully prepared for what the process looks like. Following up with the consumer is especially important because that’s when they’ll have the policy in their hands. If they have questions, be there to answer them.

 

Discuss Industry Changes With Homebuyers

There are major changes every year, regardless of the industry, that affect how professionals have to operate. The title industry is no exception to this. Whether it’s something cyclical or a new change brought on by a major event (ehm, ehm, the pandemic), the information provided to both industry experts and their customers must reflect these fluctuations.

It’s not news that cybersecurity is a growing concern in the real estate world. While industry professionals are getting up to date on the related risks, homebuyers are presumably not. Don’t become complacent in your communication and assume what homebuyers are privy to. Homebuyers are especially susceptible to the tricks that fraudsters launch against them because they are new to the process in most cases.

 

Have a conversation with homebuyers (and real estate agents) about the following:

  • A Business Email Compromise and how it escalates.
  • Other common tricks that fraudsters use.
  • The wire transfer process, specific to your title company.
  • An action plan if a wire diversion is successful.

 

There are many opportunities for homeowners to be better protected, better informed, and more trusting of their title agent. While it may feel too time consuming to devote all the energy to communicating with homebuyers, the effort spent to communicate the basics, especially surrounding wire fraud, will be much less than cleaning up the mess of a wire diversion later. Providing the right resources, investing in digital marketing, and having deeper conversations with your customers are going to pave the way for a more connected real estate ecosystem.

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Justin Nedell Content Marketer

Justin Nedell is a Content Marketer at PropLogix who enjoys writing industry-specific, research-backed content that allows readers to make informed decisions in every stage of the homebuying process. He currently lives in Denver, has traveled to over 30 countries, and enjoys hiking, snowboarding, yoga, learning new languages, and spending time in the outdoors.