In a survey of more than 400 title professionals, the no. 2 biggest challenge of all respondents with respect to their job responsibilities was finding ways to generate new business.
Since real estate agents are a big key to bringing in new business to your title operation, it’s especially important to hone in on the things they're looking for when they recommend a closing company to a buyer or seller. Keep going to see what those things are so you can meet their expectations and win more business.
Corbett Donovan has been selling real estate in the Sarasota area of Florida since 1998 and in that time has successfully closed hundreds of deals from multimillion dollar homes to complex short-sales and foreclosures. He also helps educate new real estate agents as well as homebuyer and sellers.
Since he knows bringing a contract to a title company or real estate law firm is a reflection of his reputation, he’s got a great one and he’d like to keep it that way. Below Corbett share the 7 things he prioritizes in a title company or law firm.
1. Timely communication
Cor: The most important thing that I look for when I’m interviewing to potentially work with a title company or real estate law firm is their ability to communicate constantly. Do they have systems in place where the paperwork and the updates are instant, on-demand, and easily recoverable? For instance, do they warehouse their paperwork in the cloud so that if I’m missing a document, I can instantly retrieve it without taking very many steps? Also, constant communication throughout the transaction, both with myself and the consumer, the purchaser or the seller, is very, very important.
2. Use of technology and effective coordination
Cor: Technology is critical in the closing process. We meet with critical dates and the title companies and attorneys that seem to really have it down not only advise to the quality of the title search, giving advice to obtain additional inspections like surveys, obtaining variances where need be, but also advising both the buyer and seller and their respective agents of critical dates. It’s a limited practice of law that we do within the real estate community, so it’s really good to have that support from a title company and attorney to confirm those critical dates. Deadlines like when the inspection period ends and getting everyone to agree on that date, so that you don’t have arguments that come up later. It's also important that they communicate when the title commitment is due and that they're arranging for closing-- keeping all of the real estate agents, the buyer, and the seller in the loop in a timely manner to have a successful closing.
3. Someone who will pick up the phone, or talk face-to-face
Cor: One thing that I think we’ve gotten away from in this particular environment of technology is the face-to-face, or hearing a voice. A lot of title companies and attorneys and real estate agents alike rely on email, texting, and cloud-based services to communicate with their clients. But what we’re finding is that clients are starting to go a bit 'old school.' They want to hear from you on the phone and it’s very important. Thirty seconds on the phone can make them feel like they are very important to you as opposed to a text, or an email, or an iCloud update.
4. Willingness to go above and beyond to deliver
Cor: There was one instance that I experienced with a local real estate attorney recently where they went above in beyond. There was a breakdown in the communication with the homeowner’s association about a variance that needed to be granted. It was a voluntary HOA but there were enforced deed restrictions. This deed restriction violation, as far as a setback on a survey issue, was discovered very late in the process. Actually, it was after the title insurance review and contingency period had expired, so it did expose the buyer to a potential default in this particular contract.
The attorney really went above and beyond and even left their own office to obtain the signatures in order to get this variance for closing, so that the seller and the buyer could close on time.
That type of service -- for a busy law firm to go above and beyond -- really shows even though this wasn’t a multi-million dollar transaction, they care about the consumer as much as they care about the growth of their business.
5. Thorough and timely due diligence
Cor: Now that we're in an environment (in Florida) where a municipal lien search is part of the contract, it's really important to be educated as a real estate agent. What I would strongly recommend is a title company or attorney that’s going to take over that education for you and instruct the buyer how important it is to obtain a municipal lien search very earlier in the transaction, even while you’re doing the home inspection reports because these are things that can delay closings. For instance, if the seller has a delinquent lien with respect to code enforcement, that could take time to actually have a meeting, or hearing, with that particular code enforcement scenario. Additionally, while the Florida state legislature is actually assisting us with respect to open permits, it’s still an issue that needs to be identified very quickly and that’s why it’s important to select the right title company or attorney that’s going to work very quickly early in the transaction to identify these matters.
6. Education for the consumer even after closing day
Cor: Are they (the title company) in a position to educate me further--educate my clients further? Will they create a dramatic and very special closing experience with my clients? And what is their follow up? What is their point of contact? Do they have information that they send out to their database of clients to educate them beyond the sale? That’s very important to be because it’s something that I do in my business. So I look to partner with firms that have systems like this in place.
7. A memorable closing experience for all the right reasons
Cor: One thing that I think is most important when selecting a title insurance company or real estate attorney as a closing company is to discuss with them their closing procedure. How do they treat closings? What is their process for scheduling? For real estate agents, the two happiest days that you’re going to have with your client are the day they sign their contract and the day that they go to closing. Is the title company providing a lifelong and memorable experience for your client? They’re only going to buy so many houses in their lifetime and those are moments and memories that need to be captured to the fullest.