By Sandy Gadow
Written for closing software Qualia.com
There’s no doubt about it. Technology has rocked the real estate industry, fundamentally changing every step of the process from beginning to end.
Just look at how companies like Quicken Loans and Zillow have reinvented how consumers find, sell, and purchase real estate. Buyers from around the globe can now search for properties as they sit in a cafe or as they fly from JFK to SFO. And thanks to virtual reality photos, they can “walk” through a home located in Hong Kong, London or San Francisco, in “real time.” Thanks to instantaneous communication, the selection process can be made seamlessly, the paperwork can be easily digitized, and the documents can be signed electronically.
Technology Opens New Doors
Real estate professionals were among the first to embrace technology and explore the myriad possibilities that it provided. They realized that a good website would enable them to reach a broader audience and significantly expand their customer base. Technology proved to be not only time-saving but also cost-effective, and viral videos, quick response time, as well as consistent follow-up were only a portion of the many advantages.
Thanks to technological advances, expensive mailers and other printed advertising mediums have either been eliminated or greatly reduced. Customer service rose to a higher level of service as realtors were able to keep in contact with existing and potential clients 24 hours a day. Realtors quickly realized that if they didn’t adapt to modern technology and use it to streamline their business, they would be left behind.
Barriers To Entry for Title Agents
Title companies, escrow agents, and closing attorneys—the “back-office workhorse” component to every successful real estate deal—lagged behind, but the explanation was understandable. Closing agents deal with a vast array of issues that involve coordination and synchronization between a multitude of tasks and entities. As a neutral third party to the transaction, closing agents must act with strict impartiality and confidentiality while simultaneously answering questions and acting on behalf of each party involved in the transaction. From preparation and interpretation of title reports, disclosures, inspections, governmental compliance requirements, mortgage documents, unique regional or state laws, all the way to contractual obligations in the sales agreement that must be strictly met, the job of a closing agent is a juggling act of epic proportion.
With so many factors to consider, closing agents were (understandably) reluctant to change. The adoption of new technology was an unknown, “scary” and untested concept. The existing “old fashioned” way of doing business seemed to be working, so why change? Although it might be time-consuming and not the most efficient system, errors were picked up, deadlines met, and the final result (a closed deal) occurred. But at what expense?
The Future of Title & Closing
“Stressful,” “nail-biting,” “time-consuming,” and “dreaded,” are often words associated with a real estate closing—both by the consumer and by the title professional. But the industry’s move into the modern era of technology could change all this.
In future posts, we will explore how implementing the right technology can make the entire closing process less stressful and more efficient than ever before. We will outline specific examples of how title companies can use technology to attract customers, improve margins, provide stronger security, improve organization, help users adapt to new laws and regulations, and much more.