Adoption of real estate transaction management systems is picking up steam, with some vendors seeing a quadrupling of their business over the past year, according to top managers of six leading vendors who gave their perspectives Thursday during an Inman News audio conference.
The six companies–Guru Networks, Stewart Realty Solutions, First American Residential Group, Wintrans Solutions, SettlementRoom and Nations Holding Group–all offer online transaction management systems. Some target different players within a transaction, but their basic message remained the same: Interest and usage are increasing.
“We have seen tremendous increase in interest from both brokers and agents,” said David Hamrick, president of Wintrans Solutions. Hamrick said the number of people looking at the company’s product has quadrupled since last year.
That four-fold increase also extends to SettlementRoom’s number of registered users over the past year, said CEO Jonathan Cutler.
And Mark Cira of Stewart Realty Solutions added: “We’re in the pockets of success stage now.”
Transaction management platform providers have been saying that adoption has increased significantly over the past year, as more brokers and agents have realized the time and cost savings these systems provide allow them to close more sales and maintain a competitive edge.
Transaction management platforms often include task lists, document management, integration with lender and vendor systems and other tasks that automate and streamline the transaction.
The key to further adoption and success is getting the different parties of a transaction to work together in a streamlined fashion, Thursday’s speakers said. Each part of a transaction houses its own silo of information, but those components need to work together and share that data, they said.
The technology is evolving to make that easier, said David Hamrick, president of Wintrans Solutions. Cooperation and a collaborative environment are necessary to make transaction management truly take off.
For Paul Hill, CTO of Guru Networks, that means agents and brokers, who essentially act as the quarterback of the transaction, must pull in other service providers earlier in the process. Buyers and sellers want to know the status of their transaction on the realty side and the mortgage and title sides as well.
Cira said transaction management is essentially about sharing files with those who need them and the efficiencies that can be derived by doing that electronically.
Mike Lancaster, EVP of sales and marketing for First American Residential Group, said progress in integrating the different sectors is happening, but more slowly than one might expect. But, Lancaster said, there’s certainly more integration now than there has been in the past.
He said most of his company’s adoption is coming about through brokers who want more control over the transactions.
Nations Holding Group’s transaction management platform is targeted toward title and escrow offers and aims to automate that part of the transaction as much as possible, said CIO Peter Bowman.
A platform needs to be simple for everyone involved, Cutler said.
“You have to provide value to all of the players in the transaction, regardless of who the actual purchaser of the services is,” he said.
Features that client want in such platforms are fax-to-Web technology and archiving capabilities, Cutler said.
With security a concern in any online venture, the panelists said their programs offer encryption and firewalls and other data protection features. A bigger concern is who has access to the data, which is why the clients decide who gets to see the information, they said.
“You might liken what we as vendors offer you as a replacement to the steel filing cabinet in your corner,” Cira said.
Still, some things aren’t likely to change soon. For example, it’s unlikely the platforms will allow for an entire transaction to be completed within a single morning or afternoon.
“I’m not sure it’s in our lifetime,” Hill said. “At least our business lifetime.”
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