Mortgage

App makes billions of property records searchable

First American’s DataTree revamp offers verified property and mortgage data online for real estate pros

If the thought of being able to search property information nationwide simply by launching an iPhone app appeals to you, you’ll want to check out First American Financial Corp.’s launch of the all-new DataTree.

With its coverage of 99 percent of the nation’s housing stock, DataTree is arguably the largest and most comprehensive database of property-centric information available for real estate professionals who need to access property and homeowner information and document images.

FirstAmDataTreeScreenshot

Screenshot of DataTree property detail report

The company has assessor or property ownership coverage of more than 3,100 U.S. counties, as well as deeds and mortgages on more than 2,600 counties.

“There are a lot of public record systems available in the marketplace today, and what we intended to do was completely reinvent the way that real estate professionals use the product,” said Jim Portner, senior vice president of product and market strategy for First American Data and Mortgage Solutions.

DataTree has two new features. First, its FlexSearch search engine allows users to conduct nationwide searches instantly for any name or phrase contained within billions of recorded land documents, such as deeds, judgments, liens and releases.

6 ways empowered agents embrace disruption to drive success
Using technology to generate leads and win listings READ MORE

Some of this information was previously unsearchable, such as homeowners association names, attorney names or names associated with a loan.

“There is an awful lot of information on a recorded document that ultimately, as we like to say, gets left on the cutting-room floor,” Portner said.

There is an awful lot of information on a recorded document that ultimately, as we like to say, gets left on the cutting-room floor." - Jim Portner, senior vice president of product and market strategy for First American Data and Mortgage Solutions

“We use a Google-type interface that allows users to search any phrase, word or detail on any document. This allows people to get a lot of information from these documents that was previously unattainable.”

The second new feature is Verified Record, which First American designed to meet the needs of professionals who cited data quality as the most important element of real estate research.

“Data integrity is the No. 1 concern to our customers, in any industry segment,” Portner said.

“Large labor workforces manually key record information into a database, but one of the problems in keying in large amounts of information is that errors always exist.

“Institutions like ours go to great lengths to make sure those errors don’t happen, because incorrectly posted or missing information can expose an institution to a lot of unexpected problems.”

Verified Record uses proprietary processing algorithms to access and verify public record information to provide high levels of data verification. Users will be able to easily identify if the record has been verified because it will bear a special label.

“We created a unique method of utilizing independently sourced records, and when they matched two independent sources, we gave them this designation to give our users the confidence and security that the information is correct and verified from multiple sources,” Portner said.

First American tackled a mountain of data to roll out the new features in 18 months, he added.

“To process 3.5 billion recorded images — that is a really big number, and we put a lot of resources into it,” he said.

“To create both features, we provided cutting-edge automation to process information that our industry could only access using a lot of manual extraction for decades.”

With DataTree Mobile, subscribers can use their mobile phones and tablets to research properties. A map and GPS technology help users locate properties quickly, and once a property is located, users can access property information, recorded document images and property reports.

DataTree Mobile is available in Apple’s App Store. Optimized for iPhone 5, it requires iOS 7.0 or later. It is also compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

DataTree is available via Web subscriptions that vary from pay-as-you-go, per-transaction plans to very large enterprise-level plans for big companies that want to purchase the product for thousands of users. Portner said First American offers pricing plans from “one person to a 5,000-person shop.” First American is offering a free trial for a limited time at DataTree.com.

First American provides title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions, as well as title plant management services, title and other real property records and images, valuation products and services, home warranty products, property and casualty insurance and banking, trust and investment advisory services.

Email Amy Swinderman.