Just like the rest of real estate, the title industry is embracing technology and its many benefits. When partnering with a title company, be sure to understand how it deploys technology in its systems — and how that tech can be used to help create the best service for you and your clients.

This month, we’ll talk to mortgage leaders about where the market is headed and how products are evolving digitally to suit buyers’ needs now. We’ll also explore emerging alternative financing options that are changing the game for buyers and sellers. Join us for Mortgage and Alternative Financing Month.

Saving time and money are critical components for any mortgage transaction — and technology is often considered the best way to meet these goals. That’s no different for the title industry, which is moving forward with more sophisticated and streamlined processes to give mortgage originators and lenders faster turnaround times and lower overall costs.

By working with everything from robotic process automation (RPA) to cloud-based dynamic architecture, title companies are creating customizable platforms to meet clients’ specific needs with better information flow, quicker turn times and less cost.

By understanding what’s possible to accomplish with technology, those working in the mortgage and real estate industry can use that knowledge to select the best title partner for their business.

There’s a bot for that

If you spend more than a few minutes talking about technology, it’s likely that “bots” will come up in the conversation. And for many who don’t work directly with software engineering, what that means exactly can be a little unclear.

“Bots” are short for robots, and they generally refer to some automated computer process. For example, search engines use bots to crawl websites looking for certain keywords to improve their search results, since having a human read the entire internet would be somewhat time consuming. RPA is, at its core, software created to automate certain tasks, often to just … run other software.

RPA creates bots that can do computer-based tasks at an extremely rapid rate without waiting for input or direction from humans. In the case of the title industry, it means that a title order can come in over the weekend or after business hours, and bots can set things in motion before work begins in the morning.

These bots can use existing applications to do a multitude of actions — from processing transactions and data to communicating with other digital systems and issuing responses or queries for more information. Bots can use such tools as platform workstations and email, and can pull information from websites and documents.

To use automated processes successfully, however, a company not only needs to be fully invested in leveraging the technology to the utmost, but it must also be willing to analyze and identify where automation would be possible and helpful. Processes that are well-defined and rules-driven lend themselves best to automation, particularly if they are repetitive and based in an electronic system.

In the title business, much like the mortgage industry overall, there can be reams of documents accompanying each transaction. Bots can monitor and manage what has and hasn’t been received, sending reminders automatically for missing documents. This helps keep the transaction moving along, and frees up employees for more complicated tasks involving nuance and skill.

A title company invested in utilizing technology to the utmost can automate a lot of things that used to be a manual process. By documenting workflows and analyzing how information is exchanged, title companies and mortgage originators can better work together with automated integrations between their systems.

For example, it used to be that if mortgage originators changed the loan amount, they would have to email and ask for the new fee amount — and everything would stop until they got that information, which could be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes (or longer).

But with automated technology, the originator’s system can ask the title system for the new fees, and it’s sent back automatically in as little as 20 seconds. The more the process can be automated, the more streamlined things are going to be, and that means a more exact process with less chance for error and fewer needs for touch per transaction.

Keep it in the cloud

This bot army needs support, however, and an underlying architecture that’s powerful and capable of keeping up with the latest advancements in technology. Although it’s critical that any company involved in the real estate business invest in technology, maintaining and servicing data and server centers has become unwieldy for many companies.

To keep up with changing hardware and software demands and to maintain the kind of information-technology staff necessary to do so in-house is quickly becoming no longer cost-effective or desirable. The latest in cloud technology offers many companies the flexibility and power they want, along with the security they need.

Cloud computing services can free up cash flow for businesses by eliminating ongoing hardware maintenance costs while also giving companies the ability to change direction quickly and implement new applications or adjust current ones due to regulatory changes.

These cloud services frequently work within a company’s existing framework of systems and applications, which allows for new products and applications to be built and deployed with some speed. At the same time, the cloud offers the latest in security and new technology, without having to wait for it be analyzed and deployed in-house.

Cloud infrastructure has become even more critical during the pandemic, when many people are working from home or remotely. This creates the need for flexibility and on-demand scalability, as the need for network resources ebbs and flows in different patterns now.

With cloud servers, when additional resources are needed, that capacity is available. When that demand eases, however, those resources can be reduced, keeping costs lower, as a company only pays for what they need at any given time. And whenever a company can save money on its ongoing costs, those savings should ultimately make their way to the customer.

Transparency and customer service

Although it is easy to marvel at the ease and wonders of technology, the real estate and mortgage industries are still people-based businesses. What technology can do to improve customer service and satisfaction should be paramount in any decision.

The many manual activities involved in the title search lend themselves to automation, which is great, but how does that help the customer? Saving time and reducing costs are the most obvious benefits to the consumer, but technology can help with other business aspects as well, including ensuring compliance and offering transparency.

Many technological innovations provide the kind of communication previously unheard of in the industry. Systems are now possible where originators and other end users can access their transaction to see — exactly — where it stands.

Communication is automated to tell the end user when more information is needed or when milestones have been reached in their transaction. Even the final settlement statement, which used to be a manual process for many title companies, can now be produced automatically. This kind of automation allows title companies to reduce their fees because they’ve reduced their costs, making for a more competitive market for title work.

Some consumers may be concerned about technology taking over in such a complicated and nuanced transaction, but experienced title companies don’t let the technology get ahead of them.

There are often built-in hard stops and manual checks so that important parts of the title transaction don’t get missed, and that all parts of the process are compliant with the most current regulations. The increased efficiency and transparency provided by technology should only enhance the experience for the consumer, not diminish it.

Technology and its associated marvels are being embraced throughout the real estate industry and the mortgage process, but they also must be carefully considered and implemented. Automation and cloud services offer many benefits when used properly.

These technological tools not only increase the speed of business by reducing the need for manual processes and creating flexible resources, but they also frequently eliminate simple human error while creating a more transparent and efficient transaction.

Some title companies have taken advantage of the benefits offered by technology to create automated processes with integrations to the mortgage and other industries to help streamline what can be a long and complicated transaction.

When partnering with a title company, be sure to understand how that company deploys technology in its systems, and how that tech can be used to help create the best service for you and your clients.

Tom Huddleston is the senior vice president, managing director and head of Vylla Title in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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