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Local Expertise from a National Company: The Best of Both Title Worlds

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By Amy Tankersley

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In Northern California, escrows are conducted by escrow offices owned or controlled by title insurers. In Southern California, however, escrows have traditionally been conducted by independent escrow companies.

In Georgia, certain tasks related to the issuance of title insurance are considered the practice of law and must be carried out by attorneys.

In Texas, a cash-out refinance transaction must be closed in the office of a lender, title company, or attorney.

And in Michigan, state law gives mortgage lenders priority over mechanic’s liens.

We’ve all heard the adage that “all real estate is local,” and the business of title insurance is complicated by wide-ranging terms and practices that vary from state to state, or even across local jurisdictions within states. Large, national title companies – which underwrite the majority of the real estate transactions in the United States – offer certain advantages and economies of scale, namely in terms of reputation, high-volume processing, technology and personnel, and financial solvency.

The more deals you close, the more chance you have of encountering complex title issues that require specialized professional and legal expertise. Is your title provider equipped to handle the vast nuances of local closings? Localized title and escrow professionals are valuable commodities in the world of real estate closings, and can ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations, adhere to community customs, and cultivate relationships with mortgage and settlement service partners.

Ideally, your title and escrow provider should be able to provide you with service encompassing the best of both worlds, and this philosophy inspired our blend of national and local operations. Our centralized, national operations team based in Irvine, California, works with each lender customer to establish service-level agreements, goals, and milestones, manages each file to completion, and offers detailed performance metrics and other valuable insights. This team works closely with our network of local title and escrow professionals across the country to ensure that every closing is given the localized and personalized attention consumers deserve.

“In order to meet the unique needs of our customers in each county and state, having people who are rich in local knowledge is a necessity,” said Candice Tavis, States Title Operations Training and Quality Manager. “Our team is constructed in such a way that we have people who offer that unique, local perspective, but our centralized team focuses on different aspects of the business to ensure our workforce stays agile and can respond to our customers’ changing needs quickly.”

Candice said we seek local professionals with vast and varied experience, then put them through extensive onboarding and ongoing training to keep their skills sharp.

“We look for people with unique business experience across multiple areas,” she said. “We want someone who is familiar with the local recording office, someone who can create relationships with local brokers and collaborate with them. But at the same time, we look for disrupters, people who want to find purposeful work. We move dangerously fast in the way we are working to transform the title industry, and we look for people who can come in with a knowledge base spanning 150 years and the ability to recognize that there is a better way to do things than the archaic way we have been doing things.”

Kristin Miller, States Title Head of Service Strategy, noted that this focus on localized expertise, supported by a centralized, national team, offers several unique customer benefits:

1. A remote, local workforce opens up our talent pool to all 50 states

“Rather than having an office of employees in Irvine, California, from the surrounding 50 miles, we have associates with both regional expertise and experience in a national setting,” Kristin said. “This means that we can have an associate in Maryland who is trained on the nuances of that state, but who can also be trained to work on files in Arizona, because their knowledge and experience base is so vast.”

2. Disaster-proof business continuity

When the world temporarily ground to a halt in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, States Title didn’t miss a beat. Prior to the pandemic, 21 percent of our associates worked remotely. Since COVID-19 came into our lives, we ramped up our workforce and more than tripled that figure to meet changing customer demands.

“We were uniquely positioned to service our customers during a global pandemic,” Kristin said. “The fact that a significant portion of our associates were already working remotely made us better positioned to serve our clients’ needs when the world shut down. COVID-19 really had no effect on our business or operations, and we didn’t have to figure out who needed laptops, monitors, secure internet access, etc.”

Likewise, if a local office is not functional because of a power outage or natural disaster, “we have teams across the country that can complete that work on time and with the same dedication to quality of service,” Kristin added.

3. Fast, efficient response times across all time zones

“Our business hours span the entire country,” Kristin said. “This means that we are able to begin working on transactions early in the morning on the East Coast, but we have associates on the West Coast working into the evenings. This gives us at least 12.5 hours on a regular day where all of our departments are staffed and ready to respond to customer inquiries.”