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Secure Settlements Inc. (SSI) has announced the results of its most recent survey of nationwide mortgage settlement and closing professionals. The survey polled 1788 professionals throughout the country about such issues as data privacy and security controls, trust account management and audits, and employee training. This latest survey conducted Oct. 7-14, is one of a series conducted regularly among the more than 8,200 settlement professionals in the SSI nationwide closing agent database. The results are offered as a resource to those seeking data intelligence on the escrow and settlement industry to assess the opinions, practices and experiences of these important professionals.
Some of the highlights of the opinion poll include the following:
►Only 32 percent of the agents polled carry cyber liability or data security insurance, although more than 80 percent have either errors and omissions insurance or fidelity bonds or both.
►More than 80 percent say they train their employees regularly in both mortgage fraud and the handling sensitive borrower information, while only 64 percent train their staff in anti-money laundering (AML) rules and risks and 69 percent conduct training on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules and regulations.
►When asked how often their trust accounts were audited in the past 24 months, nearly a third of the attorneys polled replied "never" while 65% of title and escrow agents had been audited at least once with nearly 15 percent having been audited three or more times in that period.
►Vetting is the new watchword of the day for agents, as 83 percent of those polled indicated that they had experienced some sort of vendor management review in the past three months, with an increase in requests for background evaluations from lenders nationally. Twenty-three percent of these agents had been vetted by their underwriters, 21 percent by lenders directly, and the balance of 56 percent by third-party vendor management firms.
►Agents report business is down the past quarter, with 37 percent of agents seeing lower business volume in the past quarter, and only 11 percent seeing any revenue growth. Forty-two percent of those polled report no change from the second quarter of 2014. The mood for the first quarter of 2015, however, is positive. When asked about their confidence in the real estate market in 2015, 55 percent see positive growth ahead, while 26 percent see a tough year on the horizon for the industry and 19 percent had no opinion.