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ServiceLink’s recent webinar, “Demystifying Instant Title,” explored how customers can benefit from an instant title experience. Kristal Sharp of loanDepot and Michael Moore of PennyMac Loan Services joined ServiceLink executives Barry Coffin and Jim Gladden for the discussion.
Does Instant Title Mean That Customer Service is No Longer Important?
Instant title is powered by technology that makes it super-efficient, which leads some to believe it can stand alone, without supporting customer service. In other words, the customer experience is an instant title. Not so, say experts on the lender side as well as the title side. Customer service is as essential as ever before.
“While instant title does shorten the overall timeframe to close a loan, it’s only one piece of the puzzle that we have to carefully put together to make sure a loan closes successfully,” says Kristy Folino, Senior Vice President, Origination Title and Close, ServiceLink. “There are many other touchpoints in the process that require interaction between the title company, the lender and the borrower, where customer service is still very important.”
Michael Moore, Senior Vice President, PennyMac Loan Services, agrees. Lenders rely on their title partners, he says, to communicate with borrowers as lending transactions play out. “We automate the underwriting, but so much still has to happen on the back end to complete a file properly. It is imperative that our title vendor bring the customer into the process when its necessary to help shrink the timeline. If we’re not partnering correctly with our title vendors throughout the entire process, we’re missing something. We have to work together to get the timeline where it needs to be, so that it’s a win for everyone involved.”
Folino shares some of the critical touchpoints for the title provider: “Once we get the title commitment back and start clearing title, we often need to reach out to the lender or borrower for information. After that, we work directly with the borrower to schedule their closing, unless they’ve self-scheduled using our EXOS® Close technology. At this time, we also work with the lender to make sure all the fees are accurate for the closing disclosures so that those documents can be quickly finalized. Finally, as we review the documents for the closing, we may need to contact the lender or borrower to make any last minute changes to the documents and to confirm all parties that need to sign are aware. Throughout this process, we keep all parties involved and updated on the status.”
The communication that transpires between the borrower and title company can continue to be beneficial long after the transaction closes, says Kristal Sharp, Vice President, Operations, loanDepot. “The curative piece, the title piece, and the knowledge and insight the title vendor provides can help borrowers mitigate risk in the future, when they sell or refinance their home. We don’t want them to run into any hiccups later down the line. We want to ensure that their process with us, and in the future with selling their home, is smooth.”
The Lender-Title Provider Relationship Is Vital to Success
Ongoing, effective communication between the lender and title provider is essential to creating a positive borrower experience. This relationship begins with the title company’s understanding and supporting the lender’s unique priorities, Folino explains.
“ServiceLink recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always take lenders’ preferences into account,” she says. “At the time we start working with a lender, we document their expectations, customize their account and provide a dedicated team with a single point of contact. That team really gets to know each client and becomes an extension of their operation. When you dedicate individuals to work with the same lenders and loan officers, they understand the unique expectations each of them have. We empower our staff to make decisions and find creative solutions, which allow us to provide quick responses, have a more efficient process and provide exceptional service.”
The customer service extended by the title company to the borrower ensures there are no surprises on the way to the closing table. That’s important to them, according to consumer research conducted by ServiceLink. “Last spring, we surveyed homeowners about the mortgage experience; 30% of them said they would like more transparency into the steps and timeline involved in the mortgage process,” says Barry Coffin, Managing Director, Origination Title and Close at ServiceLink. “This confirms the critical need for customer service from title and curative through closing and, in some cases, the funding process on the backend. Instant title is just one piece.”
Folino concludes, “Advancements in technology like instant title are very important to the continual improvement of the mortgage lending process, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the human aspect. Buying a home is a huge decision in someone’s life. They deserve to have a support team providing great customer service to them throughout the process.”
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