For the title industry, artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just a futuristic concept to be discussed nostalgically in breakout sessions. It’s here – and not too soon. There are few general production processes in the housing and real estate industry more riddled with bottlenecks, redundancies and possibilities for error. So far, most title agencies have tackled these staffing issues.
However, this was a costly challenge given that the ebb and flow of the market usually dictated how much an agent could invest in the rise (or fall).
While the securities and settlement services industry has done a pretty good job of automating what it can over the past few years, much of that streamlining has been spent on simple but repetitive tasks. Production systems are doing a lot more than before. Document preparation is not quite the nightmare it once was – once all the data is collected and entered into the production system. The planning and even to some extent the ability to scan documents without as much human attention has also been improved.
However, where the industry still needs help is exactly where AI excels. These are the most complex and multi-step processes requiring judgment, discernment and more than one or two possible outcomes where the title agencies have had to throw more bodies into the fray. This is true even though these complex, multiple-outcome tasks did not really require highly skilled professionals.
Here are some examples of typical title agency processes that are typically discussed by staff today, but may soon be managed efficiently and cost effectively by AI tools.
How technology can improve the title experience without removing the human element
HousingWire Editor-in-Chief Sarah Wheeler chats with Grant Brittain, Executive Vice President of Title Sales at Radian, about how to overcome title challenges using automation.
Presented by: Radian
The most difficult parts of an agency’s process to automate are usually those that require human-to-human interactions. These include collaborative communications (realtor to closing agent; loan officer to deposit assistant, etc.) for information exchange as well as simple but routine customer service communications. Things like, “How long before closing? Can you please send your driver’s license and social security number? “
Although efforts – a lot of effort – have been made to create a “one-size-fits-all” channel for data exchange and communications, to date few have really succeeded 100%. This is in part due to the wide variety of different communication channels preferred by all the different people involved. A real estate agent may prefer text while a loan officer may wish to use technology built into their LOS and the buyer may communicate only by phone.
Chances are, at least one of the people essential to closing the deal is simply not logging into a password protected website that is not otherwise part of their daily routine. Not all of them will download an app that will only apply to a percentage of their clients or files. Generally, most of the communication solutions available on the market have required one or the other to work.
In fact, this example really highlights one of the title agent’s toughest challenges. One of the agency’s de facto ‘jobs’ is to sort of collect all the information needed to come up with a fence – in all the different forms that all participants choose – to standardize and then enter it into one. production system.
Many agents have spoken to me of their frustration with the inconsistency involved in retrieving the information needed for a title policy and closing. The loan officer can send something via encrypted email. The seller’s agent can provide something by way of an in-person office visit. And the assessor may well send the report by US mail.
But it’s someone from the title agency who searches for these various sets of information of different sizes and enters the data – often manually – into the same production system.
This is where AI comes in. Until recently, the above tasks required a system capable of collecting multiple types of information; analyze them briefly (“watch and compare”) and make a decision based on several factors and with several possible outcomes. This is where AI excels: collecting data and sometimes, collecting proactively; simple analysis; format standardization and entry into a central system.
The rise of conversational AI will allow title agents to offload some of the recurring communications to technology, allowing human employees to focus on their non-communications tasks.
So what’s the practical application of all of this? The forms are numerous. It could be an AI system sending an SMS to buyers reminding them of the time and place to close. If this system is powered by conversational AI, it will even be able to answer questions from the same buyers. This simple task alone could save agency staff hundreds of hours on emails or their phones that would otherwise be spent producing a fence.
This could be a real estate agent texting the buyer’s cell phone number or email address to the title agency after a brief call with that buyer, and this text then leads automatically to a non-human entry of this cell phone number into the production system. . All without e-mail. All without a human being having to decipher what the text was talking about, where the information belonged to the system, then open a window on their monitor and type it in.
It’s a simple task that’s repeated hundreds of times – each time the job officer could finish the CD or add their favorite personal touch to enhance the overall closing experience.
Let’s be clear. AI is not coming to the securities industry to replace the relational and human aspect of the mortgage transaction, far from it. After all, buying a home is for most the biggest transaction of their life. Who wants a “bot” or a phone tree to help them navigate?
Securities companies will continue to pride themselves on providing customer service. However, by harnessing the power of AI to handle the mundane and routine, titular agents will actually free up their employees to focus on tasks and obligations closer to the agent’s primary goals: sales, development, quality control and, above all, customer service.
Hoyt Mann is the president and co-founder of Alanna.ai.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial staff of HousingWire and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Hoyt Mann at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sarah Wheeler at [email protected]