Conflicting demands for earnest money deposit? Do all you can to stay neutral

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It has happened to you before. For one of numerous reasons, a party breaches and a transaction does not close. You notify the parties and forward cancellation documents. In response, the buyer and the seller make conflicting demands to release the earnest money deposit from the escrow account.

After you request that both the buyer and the seller agree to an escrow instruction to disburse in one way or another, they will not do so. Worse, both sides intensify their demands with calls to management and threats of litigation.

Build your title agency's business from Angie's List

Wouldn’t it be great if your title insurance business could land one extra real estate closing every month? Better yet, what if the cost to acquire that deal was slim to none?

By now you’ve heard the benefits of having an online presence on sites like Yelp and Facebook, but have you considered Angie’s List? Like all the others, the cost to create a basic business profile is free – minus the time it takes to claim your business page and add content, including links back to your website and information about your title agency.

Many title insurance businesses overlook Angie’s List, which means there’s less competition for visibility on the platform (for now). People who pay for an Angie’s List subscription are more likely to be in immediate need of the services. While the quantity of leads may be fewer, the quality is as good or better than other review sites.

Angie’s List provides more information about your title business operations than other platforms do, such as how much the customer paid for closing and title services and a report card that scores your agency’s responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism among other things.

Because all the members leaving reviews are paid subscribers, and only paid subscribers can read the reviews (business owners can read reviews on their own page), Angie’s List doesn’t necessarily rise to the top of a Google search. On the other hand, the audience on this site tends to be highly motivated to buy.

Online reviews are a window into your title business, and Angie’s List provides another opportunity to rack up the reviews. Studies show consumers are more likely to contact a business if it has a 5-star rating, and improving your title agency’s star rating from 3 stars to 5 stars, for example, can yield as many as 25% more clicks to your business profile.

Many title agents are reluctant to explore customer review strategies because they are afraid of negative reviews. But ignoring platforms like Angie’s List doesn’t mean the negative reviews will go away. They are still impacting your title agency’s online reputation and possibly steering prospective customers to a local competitor with better reviews.

By developing a strategy for acquiring online reviews and targeting satisfied customers, you can mitigate the risk of a negative review torpedoing your star-rating.

And by expanding your scope to include Angie’s List, you provide your title business with an additional pipeline for new customers that can potentially net you one more real estate transaction every month at a lower cost of acquisition as compared with paid advertising.

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Your title agency's online reputation + job seekers

Prospective customers are not the only ones Googling your title insurance business before they call or email. Have you stopped to wonder what kind of impression is your title insurance agency making on prospective employees?

The jobs market is as good as it’s ever been in the last decade, which means more jobs and fewer candidates. The title insurance business has a unique problem when it comes to recruiting new talent – no one goes to school to work in the title business; it’s something we fall into for the most part.

The talent pool is small to begin with, and to attract the best talent your title company has got to stand out to prospective employees. One way to do this is by being aware of your agency’s current online reputation and the myriad review sites out there geared toward job seekers.

Here are two platforms that should be on your radar when it comes to managing your title business’s online reputation as it relates to prospective employees.

Glassdoor

If someone Googles your business name or “working at [your business name],” chances are good a Glassdoor business profile will pop up on the first page of search results. How does your Glassdoor profile appear in search results?

Through Glassdoor, employees of your title business are able to anonymously leave a review of what it’s like to work for your company – including insights into salary, benefits and what the interview process is like. Your HR or administrative team can provide balance on your Glassdoor profile by completing the company information, uploading a logo and sharing company updates.

Unfortunately, one disgruntled employee leaving a 1-star review can quickly torpedo a title agency’s online reputation from the standpoint of prospective employees, especially if the business owner has not taken the time to claim or complete his Glassdoor profile. Claiming your profile is a free and easy way to monitor your business’s reputation so you can attract top talent to your organization.

LinkedIn

With over 500 million members, LinkedIn is the largest social network for professionals. Prospective employers researching a company on LinkedIn are able to see if any of their connections are connected to a business, which allows for more personal insights into what it’s like to work for a company.

While LinkedIn does not currently support a user-review feature like Glassdoor, it does provide great information in terms of visitor demographics, including industry-type, location by region, company size and seniority. Knowing this information can help you tailor your online reputation to appeal to the exact type of candidates you’re hoping to reach.

Both Glassdoor and LinkedIn allow site users to “follow” your title business, a good indicator that these folks may be interested in working in the title insurance business. Both also provide data on how users engage with the updates your title agency shares on the platforms, allowing you to refine your communication with prospective employees over time.

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4 ways to manage your title agency's digital reputation

While the millennial generation is now the largest homebuying cohort, they aren’t the only ones who Google everything. We all like to know as much as we can about who we’re doing business with, and we all tend to rely on the opinions of others (our friends, or even online reviews by strangers) to help us make the best decisions.

As a title agency owner, it’s important to put yourself into the shoes of a prospective customer so you can provide the information they are seeking when they perform a Google search – as well or better than your competitors.

For homebuyers and sellers, a real estate transaction is likely an uncommon experience and they may be feeling anxious about exchanging such large sums of money. If the customer is a lender, there are always concerns of tolerance violations. And if the customer is a Realtor, settlement delays or other customer service issues may be a top concern.

Online reviews are a window into your title business. Studies show consumers are more likely to contact a business if it has a 5-star rating, and improving your title agency’s star rating from 3 stars to 5 stars, for example, can yield as many as 25% more clicks to your business profile.

Your title agency’s online reputation may be the deciding factor between whether a prospective customer reaches out to your business or contacts the competitor down the street. In today’s world, managing your business’s online reputation is essential – here are four platforms that should top your priority list.

Yelp

With more than 123 million reviews to date, Yelp is no longer just a place for reviews of the new sushi restaurant that opened down the street. Realtors discovered the benefits of having a Yelp presence years ago, and now other professionals involved in the real estate transaction are jumping aboard the Yelp bandwagon.

Google

The search engine behemoth holds roughly 75% of the Internet search market, and it’s no coincidence that Google reviews are one of the first things to pop up when a prospective customer Googles your title agency. Google reviews appear not only in Web search, but also Maps search.

Facebook

With nearly 2 billion users worldwide, Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. Users spend an average of 15 minutes on the site, which means you have ample opportunities to connect with your target audience in a forum where they interact almost daily once you’ve claimed your title business’s Facebook page.

Angie’s List

Many title insurance businesses overlook Angie’s List, which means there’s less competition for visibility on the platform (for now). People who pay for an Angie’s List subscription are more likely to be in immediate need of the services. While the quantity of leads may be fewer, the quality is as good or better than other review sites.]]>

Does my title agency really need a Yelp page?

Title insurance isn’t exactly top of mind when consumers think of Yelp. While the review site has been a topic of discussion at many recent marketing workshops for title agents, including ALTA Bootcamp, many agents are still skeptical as to whether Yelp offers any benefit for their title insurance businesses.

But that skepticism could wane as title agents come to realize how many new leads they can gather by maintaining a healthy and active Yelp page: healthy as in a page that contains mostly 4- and 5-star reviews, and active meaning someone from your business engages with your customers by responding to feedback and messages.

Just how much business can a healthy and active Yelp page produce for one local title agent? At least one extra deal per month, or more. It may not sound like much, but those deals add up throughout the year, and the cost to acquire them is quite low. Having a Yelp business page doesn’t cost anything, and maintaining one takes minimal time and effort.

It’s increasingly common for consumers to research every aspect of their homebuying experience. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, through their Know Before You Owe program, has all but ensured the trend won’t be reversed in the title insurance business any time soon.

The millennial generation especially, who’s grown up with technology at their fingertips, tends to Google everything, and they know exactly who they want to do business with before they ever call or email. Your title agency needs to be on Yelp because your business needs to be where tomorrow’s customers go for information.

When a prospective customer Googles your title agency, you can bet your Yelp business listing will appear on the first page of search results. While a Yelp page is an excellent opportunity to market your company’s services by uploading photos, posting links and completing the company information section, a Yelp page that is ignored or unclaimed also says something to the would-be customer about your company.

The stronger your business’s Yelp page is, the more opportunities you will create for new business. Elevating your title agency’s star rating from 3 stars to 5 stars can yield as many as 25% more clicks to your page, while studies show consumers are also more likely to contact a business if it has a 5-star rating.

Many title agents are reluctant to participate on Yelp because they are afraid of negative reviews. But ignoring your business’s Yelp profile doesn’t mean the negative reviews will go away. They are still impacting your title agency’s online reputation and possibly steering prospective customers to a local competitor with better reviews.

Don’t fear negative reviews. By developing a strategy for acquiring Yelp reviews and targeting satisfied customers, you can mitigate the risk of a negative review torpedoing your star-rating.

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This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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