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.
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.
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.
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.
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.]]>
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.
The most critical real estate knowledge is always local
Independent agents understand the history and intricate nuances of real estate in your community. This is especially important when time is of the essence.
They are the only independent party in a real estate transaction
Independent agents are there to protect all parties in the transaction and assure an accurate, speedy and timely closing. They conduct an average of 135 steps on each real estate transaction that include critical assurances to buyers, lenders and sellers in order to validate the right to use and transfer real estate.
Independent agents are local and accessible to you
They live in your area and will be there when you have a claim – they will help you as long as you own your property. Independent title agents are skilled professionals who have the local understanding and expertise to protect you.
They can help you with every real estate transaction you have and don’t leave town when times get tough!
They own businesses in your neighborhood and support your community
Local title offices are staffed by talented professionals who help your county maintain and keep the records system updated to protect the ownership of those buying real estate.
These professionals volunteer in your schools, belong to your community organizations, coach youth sports, and have a real, viable lifelong interest in the success of your community.
They live in your community and provide jobs to your neighbors.
- They pay real estate taxes and payroll taxes where you live.
- They are an integral part of the fabric of your community, investing and volunteering in local charitable and community organizations!
- They help collect back child support, pay to improve county records, help collect delinquent taxes and much more.
Our independent agents share our core values
Alliant National partners with only the finest independent title insurance agents – those who have earned solid reputations and demonstrated consistent ability to weather the ups and downs of the business cycle. You can be sure that our partners share our values of integrity, community involvement, quality and responsiveness.
Click here for a list of our independent agents in your area. ]]>
The American Land Title Association issued its Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices to protect consumers, which pertain to seven operational areas. Best Practices is a voluntary tool designed to help title companies demonstrate the safeguards they have in place to ensure closing activities meet all applicable laws and regulations.
1. Licensing: Establish and maintain current license(s) as required to conduct the business of title insurance and settlement services.
Purpose: Maintaining state mandated insurance licenses and corporate registrations (as applicable) ensures that the company remains in good standing with the state.
2. Escrow / Trust Accounting: Adopt and maintain appropriate written procedures and controls for Escrow Trust Accounts allowing for electronic verification of reconciliation.
Purpose: Appropriate and effective escrow controls and staff training help title and settlement companies meet client and legal requirements for the safeguarding of client funds. These procedures ensure accuracy and minimize the exposure to loss of client funds. Settlement companies may engage outside contractors to conduct segregation of trust accounting duties.
3. Privacy + Information Security: Adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security plan to protect Non-public Personal Information as required by local, state and federal law.
Purpose: Federal and state laws (including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) require title companies to develop a written information security program that describes their procedures to protect non-public customer information. The program must be appropriate to the company’s size and complexity, the nature and scope of the company’s activities, and the sensitivity of the customer information the company handles. A company evaluates and adjusts its program in light of relevant circumstances, including changes in the firm’s business or operations, or the results of security testing and monitoring.
4. Document Recordation / Title + Settlement Pricing: Adopt standard real estate settlement procedures and policies that ensure compliance with Federal and State Consumer Financial Laws as applicable.01/02/2013
Purpose: Adopting appropriate policies and conducting ongoing employee training can ensure that a real estate settlement company can meet state, federal and contractual obligations governing the settlement process and provide a safe and compliant settlement.
5. Title Policy Production / Premium Remittance: Adopt and maintain written procedures related to title policy production, delivery, reporting and premium remittance.
Purpose: Appropriate procedures for the production, delivery and remittance of title insurance policies ensures title companies meet their legal and contractual obligations.
6. Professional Liablity Insurance + Fidelity Coverage: Maintain appropriate professional liability insurance and fidelity coverage.
Purpose: Appropriate levels of professional liability (errors and omissions insurance) ensure that title agencies and settlement companies have the financial capacity to stand behind their professional services. In addition, state law and contractual obligations may require a company to maintain fidelity bond and surety bond policies with prescribed minimum amounts of coverage.
7. Consumer Complaints: Adopt and maintain procedures for resolving consumer complaints.
Purpose: A process for receiving and addressing consumer complaints is important to ensure that any instances of poor service or non-compliance do not go undiscovered.