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Our team is comprised of some of the most experienced and accredited individuals in the title insurance industry. We host a variety of continuing education options at the regional level, including webinars and seminars.
Latest Blog Posts
- Title Industry’s Cyber, Escrow Fraud Preparedness Needs Improvement
- 3 online tools to enhance, streamline your social marketing campaigns
- Intellectual Property: Value & Pitfalls
- 3 costly PR pitching mistakes & how to avoid them
- What’s the best technique for breezing through a media interview? Bridging!
A national survey of title agents conducted by the American Land Title Association shows that our industry has farther to go when it comes to formalizing cyber and escrow security plans.
Results of the survey also hint that the threat landscape is becoming increasingly perilous for title agents, consumers and others involved in real estate transactions.
Of the survey’s more than 750 respondents, 63 percent said the number of cybercrime attempts targeting their company increased between 2017 and 2018. Roughly one-third of respondents also observed increases in fraud attempts targeting buyers, sellers and real estate agents over the same period.
Many title agencies have sought to combat the worsening cyber and escrow fraud threat by means of employee awareness.
More than half of respondents said their company reminds employees about the need to remain vigilant on about a weekly basis. More than 25 percent said those employee reminders are made on a monthly basis.
However, more than 20 percent of respondents reported that their company offers no training at all on cybercrime trends or red flags.
More troubling, however, is that despite the apparent increase in fraud attempts, just 62 percent of respondents said their company has a written cybercrime response plan.
Additionally, more than 40 percent of agents were not aware of or have not implemented ALTA’s Rapid Response Plan for Wire Transfer Fraud.
Smaller agencies — those with gross annual income below $1 million — were also somewhat less likely to have formal cyber response plans, wire retrieval plans or training programs than were larger agencies.
Survey results also show that cybercrime insurance coverage among title agents of all sizes is not as prevalent as one might expect given the apparent increase in fraud attempts. More than 27 percent of respondents said their company does not currently have a cybercrime insurance policy.
While most industry participants have made strides when it comes to protecting escrow funds and sensitive information, the survey clearly shows that gaps remain.
The survey also provides an opportunity for all of us to redouble our efforts, particularly when it comes to formalizing cyber response plans.
To help, we’ll be posting a blog series in the coming weeks that will provide simple, actionable tips for improving and formalizing response plans, as well as plans for wire retrieval and staff training.
We’ll also talk about the importance of cyber insurance and provide insight on how to get the right coverages for your business.
In the meantime, check out the growing library of cyber fraud resources on the Alliant National Education page. Alliant National agents can also watch our brand new Texas Continuing Education webinar on information and escrow security.
We’ve found three tools that make it easier to manage your social media platforms.
A strong social media presence is one way to increase the visibility of your business, expand your reach and generate new leads:
Buffer: Buffer is a relatively simple web application that allows users to schedule social media posts across a variety of social network platforms. Dually mobile and desktop friendly, the app optimizes posts for peak engagement times (it also allows for customization) and best of all, its users receive salient feedback, via analytics, to view social media post performance, improve results and create data-driven reports for clients and managers.
Canva: That old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words rings true with Canva, an intuitive, easy-to-master graphic-design creator that businesses can use to increase website traffic and social media engagement. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics and fonts. You don’t need a background in design to use the tool, and with more than 50,000 templates to choose from, it’s easy to design just about anything,including those all-important info graphics.
Woobox: Engagement and buzz are key when it comes to social media, and with Woobox, an increasingly popular marketing platform, businesses can create contests, giveaways, polls, quizzes, brackets, photo contests and more, all of which encourage your audience to engage. Bonus: It allows businesses to seamlessly integrate several social media platforms while running campaigns, plus it collects and exports useful data that stems from those campaigns, an advantageous perk that all but guarantees robust leads.
Real Estate Corner
Millennials are flocking to smaller cities to buy homes
According to a recent study published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), expensive home prices, coupled with high demand, are driving today’s youngest homebuyers to smaller cities.
“As long as supply keeps up to meet demand, and prevents costs from rising too high and too rapidly, these identified metro areas are likely to see an uptick in purchases from millennial homebuyers,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR. A robust job market and affordability are two of the main factors that impact home-buying decisions by millennials, notes the report.
It can be helpful to have a baseline understanding of what intellectual property is; and how it can benefit you and your agency.
Intellectual property comes in many forms. Your company logo is intellectual property. So is the name of your agency, any tag lines you’ve developed and consistently use to identify your company, your color schemes, if you have any – and content you’ve originated, like your website’s copy.
The good news about intellectual property is that it clearly identifies and separates you from your competitors. What can be a challenge, however, is challenges to your right to use your agency’s name or logo – if another entity takes issue with the use and raises the question of your right to its use.
IP lawyers know the ins-and-outs of intellectual property, but it can be helpful to have a baseline understanding of (a) what intellectual property is; and (b) how it can benefit you and your agency. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a helpful website dedicated to intellectual property issues.
Real Estate Corner
Zillow or Redfin?
Who hasn’t stopped, looked up addresses (including one’s own) – to determine what a property is worth, how it compares to similar properties and whether or not professionals involved in appraisals really know what they’re doing?
As Zillow and similar sights today embrace the added option of selling a property and eliminating real estate brokers’ commissions, the conversation about accuracy is a fast and furious trending topic.
Successful public relations is all about relationships.
While securing a story in a prime publication is terrific, building solid relationships with the press is the golden ticket to getting that story published.
Think about it: Journalists receive dozens, if not hundreds, of story pitches every day, most of them mass-produced pitches that end up in a laptop’s trash bin, often unread.
To set yourself apart from every Mary, Marty and Michael that pitches a story, you’ve got to earn and cultivate a trusting relationship with the journalists that cover your beat and your business. To achieve that goal, you’ve got to do your research and ensure that you aren’t making mistakes along the way. Suffice it to say that every detail matters. Here are some ideas to consider as you aim to become a trusted member of the media
Major news outlets generally get three times the average amount of email in pitches alone. There is a lot of noise, and most of it is irrelevant to the topics that each journalist covers.
Put yourself in the shoes of any busy journalist who gets over a hundred emails a day asking for their time and attention.
Real Estate Corner
While home prices are rising, buyers aren’t biting
While home prices are rising, buyers are baulking at the price tags and submitting fewer offers because they’re being priced out of the market.
You’ve prepared and done your homework. You’re a natural in front of the camera and a designated spokesperson, and you know your subject inside and out.
All of which begs the question: Why should you worry and sweat when a member of the media shoves a microphone under your chin and starts pelting you with questions?
The interview is moving along smoothly. You’re feeling confident and you’re articulate. You’re using all of the right buzzwords and your colleagues are watching your interview on TV and congratulating your shining moment from afar.
Then wham-bam-boom. The interviewer suddenly poses a question that you want to really, really want to avoid answering. Anything but that question, your brain mutters.
In reality, this scenario happens quite a bit, and it’s all too easy to falter when an interviewer lobs a question your way that you want to evade. What to do?
It’s called bridging—and it works.
Rather than answering the question that you’re desperate to avoid, you strategically pivot the interview to drive home your message.
In essence, you need a “bridge” to pull the conversation back to the main points that you want to convey. It’s imperative that you stay on track, remain poised and continue to deliver your key points to your captive audience—despite the question.
By staying on topic, it allows you to control the conversation and stick to your agenda.
The key to bridging successfully is always having a pipeline of phrases and words stored away in your head that ensures that you can pivot away from the ick-question and steer the interview back to the points that you want to amplify.
If you need time to think, give yourself a few seconds by initially responding with “That’s a great question—one that I think about often,” and then provide a “bridge” statement that can start with “What’s important to remember…” or “Let’s not forget…” both of which are transitions that allow you to tailor your answer with compelling information that effectively articulates your main points and speaks to your audience. Just remember that everything is on the record and it’s crucial to tell the truth.
A media interview is an important opportunity to speak directly to your audience, but don’t let the interviewer drive the conversation.
Put simply, the bridging technique allows the interviewee to move the conversation on from a negative or unhelpful question posed by the interviewer.
Real Estate Corner
Make a profit on your flipped house by avoiding costly pitfalls
Flipping houses is a huge trend in the housing arena. But how do you make sure that that your flip isn’t a flop?
Protect the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance provided through the finest independent agents in a trusted partnership.
Could your website, social media and email marketing use some help?
We’re constantly developing tools and resources to help you tell the story of your brand, plus we’ll set up a free ongoing review of your marketing initiatives.