As a self-described “historical document geek,” Rayni Scott loves examining old papers, leafing through personal journals and poring over household ledgers from time periods long gone. For her, discovering how people lived profoundly different lives from those we do in 2024 is fascinating. Her interest in tackling these historical puzzles also dovetails perfectly with her 20+ year career in title insurance.
As an Underwriting Counsel for the Southwest Region at Alliant National, Scott often spends her time exploring the history of properties the company is considering insuring. These records originally brought her into the field and continue to inspire her to deliver for the company’s independent agents.
To understand how Scott became the legal and title professional she is today, we must begin at the beginning. Following his retirement from the energy industry, Scott’s father became involved in real estate development. At the time, he would often bring his daughter to the county courthouse, where she would help him check ledgers to learn who owned different tracts of land that he and his business partners were interested in developing.
“I think I was the only middle schooler reviewing grantor-grantee indexes or putting together deed chains,” said Scott of those days. These early experiences left a lasting impact. Later in college, Scott’s favorite classes were Constitutional Law and Real Property Law, and she would eventually parlay her interests into a career in title examination and later in underwriting. Today, Scott’s love for historical puzzles continues to animate her work. “One of the most engaging parts of my job is putting together the puzzle,” she said. “The job doesn’t get boring. Every file offers different facts and there is always something new to learn.”
For Scott, a property’s historical details are not just meaningful in the abstract. Instead, just like the historical records she explores in her personal time, a property file can reflect the lived reality of real people. They can also certainly impact those involved in the transaction going forward. “It isn’t just paper shuffling,” she said of the profession. “Underwriters can actually make a difference in people’s lives with our answers.” The historical and the human sides of title examination and underwriting are both present in the various types of property transactions that come across Scott’s desk – including residential, commercial, multi-use and ranch land – although to varying degrees.
Residential sales, for instance, are often steeped in emotion. It is not uncommon, says Scott, for the seller to have “all their belongings in a moving van and need the sale to fund a new home – which are known as back-to-back closings.” On the other side of a residential transaction, you can have someone who is “buying their ‘dream home,’” Scott explains. If that wasn’t enough, these deals may also have problems that are “only discovered at the closing table” and can “really pull on the heartstrings.”
On the other hand, “commercial and multi-use transactions are ‘easier’ in the sense that attorneys are usually involved,” Scott notes. You can focus more squarely on the transaction’s particulars and “speak the same language when discussing reasons for exception or requirement.”
Finally, ranch land sales split the difference, which makes them “the toughest yet perhaps the most interesting,” according to Scott. These transactions require deep dives into the property’s history – including chain of title issues, mineral rights and surface estates, and waterway concerns. Yet they also frequently include lots of family members – property heirs who bring personal and emotional stakes to the table.
Given her passion for navigating both the historical and human dimensions of property transactions, it is not surprising that Scott found a professional home at Alliant National. The company is defined by its comprehensive capabilities, meticulous title reviews and responsive underwriting. Although for Scott, Alliant National also views title insurance as being about community in addition to historical and legal analyses.
Scott relates to the company’s community focus on multiple levels. Personally, joining Alliant National was a reunion of sorts: “I’ve worked with many on the Alliant National team before,” she said. But it also has a larger dimension. Recognizing that title insurance can profoundly impact people is one thing, but you also must back up such beliefs with action. Scott notes that this makes Alliant National’s investments in education and industry development so important, as they enable agents to improve service delivery and strengthen the industry overall. “I’m passionate about our webinar series,” she said. “I was also excited to learn my law school alma mater created a Real Property Clinic and that Alliant National is instituting a paid internship program to open avenues for new professionals to join our field.” Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” This principle is self-evident in real estate and title insurance. In these industries, historical records speak volumes about the forces that shaped a property and what meaning the property may have for those who lived there. Additionally, the level of care, consideration and effort put into dealing with those documents can leave a lasting mark on both the buyer and seller. Her love for historical records and acute understanding of that fact have empowered Scott to build an enviable career. They are also qualities that will help her continue to execute on behalf of Alliant National’s agents in the years to come.