Title Technology in the Pandemic Age

COVID has increased the urgency of title companies needing digital tools to provide safe transactions for clients. As we’ve seen, technology doesn’t seem to be a problem, but rather – integration.

Volume on Notarizing platforms have increased 600% since April – but many real estate experts in the field believe there is still a long way for full digital adoption.

Tyler Thompson, Second Century Ventures and REACH Managing Partner, explains, “We need better integration from real estate, mortgage to title; remote online notarization is a huge part of that.”

For many in the title industry world, the need for highlighting and focusing on the consumer is something the industry should dedicate towards. Clients need a more streamlined process to secure their real estate goals.

The future is bright – and it looks like the push towards full integration is on everyone’s horizon.

For more real estate and title news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

2020 Buyer & Seller Stats

2020 isn’t exactly what we were all planning on – COVID has altered buyer and seller statistics, and has also changed client motivation. As an agent, you’re used to curveballs; but it’s still important to understand what your buyers and sellers might be looking for as they maneuver through the journey of buying or selling a home.

86% of younger milennials were first-time home buyers.*

Buyers Spend 3 less days looking for a home than in 2019.**

74% of clients preferred their agent to call them with new information.*

*NAR Realtor


Reach out to your local Business Development Rep for more information!

Moving: Homeowners Adjust during Pandemic

Looks like a pandemic won’t stop movers – it’ll actually motivate them!

HomeLight, a company that provides software and services to the real estate industry, released a survey that showcases results on some of the top reasons homeowners are moving.

The top three reasons people moved were:

  • More space (44%)
  • Buy versus rent (41%)
  • Suburbs vs city (37%)

Check out HomeLight’s infographic below:

As remote work becomes more of the norm, homeowners are needing more space for a formal home office. Many millennial homeowners have also felt the need to purchase a home instead of renting (check out our previous article on why millennials are becoming homeowners), and suburbs offer ample yard space and less opportunity to use common spaces like you would in a city.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

CertifID – Wire Fraud Prevention

Alliance Title doesn’t want you to be a victim of wire fraud! To help protect you and your assets, we’ve partnered with CertifID – nation’s leading wire fraud prevention solution, to implement an additional level of security to your transactions.

HOW IT WORKS: CertifID is designed for transaction participants to securely send and confirm wiring instructions. By validating the identity of the parties in real time, CertifID’s process allows for us to confidently proceed in providing accurate wire instructions. This process helps protect you and your clients by insuring that closing funds are safely transferred and received.

Every transaction utilizing CertifID is backed by a $1,000,000 guarantee, at no cost to you or your clients.  With over $1.5 billion lost in the United States due to wire fraud in 2019 alone, CertifID is the ultimate solution to help combat this growing concern.

We encourage you to take a look at how we are integrating CertifID into our transaction process by viewing the attached flyer.

Additionally, more information can be found on CertifID’s website, including a quick and informative video that walks through the entire process. 

Virtual Technology Preferences in the Midst of COVID-19

While it may seem as though the world is at a standstill, real estate keeps on ticking.

COVID-19 has changed much on how agents, buyers, and sellers conduct real estate business – but like other businesses, the real estate market has learned to adapt.

Listing data, well-done photos, and virtual and live-video tours are now a major focal point of how buyers and sellers can buy or sell a home.

According to a recent survey from realtor.com® and Toluna insights, 21% of respondents say that COVID-9 has made them more likely to move into a home sight unseen in the future.

How are buyers and sellers willing to adapt? Below are the technology feature preferences that clients believe are most helpful when deciding to purchase a home with social distancing guidelines in place:

  • Virtual Tour of the home – 61%
  • Accurate and detailed listing information – 58%
  • Accurate and detailed neighborhood information – 53%
  • High-quality listing photos – 51%
  • Agents showing the property through video chat – 39%

While this may seem like an unpredictable time, it looks like the real estate world is adapting and keeping it business as usual – with social distancing in mind.

For more real estate news and tips, check out Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Creating a Home Office Space

Most employers are fortunate enough to allow their employees to work from home – so what does this look like for most of America?

A recent survey from Houzz found that 55% of homeowners have a home office. A quarter of respondents work from their kitchen table and 11% work from their sofa.

If you’re one of the lucky ones to work from home, you now need to create a quiet space to work, secure a strong internet connection (if you haven’t already), and make sure you’re staying healthy on top of it.

Here are some easy tips you can help follow if you’re working from home:

Pick Your Spot

If you don’t have a home office, think of your next best solution to set up your work-from-home space. Extra bedroom with folding table, kitchen table, nook, or counter. Are you able to work near family, or do you need a quieter space?

Create the Work Mood

Avoid eyestrain by angling your computer screen away from sunlight or light fixtures. Use multiple light sources, like an overhead light, desktop light, or natural light.

Consider Your Posture

Making sure you’re comfortable is a major reason to keep up with productivity. Use the right chair, mouse, mouse pad, etc. If you can, try and periodically stand while working – maybe by setting your laptop on a counter.

Be sure you’re also taking the breaks you need during the day: stretch, stand up, walk around your home and / or backyard, and take your lunch.

Want more real estate tips and advice? Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog here.

COVID-19: Remote Online Notarization Bill in Congress

With many agents wondering how they can successfully and swiftly close their transactions in the middle of COVID-19, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has sent a letter to congress urging lawmakers to include policy in coronavirus response legislation that would pave the way for remote notarizations.

This would help move transactions towards a 100% digital platform nationwide.

The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020, also known as the SECURE Notarization Act, was introduced last Wednesday by a bipartisan coalition of senators.

Currently, only 23 states have remote online notarization policies – which permit a notary and a signer in different physical locations to safely execute electronic documents. However, some borrowers in these states are still unable to complete the transaction without an in-person notary.

The SECURE Notarization Act would create a safe, multifactor authentication that uses tamper-evident and two-way, real-time audiovisual technology to enable the signer and notary to see and hear each other simultaneously.

NAR Vice President, Vince Malta, explains, “As the nation and world grapple with some of the most difficult and uncertain circumstances of their lives, NAR continues working with the federal government to secure policy and promote public safety and protect this critical driver of our nation’s economy.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Alliance Title COVID 19 Signing Procedures

*update 7.21.2020*
Ada County has been moved back to Phase 3 due to COVID-19. Our signing procedures are current and listed below.

We remain committed to providing a consistent level of service while supporting the health and safety of our customers and employees. 

For our clients:

If you answer “yes” to any of the 3 questions below, then the signing appointment will need to be postponed until appropriate quarantine timeframes have been met, or another means of signing is established.

  1. Have you or household family members returned from international travel within the last 14 days or from an area identified as a “hot spot” within the USA? Check out the hot spots here.
  2. Have you or household family members had close contact with or cared for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
  3. Have you or household family members experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days (fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, difficulty breathing)?

If you answer “no” to all 3 questions, then we can proceed with a signing appointment. To comply with safety recommendations, along with any state requirements relating to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, we must enforce social distancing policies for all signing appointments, until further notice.

In-Branch Signing Procedures (by appointment only):

Please take a moment to review our COVID-19 ‘by appointment only’ In-Branch Signing Procedures, which will allow us to continue to provide closings in a safe manner for our staff and clients while being in compliance with current social distancing requirements. 

Preparing for your appointment:

  1. Bring a photocopy or email photo of the front and back of your identification card
  2. A new pen will be provided for you.
  3. Have a cell phone with you and make sure your Escrow Officer knows the number.
  4. Only those individuals required to sign documents will be allowed at the appointment.

Signing-appointment procedure:

  1. When you arrive, remain in your vehicle and call us to check in.  The check in phone number will be provided prior to arrival.
  2. When your signing area is sanitized and available, we will call or text you and meet you at the door to verify your identity

You will be directed to a signing area where you will find the following:
Documents to be signed,
Flash drive/envelope containing copies of documents for your records,
An unused pen.

Someone from our Escrow staff will be available to answer questions about the documents while maintaining CDC-recommended social distancing procedures.

Other Potential Options for Signing Appointments:

If you answer “no” to all 3 questions related to COVID-19 listed above and are in a position to proceed with a signing appointment but are not comfortable coming into our branch to sign, please reach out to the branch to discuss other potential signing options.  Please note: options will vary based on location.

Remote Online Notary (RON)

We are able to offer Remote Online Notary for certain types of transactions.  Inquire with your branch to see if using a Remote Online Notary is an option available for your signing. 

Mobile Notary

Please talk with your escrow officer to check availability and options for mobile notaries in your area.

We value your business and endeavor to provide exceptional customer service.  During this time we will be balancing service with efficiency and limited contact.  We appreciate your grace as we navigate through this difficult time.  Thank you for placing your trust in us.

Meet our Whitefish, MT Branch

Located in Flathead County and named one of the “Top 25 Ski Towns in the World” by National Geographic, Whitefish, Montana is a picturesque mountain-resort town filled with year-round attractions and activities.

Whitefish is located near Whitefish Lake and is the home to Whitefish Mountain Resort. With plenty of shops, unique coffee shops, restaurants, and activities like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, boating, and live-professional theater, Whitefish is the ultimate destination.   

Only a 12-minute drive from Whitefish Lake, you’ll find our Alliance Title Whitefish team! With over 55 years of combined title and escrow experience, our Whitefish team is ready to serve you!

Our Whitefish branch is incredibly involved in their community. They’ve volunteered and helped with fundraisers for Kalispell Youth Baseball, Biz to Biz, Montana Children’s Hospital, Kalispell Cancer Support Community, and several fundraisers for local children that have battled illnesses or serious injuries. They’ve also volunteered at Octoberfest, as well as participated in the companywide food drive, “Closing the Hunger Gap.”

Outside of the office, Escrow Officer, Tiffany Simpach, loves to watch baseball. She’s passionate about all things kid related and believes every child deserves a happy childhood. Her goal in life is to make a difference!

Title Officer, Suzanne Jellison, enjoys spending time with her fur babies.

Title Assistant, Brandy Woods, loves to do anything as long as it involves the great outdoors.

As a group, the Whitefish team vows to sample beverages at every local brewery and distillery the county has to offer – and there are quite a few! If you’re not in the market to purchase a home yet, you might just find them at a local spot.

Senior Vice President and Area Manager, Jack Wheir, believes that the team’s “attention to detail and outstanding customer service sets them apart from the competition. They strive to be active members of the community, while still providing excellent customer service.”

Why does the Whitefish team love their customers so much? The group explains, “Our customers are loyal and we strive to make sure our customers have the best experiences from start to finish. The honesty and integrity they exhibit make us look forward to working with them. We don’t have to question sending referrals their way because we know they will get top-notch service.”

Whether you’re buying or selling commercial or residential property in Flathead County, the professionals at Alliance Title’s Whitefish location would be delighted to help make your next transaction a success!

Alliance Title Whitefish Branch
1581 Baker Ave, 59937

Our COVID-19 Preparedness Update

A letter from our CEO:

Our employees and customers should know that we are actively monitoring the rapidly evolving situation with the Coronavirus. We will continue to implement plans to protect the health of all of our employees and customers.

In addition to strict cleaning and hygiene protocols, we are limiting travel and participation in large group activities until further notice. We are also monitoring regulatory and health agencies to be sure that we have the most up-to-date information and encouraging the use of online and telephone communications when possible.

If it becomes necessary to close any of our offices to protect the health and safety of all, we have contingency plans in place to maintain continuity of our operations. As always, we will have all hands on deck to serve our customers during this difficult time.

We have no known cases or exposures to the Coronavirus at this time. We are monitoring the situation closely, and we will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Please be aware that it is likely that cyber criminals will attempt to benefit from this crisis to exploit any vulnerability that they may detect. So, be especially vigilant in preventing them from making you a wire-fraud victim.

Please feel free to contact me or your local branch if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Larry Matney

Let’s Keep Our Communities Safe:

COVID-19 Signs and Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

In addition, for the safety of customers and staff, we are asking all customers and vendors to please refrain from in-person visits unless absolutely necessary. If visiting in person is necessary, please stay in the appropriate area (lobby or closing room) as communicated by the local office.

Practice Social Distancing with our Online Tools:

Place an Order
Lender Closing Cost Calculator
Settlement Guide
Agent Intel
Profilez On Demand

Reach out to your local branch for more information on remote online closings, e-closings, and other information here.

For more information on how to protect yourself and what to do if you have symptoms, please visit the CDC website.