By Lydia Blair
The “2019 Voice of the Title Agent” is hot off the presses from The Title Report. This annual survey gives an idea of how folks in the title business are doing and their outlook for the coming year. The study covers a variety of topics related to the state of the title industry.
When questioned about business in the coming year, most title agents surveyed were optimistic about the future. More than 56 percent are anticipating some level of growth in 2019. However, they aren’t as expectant as they’ve been over the past few years. Last year, more than 66 percent of title agents anticipated growth. While the majority of agents are expecting growth, the number who feel their business will drop or remain flat continues to increase.
The low unemployment rate and healthy economic conditions were felt to benefit the title industry and title agents. The economy also topped the list of concerns for title agents. Cyber threats and increased operating costs were chief concerns as well. These were the top three worries in the 2018 survey, too.
The hardest job in the title business is thought to be the residential loan closer, called an Escrow Officer in Texas. I’ve always thought it was the sales side of the business that is the hardest. However, some respondents felt that one of the reasons the closer’s job is most difficult is because they deal directly with the public and those who don’t understand the title industry. On that, I would agree.
The report exposed the concerns many title agents have about the aging of this industry. The title business is growing old in many ways. Of the title agents surveyed, 55 percent work for companies that have been in the business for more than 20 years. Most of them are independent, with fewer than five offices.
Title company ownership across the country is dominated by people approaching or past retirement age. Agents are uneasy about the exit strategies for these leaders and where the next generation of title agents and owners will emerge.
For the most part, cybercriminals, fraud, and security combine to be the greatest concerns for title agents. Keeping their information and customers safe is their focus for 2019.
Lydia Blair (formerly Lydia Player) was a successful Realtor for 10 years before jumping to the title side of the business in 2015. Prior to selling real estate, she bought, remodeled and sold homes (before house flipping was an expression). She’s been through the real estate closing process countless times as either a buyer, a seller, a Realtor, and an Escrow Officer. As an Escrow Officer for Carlisle Title, she likes solving problems and cutting through red tape. The most fun part of her job is handing people keys or a check.