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Ask your title company how it chooses its closers. National notary services and independent signing agents have grown in popularity in recent years, but what kind of control does your title company really have over the selection or screening process? You should ensure that the licensing requirements are met, along with any liability insurance standards. Experience in the industry is equally important, as well as philosophies on how questions are handled at the closing table.
Closers don't appreciate being solicited by lenders that ask them to encourage borrowers to cancel their loans during the rescission period to refinance for a better rate. Title companies can prevent this unethical behavior by having closers sign an agreement before they're approved, preventing any communication with borrowers outside of the transaction they're hired to facilitate. A closer rating system is a great way to keep track of borrowers' experiences with a particular closer in a certain area. Ask your title company what type of rating system it uses to ensure that competent closers are chosen and problem closers are eliminated.
Availability is also a major factor to take into consideration. You know your clientele better than anyone, and it's important to prioritize their needs in a special situation. The last thing you want is for a rate lock to expire because a closer isn't available at the end of the month. If after-hours closings, weekend closings and in-home closings are important to your borrowers, make sure this service is available at your chosen title company. Find out how difficult it is to schedule a last-minute settlement. Inquire about what technology is used for changes at the closing table. Your title company should be able to foresee problems before they arise so there are no last-minute surprises at settlement.
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When choosing a title company, look for one with the expertise and financial strength to protect you should a claim arise. Companies affiliated with top-rated underwriters or part of a large financial network are often best. Look for one with a sound reputation and a history of satisfied customers.
Beyond the transaction, though, find a strategic partner that will leave a positive impression with your borrowers. Get comfortable with its multistate experience and local expertise. Evaluate the company's systems to ensure its efficiencies are passed on to you. Companies that help facilitate the settlement process in a more efficient and professional manner also help secure repeat business. Closing is the final impression; make it a lasting one.
Tanya Themistokleous is the vice president of marketing and sales at Closeline Settlements, a national title and escrow company headquartered in Rockville, Md.
Themistokleous is an associate member of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Professional Mortgage Women. She can be reached at (301) 795-2880 or email@example.com.
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