Because so much of what we do involves working with title and settlement agents, it’s important to us to know as much as we can about their needs and the market forces that are impacting their success. We reach out periodically to our partners in these businesses to keep that connection strong. Recently, we sent out a survey to hundreds of title agents we know to get a feel for how they are doing.
The initial surveys are beginning to return and while we have a lot more data to collect before we can draw final conclusions, we have reason to believe that our early results are indicative of what the final analysis will reveal. We share some of this with you now to solicit your responses to the data.
We asked in our survey whether settlements agents were seeing more, fewer or the same number of closings in the first half of 2018, compared to last year. The answers were evenly split. Some agents are feeling pain, but others are experiencing growth. An equal number see no change over last year.
This tells us that the market forces are not universally positive or negative for the settlement services industry. We found this interesting because we know that lenders are feeling some pain due to lower overall volumes. One would expect that falling tide to lower all boats on the settlement side, but that’s not what we’re seeing so far.
We also asked whether agents were experiencing more demands from their lender partners. Equal numbers told us that they were either experiencing no additional demands or “a bit more” but primarily due to compliance requirements.
Far and away the aspect of their businesses that is costing them the most is staff. Recruiting, training and maintaining a workforce in the settlement services industry continues to be an expensive proposition.
If you are a settlement agent who would like to see all of this year’s results, request a survey via email to ErnstSettelementServices@ernstinfo.com