FLTA LogoNTS’s own Andrea Somers (our operations manager) was recently honored by the Florida Land Title Association for her work as the Chairperson of the FLTA Cyber Security Committee and the committee’s success. FLTA’s president, in presenting the award, complimented the work of Andrea and the committee co-chair, Shelly Mannebach, as “a perfect example of putting great leaders, great people in a position (to effect change) and then getting out of the way.”

Of course, we at NTS already knew we have a star in our midst! Cyber security is becoming much, much more than a “nice-to-have” in the title industry, although, unfortunately, some firms still treat it that way. If the events of the past year haven’t awakened the title world to just how dangerous things like phishing, hacking and ransomware attacks can be, we’re not sure what would.

Nonetheless, we are grateful to have someone as insightful, hard-working and knowledgeable about such issues helping to protect the firms of our brand as well as our clients. And, by the way, it’s never too late to revisit your cybersecurity plan—if you have one—until, of course, it is too late (e.g. you and your clients become the victim of a cybercrime). Rest assured, Andrea and her team spend a lot of time on the very latest in cybersecurity, so why not take advantage of our capabilities!

Congratulations Andrea, and thank you, FLTA!

In some markets, it may not yet seem like it. But even as some lenders continue to ride the refinance wave, the forecasts for the coming year are fairly aligned in agreeing that the refinance boom will be receding soon. For some, it already has. For others, maybe in a month? Three months? Five months? Obviously, we don’t really know. But it seems likely that, barring some incredibly impactful and unexpected event, we’ll be doing much more purchase business in the coming year than we will be refinance.

The forecasts also agree that volume will be high again in 2022. The downside is that, like most boom markets, the mortgage and title industry expanded to meet the historic demand we saw in 2020 and 2021. That means there are more mouths to feed. And while the proverbial “pie” is still ample, it will be smaller than the giant feast we’ve been enjoying.

So what does that mean for you?

If you’re a REALTOR or loan officer, you already know what you need to be doing. You’re shoring up your relationships, scrubbing your leads and double-checking your CRM. A competitive purchase market is built upon leads, marketing and sales. But if you are a lender, you’re probably also becoming more and more aware that 2022 will likely be more expensive for lenders. “Margin compression” may end up being the phrase of the year, and with good reason. When volume is sky high and a product lends itself naturally to streamlined production processes, we don’t talk too much about margins. But the purchase transaction takes longer to close, comes with more complications and can be costlier to produce.

So, REALTORS and lenders, the service providers you choose on the title and closing side can make a difference in a purchase market as well. Turn time is a great example. If your provider helps shave a day or two (or three) off of the closing process because it’s already positioned for efficiencies, your closing process is that much shorter as well. Your staffs are more productive as they move on to the next file or next sale. And, as an added bonus, you’re likely to have a happier borrower on your hands when the closing process is smooth and quick. Can’t hurt the repeat or referral aspect of marketing, right?

For title companies and other service providers, now is also the time to revisit your production and service processes as well. How automated are you? Are there costly, way-too-manual elements to your workflow that require more labor than your margins can bear? Outsourcing has long been a Business 101 solution for shrinking margins for a reason. It works. Simply being able to eliminate some fixed expenses for a provider able to scale its services is a classic and effective way to relieve some of the margin pressure.

This isn’t the first posting we’ll do about the coming purchase market and it likely won’t be the last. But we haven’t truly seen a more-or-less nationwide purchase-dominant market in years. Here’s the best news. All indications are that the opportunity will be there. And a little competition never hurt, right? It’s time to get prepared and have a plan!

ALTAOne

A few of us recently attended the ALTA ONE convention in New Orleans. In fact, our CEO, Aaron Davis, was part of a great panel presentation which discussed how to best integrate new offices after a title merger or acquisition.

Although we’ve been to a few of the first in-person conferences to be had since before the COVID lockdown, ALTA ONE was a nice barometer as to what’s gone back to “the way it was,” and what hasn’t, as we slowly reopen the doors to society. We thought it might be fun to share a bit of that with you if you didn’t have a chance to attend. And, by the way, ALTA did a great job navigating some of those challenges!

One of the first things you’d have noticed if you had attended this particular show was that many folks seemed to be in a vacation-like mood, and were clearly very happy to catch up with old friends, partners and peers. The fall ALTA show has always had a bit of a more leisurely, social vibe to it—not that plenty of real networking and work doesn’t get done. So this was no surprise. But there were even fewer suits to be seen. Dress was just a bit more casual than we remember. The parties and after-hour events were a little livelier. And the typical attendee eye color was a little redder at those 8am sessions (Yep. Those are still a thing.)

We wondered how the exhibit hall would work out. Attendance was a bit lower than you’d have seen in the past, but more robust than one might have expected this year, especially with the recent storm damage and pandemic surge. But there were few reminders of those tragedies at this convention. ALTA also did a nice job creating a hybrid model so that attendees who couldn’t or didn’t want to travel could still attend all of the sessions.

The exhibit hall, always a barometer as to the success of any conference, was anything but stagnant or empty. What was especially notable about this exhibit hall, in addition to its vibrance and energy, was what types of businesses were exhibiting. Not that long ago, you were likely to see exhibitors from only a few categories at any major title/settlement show. First, you could count on the production technology (title and vendor management) providers, no matter what. Then, you might find abstractor/examiner businesses or online search tech providers. Finally, you could count on back-office service providers, be they “offshore” or “onshore.” After that, you could also expect an additional smattering of other related businesses manning their booths and conducting their raffles.

Not this year.

We were struck by the variety of tech providers at this year’s ALTA show, and not just production systems. RON providers. AI providers focused on customer service. Electronic disbursement providers. In short, less evidence that the only cure for the title industry’s ills is an “end to end” technology, and more specialization. We also saw a lot more engagement in the exhibit hall as well. Maybe the title industry is finally catching on to the idea that this is a process that truly needs to be streamlined!

We’ll only tease you by sharing that one entrepreneurial exhibitor went so far as to offer Bloody Mary’s and a local jazz band at their booth for the early morning hours on the first full day of the event. Kudos to them!

All of that’s just the starting point. We observed a lot more at the ALTA ONE convention this fall. So much so that we’ll be bringing you another raft of observations in part two of this blog…coming soon!

 

How to Create Engaging Instagram Reels to Bring Attention to You & Your Brand

You’ve seen Instagram Reels and TikTok videos everywhere and might be thinking to yourself, "How do I even create one of these?" Don’t worry. Here is your step-by-step guide to creating your first Instagram Reel for your real estate business.

Step 1: Select the Audio

Click on the music note icon on the left-hand side to open Instagram’s audio selection. From there, you can search trending audios, audio categories, and your saved audios.

Step 2: Select the Length of Your Reel

Under the music note icon on the left, you’ll find the option to change the length of your reel. You can choose from 15, 30, or 60 seconds. All you have to do is click on it until you get your desired reel time.

Step 3: Choose an Effect

If you’d like to use any beauty, background, or lighting effects that you normally use in your stories, you can click the star icon on the left-hand side of your reel’s menu. Instagram will give you tons of options, including your already saved filters, as well as trending ones.

Step 4: Set the Timer

If you need a little time to get into a position to do a viral dance or create a reel that incorporates a few different video segments, you can use the Timer/countdown option.

Once you click the timer icon on the left-hand side of the menu, you’ll find 2 countdown options of 3 or 10 seconds and notice a sliding scale where you can change the amount of time you want to record.

If you want to record multiple videos for your reel, slide the color bar to whichever spot you want to end that video segment. Next, select "set time." You can do this multiple times depending on the audio length and the length of the reel you selected. For example, if you selected 60 seconds, you could create six 10-second videos for that one reel.

Once you’ve set the timer, your Timer icon should show a white background on the main reel screen. Then, when you’re ready, hit the record button.

 

Congratulations on Creating Your Very First Reel!

Remember, the more you create in reels, the more comfortable you’ll get, and the more content you’ll create for your audience.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Introduce yourself and your team. This can be fun - and quick!
  2. Tell your story/history of you and your brand.
  3. Share clips of your day to create an "a day in the life" video.
  4. Share what’s going on behind the scenes! Showcase the buying or selling process or what happened during a recent closing.
  5. Show off your listings!! Create a walkthrough of the listing and unique features of the property. Show off a little!
  6. Create how-to videos or answer FAQs. Agents can answer 1 question on each reel to create a lot of useful content.
  7. List your services. Reels give you a quick way to talk about each of your services.
  8. Provide helpful tips for your audience. You can discuss what a buyer or seller needs to know before they start the home buying/selling process, etc.
  9. Interact with your clients. Use trending audio or dances to get your clients engaged.
  10. Use trending audio. Trending audio and sounds can bring personality to your business and be used to enhance all of the content you create from the above ideas.

Want more inspiration or additional how-tos for social media trends like this one? Let us know!

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