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Florida Markets Forecast to Continue Their Success in 2022

Florida Markets Forecast to Continue Their Success in 2022

It’s nice to see that Zillow recently saw fit to proclaim, in its 2022 real estate market predictions, that “the Sun Belt dominates Zillow’s list of hottest housing markets for the second year in a row.”  At the top of that list? Tampa and Jacksonville.

Now, those of us who live in Florida have always known it’s a natural real estate, er…hot spot! But, especially after weeks and months of reading the doom and gloom of the impending decline of the refinance spike; rise of interest rates and shortage of inventory, it’s nice to put it all into perspective.

While it’s easy enough to aggregate numbers from numerous local markets to create some national numbers, there’s no true national market. Just a collection of local markets. So saying many trends will impact each market equally is much more often than not false. Will interest rates rise this year? Probably. But how much will they rise; how long will the rise take to impact each market and to what degree? Let’s not forget, home values have soared over the past three years. It’s not all that apparent that they will suddenly crash. Will appreciation slow? Yes. Are declining appreciation and depreciation the same thing? Absolutely not. In fact, the same Zillow forecast suggests the nation’s top 50 markets are expected to “grow healthily in 2022.” That doesn’t sound like a year of doom and gloom to us.

Now, back to Florida, where the vast majority of FAN’s clients, partners and friends live and work. The same forces that drove our largest markets to jaw-dropping growth in 2020 and 2021 are still in place. Home values will likely still grow. Inventory is still moving quickly, indicating demand remands high. And employment and population indicators suggest Florida’s top markets are still home to motivated, capable buyers with confidence in the job market and their earning potential. So whether the Fed raises the primary national rates by a quarter of a percent or .000001 percent (and believe us, it won’t be raising it enough to disrupt the economy dramatically in an election year), odds are that, if you have property or clients with property in Tampa or Jacksonville (or Miami, or Orlando, or Gainesville…), it will be another productive year for our friends in the real estate business.

We’re ready for the volume here at FAN. And we’ve only continued to work at streamlining our processes to create the smoothest, fastest, most tension-free closings you could ask for in a purchase environment. Then again, we’re proud of the places we live and work, and we never bet against them. So Zillow’s just telling us what we already knew!

 


Read Aaron M. Davis’s Article in Title News: So, You’ve Acquired a Title Business. Now What?

So, You've Acquired a Title Business. Now What?

It’s been an active year for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the settlement services space, to the surprise of nearly no one. 2020 was a record year for title order volume, leaving many firms flush with cash. Last year was a year of opportunity in a rising purchase market. This trend is expected to continue in 2022 as many economists forecast a further decline in refinance transactions…

Read More Continue reading Read Aaron M. Davis’s Article in Title News: So, You’ve Acquired a Title Business. Now What?


2022 Title Tech Changes

In 2022, Title Tech Will Be the Same…Yet Different

FAN’s own Aaron Davis was at it again recently! This time, he joined an All-Star panel at the ALTA/MBA/MISMO Digital Boot Camp to discuss the state of tech in the greater real estate industry. Based on the turnout and engagement during his own session and throughout the event, there is no doubt that mortgage lenders and title businesses alike are very much fixed on using technology to battle the anticipated volume decline and margin compression we’ve been discussing for some time.

Except, this wasn’t the same old tech show. And there was little talk of things like “end-to-end” solutions or global fixes. The silver bullet we’ve all been seeking was not present at this conference. And it still doesn’t appear that Zillow, Amazon, Google or Tik Tok will be swallowing the biggest players in the industry and imposing a one-size-fits-all technology to save the day. (Thankfully.)

Finally, it would seem that the various CEOs and COOs, operations managers and tech buyers are learning to plan for tech stacks in order to achieve optimal results. They’ve tried, and failed, many times to make the major investment in an alpha production system, only to find their frontline workers using 3rd party phone apps and sticky notes to work around these “global solutions.”

By the way, this is not a knock on production systems. There are a lot of great ones out there. It’s just that few can solve every unique problem or challenge from a one-size-fits-all position.

The decision makers of our industry are realizing that the “best” technologies in the industry may not always be the best fits for their own unique operations. A multi-state title agency focusing on refinance business rarely has identical needs to the family-owned agency that’s built up a two state, multi-office system over four decades of purchase business. So why do we expect the same technology to have the same results for each of them?

We believe that the “traditionalism,” or “conservatism” or just plain stubbornness that once characterized this great industry when it comes to adopting new tech, is giving way to something else: practicality. Planned well, combinations of the right tech—even if it’s all single or simple use solutions which coexist and collaborate—can move mountains.

And that change of collective receptiveness? Well, it not only bodes well for our industry when it comes to new tech. It also portends good things for the adoption of existing tech. Like, say, RON or eClosings.

2022 may be a very good year in many ways. If this trend bears out, it could be a landmark year for us.

 


Mission Accomplished!

Aaron Davis

 

There aren’t a lot of business execs, owners or decision-makers out there who haven’t heard of the prestigious Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management (OPM) Program. And there aren’t a lot of people…um….anywhere, who aren’t aware that Harvard Business School is one of the very best in the world. So we’d like to take a moment to congratulate our own Aaron Davis, who recently completed the 3-year OPM program, becoming an alumnus.

 

 

Harvard Business SchoolAaron tells us that this was no ceremonial event—the students worked hard!  The class was comprised initially of 180 CEOs from around the world, representing 42 different countries and spanning every industry from real estate to manufacturing to software and more. Once a year, Aaron and the students were required to leave their businesses and families for a month of on-site education. All told, they spent 300 hours in the classroom, 75 hours in small group discussions and more than 500 hours doing class prep. Aaron and the class analyzed over 120 case studies on topics like strategy, finance, leadership, innovation, control, marketing, sales, negotiation, operations and technology.

 

Harvard Business School

As you likely already know, Aaron is the visionary behind the FAN, PDS, NTS and AMD brands, driving a single office title agency to become one of the largest national title and real estate businesses in the country. (And, if you know Aaron, you know he would immediately interrupt us to give credit to the hundreds of hard-working folks who helped him with making that vision a reality!). So it was a natural progression for him to immerse himself (when not running his business, of course) in an intensive program designed for CEO’s actively involved in day-to-day operations, with a focus on leadership, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and identifying emerging opportunities.

 

Like pretty much everything else Aaron sets his mind to, mission accomplished! He can now add one more accomplishment to his list. And we at AMD, FAN and all of the AMD brands congratulate him for this noteworthy achievement.


A Look Ahead to 2022

A Look Ahead to 2022

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!


A Reminder That It’s No Longer 2020…but We’re Not Back to 2019 Yet, Either.

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!


Missing Out on the Latest Social Trends Costs You Money

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!


Florida Agency Network Grows Again with Merger of International Title Partners

Clearwater Title Agency Strengthens Fan Presence in Pinellas County

side by side picture
October 6, 2021  Plant City, FL— Florida Agency Network (FAN) has completed its merger with International Title Partners (ITP), a full-service title agency in Clearwater, Florida.

FAN is a strategic alliance of members and vendors assembled to provide a customized, streamlined closing experience.  The merger brings the total number of FAN offices to over 30, with nearly 300 employees located in Florida. The network is also the developer of multiple proprietary, settlement services technologies.

“We are extremely excited about ITP, which is our newest venture in Pinellas County,” said Mike LaRosa, COO for FAN. “We have partnered with an experienced real estate team that has handled that area’s high-end residential and commercial real estate transactions for years.  ITP offers us the opportunity to continue growing our footprint in the Tampa Bay Area real estate market.”

LaRosa notes the strategic location of the merger, which will not only allow FAN to leverage efficiencies in order to maximize customer service levels, but will increase the company’s presence in one of Florida’s leading residential and commercial markets.

Kelly Kepler, previously ITP’s CEO, will stay on with ITPShe is looking forward to the new relationship and the benefits it will have for clients.  “FAN’s reputation for exceptional client service and responsiveness is recognized throughout the title industry,” she said.  “I’m looking forward to bringing the FAN resources to our Realtor® and lender relationships as well.  The partnership with FAN will allow us to serve and grow in more markets in the state of Florida while providing the amazing customer experience that International Title Partners is known for.”

Kepler also notes that ITP is well regarded for its strong support of the local chapter of Homes for Heroes, a non-profit network of affiliated real estate, mortgage and business specialists working to deliver easy ways for military, EMS, law enforcement, healthcare professionals and teachers to save money during home purchases.

About Florida Agency Network

The Florida Agency Network (FAN) is a statewide alliance of title agencies that share services, resources and technology. FAN has formed a strategic alliance amongst members and vendors, in addition to creating proprietary technologies, to better serve its clients, allowing it to provide customized solutions to protect and streamline the closing experience. Members share back-office services, pooled resources, access to industry-leading technology, improved efficiencies, and the ability to offer their clients greater geographic coverage throughout Florida with SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 security compliance solutions available. For more information, please visit www.FLagency.net.

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Al in Title

Al in Title

 

Automation has come a long way in the settlement process, but new artificial intelligence (AI) approaches may finally tackle some of the oldest and most stubborn chokepoints plaguing agents, underwriters, real estate agents and homebuyers. Listen to this webinar recording to learn how to use AI to make your operation more efficient.