“I feel the need…the need for speed.” – Maverick (Top Gun)
With the increasing “need-for-speed” at which the lending community moves, keeping up is a constant task that never gets any easier. New entrants continue to join the market with better technology and digital processes to simplify the loan process and provide fast closing experiences to meet consumer needs.
As the refi-crunch subsides and homebuyers are increasingly competing against faster all-cash offers, speed once again is center stage.
With lender partners investing billions in point of sales (POS) solutions enhancements and digital mortgage processes, the title industry and its critical suppliers, e.g. appraisal management companies, are increasingly feeling the need for speed and fast product delivery.
In 2019, for example, one national lender reportedly spent $100 million to develop a digital platform that could originate and close transactions in eight days.
To stay ahead (or: remain relevant), title companies need to adapt to changing lender expectations, market trends and new technologies. Most progressive title firms are actively engaged in some stage of digital transformation and implementing – or at least assessing –automation advantages.
Their main goal is to keep pace with their lender counterparts by squeezing time, cost and risk from every step in the title and closing processes. As these companies examine critical operational workflows, the property tax reporting process often stands out as an opportunity for re-engineering.
Digitizing Property Tax Reporting
Property tax reporting is a critical component of any title decision: Does the seller or owner owe real estate taxes that must be paid at closing or even jeopardize the transaction?
In many title firms, this tedious research process is manual and labor intensive. Staffers traditionally contact tax collectors, search across tax websites and work with regional vendors for current tax information needed to make title decisions. Given there are over 22,000 tax agencies in the U.S., this is challenging for all title companies, especially larger national and multi-regional customer footprints.
Sourcing accurate property tax information is notoriously difficult, as companies not only have to collect data from counties, but also other entities with lien authority, such as lower liens below the county.
With such disparate requirements and sources, costly manual processes to collect property tax data are extremely challenging, and certainly not efficient. Even when using regional providers, their tax data formats are typically inconsistent and lack delivery integration into title production systems.
Finally, when tax data must be accumulated from numerous sources, this means it must be manually rekeyed multiple times, creating opportunities rife for data errors.
To simplify and standardize this process, DataTrace developed TaxSource, a centralized tax reporting platform with access to tax records nationwide, including:
- Current year bill details
- Assessed values with exemptions
- Tax agency requirements
- Prior-year delinquency records with payoff amounts
This on-demand system directly accesses property tax records and combines real-time web information, supported by a network of experienced regional tax specialists and support.
TaxSource data is delivered in a consistent, standardized format across all jurisdictions. This standardization enables operations personnel to focus on critical tasks – not reviewing numerous tax bill formats. This, in turn, reduces production time, cost for title companies and shortens time to close, to ultimately improve borrower experiences.
DataTrace TaxSource provides seamless integrationdirectly into commercial and propriety title production systems through robust API integrations. End-to-end integration reduces the need to rekey information, saving time and preventing data errors. Order access is also available through a convenient user interface for individual transactions, as well as batch order and fulfilment for larger batches.
As the mortgage lending need for speed continues, it’s incumbent for the title industry, like every part of the mortgage ecosystem, to leverage better technology tools that simplify the tax research process and fast report delivery.
In this environment, moving from manual to digital tax sourcing is an effective, sensible organization decision sure to please clients and operations alike.
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