First American Introduces Instant Title for Refinance Transactions
First American Title Insurance Company announced Tuesday that its Lenders Advantage Division has completed development of TitleSmart, a new technology that the company says delivers insured title commitments in less than 60 seconds. According to First American, the instant title information offered by TitleSmart gives mortgage lenders full title facts -- including ownership, tax, lien, title conditions and closing fee information -- immediately in-hand, rather than having to wait the traditional 48 hours to receive that information. In initial testing, TitleSmart delivered a title qualification or title commitment -- protected by full title insurance -- in less than 1 minute on more than 63 percent of refinance loans in 44 states. Beta testing will begin this month with two top mortgage lenders, and several other lenders have integrated TitleSmart into their strategic plans for 2007, First American said. "We're genuinely excited about the opportunity that TitleSmart offers to mortgage lenders who can take advantage of instant title to close more refinance loans and reduce overall turn time," said James Dufficy, executive director of First American Title's Lenders Advantage Division. "TitleSmart will change the way that mortgage lenders use title information at the point of sale, as a tool to enhance their consumer relationships. It might even become difficult for some lenders to remain competitive without it." While today's refinance market continues to operate at a more normal volume than in previous boom years, some estimates suggest that a steady resurgence could be in store for the first half of 2007. Hundreds of thousands of adjustable rate mortgages will be re-setting at higher interest rates this year, driving consumers to refinance into fixed-rate mortgage products. Many mortgage lenders are already preparing for a possible increase in business by making urgent improvements in process, time and cost as part of their strategy to attract and retain customers. "This is a major evolutionary step from accelerated title, which delivers a qualification decision on a much more limited segment of transactions at point of sale," said Laura Roedel, vice president of Strategic Marketing for First American Title's Lenders Advantage Division. "TitleSmart is the culmination of two years of research and development that utilizes our in-house expertise in technology, product design, title underwriting, data management and exception processing. It's unique in that it completely automates the title production process for the majority of refinance loans without requiring the mortgage lender to pre-qualify the transaction or change their current processes." More information on TitleSmart is available at http://www.lendersadvantage.com.