The HousingWire award spotlight series highlights the companies that have been recognized through our Editors’ Choice Awards. Nominations for HousingWire’s Tech100 award are now open through Friday, December 17, 2021. Click here to submit your company.
The title insurance industry generated $6.8 billion in title insurance premiums in Q3, marking the industry’s best quarter ever. As technology continues to provide ways to digitize and automate manual aspects of the real estate transaction process, increased efficiencies through tech are enabling companies to handle a level of volume that has never before been achievable.
Companies like Blend, which acquired title insurance and settlement services provider Title365 earlier this year, are bringing the consumer lending industry into the digital age with cloud-based technology that enables its lenders to process billions of loans in a single day.
“Through automation, financial institutions are able to leverage data-driven processes to streamline the closing process, reduce redundancies, and allow loan teams to hand off clerical tasks to trained algorithms without worrying about human-based error,” said Kristen Estrella, president of Title365 and 2021 HousingWire Vanguard honoree. “With technologies like Blend, title and settlement components can be integrated into the consumer’s mortgage experience, enabling them to automate title ordering and trigger an instant title commitment earlier in the loan cycle.”
Blend is a 2021 Tech100 Mortgage honoree, which recognizes the most innovative and impactful tech organizations in housing.
We sat down with Estrella to hear more about Blend’s current automation capabilities and how the company is helping to streamline the closing process and accelerate closing times.
HousingWire: What aspects of the title process can most benefit from technology?
Kristen Estrella: The title insurance process has traditionally been hyper-manual, expensive and can involve loan originators spending copious amounts of time juggling documents through email and comparing figures by hand. Blend’s title team has reimagined this process and created the backend technology to power a new standard for a premium title insurance experience. For example, loan teams and title agencies usually email Closing Disclosures back and forth to manage changes, manually entering data from the title commitment in the LOS, and restructuring and re-issuing initial disclosures multiple times for a single loan, further slowing the speed to close. With technologies like Blend, title and settlement components can be integrated into the consumer’s mortgage experience, enabling them to automate title ordering and trigger an instant title commitment earlier in the loan cycle. This change allows title teams to start working on clearing title earlier in the loan process, further accelerating loan cycle timelines.
HousingWire: We hear a lot about “stare and compare” with closing documents. What other manual processes are companies like Blend helping alleviate or eliminate?
Kristen Estrella: Blend delivers end-to-end digital banking experiences through its cloud-based platform, using direct-from-source, verified data to simplify many of the painful and inefficient parts of banking processes like ‘stare and compare.’ The platform enables a unified, omnichannel application for any consumer banking product, including mortgage loans, home equity loans and lines of credit, deposit accounts, auto loans, credit cards, and personal loans, and offers a powerful suite of tools for loan and banking teams to be more effective and efficient. As a result, financial institutions are able to provide consumers with streamlined, digital-first experiences, supported by human interaction when they want it.
HousingWire: What are the key areas that automation helps eradicate errors in the closing process?
Kristen Estrella: In any manual, paper-based process, there are inefficiencies that lead to inaccuracies. Through automation, financial institutions are able to leverage data-driven processes to streamline the closing process, reduce redundancies, and allow loan teams to hand off clerical tasks to trained algorithms without worrying about human-based error. Blend’s Close solution alone reduced document errors by 11%, missing signatures by 13%, and missing or lost notes by 12%. Through these improvements, early customers using Blend Close took two days off of closing times, allowing closing teams to close two more loans per day, resulting in a calculated savings of $135 per loan.