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Reaching Out To Settlement Agents

We talk a lot about lenders having to reach out more to borrowers, but its not just borrowers that they have to reach. Ernst Publishing Company, a provider of technology and closing cost data for the real estate and home finance industries for the past 27 years, has enhanced its Settlement Agent Gateway to give lenders more control and flexibility with their local relationships with settlement agents. These local relationships are key to keeping new business flowing to the loan originator.

“One of the most significant risks our industry faced with the onset of the new TRID rules was disconnecting lenders from their local business networks out of fear of noncompliance because they can’t control fee quotes and fee changes,” said Gregory E. Teal, president and chief executive officer of Ernst Publishing. “We solved that problem with the Settlement Agent Gateway. This enhancement gives lenders complete control over these vitally important local relationships alerting them of fee changes in real-time while using effective dating to control loan quotes already in the pipeline; this helps eliminate any fear of noncompliance and mitigates cures.”

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Ernst’s Settlement Agent Gateway is a collaborative fee management system that allows settlement agents to work with lenders to negotiate fees and then manage these fees in a web-based tool through which they certify the accuracy of their fees and then make them available to lenders who need to provide Loan Estimates mandated under the new requirements. This ensures full TRID compliance, protects the lenders from cures resulting from quoting the wrong fees and protects smaller settlement agent firms from being pushed out of the market due to non-compliance concerns.

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The web based technology is simple to use and uses MISMO data standards to allow the settlement agent to enter pre-negotiated fees into a spreadsheet that includes cells for the required services by geography, and then certify that the fees are accurate with a single click. Agents can access the system at any time. Ernst then loads this fee information into the lender’s custom fee engine and when the company is ready to create a new TRID Loan Estimate, the certified accurate fees for their settlement agent partners will automatically be loaded into the disclosures.

The program lets the lender set up their panel of settlement agents in advance and then choose which agent to use on a loan-by-loan basis. This allows them to build stronger relationships in local markets by connecting local loan officers with local closing agents very early in the process. The new enhancement enables lenders to maintain consistency with pipeline loan quotes. The Gateway ensures TRID compliance by providing accurate closing costs in time for the CD.

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Ernst programs process an average of 150 million real estate transactions every year, industry-wide. Since the company was founded 27 years ago, Ernst has processed over 1 billion transactions. The firm estimates that its patented technology is in use for 90% of the nation’s new loan originations and refinance transactions.

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Assistance For Settlement Agents

NextDeal (formerly Digital Docs) a developer of Software as a Service solutions designed to assist settlement agents to grow their revenue, is making its encryption software, SafeSend, available to the settlement services industry at no cost.

SafeSend is an encryption e-mail platform touted for its ease-of-use. The system can standalone or integrate with Microsoft Outlook.

Robert Reich, President of NextDeal, said that NextDeal is making SafeSend available at no cost because protecting non-public information (NPI) has become critical for an industry staggering under a number of new and increased costs, and NextDeal is in a position to assist.

“It is very important to see the title industry survive and thrive. It’s in our best interest as well as the best interests of the larger real estate industry. Title agents in particular are facing staggering cost increases and shrinking margins. If we can help the industry avoid one more expense, then this initiative is well worth it. We’d also like more agents to be aware of what NextDeal can do to help them in this changing environment.”