I was honored to be part of a panel at the 2005 RESPA & Bundled Services Forum in Washington, DC today. Sponsored by TAVMA, the Title Appraisal Vendor Management Association, and media sponsor October Research Corporation, the event focused on the settlement services industry and the changes it will be dealing with in the future.
For our panel, we discussed the perception of the industry, on the part of both the media and the public. I was joined by Washington Post syndicated columnist Ken Harney, Brian Reiger of NorthPoint Communications and moderator Syndie Eardly of October Research.
The consensus: when there is a problem in the mortgage transaction, these are the folks that get blamed. When it's money, they turn on the title agents. When it's lost time, they talk about appraisers. When things change at the closing table, the whole settlement services industry looks bad.
Solution: get in touch with the end users. Title agents don't generally deal with borrowers, so they don't spend any time explaining to them what their industry does. That is likely to change in the future. Mr. Harney pointed out that increasing fraud is likely to push that point. Borrowers are already asking questions. Eventually, the industry is going to have to start talking back.