Share Your #GoodDeeds

GooddeedsCommunity is not based on our ability to physically see and touch each other, but rather the connection and care we show for each other—especially in times of need. ALTA would like to hear how you are continuing to serve your customers and communities during this uncertain and unprecedented time. We know how involved you are in your local market even when there’s not a pandemic, so we know you are actively involved in helping those that might need it most. We would like to highlight all the great volunteerism that is happening across our industry and the creative ways you’ve modified processes to get deals closed. 

Here are three ways you can share your story with us:

  1. Email your story at communications@alta.org.
  2. Post your story in the comments section on our blog.
  3. Share your story on Facebook or Instagram, use #GoodDeeds and tag ALTA.

11/16/2021

Choosing and Protecting Passwords

You probably use personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords or passphrases every day: from getting money from the ATM or using your debit card in a store, to logging in to your email or your company’s VPN. Tracking all the number, letter and special character combinations may be frustrating, but these protections are important because hackers represent a real threat to your information. Often, an attack is not specifically about your account, but about using the access to your information to launch a larger attack. Many systems and services have been successfully breached because of non-secure and inadequate passwords. Once a system is compromised, it is open to exploitation by other unwanted sources.

How to choose good passwords

Most people use passwords that are based on personal information and are easy to remember. However, that also makes it easier for an attacker to crack them. Consider a four-digit PIN. Is yours a combination of the month, day, or year of your birthday? Does it contain your address or phone number? Think about how easy it is to find someone’s birthday or similar information. What about your email password—is it a word that can be found in the dictionary? If so, it may be susceptible to dictionary attacks, which attempt to guess passwords based on common words or phrases.

Although intentionally misspelling a word ("daytt" instead of "date") may offer some protection against dictionary attacks, an even better method is to rely on a series of words and use memory techniques, or mnemonics, to help you remember how to decode it. For example, instead of the password "hoops," use "IlTpbb" for "[I] [l]ike [T]o [p]lay [b]asket[b]all." Using both lowercase and capital letters add another layer of obscurity. Changing the same example used above to "Il!2pBb." creates a password very different from any dictionary word.

Length and complexity

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed specific guidelines for strong passwords. According to NIST guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible (8–64 characters) when you can. For example, "Pattern2baseball#4mYmiemale!" would be a strong password because it has 28 characters and includes the upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. You may need to try different variations of a passphrase—for example, some applications limit the length of passwords and some do not accept spaces or certain special characters.

Dos and don'ts

Once you’ve come up with a strong, memorable password it’s tempting to reuse it—don’t! Reusing a password, even a strong one, endangers your accounts just as much as using a weak password. If attackers guess your password, they would have access to your other accounts with the same password. Use the following techniques to develop unique passwords for each of your accounts:

  • Use different passwords on different systems and accounts.
  • Use the longest password or passphrase permissible by each password system.
  • Develop mnemonics to remember complex passwords.
  • Consider using a password manager program to keep track of your passwords. (See more information below.)
  • Do not use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed.
  • Do not use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language.

How to protect your passwords

After choosing a password that's easy to remember but difficult for others to guess, do not write it down and leave it someplace where others can find it. Writing it down and leaving it in your desk, next to your computer, or, worse, taped to your computer, makes it easily accessible for someone with physical access to your office. Do not tell anyone your passwords, and watch for attackers trying to trick you through phone calls or email messages requesting that you reveal your passwords.

Programs called password managers offer the option to create randomly generated passwords for all of your accounts. You then access those strong passwords with a master password. If you use a password manager, remember to use a strong master password.

There's no guarantee that these techniques will prevent an attacker from learning your password, but they will make it more difficult.

Ransomware 101

How ransomware works
Source: CertifID

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) says ransomware identifies the drives on an infected system and begins to encrypt the files within each drive. Ransomware generally adds an extension to the encrypted files, such as .aaa, .micro, .encrypted, .ttt, .xyz, .zzz, .locky, .crypt, .cryptolocker, .vault, or&.petya, to show that the files have been encrypted—the file extension used is unique to the ransomware type.

Once the ransomware has completed file encryption, it creates and displays a file or files containing instructions on how the victim can pay the ransom. If the victim pays the ransom, the threat actor may provide a cryptographic key that the victim can use to unlock the files, making them accessible.

How is ransomware delivered?

Ransomware is commonly delivered through phishing emails or via “drive-by downloads,” according to CISA. Phishing emails often appear as though they have been sent from a legitimate organization or someone known to the victim and entice the user to click on a malicious link or open a malicious attachment. A “drive-by download” is a program that is automatically downloaded from the internet without the user’s consent or often without their knowledge. It is possible the malicious code may run after download, without user interaction. After the malicious code has been run, the computer becomes infected with ransomware.

What can I do to protect my data and networks?

  • Back up your computer. Perform frequent backups of your system and other important files, and verify your backups regularly. If your computer becomes infected with ransomware, you can restore your system to its previous state using your backups.  
  • Store your backups separately. Best practice is to store your backups on a separate device that cannot be accessed from a network, such as on an external hard drive. Once the backup is completed, make sure to disconnect the external hard drive, or separate device from the network or computer.
  • Train your organization. Organizations should ensure that they provide cybersecurity awareness training to their personnel. Ideally, organizations will have regular, mandatory cybersecurity awareness training sessions to ensure their personnel are informed about current cybersecurity threats and threat actor techniques. To improve workforce awareness, organizations can test their personnel with phishing assessments that simulate real-world phishing emails.

What can I do to prevent ransomware infections?

  • Update and patch your computer. Ensure your applications and operating systems (OSs) have been updated with the latest patches. Vulnerable applications and OSs are the target of most ransomware attacks.
  • Use caution with links and when entering website addresses. Be careful when clicking directly on links in emails, even if the sender appears to be someone you know. Attempt to independently verify website addresses (e.g., contact your organization's helpdesk, search the internet for the sender organization’s website or the topic mentioned in the email). Pay attention to the website addresses you click on, as well as those you enter yourself. Malicious website addresses often appear almost identical to legitimate sites, often using a slight variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com instead of .net).
  • Open email attachments with caution. Be wary of opening email attachments, even from senders you think you know, particularly when attachments are compressed files or ZIP files.
  • Keep your personal information safe. Check a website’s security to ensure the information you submit is encrypted before you provide it.
  • Verify email senders. If you are unsure whether an email is legitimate, try to verify the email’s legitimacy by contacting the sender directly. Do not click on any links in the email. If possible, use a previous (legitimate) email to ensure the contact information you have for the sender is authentic before you contact them.
  • Inform yourself. Keep yourself informed about recent cybersecurity threats and up to date on ransomware techniques.
  • Use and maintain preventative software programs. Install antivirus software, firewalls and email filters—and keep them updated—to reduce malicious network traffic.

How do I respond to a ransomware infection?

  • Isolate the infected system. Remove the infected system from all networks, and disable the computer’s wireless, Bluetooth, and any other potential networking capabilities. Ensure all shared and networked drives are disconnected whether wired or wireless.  
  • Turn off other computers and devices. Power-off and segregate (i.e., remove from the network) the infected computer(s). Power-off and segregate any other computers or devices that shared a network with the infected computer(s) that have not been fully encrypted by ransomware. If possible, collect and secure all infected and potentially infected computers and devices in a central location, making sure to clearly label any computers that have been encrypted. Powering-off and segregating infected computers and computers that have not been fully encrypted may allow for the recovery of partially encrypted files by specialists.
  • Secure your backups. Ensure that your backup data is offline and secure. If possible, scan your backup data with an antivirus program to check that it is free of malware.

What do I do if my computer is infected with ransomware?

  • Home users: immediately contact your local FBI office or local U.S. Secret Service office to request assistance.
  • Organizations: immediately report ransomware incidents to your IT helpdesk or security office.
  • All users: change all system passwords once the ransomware has been removed. 

10/29/2021

Insuring Native American Land Webinar Series

ALTA's Native American Lands Work Group produced a four-part webinar series titled "Insuring Native American Land: Special Issues and Consideration." Below are the recordings from all four presentations.

Part I

This presentation discusses special issues and considerations when searching and insuring property involving Native American land. This presentation focuses on vesting and ownership of land, the Indian Non-Intercourse Act and Section 17 Corporations.

Experts participating in this webinar include:

  • Cindy Guanell ITP, NTP | Regional Underwriting Director/Pacific Northwest Region | First American Title Insurance Co. 
  • Sean Holland | Vice President & Underwriting Counsel | Fidelity National Title Group
  • Paul Cozzi | Senior Underwriting Counsel | Fidelity National Title Group
  • Branden Allen | Underwriting Counsel | Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.

Moderating the discussion is Cindy Guanell of First American Title Insurance Co. 

Download Presentation

Part II

This part of the series explores the statutory and regulatory authority and processes for leasing restricted Native American lands, including 25 U.S.C. § 415, 29 CFR Part 169, and the HEARTH Act, which created a voluntary, alternative land leasing process available to tribes who enact leasing regulations, that permits tribal leasing without having to obtain further approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. You will learn key items to consider when handling transactions involving leases on Native American land.

Experts participating in this webinar include:

  • Orlando Lucero | Vice President/New Mexico State Underwriting Counsel | FNF Family of Companies
  • Sam Shiel | Vice President/National Underwriting Counsel| Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.
  • Cindy Guanell ITP, NTP | Regional Underwriting Director/Pacific Northwest Region | First American Title Insurance Co. 
  • Rolf Lindberg | Senior Underwriting Counsel | Stewart Title Guaranty Co.

Download Presentation Download Materials

Part III

This presentation discusses discuss authority, recording and access when handling transactions involving Native American land.

Experts participating in this webinar include:

  • Chad Hansen | Regulatory and Compliance Counsel | First National Title Insurance Co.
  • Dawn Lewallen | Senior Division Underwriting Counsel | First American Title Insurance Co
  • Orlando Lucero | Vice President/New Mexico State Underwriting Counsel | FNF Family of Companies

Moderating the discussion is Megan Powell of First American Title Insurance Co. 

Download Presentation 

Part IV

This presentation reviews the many of the concepts presented in the previous programs and apply those concepts to underwriting issues presented by hypothetical situations. The presentation digs into underwriting issues involving commercial and residential transactions.

Experts participating in this webinar include:

  • Nancy Appleby | Chair of Native American Lands Work Group and Owner of Appleby Law PLLC
  • Cindy Guanell,| Regional Underwriting Director - Pacific Northwest Region for First American Title Insurance Co.
  • Orlando Lucero | Vice President and New Mexico State Underwriting Counsel for Fidelity National Title Insurance Co.
  • Megan Powell | Vice Chair of ALTA's Native American Lands Work Group and Commercial Underwriter for First American Title Insurance Co. 

Download Presentation 

10/26/2021

RamQuest Supports Louisiana Food Bank

RamQuest announced a donation of $2,440 to the Second Harvest Food Bank in New Orleans.

The provider of technology-based solutions for the title and settlement industry raised the money during the 2021 ALTA ONE conference. The donation is part of the company’s ongoing GiveBIG (Give Back to Ignite Good) initiative to support local communities and non-profit organizations.

As the largest charitable anti-hunger network in southern Louisiana, Second Harvest Food Bank provides food access to more than 200,000 people in the area. RamQuest’s donation will aid victims of Hurricane Ida, which hit Louisiana on Aug. 29.

“Thanks to (RamQuest’s) generosity, Second Harvest will be there to assist our community as we recover during the long months ahead,” said Natalie Jayroe, president of Second Harvest Food Bank.  

The money will provide locals with food, water, emergency supplies and cleaning supplies.

ALTA ONE conference participants joined in the cause as they engaged with RamQuest at its exhibit booth during the week-long convention in New Orleans.

10/21/2021

Report: Closing Fees as Percentage of Purchase Price Decreases

Closing costs 2021 half yearCountering skyrocketing home values, the title and settlement industry continues to find ways to manage homebuying fees as closing costs as a percentage of purchase price declined during the first half of 2021.

According to the latest data from ClosingCorp, closing costs as a percentage of purchase prices declined to 1.03% this year, down from 1.06% in 2020.

“Although the average home price increased by nearly $45,000, the closing costs, excluding taxes, on that property only increased by $400,” said Bob Jennings, CEO of ClosingCorp. “In addition to keeping up with high demand, the mortgage industry is doing a good job in holding down the costs it can control.”

During the first half of 2021, ClosingCorp reported the national average closing costs for a single-family property were $6,837 including taxes, and $3,836 excluding taxes. These were 12.3% and 10.5% year-over-year increases, respectively; whereas refinance closings costs increased marginally to $2,398, a 4.87% change from the reported 2020 average of $2,287.

ClosingCorp cost calculations include lender’s title policy, owner’s title policy, appraisal, settlement, recording fees, land surveys and transfer tax. ClosingCorp uses home price data from CoreLogic to estimate closing costs for an average home at the state, core-based statistical area (CBSA) and county levels. ClosingCorp uses ranges, rather than single values, to more accurately capture fees associated with the real transactions.

ClosingCorp analyzed data on more than 1.9 million single-family purchase transactions that ran through its platform in the first half of this year. The report includes market-specific rates and fees, not just network averages charged by the most active settlement services providers in each geographic area, according to Dori Daganhardt, chief data officer of ClosingCorp.

The 2021 report shows the states with the highest average closing costs, including taxes, were: District of Columbia ($30,352), Delaware ($17,831), New York ($17,582), Washington ($13,909), and Maryland ($12,056). The states with the lowest closing costs, including taxes, were: Missouri ($2,102), Indiana ($2,193), North Dakota ($2,321), Kentucky ($2,355) and Wyoming ($2,509).

The states with the highest average closing costs, excluding taxes, were: District of Columbia ($6,523), New York ($6,300), Hawaii ($5,976), California ($5,772), and Washington ($4,803). The states with the lowest closing costs, excluding taxes, were: Arkansas ($2,071), Missouri ($2,102), Indiana ($2,193), Nebraska ($2,193) and Kentucky ($2,193).

10/12/2021

It’s Time to be All In at ALTA ONE

ALTA ONE provides the opportunity for title professionals to dive into trends and policies shaping the industry. It’s also the optimal event to reconnect with colleagues from across the country and prepare for upcoming opportunities and challenges. It’s time to be ALL In for your customers, your business, your team and your future.

Here’s a quick rundown of key presentations during the featured Omni Sessions this week at ALTA ONE, which is being held Oct. 12-15 in New Orleans.

Power of Perception

How can we adapt and thrive when the ground beneath us is shifting? Neuroscientist Dr. Beau Lotto has spent decades studying the way we see—and in this Oct. 13 opening Omni Session (sponsored by First American)—he will illuminate these principles of perception, helping you overcome biases, embrace uncertainty, transform your approach to creativity and unlock innovation. Lotto will use hard science to open your mind and help you see the world—and yourself—differently.

The founder and CEO of The Lab of Misfits, a neuro-design studio that seeks to “break down the walls of the traditional laboratory” and study humans in their natural habitats, Lotto also is a professor of neuroscience at the University of London and a visiting scholar at New York University. He is the author of “Why We See What We Do” and “Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently,” which explores the surprising science of creativity and unveils the unexpected relationship between perception, reality and innovation.

Technology Innovation and Hope

From a worldwide health pandemic to hurricanes and wildfires to unrelenting cyberattacks: Where you may see uncertainty, former White House CIO Theresa Payton sees a future of technology innovation and hope. Payton knows how to transform people and technology to meet shifting and often conflicting priorities. In this “little something extra” Omni Session on Oct. 13, she will discuss her unique perspective on accelerating and reimagining your technology while also keeping your employees, customers and data secure.

 

What you see on her hit CBS show, “Hunted,” is what she does in real life: follow the digital tracks of the criminal adversary. Payton will provide a sneak preview into the inner workings of cybercriminal syndicates that are behind some of the largest cybersecurity incidents, including ransomware. Through real life stories, she’ll share how criminals leverage the cloud, blockchain, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, open-source intelligence, 5G, the internet of things and even deep fakes to conduct their tradecraft.

You will walk away from her Omni Session with a list of things you can implement immediately, a blueprint for guarding your work life and personal life against attack. Payton also will give her cybercrime predictions for 2022 and beyond and tell you how to prepare.

Diversity in Leadership

“You don’t have a diversity problem—you have a leadership problem.” During the Oct. 14 Omni Session (sponsored by the FNF Family of Companies), Ginny Clarke, a former director of executive recruiting at Google, will share her expertise in driving diverse leadership. Clarke will deliver a “no-holds-barred” discussion on the causes that lead to a lack of diversity in organizations and provide thoughtful, integrated solutions you can use to affect change. She will share the provocative view that leaders can be the ailment or the remedy for Corporate America’s “Diversity Problem.”

A published author, podcast host and entrepreneur, Clarke is the CEO of Ginny Clarke LLC, her own talent and leadership consulting business. Previously, she was a partner at Spencer Stuart, a global executive search firm based in Chicago. She has been in corporate boardrooms assessing and advising leaders for nearly 25 years and has a deep understanding of how to fairly assess talent as well as build that capability in your organization.

Playing the Game

To kick off the closing Omni Session sponsored by AccuTitle, Immediate Past President Mary O’Donnell and ALTA CEO Diane Tomb will present the next round of ALTA Good Deeds Foundation grants.

Following that, ALTA President Bill Burding NTP will interview former football star Archie Manning.

The conversation will address football, but Manning will share his four principles: leadership, dependability, flexibility and “playing the game.” Manning will offer advice on how to apply the principles to community, business and day-to-day life—ultimately helping achieve success.

As the New Orleans Saints’ No. 1 draft pick in 1971, Manning has been recognized as one of the top 50 players in the franchise’s history, inducted into multiple Halls of Fame and won awards for everything from coaching to humanitarianism and, yes, even Father of the Year. His permanent record features a laundry list of activities that better his community, including the Louisiana Special Olympics, the New Orleans Area Boy Scout Council, the United Way Speakers Bureau and the Salvation Army. He also is the chair of the board of the National Football Foundation.

Following the interview with Manning, ALTA’s 2021-2022 Board of Governors will be installed followed by incoming ALTA President Dan Wold.

Giving Back ‘A Passion’

GPMade Foundatoin Donation Picture
Pictured include: Gary and Missy Pinkel, founders of GPMade Foundation; Pam and Chuck Bowman, owners of Monarch Title; and staff of Monarch Title.

Giving back to their community is part of the company culture at Missouri-based Monarch Title Co.

Company president and CEO Chuck Bowman MTP, NTP serves on several non-profit boards. One organization Bowman and his wife, Pam, support is GPMade Foundation. The group provides financial support for research for children facing lymphoma and leukemia cancer, support for children with physical challenges and aid to children and youth experiencing economic and social challenges through mentoring and scholarships for education.

This year, the title company is donating $5 of every closing from its four offices in Missouri to GPMade Foundation. This will equal approximately $15,000 for the year, according to Bowman.

Four years ago, The Bowmans started a program called Bingo for Babies. Over the last four years, Monarch Title has raised close to $50,000 for the organization.

“It is mine and Pam’s passion and culture to give back to our community,” Bowman said. “For this we are very proud. Thanks for letting me share our story and the importance of helping those in need in our community.” 

Share Your #GoodDeeds

We know how involved you are in your local market even when there’s not a pandemic, so we know you are actively involved in helping those that might need it most. We would like to highlight all the great volunteerism that is happening across our industry and the creative ways you’ve modified processes to get deals closed. Share your stories and photos by emailing communications@alta.org.

Want to support the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation? The foundation supports the charitable efforts of title professionals as they work to build and strengthen their local communities.

Donate today!

10/05/2021

Help Your Company and Customers #BeCyberSmart

Fall is in the air and stores are packed to the gourd with everything pumpkin flavored. We can debate the allure of cinnamon and spice, but one thing that can’t be denied is the importance of having good cybersecurity hygiene.

With October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, now is a great time remind staff and customers the importance of being safe and secure online, especially when purchasing a home or refinancing.

During the month, ALTA will promote tools and resources that can be used internally or to educate customers. Here’s a look at what ALTA will promote on social media channels this month. ALTA encourages you to share as well.

Week 1 (Oct. 4)

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and we want to take this opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and help ensure consumers have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online, especially when purchasing a home or refinancing. Share this video and help your customers protect their money from wire transfer fraud schemes. #BeCyberSmart

Week 2 (Oct. 11)

When buying a home, consumers must be on alert for email or phone scams that will try to steal their money. Criminals can pose as the real estate agent, settlement agent or other trusted professional and provide false instructions for wiring mortgage closing funds. ALTA provides several resources your company can use to combat wire fraud. Check out everything ALTA offers, which includes an outgoing wire preparation checklist, a rapid response plan for wire fraud incidents, tips videos and much more. https://www.alta.org/business-tools/information-security.cfm #BeCyberSmart 

Alta-wire-fraud-infographicWeek 3 (Oct. 18)

Phishing is when someone uses fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information. These schemes often lead to wire transfer fraud. Share this infographic with your customers to remind them the steps they should take to avoid becoming a victim of wire fraud. #BeCyberSmart #PhightthePhish

https://www.alta.org/media/pdf/alta-wire-fraud-infographic.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 


Week 4 (Oct. 25)

To combat the risk of wire transfer fraud, ALTA professionals work with homebuyers from day one and educate them about the closing process. They inform clients on what to look out for when communicating by email and what steps to take if they suspect they are being scammers. What does your company do to help protect your customers’ money? #BeCyberSmart

09/23/2021

Good Deeds: The Right Thing to Do

Voices for children

At age 5, Jessica Gutierrez, vice president for Florida’s Title Insurance Company (FTIC), lost her mother to breast cancer. Questioning whether she inherited the BRCA mutation from her mother, she underwent genetic testing. Having a BRCA mutation means you are at a much higher risk of developing breast cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. At 19, she underwent a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. 

Gutierrez is an avid advocate for young women with a family history of breast cancer, shedding light on the BRCA mutation. To honor her mother and to continue bringing awareness to the cause, the title company decided to raise money for Florida’s Breast Cancer Foundation. FTIC donated $125 for each closing it handled.  

“Around that time, ALTA put out a call to action, raising awareness for its own campaign, challenging its members through the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation,” said Randy Gilbert, chief happiness officer for FTIC. “So, we implemented our own good-deeds strategy.”

Each month, the title company selects a new charity to support. FTIC advertises that a portion of the closing fees generated that month would go to the selected 501(c)(3). 

After the checks clear, FTIC emails a copy of each individual check to both the purchaser of the title policy and their real estate agent, thanking them for choosing FTIC. Gilbert said the customers are told that if it wasn't for them, the donation could not have happened.

“The client and their Realtor can easily see their address on the memo section of the check as verification that they truly made a difference by choosing to use FTIC as their title insurance company,” Gilbert said.

FTIC has raised more than $20,000 for charities since launching the program last year. Recently, the title company raised money for the newly formed LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, which was created to combat discrimination in housing. With the help of FTIC's underwriter, Alliant National Title Insurance, which agreed to do a matching grant, FTIC raised $5,000 for the group. Additional groups FTIC has helped include Voices for Children, National MS Society, Urban Housing League and American Autism Association.

“Companies should leave a footprint and giving feels good,” Gilbert said. “Charitable opportunities open lot of doors to meet and know your community.”

Share Your Good Deeds

Community is not based on our ability to physically see and touch each other, but rather the connection and care we show for each other—especially in times of need. ALTA would like to hear how you are continuing to serve your customers and communities. We know how involved you are in your local market even when there’s not a pandemic, so we know you are actively involved in helping those that might need it most. We would like to highlight all the great volunteerism that is happening across our industry and the creative ways you’ve modified processes to get deals closed. 

Here are three ways you can share your story with us:

  1. Email your story at communications@alta.org.
  2. Post your story in the comments section on our blog.
  3. Share your story on Facebook or Instagram, use #GoodDeeds and tag ALTA.

Turn Times Top Lender Concerns, WFG Survey Shows

LS poll graphic-02Turnaround times are among the chief operational challenges for lenders, according to a survey by Williston Financial Group (WFG). The results signal a marked increase in concern over the impact lengthy turnaround times are having on real estate transactions.

Conducted in June and July of this year, the survey asked mortgage lending executives from community banks, credit unions, bank and non-bank lenders, as well as members of the WFG Executive Roundtable to identify the biggest operational challenges facing the industry. A list was provided, along with a free-form fill-in option, from which they were to select the top three operational challenges they feel are most severe.

Respondents indicated turnaround time (56%) was the most significant operational challenge. In WFG's first survey, taken in fall 2020, only a quarter of those surveyed chose turnaround times as a major challenge.

The other most concerning operational challenges were operational capacity, volume and staffing (34%), technology implementation and integration (34%), communication (31%), training (19%), time management (19%), and process improvement/QC/errors and delays (16%).

Specific to title and settlement, the chief concern identified by those surveyed was again turn times (41%), followed by communication (34%), and data accuracy and quality (25%). Customer service and process Improvement/QC/errors and delays were tied at 22%.

"This feedback from the industry is leveraged to help us develop products and services that align with, and help solve these challenges for WFG’s mortgage-lending partners," said Dan Bailey, senior vice president of WFG's enterprise solutions and lender services divisions.