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Source of Title Blog

Snail Mail Closings
by Robert Franco | 2008/09/05 |

A few years ago, I assisted an Amish couple with the sale of their farm here in Ohio.  They moved to Wisconsin.  My attorney who lives near a large Amish community often helps them out with legal issues. For a real estate closing, he asked for my help.  When we did that closing, my attorney brought the couple to my office.  Since then, however, the couple has contacted me twice to help them with the transfer of some land that they still own here.  Without the aid of fax machines, or even a telephone, these closings always present some unique challenges.

Source of Title Blog ::

Amish BuggyWhen they contact me for assistance, it is by handwritten letter and the only contact information I have is their address in Wisconsin.  Needless to say, they aren't sophisticated when it comes to the legalities of transferring real estate.  Inevitably, there are questions that arise and I have to send them a letter, via snail mail, to be able to complete the transaction.

It can be a slow and tedious process.  Although they don't ask for a title policy, they do not want me to escrow any funds, and there is never a mortgage involved, facilitating the transfer isn't always a simple matter.  I have to be careful to thoroughly explain exactly what we need and what they must do to transfer title.  Also, I don't want to take things for granted, so I am very careful to clarify my role and confirm each step.

They are always very kind and appreciative of my work.  I only charge a very nominal fee and I feel good that I am able to help them through the process.

Each time I do one of these, I wonder what our industry was like before it was pervaded by modern technology.  Attorneys and abstract companies have been providing abstracts and facilitating real estate transfers since long before the telephone was invented.  The telephone was invented in the 1870's. The oldest reference to a title company I have been able to find dates back to 1847, though I'm sure attorneys have been providing similar services for much longer.

With the sale of Chicago Title Corp., the city loses one of its key financial powerhouses, a firm that is one of the top three title insurance companies in the nation and a Chicago fixture since 1847.

But by selling to Fidelity National Financial Inc. in Irvine, Calif., Chicago Title secures an admirable premium for shareholders and helps forge an even bigger national presence in title insurance and real estate services.

(Chicago Title Deal Gives Smaller Rival a Leading Presence; Combined Firm Tops in Market Share, Chicago Tribune, August 3, 1999 Tuesday, Chicago Sports Final Edition, Business Section, Pg. 3, Zone N.)

Without telephones, fax machines, email, computers, and overnight delivery, I'm sure the business was much different.  There was no such thing as a "Super Duper Rush," requiring a title search within 6 hours.  It took as long as was necessary and I doubt there were a lot of complaints about the service. 

In my dealings with the Amish, though communication is much more problematic, I get a small sense of what it must have been like in "the old days."  It may take several weeks to get the transfer completed, but there is no rush and the clients are happy.  That is a refreshing change of pace for me.  I'm not getting constant status checks on my fax machine, no harassing phone calls, and no Realtors clamoring for their checks.

I think from time to time everyone in this industry needs to take a few minutes to contemplate how business was done before everything became "instant."  Deals didn't close same-day, but they closed properly and the sky never fell.  I'm not sure why everyone is in such a rush today - the land isn't going anywhere... it will still be there tomorrow... and the next day.

Robert A. Franco



Categories: Technology, Title Industry

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Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco



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