I entered the title industry fresh out of college in September 1970. I remember my first day at work, dressed in a green shirt, tie and cuff links. I started out with Chicago Title in Los Angeles as a printer. It wasn’t long until I got promoted to customer service, then searching and ultimately a production title officer. In those days we typed up the prelim on IBM Selectric typewriters with about 5 carbons. Typos were a mess to clean up and all the title work was done in-house. Our online title plant only had a depth of 7 years. We wouldn’t even search the GI for a full 10 years unless it was a high liability order (over $100,000 at that time). Any out of county orders that crossed our path were sent to another company in that county. I remember the amazement we felt when we got our first set of microfiche. It was ‘state of the art.’
Things have changed in the industry since then. Today, it seems that most companies are processing orders in any county where the property may be located. Online title access has allowed the map to widen drastically and orders flow freely in just about any county that has a title plant. If there is no online plant available, county grantor/grantee indexes are used and there are hundreds of thin plants which have been set up and utilized.
Much of the title work today is being performed offshore. I have been personally involved with offshore outsourcing for nearly 20 years. Many of our customers tell us that the work we produce is of higher quality than they had been previously producing in-house. In my experience, vendor production is often held to a higher standard than the client’s own in-house work; expectations increase across the board resulting in finished products of the highest possible quality. Outsourcing works. It doesn’t necessarily cut domestic jobs. What it can do is provide the opportunity for a title company to utilize their staff for higher level positions, become more efficient and leave a majority of the simpler title production to their offshore vendor; everybody wins in this scenario. A secret to success is finding a vendor who has a proven track record. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.
In my 48 years, we have moved from electric typewriters with ribbons to instant communication with countries on the other side of the globe. The internet has made all this possible. Who would have thought?