Zillow Attempting to “Streamline” Home Buying By Offering Title Insurance

An aerial shot of an upper class neighborhood in Florida.

If you work in the real estate industry, you’ve probably heard of a little company called Zillow. A favorite for casual home browsing, Zillow is quickly becoming its own real estate service. In addition to helping buyers search for homes, it now helps them sell their old home quickly, apply for a mortgage, and might even be offering its own title insurance and escrow services too.

Here’s what you need to know about all of Zillow’s ventures into the real estate industry.

From Digital Giant to House Flipper

For most of its existence, Zillow has operated as a digital media company that allowed home buyers to casually search homes for sale in any given area. Buyers could access all kinds of housing data on Zillow, including price, square footage, special features, neighborhood information, and more.

In 2018, however, Zillow decided to take it a step further by actually helping users sell their homes. They launched their home-selling program, Zillow Offers, in April of that year.

While they don’t explicitly claim to “flip” homes, that’s essentially what they’re doing. Users can quickly sell their home to Zillow for a cash offer, and Zillow will then make necessary repairs and sell the home for a profit.

In addition to selling homes, Zillow also offers another service to aid buyers in securing their dream home.

Zillow: Your New Mortgage Lender

Zillow only keeps adding to its real estate empire. In August 2018, Zillow acquired brokerage Mortgage Lenders of America. Earlier this year, it unrolled its newest offering: mortgage lending.

Rebranded as Zillow Home Loans, this service is expected to be at the heart of Zillow’s real estate services in the years to come.

So, now Zillow is an agent and a mortgage lender. What’s next?

Title Insurance

Really? Well, according to their website, Zillow’s goal is to make the home-buying (and -selling) process easier for consumers. This game plan could include helping buyers with title insurance in the very near future.

While it hasn’t yet been confirmed, Zillow is currently searching for a number of title insurance specialists. This hints that the digital giant is poised to add “title insurance agent” to their long list of professions.

What Does this Mean for Agents?

Some real estate agents, and other professionals within the industry, are worried that Zillow is trying to displace them. However, as convenient as Zillow’s services may be, they will never be able to replace the role of a true real estate agent—or a title insurance agent.

Agents are people, so they hold a number of advantages over a digital company. As experts in their field—whether its buying and selling homes or title insurance—they also have a level of expertise that’s difficult to communicate online.

Real Estate—and Title Insurance—is Constantly Evolving

That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the latest trends. As a title insurance agency, we work with professionals from every side of the real estate transaction. We know the ins and outs of this industry, and we’d like to share our knowledge with you.

Have a question about title insurance in North Carolina? Need someone to discuss the current state of the market with? Please don’t hesitate to contact Tryon Title.

North Carolina Real Estate in 2020: Zillow, eClosings, and Wire Fraud

A man in a business suit typing on a computer.

The real estate industry is changing. As technology continues to become an integral part of everything we do, especially buying and selling homes, it’s going to play an ever increasing role in our real estate industry. From Zillow becoming a one-stop shop for real estate endeavors to the rise of real estate wire fraud, it’s important to stay on top of our changing industry.

Whether you’re a real estate agent, attorney, or another transaction agent, here’s what you need to know about the state of the North Carolina real estate industry in 2020.

The Rise of Zillow

We’ve covered this in depth, but Zillow’s infiltration of the real estate market is one of the greatest industry trends we’ve ever seen. If you’ve ever looked for a home online, you’ve probably used Zillow. It used to be the go-to website for home searching.

Today, it’s so much more. In addition to using Zillow to find homes for sale in your area—and access information about their location, construction details, pictures, and more—you can also use the site to sell your home.

Zillow’s Instant Offer program allows homeowners to quickly sell their home for cash. Zillow buys the home, performs some upgrades, and then sells it for a profit. We can only expect this trend to occur more frequently in 2020. In addition, Zillow recently acquired the brokerage Mortgage Lenders of America, which means it’s now adding “mortgage lender” to its repertoire.

Oh, and they’re also thinking about offering title insurance. But that’s still in the works.

Electronic Mortgage Closings

2019 was a big year for electronic closings, and 2020 shows no signs of slowing down! Electronic mortgage closings have a lot of benefits for the North Carolina homebuyer. Known as eClosings, electronic closings allow homebuyers to access more in-depth information about their lease online—making it easier for them to understand the process in its entirety.

eClosings also have significant benefits to real estate agents, attorneys, and title insurance agents. It simplifies the closing process and makes it easier to stay in compliance. For traditional closings, agents and attorneys were responsible for compiling all required documents and manually scanning them to be sent as emails to the necessary parties. With eClosings, everything is already online.

The Need for Extra Security Online

According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers lost an estimated 1.48 billion in wire fraud in 2018. Wire fraud is just one of many online “scams” that target home buyers and sellers across the country. Oftentimes, new buyers are scammed out of their entire down payment—but you can avoid wire fraud by staying alert.

Here are some tips for preventing wire fraud and maintaining online security during your real estate transaction:

  • Never wire money online to anyone—even if they claim to be your real estate agent
  • Never click on a phone number or email address within an email
  • Use two-factor authentication on your email account

Stay Up to Date on Title Insurance Best Practices with Tryon Title

As technology advances, it’s going to have an even greater impact on the real estate industry and how buyers obtain title insurance. That’s why it’s so important to partner with a title insurance agency with years of experience serving your community.

Here at Tryon Title, we have experience serving all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. When it comes to protecting your investment, rely on our team of title insurance professionals for a successful transaction.

Have a question about title insurance or the real estate industry in general? Please don’t hesitate to give us a call.