It’s rare to meet a person who exudes great enthusiasm for the title research industry. He has been in the business for decades, and his passion for title research has not waned. In fact, it has only intensified. Joe has a heart for helping people grow within our space and recently sat down with us to share some insights.
Joe is an attorney’s attorney, who knows the ins and outs of title. He has worked in many facets of the title research space, from searching, to running his own agency, and now he is going to share with us his vision for the future.
Joe, can you tell us bit more about your passion for title research.
1. When and how did you get into title research?
In 1985, the second day home after graduating college, I began working for a title searcher in Connecticut. I always aspired of being an attorney and that was the closest I got at the time. My father and grandfather’s siblings were involved in real estate development, so I had basic knowledge of property issues. I picked up title searching quickly due to the fact I enjoyed history, and I was interested in understanding why people did the things they did regarding their property. It was also like a puzzle deciphering various ways needed to examine owner names on the Land Records. I continued my career as a title searcher during the day and attended law school in the evenings until I became admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1991.
I was now armed with a law degree. My knowledge of title searching, real estate, and networking with other attorneys during this period inspired me to take on new challenges. So, I opened a law practice and simultaneously started a title search company running both businesses with another attorney. As the years went along, I ended up opening two other successful title search companies. I then went on to take the experiences from my previous title search companies to open Legal Title Services. Through Legal Title Services, I was able to bring things to a higher level and create an efficient, successful, and profitable business. It was in 2022, that I was looking for a new challenge and partnership, which came with ATR.
2. What issues do you see the industry needing to face in the coming year?
The title search industry is a niche, cyclical area of business completely integrated into the real estate market with its volatile happening of events. Economic conditions, mortgage interest rates, the investment market and inventory are all factors which play a role in navigating the searching business at any given time. Not to mention, how the Covid-19 market created an anomaly for market conditions in real estate due to historically low interest rates.
What does all this mean for the title search industry? Title search businesses need to ebb and flow with the tide and move into a direction of cost effectiveness. ATR has accomplished this and is meeting the challenges facing the title search industry at this time. When lower volume of title search orders appears, a reassessment needs to occur and a redistribution of work load needs to be implemented within the company. Costs need to be reduced without sacrificing quality. ATR is a leader in adjusting its business creatively to suit current market conditions.
3. How has Action Title changed your perspective on where the industry can go?
When I became involved with ATR, I was impressed with their ability to show continuous growth over such a reasonably short period of time and their fresh outlook at the title search industry. The title industry, especially in the northeast, is somewhat archaic due to lack of change and implementation of new systems. A mere 10 years ago Connecticut had virtually no workable online indexing system and no method to view or retrieve a Town Clerk deed copy online.
Town Clerk records became more available and useable online only due to the happening of Covid-19 which forced change. ATR was already implementing and working on change in the industry before Covid-19. They had the foresight to view the industry as a fragmented system which needed conformity to streamline the title product. This is the thought process that creates innovative techniques, which are desperately needed in the title search industry, and ATR is a forerunner.
ATR has changed my perspective from something that could never happen to something that is happening, and I am embracing it. I had many of the same thoughts, ideas and hopes over the years but was never able to fully implement them due to lack of capable and competent resources and lack of time by wearing too many hats, something many title professionals know all too well.
4. When did you know that seeking trusted partnerships would be a key strategic decision for your success? Explain how partnerships and collaboration with clients and others the industry have factored into your success.
I have had partnerships in the past. The purpose of a partnership is to mesh with individuals that have a similar work ethic and the same goals as you would have. If one of these factors is missing, you have a breakdown in the partnership. It becomes like a bad marriage. The advantage of a partnership is that one person does not shoulder all the burden of running a business. That is what I always hoped for and never truly was rewarded with, as a result, I vowed to not enter a partnership ever again.
However, ATR brings a new definition to the concept of a partnership hence their success. My arrangement with ATR is nothing short of complete trust. They have provided a variety of resources such as advanced technology and support, assistance with my client base for productivity and marketing, and a full package of useful benefits to assist in our integration and merger. The solid and long-term relationships I have with my title customers have been enhanced by my association with ATR. As a result of this acquisition by ATR I have been approached by many of my customers to join with them in presentations regarding the title search industry and other related topics including my integration with ATR and the expanding footprint into doing business in other states.
5. How do you see the SmartSearch enhancing the title production process?
The SmartSearch product developed and provided by ATR is an asset to anyone practicing real estate in the title community. It has a practical and functional purpose for attorneys, title agents, title insurance companies and title searchers. It promotes business and assists the user by giving the individual time to perform other tasks rather than drown in paper. The product allows for delivery and preparation of documents that cuts the users costs. It can be integrated into the software of other companies and managed through a portal. This is something the title community has been waiting for and I would like to assist in delivering it. I feel confident the title industry will see the benefits of SmartSearch coupled with the superior title product ATR delivers. My customers are familiar with my work and respect my decisions. They know that if I decided to join the ATR team it was the right decision and serves a purpose for both me and them. Growth through technology with improved service is the goal.
6. What lasting impact do you personally want to make on the industry?
What I was hoping to accomplish after what will likely be at least 40 years in this business is some recognition that I helped to make things better for the title community. I know I have had an impact on many people. People tell me regularly I cannot retire until they do. I’ve done something right and I would like to leave a legacy that I did the best I could have done. Aligning myself with ATR is a privilege. They chose to do business with me and I discovered early on in the acquisition process my comfort level with them. Not only are they innovative masters of title technology but they are title people like me. We speak the same language. There are no barriers between us. Whenever my career comes to a close, I want to see ATR continue in the business of enhancing title production process for its clients and I would like to be remembered as taking part in nurturing that accomplishment.