How Earnnest supports growth at scale for Redfin’s Title Forward
Venturing across state borders presents any company with a variety of regulatory and legal nuances - especially in the dynamic world of real estate. As the differences between state mandates for closing a legal real estate transaction can be vast, this creates an extra hurdle for the service providers supporting those transactions.
Title Forward, a subsidiary of Redfin, operates in more than 80 markets across the United States and Canada. It provides title and settlement services in 10 different states, including Washington, D.C., and will be expanding further into new states in the near future.
Initially launched and headquartered in Philadelphia, Title Forward has boldly pursued a more distributed model with office locations in each state. Cindy Salant, Title Forward’s Marketing Program Specialist, explains, “We hire people who are familiar with the local and state real estate variables so we can provide exceptional service as we grow nationwide.” However, there was one key part of the real estate transaction that was generating complaints from homebuyers: submitting their earnest money in a safe and convenient way was a huge pain point. Title Forward needed a better solution for their clients.
“When we started working with Earnnest, we were processing most of our work in Philadelphia, and we didn’t have local branches where people could deliver a check,” explains Kevin Rowe, Principal Strategy and Vendor Manager at Title Forward. Because the earnest money payment is a relatively small amount of money, most buyers prefer to pay it using either a bank transfer or a personal check — and many buyers do not use personal checks at all, so a bank transfer makes the most sense.
“Buyers working with Redfin are typically tech-savvy.” Rowe adds,
“Our buyers wanted an easier solution where they wouldn’t have to leave the house to make their earnest money deposit.”
So providing a convenient, secure, and tech-forward solution for making earnest money payments was crucial, especially from a wider brand perspective.
Title Forward was able to integrate earnest money payments into its website by leveraging Earnnest’s Branded Payment Portal, a custom payment solution that displays Title Forward branding. The process for buyers is incredibly user-friendly: it’s as simple as visiting the website, clicking a button, and following simple instructions for making the payment in a small handful of steps. Kim Iburg, Manager of Title Support Operations at Title Forward, expressed,
“It’s incredibly straightforward. Buyers see Earnnest on our website and recognize it as a reliable tool, eliminating stress around lost or stolen checks.”
The partnership with Earnnest has allowed Title Forward to continue its expansion plans without the headache and time consumption of navigating the local earnest money requirements in each state. As an earnest money solutions expert, Earnnest already understands all of the regulations and guidelines unique to each market and is poised to support Title Forward as it advances into new markets as its exclusive digital earnest money provider.
“We’ve morphed from a company where we tried to process everything from one center in Philadelphia, and the vast majority of our employees were trying to run closings in seven states, to building local customer-facing infrastructure,” Rowe says.
“Earnnest has been a key factor for catapulting Title Forward’s growth in the past year-and-a-half.”
With more plans to grow in the future, making that dynamic shift has made a big difference for Title Forward.