Real Estate

Digital Closing Firm Doma Sees Agents As Key Area For Growth

Doma, which plans to go public this month on the strength of its digital title insurance, escrow and closing platform, is intent on growing its business with real estate agents.

Another top 10 mortgage lender, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, has picked Doma to help it streamline closings when refinancing mortgages, joining Chase, Homepoint, PennyMac, Sierra Pacific Mortgage and Wells Fargo as enterprise clients.

Fairway, which does most of its business through wholesale and retail channels, is already using Doma’s digital closing solutions through its consumer-direct channel, Homefinity, with plans to expand its use “as warranted,” the companies said.

Fairway is the ninth enterprise partner signed by Doma this year, including a deal with Wells Fargo announced in May. Big lenders who want to streamline their processes for originating and processing mortgage refinancings are the fastest growing segment of Doma’s business.

But Doma — which plans to go public this month on the strength of its digital title insurance, escrow and closing platform — is also intent on growing its business with real estate agents, CEO Max Simkoff told Inman.

The company’s pitch to local real estate agents and brokers is the same one it makes to lenders: By harnessing the power of data analytics, machine learning and natural language processing, Doma can cut costs and speed up the process of providing title insurance, escrow and closing services. That increases the likelihood of closing, and provides a better experience to consumers at a lower cost, Simkoff said.

Doma provides an unbranded, “white label” closing solution to real estate agents that frees them from having to ride herd on closings.

Max Simkoff

“We’ll set up the closing, make sure the documents are correct, and underwrite the title insurance,” Simkoff said. “You don’t have to follow up … and you’re free to take credit for [the smooth process] when the customer sends you referrals.”

Doma — which has been granted three U.S. patents and has five patent applications pending — offers “instant underwriting” of title insurance for mortgage refinancing, and streamlined remote and digital closing and escrow services for all types of mortgages.

The Doma Intelligence platform can provide instant underwriting of title insurance on about 80 percent of refinancing transactions, cutting three to five days from the approval process. A predictive algorithm assesses the risk that a home’s title has unresolved liens or ownership issues, which usually allows Doma to skip the laborious process of searching historical property records.

If a property is foreclosed on and Doma is wrong about a title not having any “clouds,” the lender is insured against loss. So far, Simkoff said, the company has not had to pay any claims on instantly underwritten title insurance.

To be safe, Doma initially purchased reinsurance contracts on all of its instantly underwritten title insurance policies. But its success in predicting risk has allowed it to scale back the level of reinsurance from 100 percent to 25 percent, the company said in a June 15 regulatory filing.

Instant underwriting of title insurance is currently available only for mortgage refinancing. There’s more complexity when providing instant underwriting for purchase transactions, but Simkoff said Doma plans to have that capability by the end of the year.

“We’re quite confident we’ll be rolling out our entire tech stack for purchase later this year,” Simkoff said. “The question is what percentage will qualify for instant underwriting.”

Regardless of whether a purchase transaction qualifies for instant underwriting, Simkoff said the machine learning and natural language processes Doma has developed for escrow and closing reduce the need for people to perform repetitive tasks when processing documents and emails. That not only saves time and money, but reduces errors. Doma’s goal is to automatically process 70 to 80 percent of documents and emails.

Most of Doma’s purchase transaction business comes from 81 field offices in 21 states that serve local real estate agents and loan officers. Doma built out its local operations in 2019 by acquiring North American Title Company and its insurance underwriter, North American Title Insurance Co. Doma’s geographic footprint now covers close to 80 percent of the market, which the company plans to increase to 90 percent by the end of the year.

Doma itself was founded in 2016 as States Title, and the company is in the process of unifying all three of its title insurance companies under the Doma brand.

Email Matt Carter

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