Title Now Podcast

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Meet CASi!

Tune in to learn the case for closing with CASi and how they can save you time and money on closings.

Length: 31:53
Published: 06/02/2023

Listen In: Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts


Tune in to learn the case for closing with CASi and how they can save you time and money on closings. CASi services include assistance with secure digital closings/RON signings, settlement statement drafting/balancing, policy drafting and back office support Melissa's guest will be Andrew Dinnerstein of Closing Attorney Support.

Melissa Jay Murphy  00:12
Hi and welcome to the final installment of a very special series of Title Now PopUp webinars. I'm Melissa Murphy with The Fund and I have the pleasure of hosting these webinars from time to time. And we are getting more and more inquiries from Fund Members for assistance with what we refer to as back office support. Now, back office support can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, from placing the title order to preparing closing documents, preparing the Closing Disclosure and making sure it balances with the lender to preparing the final policies after the closing. So we thought this was a good time to focus on this to explore options that Fund Members have to get help where they need it the most. And when they need it. Today is the final episode of a three part series to respond to these questions. I've been talking with three different companies that provide these types of services, to give our listeners the chance to hear about these different companies to hear what the options are, and give some thought to whether this would work for you. Now remember, we push the audio out to our podcast, which is also called Title Now. And this gives you a chance to listen to the content again or maybe more easily share it with colleagues who didn't have the chance to participate in the webinar today. It's super easy to sign up and subscribe to the podcast. You can get it wherever you get your other podcasts and it's free. So even better.  Now all of these vendors that we're chatting with will be at Assembly this year so you can listen to what they have to say today. And then if you registered for Assembly that's coming up in a couple of weeks you'll have the chance to interact with them face to face. So I hope you've registered. We would love to see you there. Now a housekeeping detail, if you have questions as we go through our conversation today. Michael Rothman our very talented chat monitor person who his day job is the senior manager of our legal education department. But he's also very adept at monitoring the chat function on the platform. So we have a question posted in the chat and if there are any, we will share those with you and try to answer them at the end of the webinar. Today I'm talking with Andrew Dinnerstein from CASi, which is a company that provides back office support. Welcome Andrew, to Title Now.
Andrew Dinnerstein  03:19
Thank you, Melissa. I'm happy to be here.
Melissa Jay Murphy  03:23
So Andrew, tell us about CASi. What's the story behind it? Where did it come from? Why is it here?
Andrew Dinnerstein  03:36
CASi was formed by myself and my business partner, Gary Singer. Gary and I are both long term Fund Members who have been heavily involved in the real estate community largely amongst our fellow Real Estate Attorneys. Our idea for closing attorney support which we we call CASi started several years back when we found ourselves short on staff and started to become overwhelmed at our own title company. We quickly did two things first, we placed an ad for additional staff. And second, we decided to take some time and really figure out where we could improve efficiencies in our title process. And by figuring out where our processors and attorneys are getting stuck, were getting stuck along the way. In doing that we also asked around in our network to see where other attorneys are experiencing slowdowns or traffic jams in their process. And quickly we realized that there were some universal pain points that were impacting most offices universally. Since we realized that there were no service options for backup support, that addressed all of these pain points under one roof. We decided to create a service that could address all of them ourselves. And that's where CASi was born.
Melissa Jay Murphy  05:05
Perfect. So it came out of your own experience with those pain points as every transactional attorney, I don't care what their workflow model might be, there are going to be pain points along the way. So Andrew, what are some of the of these areas these pain points that you all have identified that you're particularly good at solving?
Andrew Dinnerstein  05:36
So this is actually where kind of our our origin story, if you will, gets a bit interesting. Initially, we identified several big pain points, which involved a broader array of services and we narrow those down to three initial areas where we felt we could jump right in and start to help. The first was with settlement statements and CD drafting and balancing. Speaking with other attorneys and just looking at our own office, we realized that once you get to the point where you're balancing the CDs specifically with a lender, it becomes very time consuming. There's a lot of back and forth that happens there's a lot of reaching out to different parties waiting for responses. So we we put together a service where we can take care of that piece where we could draft the settlement statement, draft the CD deal with the lender and balancing and get the closing package so that was that was one area. Another one.
Melissa Jay Murphy  06:38
Let me ask you a question about that. I think you said that you get the lender package also, if you're doing the CD. So tell me a little bit more about what that means. When you get the lender package, what do you do with it?
Andrew Dinnerstein  07:02
Along this whole process, we would have our our small client copied in a big part of all of our services is that we don't, I almost don't like to use the word service. I do because we're where we are as service but we're really structured to be a part of the team that we're employed by. So we become your processor, your paralegal. So just like your processor, your paralegal keeps you in the loop on what's going on on your files, so anyway. So throughout the process, you're in the loop, your staff members, whoever you want us to keep in the loop are in the loop. And when we get that closing package we hand it right over to you. So you have your lender docs. You know, we we make sure that we're balanced with that final CD for you so that you're ready to go with that lender package.
Melissa Jay Murphy  08:01
So do you look through the lender package and make sure that it looks right, which is sometimes hard to do, but do you basically go through it and make sure everything looks pretty consistent with what you know the transaction based on preparing the CD?
Andrew Dinnerstein  08:21
Yeah, I mean based on you know, we with this service, this kind of discreet settlement statement service we do take a look through the package, make sure it's complete. I know lenders some lenders are in the habit of sending packages in several PDFs, several emails, half through a portal half through, you know, from the broker. We try to make sure that it's a complete set of docs that we're seeing the typical complete set of lender docs within that package.
Melissa Jay Murphy  08:53
Yeah, I mean things like a missing PUD endorsement or a missing condominium rider. Okay. Alright, so CD balancing and settlement statement balancing was one of the first areas what's another area that you identify.
Andrew Dinnerstein  09:08
Kind of going, it's really not going off of that but kind of flowing through is doc prep. Doc prep is one of those things that some people, when we advertise it say, why would I need help with that it's simple and other people say please do my docs I can't find the time to do them. So it's it's either end of the spectrum. For us it just wound up being an area where doing standard you know ABCD docs were easy but then if  anything was thrown in, like a non ID was thrown into the mix, all the sudden the process stopped. So we can do doc prep as its own service for our customers. And then kind of going a little bit, fast forwarding in the process, another big pain point area that we identified was policy drafting. It's not a pain point that holds up closings, but because it doesn't hold up closings, people get backed up, because they get through their closing they put it aside and then 30 policies later they say oh my god, I'm so busy with closings, I can't get to my policies. So we formed a service to help people catch up and stay caught up with policies by doing policy draft.
Melissa Jay Murphy  10:45
Let me go back to document preparation for a minute. What about documents that might be called for in schedule, be one that are more of a curative type document, something that might need to be obtained ahead of closing in order to make sure that the title is going to be clear. Do you help with that? Can you help with that? Is that a typical thing you get asked to do?
Andrew Dinnerstein  11:18
It is a typical thing we get asked to do and we can assist the same way that our legal or processor could assist, we could assist under the direction of the attorney that's sending it. So if an attorney says this is the non ID affidavit I use, these are the judgments or the you know, items I want listed in that non ID relating to this party, we can put it together, send it over and of course the attorney needs to review and approve that, but it is something that we could do the legwork on putting together.
Melissa Jay Murphy  11:54
Sometimes you need to get a corrective deed though. There might be a mistake in a legal description, transposition of numbers or just some relatively probably minor error but a corrective deed needs to be obtained from someone outside of the current transaction, maybe a previous seller or grantor in the chain. And do you help with getting that document done, or perhaps verifying what exactly the problem is that generated the requirement, but then is it up to the Fund Member to take care of getting that sign and you're just involved in document preparation?
Andrew Dinnerstein  12:49
So there's a few elements in there. Obviously we're attorneys so in our own practice, we deal with corrected deeds with some amount of frequency. And, you know, so yes, I mean, do we have the skill set to be able to determine what might be going on? You know, yeah, our staff members do some of our attorneys do, so that being said, we can't really make that decision. So we can get on the phone with the Fund Member and say, Listen, it looks like this deed needs XYZ corrected please verify that, you know that that's correct. Give a call to underwriting we don't call underwriting, confirm with them that they're going to be happy with that correction. And once we get the green light, we can put the correction on paper. I mean, we can just like a paralegal can put it on paper. But we can't be the final person determining what needs to be changed. In terms of the signing of that document, that kind of leads me into our fourth service area where we kind of can help out with signings and that's with our you know, our digital closing in our in our RON signings, I mean, we call it digital closings. The industry still calls it, you know, does call it RON signings and the reason we call it digital closings is because we developed it out into more of a closing experience versus a simple signing with a notary.
Melissa Jay Murphy  14:27
Well talk to us about that, because that is something that CASi is known for, at least in a group of Fund Members that I regularly communicate with so that's something you're well known for. So talk about that.
Andrew Dinnerstein  14:44
Sure, absolutely. And the way that came about actually was was accidental. We didn't really plan on that as being necessarily a service. But then COVID hit and we were conducting daily zoom meetings with other attorneys around the state to see what was going on, the struggles people were having, and we realized people needed to be able to do digital RON closings, which just became, you know, permissible in Florida. And as luck would have it, we're very techie so the attorneys in our office, were already RON certified and on a platform which was very difficult to get on back then. So we just started out just doing these RON signings and realized it couldn't just be a typical RON. There needs to be more to it. We need to be you know, attorneys are busy, they're trying to get their work done. So we need to handle scheduling, which we do. So if someone reaches out and says, I have this RON, can you get it set up? We just say when you need it by? We say basically two things. When do you need it by and can we schedule it earlier? And based on that we will go out we will contact the signers we'll let them know we're calling on behalf of the title agent or the attorney to set up their online signing. We provide tech support for the signers so we will walk them through, we will stay on the phone with them through the process so that you know, a lot of people get nervous. We will make sure they know where to click and then we do the signing. The signing is attorney supervised and oftentimes attorney run, so there will be, right now an attorney on every RON session that we're doing. An experienced attorney that's not there to answer detailed questions, but is there to make sure the documents are being signed properly and to be able to give a general explanation like a closer would do of you know this is the deed transferring the property type of explanations.
Melissa Jay Murphy  16:52
So are these primarily seller documents since lenders still have not embraced RON to a significant degree, are these still primarily seller packages?
Andrew Dinnerstein  17:07
They're largely seller docs. I mean, that's majority. We do get a fair amount of corrective work. So people sending a deed that needs to be signed or oh my gosh, we forgot this trust affidavit and so things like that pop up, and we do a decent amount, although it's definitely much less than seller docs and private lender packages, because the private lenders are going to be all fine with it. So that's really what we've been seeing the most is the seller docs.
Melissa Jay Murphy  17:41
And it seems to me and this is purely based on anecdotal experience that many of the the situations in which the need to use RON or Remote Online Notarization comes up at the last minute, because someone at the last minute can't fly to come to the closing or drive 300 miles to come to the closing. Is that your experience also?
Andrew Dinnerstein  18:12
Yeah, I would say about probably about 50% of the RONs that we get are last minute. It's if has not been a problem for us to accommodate those. Actually, a lot of the calls that we get from first time customers is a different service they went to had them scheduled and then canceled last minute or something happens and oh my gosh, what do I do? And we said send us the documents. Tell us, give us the info. Let us know what's going on who we need to talk to and we will get it done for you. And we do. We've done RONs, signed with people all over the world, we've signed at pretty much all hours and on weekends, so we get it done.
Melissa Jay Murphy  19:04
And one last point on that before I move on is I heard you say that your RON signings are supervised by an attorney and that's an attorney in your office, correct?
Andrew Dinnerstein  19:17
That's correct. Yeah, it's an attorney in our office. And something else I want to point out is that we can also sign with some non US citizens. So we do that using our VA, Virginia RON. But even on those Virginia RON sessions, we will have, you know, currently we do have an attorney that will be on that from our office. Either as a second witness or if there's already somebody else acting as a second witness from the client's office then, as an observer, just to make sure that things are, basically a facilitator just going through you know, making sure things are getting signed properly, making sure nothing's getting missed. And again, providing any, you know, basic explanation as needed.
Melissa Jay Murphy  20:07
So you've talked about some of these individual pain points that you've developed these services around, but do you also offer what I will call full back office support from the initial point where the transaction comes into the Fund Members office? through to the very end?
Andrew Dinnerstein  20:36
Yes, so yeah, we do. And we call just that our you know, our full back office support, so you got it right. And with that, we will do everything from file opening. We can do that, and file opening is kind of twofold. We'll open the file on our end. We can also assist in opening the file on the members end. We can take care of ordering title liens, surveys, pay offs. We can take care of ordering estopples. We will again do that CD and settlement and drafting and balancing. We will communicate with a lender. We will obtain your closing package. We will do your update title search. We will give you a completed closing package and we will give you disbursement breakdown. What I always tell people is really it's almost easier for me to say the things that we don't do. We're actually almost proud of the things we don't do, because it's part of our business model. It's really important to to our customers and to us. So the couple things that we don't do is we do not touch money. So we're not in your escrow account. We're not in your trust account. Money is the members responsibility and it's obviously hugely important. But what we will do is provide a disbursement breakdown, a balance sheet, it looks very similar to basically old DoubleTime's balance sheet, if I if I can, because we just like that setup. It's very easy to read. So you see what's supposed to be coming in what's going out. We will do your net wire from your lender. So that's one thing we don't do. Another thing we don't do, we don't talk to buyers sellers and realtors. We have found that, that's the source of business. That's where our customers are getting their business that is, you know, that is something that is personal to them. We don't talk to them, that's for the customer to do, but what we will do is we will provide emails with prompts along the way so if I need some information from a buyer or seller or realtor, I will send an email to your office saying, hey, we need some information from the seller. This is the information we need. Can you just paste this into an email, send it out, just let us know when it comes back. And then the third big thing that we don't do and we kind of talked about it a little earlier is we don't make underwriting decisions in a file. We're not the title agent. We're support staff. We're your back office processors. We will point out when we see something, we will raise the flag that we can't resolve those situations, we can help resolve them, but we can't make the final decision. That's for the member and underwriter to do.
Melissa Jay Murphy  23:36
I find that very helpful. So I'm sure our listeners do also for you to say we do everything but these three things. And that is a pretty good way to describe true back office support. It's almost like you are physically in the back of their office during these days and you just walk the closing package up to the conference room. Makes sense to me. But you're not physically in their office. So, how does this actually happen? Do you access the members software and if so, how does that work?
Andrew Dinnerstein  24:14
So, we can. It's up to the member, but we have the ability to access their software more so now that things are in the cloud. Although we have several customers that are not in the cloud, and we still access their software, most of our customers want us to access their software because it just keeps the information with them. So you know if we're accessing the software, things like the title search can be ordered through the software and brought back right into your software. So you don't have to put information back in. Balancing happens in your software, so it's there, it's yours. That seems to be the easiest for most people, and for the few that don't want us to be in their software for whatever reason, we have our own software and we can do everything outside of the customers system as well.
Melissa Jay Murphy  25:08
So that causes me to think of an issue if you are accessing their software, so you're accessing the software to help them with the Smith sale to Jones. But if you access their software, you might, probably, have the ability to see what other files they have that are open and ongoing, maybe even close files depending on the way the software is set up. So have you address a members concern that they need to protect the privacy or confidentiality of other files that are in their system?
Andrew Dinnerstein  25:53
Gotcha. Yeah. So that's obviously something we thought about. We do provide a written agreement with all of our customers it spells out extensive confidentiality language and it kind of spells out how we deal with information. You know, our own internal system is highly secure. We use the same system actually, I believe that The Funds is still using, which is the Citrix ShareFile system. So it's very secure, everything's encrypted. So we have an agreement about our confidentiality. We do carry insurance as well which covers all of our employees. So you know, just as a as an extra level of comfort for our customers and at the end of the day if you were attorney run, we're Florida attorneys, we're Fund Members. It's very important to us that our quality and level of service is held to the highest standard so you know we, all of our staff, has gone through extensive background checks, all of our staff understands the importance of security and understands how to deal with sensitive information. So, we like to think that we're, in many ways, I do think we're even more secure than some staff that might be sitting in your office right now. But, you know, because there's somebody there's not just your eyes on them. There's our eyes, there's, you know, there's various attorneys looking at our company at them. So I mean, we're very careful with information. We don't go poking around we don't want to know about other deals, we're there to work on the file you sent us.
Melissa Jay Murphy  27:44
There's a level of trust there that has to be there from the get go. But also would build over time for sure. I mean, that's the name of the game here and I find that your being two Florida lawyers and Fund Members, you know might color your philosophy to some degree behind this obviously this is a business you all are here to make a little bit of money you hope off of this service, but are there other aspects of your business model your business philosophy that has been colored by the fact that you and Gary have been Fund Members for so long?
Andrew Dinnerstein  28:28
I think just our awareness of the industry is you know, and the concerns that our fellow attorneys are facing, you know, wire fraud security concerns, and, you know, just the bigger concerns that attorneys have now there's the threat of attorneys getting pushed out of title. We're very aware of that. And one of our big goals is to help members stay competitive and successful as the, you know, the environment is changing, and to try to provide services to attorneys to keep them ahead of the curve as these changes develop.
Melissa Jay Murphy  29:07
Excellent. Well, thank you Andrew. Let's see if Michael Rothman is still alive and well and whether there are any questions in the chat Michael.
Andrew Dinnerstein  29:19
That's correct, as well as other closing software's, but that is correct.
Michael Rothman  29:19
We have a few, I am here. Just to reiterate once again, Andrew, you guys work with E-Closings, DoubleTime, now known as ClosingVue, correct?  Alright, and then got a question about do you help members deal with closing out old expired products?
Andrew Dinnerstein  29:50
The short answer is yes. And again, it's just whatever's within our capability. So, but we can certainly reach out to the city and find out what needs to be done and relay that information. So yes, that is something that we can help with. For things that get more complex. We have vendors that we could also recommend that get into the nitty gritty of contractors and such that specialize in this.
Michael Rothman  30:16
Did you guys cover the fees for your services? Because we had a quetion just come in about what the fees?
Andrew Dinnerstein  30:23
I did not. We are flat fee, so our fees don't fluctuate based on the size of a transaction. The only thing that affects our back office support fees is whether a deals cash or a lender deal. That's with residential. Commercial, it's a little more customized just because the needs on a commercial deal vary great. And then all of our other services are just flat fee and if you're picking a few different ala carte services that you want to put together, we discount those fees down a little bit so that it's kind of the more you're getting the better value you're getting.
Melissa Jay Murphy  31:04
Is that the last question, Michael?
Andrew Dinnerstein  31:06
Great program. Thanks, guys.
Melissa Jay Murphy  31:09
Thank you so much, Andrew. I want to remind all our listeners out there that CASi will be at Assembly so please go by and visit them at their booth but if you're not able to attend Assembly, they are in our Vendor Marketplace, which is very easy to find on our website. And then the contact information for CASi is there on the website so you can certainly reach out to them that way. Thank you again for listening. And remember we're going to push this audio out on our podcast so you can catch it there. Or share it with others. And as always, thank you for your support of The Fund