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Priority Settlement Group of Texas

The Priority Settlement Group of Texas is an independently owned title company in Texas, sister to Priority Title and Escrow in Virginia Beach, a national company with licenses in 48 states. Marcus Overheu and Michael Schwartz established Priority Settlement Group of Texas in November 2016 with three employees in a 400 square foot office. Together they brought many years of title and mortgage experience to the company, which they grew to a little over a hundred employees during the height of the refi boom. The Austin-based company has offices in San Antonio, Houston, and Harker Heights, with plans to open an office in Dallas later this year.

At Priority we share a common goal with everyone that we serve — to simplify the closing process and meet our client’s needs on time and within budget.

When Marcus first approached Michael about starting the company, Michael was skeptical, thinking there were already enough title companies vying for customers. What could this company possibly offer to make itself stand out from the rest? Since the state regulates the title insurance premium, the endorsements and title insurance are exactly the same. Other fees are set by the agency, such as escrow, courier, and other charges. Providing they are the same for all consumers, these “junk fees” can be set at the agency’s discretion. When clients use Priority Settlement Group of Texas, they can save up to $900 on purchase transactions.

The Priority Settlement Group of Texas also believes in taking a unique approach to the title industry. According to Michael Schwartz, president of Texas Sales, “we have a very large network of highly trained mobile closers, so we can handle transactions anywhere in the state.” You will never need to visit our office in order to complete the transaction. Our team comes to you. We welcome customers to come to our offices, but traffic is terrible. In the middle of the day, why would you want to drive across town to a title company, wait for 20 or 30 minutes, sign your documents, and then drive back home? After we bring you the documents, we’ll be done in 30 to 40 minutes. You can then go about your business while we deal with everything. We use technology to simplify the process for the Texas consumer and make it more convenient for the real estate agency, too.

It is very important to Priority Settlement Group of Texas to maintain a supportive corporate culture. “We believe strongly in education and finding answers,” says Schwartz. If someone does not know something, we either find someone within the organization to teach them or bring in outside help to educate them. Moreover, we provide external support to both consumer real estate agents and loan officers. “We don’t give standard answers.” Instead of providing consumers with the standard unsatisfactory answer, “It cannot be done,” Priority Settlement Group of Texas strives to provide the answers that will lead to lasting relationships and loyal customers. In order to do things right, we dig deeply, go farther, and do everything we can to find a way to do it. Our underwriters understand that we’re not questioning their judgment when we come to them. It’s more of an understanding; how can we do this? Then we see if we can structure it to work. After five o’clock, we are the guys who answer the phone. “We take phone calls and answer emails on weekends.”

While industry knowledge and experience are helpful for escrow officers and title examiners, Priority Settlement Group of Texas loves to work with people of all levels of experience. Schwartz says that even though his company sometimes hires fresh out of college and provides training, he also supports hiring veterans. A veteran himself, he says, “While they may not know the industry, they know accountability and discipline.” We train those who show up with an attitude of “I’m going to learn” rather than “I know everything.” Our philosophy is to hire you for a specific position, and then, if you want to move forward or be promoted, or even create your own opportunity, we will work with you to find the path.

As he continues, “It’s not about resumes anymore.” Nowadays, people want to feel empowered rather than just working. Everybody wants an opportunity. If you do the job I hire you for, I am more than willing to listen to your ideas. Then, if they make sense and can be implemented, together we will make it happen.”

Unbelievable Momentum for Women’s Council of REALTORS Austin in May

I can’t believe what an incredible month of May it was for the Women’s Council of Realtors Austin!

We had an extremely successful designer handbag bingo night with almost 90 people in attendance and a number of sponsors who generously donated some very nice bags from some well-known and highly regarded designers.

A number of sponsors participated in the event, including Green Scene Home Inspections, David Weekley Homes, Boston National Title, US Health Advisors, CLM Mortgage, Chesmar Homes, Beacon Blinds, Josh Brown Home Loans, Chicago Title, First American Home Warranty, APEX Roofing, Integrity Land Title, and ACHOSA Home Warranty.    

We also held our elections for the year 2024 at the Kendra Scott Flagship store.

Immediately following the vote, Delaine McMurry was elected President, Tanya Chappell was elected President-Elect, and Scarlett Hao was elected Treasurer. I am pleased to announce that Delaine has appointed Jen Sparks to First Vice President. She has also appointed Laura Finkenbinder to Membership Director and Leanna Swingler as Events Director. The year 2024 is looking to be an equally exciting year, and we are looking forward to it.

June Monthly Lucheon: 3 Unspoken Truths

It is time for you to sign up for our June luncheon. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 29, at the Peached Social House. The address is 6500 N Lamar Blvd. Map Link

Our speaker will be Kim Barrett, President/Broker/Owner, who will teach us how to grow your business 150% in 90 days or less.  To make this happen, we are collaborating with seven other networks. Networks we are working with include Brazos Valley, Cameron County, Central Texas, San Antonio, McAllen, Hill Country, and East Texas.  This is a very exciting event for us as we will also have our state leadership team in attendance as well. You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity, and I’m hoping we’ll see you all there!

Operation I Can: Williamson County Food Drive

It’s time for the Williamson County Association of Realtors’ (WCREALTORS) Community Service Committee to hold its annual Operation I Can Food Drive as part of its annual community service initiative.

The food drive is set to begin on Monday, July 10, and end on Thursday, July 27, with the goal of surpassing the record-breaking success of raising almost 23,000 pounds of food last year. Weigh in and food collection for the event will take place from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, July 28. It will be held at the WCREALTORS office.

It is planned to distribute the donations evenly among eight local charities this year: the Round Rock Serving Center, Hill Country Ministries in Leander, Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry in Taylor, The Caring Place in Georgetown, Jarrell Community Food Pantry, Hutto Community Food Pantry, Operation Liberty Hill, and Saint Vincent de Paul in Round Rock.

As REALTORS® members, there is a huge opportunity to engage their local communities by leaving paper bags with a flyer and business card on residents’ porches. Make sure that you provide a date on which the donated items are to be collected. Not only can you expand your network through this, but it will also show potential clients that you are active in giving back to your community, which is an important aspect of building your business.

If you are interested in participating in this food drive, you can donate canned and non-perishable foods to any participating real estate office in Williamson County. Items needed are canned meats, canned veggies, canned fruit, pasta sauce, rice, beans, cereals, juice, peanut butter, cooking oil, meal helpers, hygiene products, and any other non-perishable items.

This year we are also able to receive monetary donations. Visit wcrealtors.org/ican to donate online or drop off cash envelopes at the Association office. All monetary donations will be evenly distributed among the charities alongside non-perishable items.

For more information, call the Association at 512-255-6211.

Staying Informed with Professional Analysis of the Housing Market

With the constant buzz surrounding the housing market and the multitude of conflicting opinions, it has become increasingly crucial for the Austin Board of REALTORS (ABoR) to be the trusted source of accurate real estate information. As a result, I am delighted to announce that ABoR has reached a significant milestone in hiring its first-ever in-house economist: Dr. Clare Losey.

We are in an era where real estate decisions are constantly influenced by ever-evolving economic factors, and having an economist on our team enables us to cut through the noise and provide you and your clients with a reliable, insightful perspective on the Austin housing market and economy. With Dr. Losey’s expertise and guidance, ABoR empowers you to stay on top of the market.

For better market awareness, ABoR recently launched a new member benefit – Driving It Home, a weekly interview with Dr. Losey. Every Tuesday, members receive an email with the interview explaining the week’s need-to-know trends so that you can be caught up on the market before finishing your morning drive.

Our new Economic Report, Driving It Home, is just the first of several new economic reports and market resources you’ll receive as part of your ABoR membership! Also, ABoR released its flagship Central Texas Housing Market Report earlier this month. They are currently working on additional research and reports, including a Rent vs. Buy Index slated for release next month.

These annual research reports are invaluable tools that unlock the opportunity to stay ahead in the ever-evolving real estate landscape. The insights and analysis that can be found in these reports can help you enhance your decision-making abilities, offer informed guidance to your clients, and make the most of the unique opportunities that the Central Texas market presents to you. ABoR is committed to ensuring that you have every opportunity to succeed as a real estate professional and that you have access to the knowledge you need in order to achieve your goals. In case you haven’t already seen them, I would encourage you to read and share ABoR’s previous reports, such as the Central Texas Housing Fees Analysis Report that was released last July and the 2022 International Home Buyers Report.

Lastly, but certainly not least, do not forget all the MLS tools and benefits available to you to keep you as the source of real estate information for your clients. Apart from the MLS, Remine Pro and RPR® are the two most critical tools available to you. With its remarkable farming capabilities and analysis of on- and off-market data, there is no tool as powerful as Remine at this time. The RPR® mobile app, which was recently updated, has greatly improved access to MLS on the go. In addition to a top-of-the-line CMA tool, RPR® Mobile also provides access to powerful data, tools and reports wherever you are. When these tools are used together, they can serve as a lifeline for staying on top of the market at all times. You can register for a FREE training at ABoR.com/Take-A-Class and then have access to both Remine and RPR® directly through the Clareity dashboard.

Join Us for Central Texas Housing Summit in July

We encourage you to save the date for ABoR’s Central Texas Housing Summit, set to take place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26. The Housing Summit will offer participants the chance to hear presentations and discussions regarding the regional housing market, to gain valuable insights, and to network with other industry leaders. Come and explore with us the current housing landscape, economic trends, and potential solutions we can implement to make our housing market in Central Texas more vibrant and sustainable. Visit ABoR.com/HousingSummit for more information and to register for the event.

Make Sure Your First Impression Is A Good One

In today’s competitive real estate market, first impressions are crucial to attracting potential clients and securing successful business transactions. REALTORS must present themselves as knowledgeable and reliable experts to gain prospective clients’ trust.

Vivian Zayas, a professor of psychology at Cornell University says, “As social beings, we use everything available to make sense of a person we’re meeting for the first time. We make decisions about others almost instantly and once an opinion is formed it becomes difficult to adjust.” Fortunately, there are ways to leave a strong lasting impression. Here’s how to ensure others view you in a positive light.

Your virtual identity

It is imperative to have a professional and visually appealing website with clear and concise messaging. Ensure that your social media profiles and email communications are consistently branded and reflect your company’s values and tone of voice. Use proper grammar and punctuation in all online communication, including emails, messages and comments.

Follow the dress code

While your online presence is crucial, ensure you make a lasting impression during in-person client meetings, as well. Dressing professionally according to the specific niche market you cater to is vital. Of course, being in Austin does dictate some choices. Men can opt for a casual suit, or well-pressed pants and a crisp button-down shirt and tie, while women should choose a knee-length dress or trousers with a silky, free-flowing blouse. Combine the outfit with seasonably appropriate high heels, dressy sandals, or flats.

Connect with your clients

Maintaining a professional demeanor is crucial. Nonetheless, creating an authentic rapport with your clients is key to leaving a positive impact. To accomplish this, engage with them and discover shared interests. Common topics of conversation include family, hobbies, pets, and so on. Identify mutual interests or simply lend an ear to their experiences and display empathy and understanding. As the saying goes, people won’t value your knowledge until they see the depth of your care.

Surprisingly, these interactions can lead you in the direction of their ideal home. For instance, if they mention having pets, you can use that information to find a home with pet-friendly features or a spacious backyard. They will be touched by this subtle sign of consideration. So, be present for them as both their real estate agent and as a fellow human being.

Value of honesty

Navigating the complex world of real estate can be demanding, but the secret to long-term success is maintaining transparency with your clientele. The age-old adage, “honesty is the best policy,” holds true for a reason.

It’s not uncommon for clients to have unrealistic expectations. For instance, many anticipate a quick sale at their initial asking price, but are unwilling to invest in curb appeal or other essential factors that aid the selling process. Conversely, potential buyers often have lofty criteria while operating on a limited budget.

In scenarios like these, it’s crucial for REALTORS to be forthright and clear about every facet of their role. Overpromising and underdelivering can be detrimental to your reputation. Keep in mind that compromises are frequently needed on both sides. Conveying this understanding from the start is another crucial component in an agent’s guide to making an impactful first impression.

Exude self confidence

What happens if a REALTOR does everything correctly, but lacks confidence in himself or herself? Studies show that one’s level of confidence significantly impacts career success. Even something as simple as a handshake can alter the direction of a professional relationship. Communications experts claim they can judge someone’s arrogance, fear, anxiety, weakness, or strength solely from their handshake. So, avoid appearing weak or domineering.

In closing, real estate professionals must understand the significance of first impressions. Remember that investing in your image and professional demeanor will go a long way to creating impactful and lasting connections.