By Audra Distifeno for TCAJOB
Tri-City Escrow will launch its new title department in September, after moving a few doors down to a new location. It will also extend itsa hours to provide better customer service.
“We’ve had the dream of adding title for several years because we wanted the ability to coordinate the closing of transactions to the best of our ability,” said Linda Denchel, who owns the company with husband David, the company’s business manager.
“Customer service for clients, agents and lenders is very, very important to us,” she said. “Our short-term goal is we’d love to have 40 percent of the market share within our first year.”
Currently, Tri-City Escrow manages 25 percent of the MLS residential market share, she said.
To build on that, the Denchels have added a title department to their 10-year-old escrow company, and staffed it with the most experienced, capable employees they could find. Kevin Howes, title manager, has 19 years of experience; Elizabeth Rodriguez, customer service and title officer has 12 years, and Janice Ortiz, recording clerk, has 10 years of experience.
After the move, which was prompted by the necessity of more space for the title department and staff, the company will have 14 full-time employees.
“We’d love to be so busy that we need to expand and bring in even more employees,” said Denchel.
Staff members’ years of experience are coupled with underwriting by First American Title, one of the area’s largest companies of its kind.
Denchel has been joined at the hip with all things real estate for 25 years. She started in the industry as an agent, a job she enjoyed for six year. Then she became the manager of a real estate company. In 1992, she became an escrow officer, a position she still holds at Tri-City Escrow.
“That’s my passion; I love escrow,” said Denchel.
The company’s general manager, Josh Bohlke, who also happens to be Denchel’s nephew, will manage business operations of both the title and escrow departments. He officially started the new job July 1, but Bohlke has worked with Denchel, his aunt, over the past year.
The company is currently constructing a “title plant,” a fully digital database that includes records of every parcel of land – dimensions, liens, easements, etc. — in Benton and Franklin Counties.
“It’s a very extensive project to take all of the images and put them into a database,” said Bohlke.
By the time it’s complete, it will have taken almost a year. But the benefits are well worth the wait.
“Many customers like to do things at one place. It makes it nice and easy, and it streamlines the process,” said Bohlke. “Quality, turn-around times of recordings and closings are better.”
Being both a title and escrow company is beneficial to realtors as well.
“It allows us to offer advice and helpful tools to the realtors, especially about things that are title-specific,” said Bohlke. “We’re excited. There’s a lot to be done, but we’ve come a long way and things are moving along well.”
Bohlke said loan closings should to be seamless and mistake-free, without causing stress for realtors, buyers or sellers. That’s what keeps customers returning.
“We want to create a situation where the customer leaves happy so that we, along with the realtor, leave a good impression and in turn, get return business,” he said.
Bohlke said doing a good job makes it easier to compete in a market where there are several other title and escrow companies.
“We’re really focusing on our communication,” he said. “It’s a unique advantage to the customers, the realtors and the lenders to have both escrow and title in one company. Especially when that one company is locally owned and operated.”
Bohlke said the company’s title plant will be certified Sept. 1, allowing realtors to put the company’s name on purchase and sale agreements and lenders to list the company on loan applications.
The company will open its new offices Sept. 4.
“We’re anxiously awaiting opening day,” said Bohlke, whose experience as an escrow officer and years in commercial banking will no doubt compliment his current position.
“Our title plant will be certified as of Sept. 1, which means realtors can put our name on Purchase and Sale Agreements and lenders can put our name on loan applications,” said Bohlke. The expanded company will officially open its new offices at 8131 West Grandridge Blvd., Suite 100 in Kennewick on Sept. 4.
“We’re here for the long haul,” said Denchel. “Our long-term goal is to be the number one title and escrow company in the area, with the reputation of providing the best customer service and integrity.”
She said great service has helped the company create a loyal base of customers, which has in turn, allowed them to expand. The Denchel’s plan to use that same technique to build on its title business.
“We really appreciate all of the support we’ve gotten from our community. It’s because of them that we’ve been able to expand,” said Denchel.
Tri-City Title and Escrow is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday beginning Sept. 4. Call the company at 734-0771.