Below, John Keratsis, the CEO of Boston National Title in New York, N.Y., discusses the importance of communication in your professional relationships.
Region served: We facilitate transactions throughout the United States, and we’re directly licensed in 42 states.
Years in business: 10
Best tip for building trusted relationships: Communication. Know your clients, understand/fulfill their needs and remember that a client partnership is a marathon, not a sprint.
Favorite part of your job: Making our company better every day.
How has Boston National redefined the closing process? The title company can have a tremendous impact on the overall closing. A flawless closing begins with great preparation between our processors and the signing agent. Rather than sending the documentation out with a note to call us with questions, we insist on a documentation review with the agent prior to the closing. During the closing, our processors are on standby in case the client has a question that the signing agent can’t answer. We work just as closely with real estate agents, too. Transparency is really important to them, so we make sure they always know the status of every transaction.
How are you staying one step ahead of the competition? My approach to business is straightforward in that it’s all about the client. At the client service level, we’re nimble and creative, which ultimately led to the creation of our private wealth division and segmented channel service delivery. Internally, we’ve created a culture that recognizes and rewards our processors and customer service reps for client compliments. At the business strategy level, we’ve been aggressive about expanding into our clients’ most active markets by pursuing licenses in key states such as California and Texas.
What are some of the biggest trends you’re seeing in the international market in regard to the partners you’re working with? 2015 was a record year for foreign investment into the U.S. real estate market. According to Bloomberg, foreigners made 16 percent of U.S. property purchases in 2015, with an average sales price of nearly $500,000, double the national average. Partners with an international platform, specifically focusing on an affluent residential brand, have a strong advantage in the U.S. market as they have a recognizable brand that’s trusted by foreign buyers. Also interesting is the expansion of foreign investment from typical geographies like New York and San Francisco to cities and suburbs in Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.
Where do you see the international market going as we head toward the future? Political and financial dynamics will continue to strongly influence foreign investment into the U.S. real estate market, but the trend of foreign investment into the U.S. will continue upward, provided that foreign investors look at U.S. real estate investments as a safe and relative bargain. In addition, the U.S. is making foreign investments into the states more attractive by easing the tax burden on foreign real estate investors (Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, “FIRPTA”) and through the continued support of the EB5 platform.