The mortgage market became increasingly complex and technical in the last two decades, and now companies like Linear Title and Closing in Middletown are bringing the process of closing transactions up to speed.
While nearly all businesses connected to real estate finance suffered during the recession, Linear and its subsidiary Abstrax LLC were among the handful of Rhode Island firms that have rebounded into strong growth.
Their innovation was to automate and integrate as much of the lengthy process of clearing title and completing real estate transactions, either new sales or refinances, as possible to speed things along.
“I think they were early on in automating the closing process and using the Web to facilitate it,” said Peter C. Dorsey Jr., president of The Business Development Co., which provided an early-stage loan to Abstrax. “They are doing it well enough and doing it substantially. And as much as it is automated, there are strong background functions done manually, so they have created a substantial amount of jobs.”
Linear was founded in 2005 by Nick Liuzza, a New Orleans resident whose wife, a Rhode Island native, drew him north.
The firm grew to 50 people by 2010 and swelled to more than 300 people early this year when record low interest rates were driving new sales and refinances. After shrinking back down to about 250 workers due to rising interest rates and seasonal fluctuations, Liuzza said he expects to be back over 300 employees soon.
Linear creates, moves and constantly updates the voluminous documents required to close a transaction with clear title.
Traditionally, the market for processing these transactions has been split between a few very large underwriters and smaller local agents.
Linear positioned itself in between them and focused on automating the process internally, with vendors it hires for some functions, and with the lenders themselves to make everything as fast as possible.