Trey Dittmann, president and owner of Frontier Title & Closing Services, has opened an office in Racine to meet a surging demand for real estate services in the Racine-Kenosha market. It’s the latest expansion for a company that prides itself on being nimble, offering a full array of services, and cultivating a talented staff.
In an interview, Dittmann explained his drive to remove obstacles for developers and real estate professionals as they rush to meet current customer needs – needs that have escalated thanks to low interest rates and sub-optimal inventory. And he discussed the business practices that have positioned Frontier to respond swiftly to opportunities.
Frontier Title & Closing Services is headquartered in Hartland and has offices in Johnson Creek and Milwaukee. With its fourth office in Racine, Frontier’s team now covers 10 counties in southeast Wisconsin. “This has been the biggest growth year in real estate in my memory,” Dittmann said. “If your house is priced right and looks good and ready to go, it’s not uncommon to have several offers come in the first day, many of them exceeding the original asking price.”
Inventory pressures have sparked intense activity in the new-construction residential market, which is where Dittmann is seeing most of Frontier’s growth right now. “We’ve seen lots of new builders get back into the building enterprise … And those new people have got probably three to eight homes going during the course of the year and, that’s going to sustain them and grow them as this market keeps expanding over the course of the next year, which we fully expect it will do.”
Adding to the sense of urgency, says Dittmann: an anticipated rise in lumber prices. “People are getting their lot secured and trying to get contracts with builders signed before the new year to get ahead of rising lumber prices. I think people realize that now’s the time to move and a lot of them certainly have.”
With things moving so fast, buyers, sellers and lenders need a title service team that knows how to hustle. Frontier can do that.
One reason, says Dittmann, is that Frontier is a “one-stop shop” that can handle the full scope of services for commercial and residential transactions. Frontier’s expert staff handles title insurance, closings, inspections, underwriting, escrow services and more. “We’ve got every angle covered: the lender side of it, the builder side of it, the consumer who’s building a brand-new home.” Multiple offices and a deeply experienced staff enable the Frontier team to redeploy quickly to meet shifting demands.
Dittmann also credits Frontier’s closing department as “very, very experienced” and very versatile. “One of the things that sets our closing department apart is that it serves not only the lender side, but the seller side as well. And our closers have to know both sides.” In practical terms, that makes Frontier’s team able to respond quickly to unexpected needs – which in today’s environment happens more often than not.
“All of a sudden, the lender may call up and say, hey, we don’t have anyone available. Can you close for us on our behalf? And, you know, we’re doing that on the fly constantly. That adds a lot of stress and adds a lot to the plate. But at the same time, Wisconsin’s real estate community knows that Frontier has the personnel to get the job done.”
Add in-house legal counsel to Frontier’s array of experts, and it means “a full-service title company that can handle all the production work that goes along with new construction, and can get title reports out on a timely basis. Those are important to all the players. We understand that.”
It’s clear that Dittmann takes pride in expediting the flow of money so that everyone can be successful – the builder, the builder’s vendors, the lender, the realtor, the buyer, and others. “The Builder’s Association down here wants a good title company that’s all about expediting funds and getting funds to the builder in order to keep these projects moving. And that’s what Frontier is all about. We are all about expediting the process of moving funds so you can move your project forward.” That holds just as true for lenders and realtors: Frontier’s dependability and expertise will minimize complications and ensure there are no surprises during a refinancing or on closing day. “Purchase transactions can sometimes be hectic and fast-moving,” said Dittmann. “Realtors and lenders know that we deliver accurate, prompt results no matter what the circumstances. They can count on us to smooth the process for everyone.”
Few people have as much insight into Southeastern Wisconsin real estate trends as Dittmann, who has been in the business for 29 years. He started Frontier Title & Closing in 2010 and has consistently expanded since. From where he sits, residential real estate is a bright spot right now. “There’s not really a sleeping part of the of the Milwaukee metropolitan area.”
The Racine-Kenosha area stands out, Dittmann says, for some additional factors driving growth: the completion of the I-94 north-south freeway project; new feeder highways being added; and employers such as Foxconn, Amazon, and Uline along with the industries and jobs they support. “We feel that our title company is well placed in a market like this. And we’re really looking forward to growing with the community down here.”
Frontier’s expansion into Racine-Kenosha was in part at the invitation of developers they’ve worked with who are pursuing opportunities there. “Builders and developers that we have worked with in places like Brookfield and West Allis were saying, ‘Boy, I wish you were down in the Racine-Kenosha area.’ Now we are.”
When your customers start asking you to follow them to a new market, you’re doing something right. Dittmann gives a lot of the credit to the talent on his team, and he works hard to cultivate that talent.
“We’re all about retaining employees,” he said. “We have an immense amount of experience in our underwriting department. Our loan people have anywhere from 10 to 15 to 30 years of experience. Those are the people that you want to retain, so we want to make Frontier a good working environment.
“And that is something Frontier is known for: Good people, knowledgeable people, people you can count on.”