Please introduce yourself.
My name is Christine Tartaglia, and I am the Founder and President of South Jersey Settlement Agency (SJSA), a privately owned title insurance firm that writes policies to shield property owners and mortgage lenders against unforeseen claims filed against real estate. I’ve worked in the title insurance, banking, and mortgage lending industries for more than 40 years. SJSA is primarily an investor shop made up of buy-hold, flip, and wholesale clientele. Pre-foreclosures, foreclosures, and short sales are our specialty. Yes, all the difficult deals! We are sincere, trustworthy, and adaptable, and we serve the entire state of New Jersey. Our ability to provide organization, accuracy, and security to our customers is something we take great pleasure in. My team is made up of highly skilled experts that go above and beyond the call of duty to guarantee that our clients return to us time and time again.
How did you get started in the real estate business?
I started working in real estate fresh out of school where I studied the fundamentals and the principles of ethical lending, and for the next few years, I moved up the corporate ladder. I held a number of significant leadership roles before founding SJSA, including Vice President of eCommerce Business Development, Vice President of Mortgage Operations, and Vice President of Sales for a local title insurance agency. I have been able to create and execute best practices and operational efficiencies for SJSA due to my wide range of expertise. We proudly celebrated 15 years in March this year, and I plan to continue for many years to come!
What are some hot markets for real estate that you are excited about?
I believe that the real estate market is quickly returning to a buyer’s market. Inventory shortages and price increases are starting to level out. I am also an investor, and believe there is a tsunami of pre-foreclosure potential out there for those who know how to make a deal. I urge investors to contact me as I’m always happy to transfer my knowledge with like-minded individuals in order to help grow our businesses.
How do you source your real estate deals?
I provide value by creating and providing valuable information and content to investors and buyers. The “title order” in itself doesn’t really interest me. My main goal is to build solid, trustworthy relationships with individuals who share my ambition for success. Protecting the insured parties is SJSA’s top priority. And even though we have a significant online presence, I still believe that word of mouth is the greatest source by far. We’re really excited that investors are buzzing about us!
What are some checks and balances you’ve put in place to protect your real estate transactions?
Our primary goal is to safeguard our customer’s investment and we focus is on the insured parties; not the deal. We have a robust settlement and closing platform, as well as suitable documented processes and controls for our escrow trust account. We have adopted and implemented privacy controls and title industry best practices as recommended by ALTA.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting their real estate career?
We are in an industry that changes frequently, therefore, you must be able to adapt to the changes as they come. If you live in the past, you will be the past. And whatever leg of the business you are in, it vital that you create a strong business plan and revisit it in order to make adjustments over time. And create an annual plan that includes a detailed budget along with objectives for yourself as well as your employees.
What is one software you use for your business and recommend to others?
SJSA chose to use AccuTitle software because, after doing extensive research, I determined that it offers the greatest management platform. AccuTitle also continues to add functionality by improving their systems in order to further speed the title production and closing process. I appreciated that their system was created by title people and found that it offers best-in-class solutions for my business.
What is your superpower in life?
I have a deep affection for people. I’m always eager to provide a hand to others in whatever capacity I can. And sometimes I find that I overextend myself because I find it difficult to say “no” to others. My personal motto is to do something nice for someone every day. When I’m gone, I couldn’t be bothered if someone thought I was a great businesswoman; I want my dash to stand for something far more significant. The little things in life are what really bring me joy. A thriving business is simply the little icing on the cake!
What is a failure you’ve had in life that set you up for eventual success?
Personal experience has taught me that failure is a necessary part of success, but I also come from a culture where it’s just not okay to fail. I believe I become more resilient and strong with failure. When I created SJSA back in 2008, many predicted it would fail because it was at a time when people were leaving the real estate industry. I’ve been around a very long time, and experienced many of the highs and lows of the 1980s, 1990s, and other decades. I viewed the “poor timing” as an opportunity to create, grow, and build my business. We improved as a team over time and I never looked back. Success comes in many forms, and here we are, over 15 years later, being proudly acknowledged as an industry leader.
What is one book that has influenced your life the most? Why?
‘The Secret,’ which is an uplifting book on the “law of attraction,” and a highly recommended must-read. I believe we can all alter our circumstances, even when things seem to be hopeless, and I feel that believing in the results of my ideas enables me to keep a happy mental state. I also believe you can attract whatever you focus your energy on, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. You will succeed if you set objectives and keep your attention on them. It’s all about the power of positive thinking. Do good and you will get good!