In the News
May 11 2005

The Title Report

TitleVest is introducing a potential solution to the dilemma with its Web-based ACRIS E-tax process.

While the New York City Department of Finance's (DOF) new online system was supposed to make it easier to file property transfer information, a recent survey shows that 70 percent of users, mostly experienced attorneys, have found it so frustrating that they've had to put the forms aside and either come back to it later or ask someone to help.

TitleVest Agency, Inc., a New York-based provider of title insurance and related real estate services, just completed an e-mail survey of its database of attorneys and other professionals who have had experience using the DOF's Automated City Register Information System, known as ACRIS. The 180 responses showed that when using the City's ACRIS Web site:

-- About one-third find it difficult to use;

-- 46 percent find it very time consuming;

-- Only 14 percent are able to complete the required E-tax forms in under 30 minutes; and

-- Over 70 percent said they charge clients for the time it takes to complete the forms or for the expense of outsourcing them.

Bill Baron, president of TitleVest said, the ACRIS system is problematic for even industry professionals who are familiar with the system.

"It is also adding onto the costs that consumers pay when they close on a home," he said. "Attorneys and others in this field need tools to complete the required forms more quickly and easily."

After last summer when the city began requiring that all tax forms related to property transfers be submitted electronically, Baron would hear anecdotally about problems with ACRIS and started working with developers to create a free, Web-based solution that would dramatically simplify the creation of the New York City Department of Finance ACRIS E-Tax forms for all real property and co-op conveyances in New York City. The product, known as ACRIS ASAP, has undergone a successful beta test and now is being officially introduced to the market.

The city's system requires users to navigate numerous pages, tabs and sub-tabs on the ACRIS Web site. It is easy to make mistakes and omit information, and sometimes it's difficult to identify what information is missing - which results in the rejection of forms. Compared to the city's 14- plus page application, ACRIS ASAP is an intuitive, one page form that eliminates the need for redundant data entry by allowing data to be transferred from an existing order to all other required transfer documents, such as contracts and deeds.

According to Baron, "The bottom line with ACRIS ASAP is that it takes attorneys a fraction of the time to create all of the required ACRIS E-Tax and non-E-tax forms than when using the city's system. It saves our clients time and their clients' money."

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