We hear a lot every day from the national trade publications that the real estate industry is “consolidating.” It’s becoming a struggle for independent, local market title and settlement services firms to compete with larger national outfits. But is this the beginning of the end for the small, local shop? I’m here to argue that it isn’t. And here’s why. Real estate is local. And it always will be. To that end, even the largest mortgage lender or title insurance company will always need “boots on the ground” in the local courthouses and markets. Here in Texas, we have 254 counties; 254 different property record systems; 254 different county clerks and (seemingly) 254 different ways to search a title history. That’s not something an abstractor or other professional who has never set foot in Texas will ever be able to do as effectively as someone who knows those courthouses. Even if or when the time comes when property records go “online,” this is an industry built upon the local. So hang in there, small businesses. Things may be changing, but demand for your services will not be going away any time soon!