September 12, 2018
Once again sales in Monroe County made a strong comeback in the second half of August. The monthly total of 274 deeds representing a transaction compared favorable to last August’s number of 276. For the year, deed recordings are down about two percent from 2017.
The same holds true for mortgage recordings. Mortgages securing between $75,000 and $424,000 total 2066, down minimally from last year’s 2079 through August. (I included as page 7 the year to date numbers for last year.)
After eight months it appears that we’ll enjoy a strong purchase market for the third year in a row. These are good results despite the wide-spread inventory shortage.
During August we helped 430 people buy, sell or refinance their properties. We provided seller side closing statements two or more days prior to closing in 93% of the transactions that we closed. Our title team completed initial Monroe County orders in four or fewer days for 86% of our transactions.
~ John Bethell
August 21, 2018
Mortgage recordings in July showed a significant increase from a year ago. There were 301 mortgages recorded in amounts between $75K and $424K compared to 256 last year. This is consistent with our own book of business which has shown a decline in the percentage of cash deals from about 33% to 26%. That’s the lowest percentage for us in many years.
About the middle of July, it appeared that the purchase market was slowing down. During the second half of July, the number of recorded deeds representing a transaction rebounded to 264 and the month ended up almost identical to July 2017 when 260 deeds were recorded. A spot check of August again shows a notable 14% decline thru the 17th of the month. I’m a bit gun shy to draw any conclusions.
I do think that because of the lack of inventory, buyers are taking longer to find a house to buy. The normal seasonal patterns that we’re accustomed to are not as constricted by “back-to-school” or “we must move during the summer” considerations. Buyers will close and move whenever they find a house.
So in spite of the lack of inventory and the resultant price appreciation, our market perseveres. That’s a good thing for all of us!
~ John Bethell
July 27, 2018
A consistent theme this spring and early summer is that property values are increasing fast. There’s evidence of this in both the mortgage and deed transaction numbers in the second quarter. The last four years, mortgages securing between $75K and $200K are holding steady at around 600 and change. (see chart page 9) Mortgages securing between $200K and at the top end of the conforming market ($417K+) are steadily increasing over the same time period. (chart page 10) While the rate of increase isn’t overwhelming, it is consistent.
Further evidence of increasing prices can be found in the sales disclosure data for properties designated as the buyer’s primary residence. (chart page 14) The 318 sales disclosures in the $200K to $500K bracket during the second quarter are notably greater than any quarter since I began tracking this data. Digging deeper, the increase is spread mostly even through the $200K to $350K price range. The data for non-primary residences doesn’t show this appreciation at all. (chart page 15)
While I don’t think the increasing values indicate that we’re in a bubble, as long as the housing inventory remains constricted the appreciation will continue.
I’ve also heard that sales and lending are slowing down due to the inventory shortage. The transactions numbers don’t show that through the first six months. In fact, compared to 2017’s first half, deeds are up 3.4% – and a whopping 9.6% in the second quarter. I did peak at the first 16 days of July, and those deed recordings show a definite decline from last year. I’ll write more on that next month.
All of us here at John Bethell Title are delighted to finally be settled in our new surroundings! (I don’t miss my temporary career in site acquisition, construction management and furniture buying.) Many thanks to all our great clients for your patience and understanding during our transition! We couldn’t be more grateful!
~ John Bethell
June 20, 2018
On June 11th the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the arrests of 42 individuals in the United States, 29 in Nigeria and 3 others allegedly involved in a massive business email compromise (BEC) scheme. “Operation WireWire” succeeded in recovering approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers and seized another $2.4 million in cash. Read more about it here: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/international-bec-takedown-061118
BEC, also known as cyber-enabled financial fraud, is a sophisticated scam targeting employees at companies with access to large sums of money in order to trick them into wire transferring funds to bank accounts controlled by the perpetrators. These same criminals also exploit individuals including real estate purchasers and the elderly by convincing them to wire money to bank accounts controlled by the criminals.
John Bethell Title employs several layers of technical and verification processes to ensure that our clients’ funds are safe. Nevertheless, the reality is that business email is only as secure as the weakest link in the chain. Professionals that continue to use public domains (i.e. gmail, Hotmail & yahoo) for their business communication, or conduct business over unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, or fail to maintain updated name brand virus and spyware protection on all their devices, place all of us at risk.
When the market is as frenzied as it is now, it’s more important than ever to take the time to be careful. Tell your buyers to call and verify wire instructions. Let them know that John Bethell Title will not change wire instructions in the middle of a transaction. A healthy level of skepticism is required.
John Bethell Title will be hosting the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours on Wednesday, July 18th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. You’re all invited to attend and check out our new digs. We’re eagerly looking forward it!
~ John Bethell
May 30, 2018
The Monroe County purchase market, while a bit slower than last year, is still close to a post-recession high as measured by recorded deeds that represent an arms-length transaction. Here are the deed numbers from March 1st to May 22nd for each of the last three years:
2018 – 621 deeds 2017 – 647 deeds 2016 – 637 deeds
For the entire year, 2017 and 2016 ended up virtually identical and are the highest two post-recession years. This year is a bit down but at the current pace will still be close to the post-recession high. Inventory is still low. Property values and interest rates are higher. Their effect up until this point seems minimal looking backwards. More likely, due to the lack of inventory, the market continues to lag its potential.
I’m delighted to report that our relocation is complete. Our team magnificently managed the conflicting priorities of getting moved quickly and efficiently with taking the best care of our clients along the way. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We still need to unpack a bit. And we’ll be painting the building in June. It’s nice to have the vast majority of things behind us.
~ John Bethell