May 20, 2020
Included with this April’s mortgage numbers are two charts incorporating sales disclosure data for the first quarter of 2020. This data was unavailable to me until recently. These charts show that through the first three months of 2020, Monroe County transfers were about the same as in 2019.
A quick check of sales disclosure data from April 1st through May 15th tells a much different story. The effects of COVID-19 on purchase transactions is now evident. In April 2020, sales disclosures were down 20% from April 2019; 198 from 246. The first half of May shows an even more pronounced decline of 41%; 79 from 133. By May 1st, most of the transactions in process prior to the governor’s stay at home order were completed. Transactions closing now were started after the order was issued.
Nevertheless, the pace of new purchase contracts seems to be starting a recovery. Our own book of business since May 1st reflects that recovery but overall is still less than we’d expect at this time of year. Most of these new transactions are scheduled to close after June 1st.
Fortunately for all of us, the new refinance business is still robust, although less than the levels experienced four to six weeks ago.
Since mid-March, courthouse closures are preventing us from finishing only about 2% of the orders we’ve received. As courthouses start to reopen, we’ll be able to slowly address this situation. We appreciate your continued patience.
Our team is performing well and getting better every day with our COVID-19 protocols and processes. During April our closing team provided seller side closing statements 2 or more days prior to closing in 88% of our transactions while averaging 4.4 days prior to closing. Our title team continues to adjust to working from home. Each of the last few weeks they’ve improved and Monroe County commitments issued last week averaged a 4.5 day turnaround time. In April we helped 526 people buy, sell or refinance their homes. A remarkable number under the circumstances!
We are grateful for your support always, but especially so the last eight weeks.
Be Smart. Be Safe.
~ John Bethell
March 24, 2019
My, how quickly things can change.
As recently as two weeks ago, 2020 was shaping up to be a tremendous year. Now . . . the next few months will be challenging on many levels, both personal and professional, for most of us.
Anecdotally, the purchase market is showing signs of a significant slowdown. I’ll be watching our order counts and new MLS data from the Realtors® for real numbers. The recent volatility of interest rates is adversely affecting refinance volume as well.
I am optimistic that both markets are only being delayed, not permanently changed.
If you are not receiving our frequent updates about how COVID-19 is affecting our closing protocols, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, we remain open and ready to help you and your clients.
Be smart. Be safe. We’re all in this together.
~ John Bethell
February 18, 2020
Through the first five weeks of 2020 our percentage of refinance orders relative to our overall order count is continuing at the same level as it was the second half of last year. Refinances are about 30% of all of our orders. Steady mortgage interest rates over the same seven plus months clearly is the reason why.
If your client asked what rates will do later this year, how do you answer that question? Here’s two links to check out.
The above link to Mortgage News Daily lists a variety of articles that can be used to support just about any answer that you want to give. How convenient!
If you want to take a contrarian, but bullish position, check out this link from Housing Wire.
UBS: Fed may cut rate three times in 2020
The one thing we do know for sure is that right now there’s an opportunity. We can all get a good start in 2020 and make this our best year ever, so far!
In January we helped 283 people buy, sell or refinance their properties. Our title team produced new commitments in an average of 4.9 days. Our closing team provided seller side closing statements two or more days prior to closing in 96% of our transactions.
After January, recorded purchase transactions (deeds) are over 20% stronger than last year. Of course, small sample size caveats are in order. I’ll be watching this comparison closely in the coming weeks!
~ John Bethell
January 24, 2020
Happy New Year!
Quick observations from the final 2019 mortgage and deed recordings.
• As we all know, the inventory shortage of existing homes is real. Judging from recorded deeds for the last four years (page 7), the Monroe County market seems capped at about 2600 transactions per year.
• Look at any of the mortgage charts (except under $50,000) and it’s apparent that 2019’s second half drop interest rates produced significant mortgage volume. This resulted in the strongest year for mortgage originations since 2012.
• The sales disclosure data for both primary and non-primary residence sales continues to show increased numbers at the higher bracket (pages 16 & 17). Yet more evidence that the existing home inventory shortage is causing values to increase.
• The spike in November Sheriff’s Deeds is a result of fifteen separate deeds involving one borrower and not indicative of any permanent trend.
John Bethell Title is experiencing one of its strongest January’s ever for new contracts. It appears that the market is starting to take off even earlier this year. So, take a deep breath and get ready for an early spring market!
In 2019 we helped 5,139 people buy, sell or refinance their homes and other properties. The opportunity to help that many people is a gift. One that we don’t take for granted. Thank you to our professional clients for letting us be a part of your success. Here’s to an even better 2020 for all of us!
~ John Bethell
December 18, 2019
At this time of year, I always find myself reflecting on where our company came from, where it is today and where I want to be next year. The one constant in all three places is the value of the relationships we enjoy with our customers. Our clients drive our success. They appreciate our efforts. And they do us the favor of coaching us about where we can be better.
I am grateful to each and every one for the opportunity to help them guide their clients to buy, sell or refinance their property. I am even more grateful for the relationships we enjoy with each one of you.
On behalf of my entire team, thank you for these opportunities and relationships. We hope that your 2019 is your best year ever, so far! And, we hope that you’ll reach even higher milestones in 2020.
Happy Holidays to you and your families!
~ John Bethell