November 20, 2020
The challenges of 2020 make me more thankful than ever for the small, normal moments of our lives that in every other year pass without much notice. Sitting in my office, watching friends come in for closings, engaging them in conversation, hugs and handshakes. Just a minute or a few. Connecting. Email, phone calls and Zoom are ok but they are no substitute for face to face encounters. These are the moments that I look forward to returning, for now, I appreciate them much more than ever. And I will give them the importance they deserve when the time comes.
I am thankful for the support and encouragement of our clients. I am thankful for the efforts and success of the JBT team in adapting to completely new ways to produce and deliver our services. I am inspired by the optimism and ingenuity that I witnessed.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone important in your life!
~ John Bethell
October 16, 2020
Recorded mortgages during the third quarter continued at an amazingly strong pace. Fannie Mae recently predicted that by the end of the year, 2020 will be the best year on record for mortgage originations. Our local market shows the same signs. (chart pages 9 & 10)
The average Monroe County loan volume also continues to climb. (chart page 13) No doubt this is a factor of both increased borrowing power of low interest rates and also the significant appreciation of home values creating more equity for refinancers and higher prices for home buyers.
The Monroe County purchase market is only slightly behind last year. (chart page 17) If the fourth quarter deed recordings only equal 2019’s fourth quarter, the market, in the middle of a pandemic, will only be off about 4% from last year. Any improvement during the last quarter will completely erase the effect of the market slowdown in April and May.
In case you’re wondering, there is a reason the Foreclosure and Sheriff’s Deed charts are omitted from this and the previous report. Due to State and Federal COVID-19 related moratoriums and the Monroe County courthouse closing, no new foreclosures were started between late March and late August. Since then only five new foreclosures show up until September 30th. The last Sheriff’s sale conducted was in February. So, there’s nothing really to report.
September allowed us the privilege to help 540 people buy, sell or refinance their properties. Our title team in September averaged 6.2 days to issue new Monroe County title commitments. Our closing team produced seller side closing statements two or more days prior to closing in 89.2% of their transactions.
Finally, we are delighted for Amy Thomas, one of our Real Estate Closers, who yesterday received the Affiliate of the Year Award from the Bloomington Board of Realtors®. Amy’s commitment to making every closing an outstanding experience for our clients is clear to us every day. We are grateful that the BBOR membership chose to recognize Amy for her consistently exceptional efforts.
~ John Bethell
September 21, 2020
The Monroe County purchase market not only continued its recovery from the pandemic induced lows of May and June. In fact, the market appears to be making up for lost time. This is evidenced by the fact that sales in August, as measured by recorded deeds, showed an 11% percent gain over August of 2019, widening the positive differential of the previous month. (graph page 7) Early returns thru September 10th (small sample size alert) show an even larger year over year improvement in excess of 40% – 83 deeds to 58 deeds.
Low interest rates continue to fuel refinancing. Most lenders are enjoying their largest origination volumes since 2013. With the Fed recently stating that it will keep interest rates at this level for several years, these volumes will continue into next year and hopefully beyond.
Our teams are adjusted to these higher volumes. In August, the Closing Team produced seller side closing statements two or more days prior to closing in 91% of our transactions. Even with limited access to the county offices, our title commitment turn time for Monroe County orders averaged 7.1 days. And we helped 603 people buy, sell or refinance their properties.
~ John Bethell
August 24, 2020
How impactful is the current refinance market in Monroe County? On page four of this month’s report you’ll see that 3541 is the total number of mortgages recorded through July 31st of this year. That number on July 31st of last year: 2557. Almost 1000 more mortgage recordings in 2020 so far. That’s a lot of refinancing. How does that compare to other recent years? During all of 2017 and 2018 there were 3472 and 3406 recorded mortgages, respectively.
There’s still plenty of opportunity though. From 2016 through 2019 I estimate that there were between 6000 and 7000 purchase transactions with first mortgage financing. Even with the 1000 additional mortgages this year, there’s still a lot of homeowners that will benefit from refinancing.
The chart on page seven compares recorded deeds through July to the same period last year. As you can see, after a big decline in May due to the pandemic, sale transactions recovered in June and July and are now comparable to the level of activity a year ago.
This year, through July, we helped 3331 people buy, sell or refinance their properties. We are grateful to all our clients for providing us with the opportunity to assist that many people reach personal and financial milestones.
Thank you so much!
~ John Bethell