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
November 22, 2019
The rapid drop in interest rates beginning in late spring is the biggest surprise from 2019. A year ago, most financial gurus were predicting mortgage rates would be pushing 5% about now. I don’t recall anyone predicting then the drop of rates that actually occurred. The lesson is that we might want to remember that I once heard is that economists were created so that astrologers would look good!
The refinancing that resulted from lower rates is at the highest level since 2013. That actually made up for the approximately five percent drop so far in Monroe County purchases from 2018. There doesn’t seem to be anything on the near-term horizon that will cause rates to increase significantly.
A realistic planning approach to 2020 might be that the Monroe County purchase market will be in the same range as it’s been the last four years and that refinances will be somewhere between this year and 2018.
Of course, 2020 is an election year . . .
In October we helped 551 people buy, sell or refinance their property. Our Closing Team provided seller side closing statements an average of 4.15 days before closing and two or more days prior to closing in 92% of our transactions. Our title team averaged 5.4 days to issue a title insurance commitment on Monroe County orders.
Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving!
~ John Bethell
October 24, 2019
Lenders in Monroe County may be as busy now as they’ve been since 2013. Whether looking at the broader market (chart page 7) or a slightly narrower slice of mortgages securing loans in the conforming dollar range (charts pages 9 & 10), the increased volume is clearly shown. The third quarter mortgage recordings in the $50K to $500K range were up almost 30% from 2018. This is a substantial improvement from the first half of this year which showed a five percent decline from last year.
Also quite clear is that this increased volume is not a result of new purchase mortgages but refinances. The sale market as shown by either recorded deeds or sales disclosures (charts pages 13, 14, & 15) is flat to slightly off. Recorded deeds through nine months of this year at 1965 are down about six percent from last year when 2065 deeds were recorded.
There are two important changes to our team this month. First, Wendy Kitchel, our Title Counsel is relocating with her husband to Florida. She secured a position with a title company there already. We will miss Wendy. She contributed significantly to our success in her four years as a team member.
Secondly, I am delighted that Dan Stewart is rejoining our team. Dan returns still brandishing a wealth of historical knowledge about the title business in Monroe County. Dan will assume those portions of Wendy’s former role that are best handled by an attorney.
In September we helped 535 people buy, sell or refinance their homes. Our team is grateful for the opportunity to help that many people with such an important event in their lives. Our title team’s average turn-around time for new Monroe County orders improved to 5.3 days. Our closing team produced seller side closing statements two or more days prior to closing for 89% of our transactions and averaged 5.24 days prior to closing.
~ John Bethell