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
April 12, 2018
The purchase market is starting later in 2018 than last year. Our first quarter measures of recorded deeds and primary residence sales disclosures show year over year seven percent declines. Non-primary residence sales disclosures indicate a 17% decline. (charts pages 13-15). Most of this decline occurred in March when deed recordings fell from 214 in March 2017 compared to 166 last month ? a 22% decline! Mortgage originations are also lagging year ago numbers. Refinances as a percentage of our new title orders are at the lowest rate that I can remember. Now that spring is finally making brief and occasional appearances, hopefully the market will accelerate.
The 2017 pay in 2018 real estate taxes are certified as of April 3rd. We are paying these taxes at closing and using the amounts as the basis for pro-rations ? unless, of course, the Purchase Agreement provides otherwise.
Our relocation to 2626 South Walnut Street (The former AT&T Store behind Chase Bank, CVS & The Grease Monkey) will occur between May 1st and May 5th. We will conduct closings at our current location through May 4th. Closings scheduled or anticipated for May 7th or later, will occur in our new location.
It?s easy to remember. Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, May 5th. Closings before Cinco de Mayo will take place in our downtown location. Closings after Cinco de Mayo will take place in our new digs.
Monday morning May 7th is the only time that we anticipate less than full capacity to conduct closings. Both our main and direct dial phone numbers and all of our email addresses will remain the same.
Most importantly our WIRE TRANSFER instructions and procedures WILL NOT CHANGE. Any communication to the contrary that might be received is totally bogus! Please alert your clients.
In March we helped 336 people buy, sell or refinance their property. Our closing team produced seller side closing statements two or more days prior to closing in 96.6% of our transactions. We produced Monroe County title commitments in an average of 5.46 days. Our title team recently adjusted its back-end process and we?re confident that as a result our production time will decrease in the coming weeks.
~ John Bethell
February 14, 2018
Despite the continuing acute home inventory shortage, the Monroe County 2018 purchase market is off to a good start. Through February 12th, our property records data base shows 189 recorded transactions so far this year. This compares favorably to the same period in 2017 when there were 183 transactions. The numbers of new contracts upon which we?ve received title orders show a similar comparison. Although it?s too early in the year to be one hundred percent confident about the market, indications are pointing to another great year!
The State of Indiana Department of Local Government Finance approved Monroe County?s 2017 pay in 2018 real estate tax budget on February 9th. Next, the county must publish the rates three times and make the new tax amounts available to us. Then they will be official and can be used for tax pro-rations. Most likely this will occur in the next four to six weeks. If you?re interested in the new tax rates, here?s a link: http://www.in.gov/dlgf/files/Monroe%20County%202018%20Certified%20Budget%20Order.pdf
Effective with all closings in our office on or after March 19th, 2018 we will be applying a twenty-five dollar increase to our search, examination and clearance fee for owner?s and refinance loan policies. We are preparing new rate sheets for dissemination to our clients that will be forwarded within the next week or so.
Our important team metrics continued to be good in January. And the seasonal slowdown allowed us to make real headway on a few important projects, as well. Our closing team produced seller side closings statements in two or more days prior to closing in 100% of our transactions. Our average title commitment production time for Monroe County orders was 3.7 days. And we helped 206 people buy, sell or refinance their properties.
~ John Bethell
I always look forward to completing the year end Mortgage Market Share Report. It affords me the opportunity to do some apples to apples comparisons on the market and our business.
The 2017 Monroe County purchase market was virtually identical to 2016. The overall market continued to move along at a ten year high. (deed chart page 7) Digging deeper though, I found that sales of property that would be the buyer?s primary residence actually fell by over five percent. (chart page 15) I suspect that this decline is a result of the continued historically low inventory of homes on the market.
Other sales, which would be primarily investment, commercial and vacant land, increased almost 11% Last year was this segment?s best performance since sales disclosure data became available. (chart page 16). When I examined the specific data, it appeared to me there were more lot transactions than in previous years. Also, the inventory problem may not be as pronounced in the investment property sector.
Mortgage originations in the $50K to $500K category followed the residential side of the market, declining at a seven percent clip. (mortgage chart page 7) Loans in the conforming amount category showed a similar decline. (Charts pages 10 & 11)
All in all, 2017 was a great year, and I expect that to continue in 2018. While the inventory shortage is no doubt frustrating to people, I think this continued supply and demand imbalance affords our market a measure of protection against higher interest rates and the effect of tax law changes.
Our team?s performance improved in December as our business volume approached seasonal lows. Our closing team provided closing statements two or more days prior to closing in 94% of our closings. Our title team?s average turn time on Monroe County orders was 2.72 days. And we helped nearly 300 people buy, sell or refinance their properties.
Happy New Year!
~ John Bethell