March 6, 2017
I am pleased to announce that we?ve become a policy issuing agency for the Chicago Title Insurance Company. Chicago Title is a nationally recognized brand in the title insurance industry. Together with First American Title Insurance Company, we now represent the top two underwriting companies. The flexibility of title underwriters, like other types of insurance companies, tends to reflect their current claims experience. The addition of a second underwriter will give us more choices when trying to solve title issues for our clients.
We?re making an upward adjustment to our closing and administration fees for all transactions closing on or after April 15, 2107. The cost of data security and health care for our team members continue to be driving our expense structure. Another communication addressing the changes more specifically will be sent to you within the next few days. If you have any questions, please let me or Kara Oltman know.
During February our team helped 238 people buy, sell or refinance their properties. We delivered seller side closing statements two or more days prior to closing over 95% of the time. Our turnaround time for new Monroe County title orders averaged 3.01 days. It?s a special accomplishment for our title team because we treat them to pie whenever their monthly turnaround time is better than 3.14 days!
Have a great March!
~ John Bethell
2016 Year End Report Highlights
The Monroe County purchase market continued its post-recession improvement in 2016 showing a year over year gain of 13.5%. (deeds on page 13) Transactions reflecting both owner occupied and non-owner occupied sales also reached post-recession highs. (pages 15 and 17) I?m confident that we?re now experiencing a normal market.
In the years immediately following the great recession, the market was suppressed by high unemployment and restrictive lending practices. Federal home buyer tax credits helped some, but the market remained quite weak. Now that we appear back to normal, a reasonable question is just how much pent up demand is there, and what effect that will have on our local market?
The graph on page 19 is my attempt to answer the first part of that question. First, I?m assuming that 2600 transactions is a normal market. Unemployment is not a concern and interest rates are low. That motivates buyers. Ten to twelve years ago, due to the sub-prime phenomenon and strong homebuilding, there were over 3100 transactions a year. The red parts of the bars represent the actual number of deeds recorded for each year. The green parts of the bars are the number of transactions that did not happen.
If you agree that 2600 is a good number without the sub-prime juice, you?ll see that for eight years in a row, the market fell short. So the total of all the green bars represents pent up demand. If you add those numbers to the number in a normal market, you?ll see evidence as to why there are so many more buyers than sellers right now. As a result, even with higher interest rates, the 2017 market will remain strong. On page 20, you?ll see the decline in single family building permits ? which also contributes to a buyer?s perceived shortage of homes for sale.
The admittedly unscientific chart on page 23 shows a correlation that I?ve nevertheless always believed. Namely, gas prices affect people?s confidence. And confident people buy homes
December was a terrific month for our team. We helped 465 people buy, sell or refinance their property. We delivered seller side closing statements 2 or more days prior to closing in 92.9% of our transactions. And we averaged a commitment delivery time of 4.0 days.
~ John Bethell
December 21, 2016
As we approach the New Year I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit the pitfalls surrounding real estate tax pro-rations.
The commonly used Purchase Agreement provides that taxes will be prorated on the last certified tax amount. As a closing agent, we are bound to complete the transaction on those terms. This does not always result in a fair pro-ration between the parties and can have an adverse effect on tax escrow calculations.
The amount of the 2016 pay in 2017 taxes will not be known until mid-March when those taxes are certified. Tax pro-rations for closings that take place between January 1, 2017 and mid-March will be based upon the 2015 pay in 2016 taxes. It is possible that those taxes will not correctly reflect significant increases in the assessed valuation or the status of homestead and other exemptions.
Transactions especially prone to these circumstances include new construction, sales from an estate, sales of bank owned property and sales where the sellers have relocated and no longer live in the property. After the purchase agreement is accepted, it is difficult to address these problems.
These risks are best addressed when the parties first enter into the Purchase Agreement. Current information can be requested from the Auditor for exemptions or the Assessor for valuations so that the offer accurately reflects the situation. Compounding the problem is the fact that the Property Record Card and the County?s GIS system inconsistently reflect changes to exemptions and valuations. And, the County has no protocol for recording the date that changes are made to the records.
During November, our closing team completed seller-side closing statements two or more day prior to settlement in 86% of our transactions. And during November our title team averaged 3.75 days to produce a title commitment.
Finally, thanks to all our clients for continuing to trust us to help you with your transactions during 2016! We had a spectacular year and are looking forward to more of the same in 2017. Best wishes to all for a terrific holiday season and New Year!
~ John Bethell
Options for holding title:
As a result of recent questions that we?ve received, we thought it would be beneficial to summarize for you options for holding title to real estate.
The three options are
- Tenants by the Entireties
- Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
- Tenants in Common
Tenant by the Entireties is available only to married couples. Besides affording survivorship rights, it is unique in that judgment liens and state tax warrants against one spouse do not attached as liens against property held jointly in this manner.
Legally married same-sex married couples have all of the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities as other married persons under Indiana law. Therefore, for the purpose of holding title to real estate all married couples enjoy the same options, including tenants by the entireties, whether they are opposite-sex or same-sex.
Joint tenancy is available to all people holding title to real estate without regard to marital status. Upon death, a joint tenant?s interest will pass by operation of law to the surviving joint tenants. Judgments and tax liens however are a lien against the joint tenant?s interest in the property.
Tenants in Common is also available to all people holding title to real estate without regard to marital status. There are no survivorship rights so a deceased?s interest passes to their legal heirs or devisees. Judgments and tax liens are a lien against the individual?s interest in the property.
A qualified estate attorney can help your clients decide the best option for holding title. The deed will establish how parties hold title. Prior to closing we need to be advised of your client?s choice so that we can correctly prepare the deed.
- We helped 283 people buy, sell or refinance their property.
- Our average turn-around time for title Monroe County title commitments was 2.94 days with 93% produced in four days or less.
- Seller-side closing statements were provided three or more days prior to closing 66% of the time and at least two days prior to closing 82% of the time.
Thank you for the continued opportunity to help you and your clients with such an important event in their lives!
October 13, 2016
The 2016?s purchase market?s robust first half cooled somewhat in the third quarter. While still strong, the year over year comparison to 2015 is flat. Sales marked as non-primary residence were up a bit ? primarily in the $125K to $200K price range. (page 15) Sales designated as primary residences were slightly down ? primarily in the $50K to $125K range.
Conforming mortgage numbers for the quarter were better than last year. Based upon our current order mix, I attribute that to a modest increase in refinance business. (pages 9 & 10)
With no significant regulatory changes from the CFPB (Constitutionally Flawed Protection Bureau) on the horizon, the fourth quarter outlook is considerably better than last year. Especially from a maintaining sanity perspective.
Last month at John Bethell Title, our team continued to provide a great experience.
We helped over 409 people to buy, sell or refinance their property
- We averaged 3.2 days to issue a Monroe County title insurance commitment and 84% were issued within 4 days.
- We issued seller side closing statements 2 or more days prior to closing over 90% of the time.
Thank you for your continued confidence in us. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to be part of meaningful moments in our customer?s lives.
~ John Bethell