Title insurance under industry microscope
State regulators allege that prices have unfairly soared
Title insurance under industry microscope State regulators allege that prices have unfairly soared The News Press | Dec 28 2006 Of all the confusing and expensive things about buying a house or refinancing a mortgage - and there are plenty - title
eClosing Heralds Truly Paperless Transactions
Imagine buying a home where you spend just 13 minutes at the closing table and only have to sign once. You read that right, just once -- instead of the dozens and dozens of documents typical of most real estate closings. While this may sound like science fiction, it just recently happened for a client of Stephanie Evelo of The Evelo Team in Indianapolis, IN.
Home prices growth slowest since 1997
Prices of single-family homes across the nation rose in October at the slowest rate in almost a decade, a housing index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor's showed, giving more evidence of the housing market's deceleration, which has affected many parts of the broader economy.
Navigating the Obstacles: Certified E-Mail
According to the most recent intelligence report from anti-spam service provider and virus researcher MessageLabs Ltd., New York, unwanted e-mail will account for more than 60 percent of all e- mails sent in 2006. Another sobering statistic: Phishing attempts (efforts to obtain sensitive information) represent more than half of all malicious e-mails, overwhelmingly targeting banking customers.
Massive Fallout Seen From Subprime Lender Abuses
More than two million subprime mortgage loans that lenders made during the boom years are in foreclosure, putting at risk $164 billion in wealth accumulation, the Center for Responsible Lending says in a study.
What's Your Main Technology Concern?
Whenever new technology raised questions, accountants of the past would flood the IT department with questions. Not today. It's now the responsibility of management accountants to care for all information in the business.
MERS Wins New York Court Favor and Agreement with EDS
MERS—an industry utility created to design and operate the MERS® System, an electronic loan registry that eliminates the need for assignments when trading mortgage loans—has much to celebrate this week with a court decision in its favor and a renewed agreement with EDS.
EDS To Support E-Mortgage Service Provider
EDS said Wednesday that it has won a 10-year deal to provide a range of IT support services to Merscorp, an operator of an electronic registration system for the mortgage industry. Under the deal, EDS will provide Merscorp with infrastructure support, call-center services, and maintenance and support services for Merscorp's MERS System, an electronic system on which about 60% of all mortgages originating in the United States are registered. Merscorp claims the system allows lenders to save an average of $22 per loan by reducing paperwork.
Subprime lending trips up borrowers
San Joaquin County borrowers who took out a subprime loan in the first nine months of 2006 have an almost 1 in 4 chance of losing their homes to foreclosure, according to a study released Tuesday. East Bay subprime borrowers have a 21 percent likelihood of losing homes to foreclosure over the life of the loan, said the study from the Center for Responsible Lending.
U.S. Files Charges in Fannie Mae Accounting Case
Federal authorities filed civil charges today against three former top executives of Fannie Mae, the giant government-sponsored company that underwrites home mortgages, including the former chief executive, Franklin D. Raines, accusing them of manipulating Fannie Mae’s books to fatten their bonuses.
Foreclosure figures tell state's sad story
Yet another company has released down-in-the-dumps home foreclosure figures, just in time for the holidays. Florida leads the Southeast in filings and is second only to California in total foreclosures nationwide, according to ForeclosureS.com, a Sacramento-based real estate investment advisory firm.
Title insurance now under a microscope
Of all the confusing and expensive things about buying a house or refinancing a mortgage -- and there are plenty -- title insurance just might take the prize. "A lot of customers don't understand title insurance," said Samuel Ingram, president and CEO of Myclosingspace.com, a company that offers title insurance and other house-closing services. "It's the largest component of your closing costs, and yet people don't know anything about it."
Title insurance only covers items contained in public records
A recent column about how title insurance failed to protect a local couple prompted reaction from licensed Cincinnati attorney and title insurance agent, Terrance R. Monnie. He said the important thing for the public to understand is that title insurance covers only those items contained in the public record.
Title company stays busy during slump
The tight real estate market has meant tough times for title insurance companies throughout South Florida.For Equity Land Title LLC of Boca Raton, keeping busy during slow times meant thinking ahead, figuring out niches to create within the industry, or finding ways to set itself apart from the competition in a crowded field.
Fannie Mae, KPMG to Exchange Lawsuits
Fannie Mae has filed a lawsuit against former auditor KPMG, accusing the Big Four firm of 17 counts of negligence and breach of contract. In the suit, the home mortgage giant alleges that KPMG applied more than 30 flawed accounting principles, costing its business more than $2 billion in damages -- including $1 billion in costs to restate earnings. Last week, Fannie Mae announced that it would reduce its earnings by $6.3 billion to correct accounting problems stretching back to 2001. The company’s financial statements are still not up to date.
KPMG Plans Counter Suit of Fannie May
KPMG fired back at former audit client Fannie Mae this week, saying it would counter the mortgage giant’s $2 billion negligence and breach of contract lawsuit. KPMG “will pursue our own claims against Fannie Mae” in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., spokesman Tom Fitzgerald told reporters Tuesday. Fannie Mae filed its lawsuit Tuesday in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Fed stands pat on rates but remains mum on cut
WASHINGTON -- (AP) The Federal Reserve kept interest rates steady, giving holiday shoppers a reason for some cheer. However, the Fed held back an extra gift Wall Street was hoping for: a signal that rates might actually be lowered soon.
Real estate goes paperless
Pennsylvania records the first all-electronic settlement of a house sale.
Examining a vital but misunderstood part of buying a house
Of all the confusing and expensive things about buying a house or refinancing a mortgage -- and there are plenty -- title insurance just might take the prize.
Good deeds go online
They’re doing good deeds at the Oklahoma County Clerk’s Office — putting every land record on the books on the Internet, way ahead of most counties. 8.7 million documents in county clerk files available on Internet.
Fannie Mae faces work after restatement
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae has taken a significant stride in its march out of a accounting scandal by completing a restatement of past earnings but still faces tough work to make its financial reporting current.The restatement for 2001 through June 30, 2004, made public on Wednesday, wiped out $6.3 billion in profit for the government-sponsored company, which finances one of every five home loans in the United States. But it was well below Fannie Mae's earlier estimate of $10.8 billion. Ordered by the government two years ago, the massive reworking of its accounting has cost the company some $1 billion this year to carry out.
Survey: More Affordable Housing Needed
About one-third of the nation's cities have less affordable housing than they had a year ago, according to a survey released Thursday.Four out of five housing directors in more than 1,000 U.S. cities of all sizes also said the value of homes and rental costs have increased significantly, putting severe financial strain on families, according to the survey released by the League of Cities at its annual meeting.
Falling mortgage rates = big savings
If you're thinking of buying a home, here's a sum that will get your attention: $13,763. That's what you'd save in interest over the life of the loan if you bought a $221,300 house (the U.S. median price) with an average 30-year fixed-rate loan today, instead of paying the average rate for this year.
N.J. court upholds eminent domainIt said preserving open space is an adequate reason to take private property.
In a decision highlighting the value of open space in the nation's most densely populated state, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Mount Laurel acted properly when it seized a developer's land to preserve open space."We recognize ... that the citizens of New Jersey have expressed a strong and sustained public interest in the acquisition and preservation of open space," the state's highest court said in the 6-1 decision.
Title insurance overdue for reform
For home buyers in Georgia, the tab for a title search and title insurance is just one more expense to be endured at the closing. And compared to the price of most houses, the hundreds of dollars involved looks like pocket change. But that doesn't mean consumers are getting a good deal. In fact, the sale of title insurance is rife with potential conflicts of interest that can inflate the cost of a service virtually all home buyers must purchase. The title insurance industry needs reforms to protect consumers against unfair and unethical behavior.
Survey: Fewer affordable homes available
The supply of affordable housing continued to dwindle this year despite weakening home prices, according to one-third of local housing officials who responded to a survey by the National League of Cities.Three-fourths of those surveyed say housing costs are significantly limiting homeownership opportunities for lower-income residents and young families. The survey was sent to officials in 1,167 cities.
True E-Mortgage Inches Closer to Reality
The technology needed to enable a true online mortgage already exists today, according to David Matthews, CIO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, who was among industry experts on a panel that discussed the future of mortgage technology at the Washington, D.C.-based Mortgage Bankers Association's recent annual conference in Chicago. The major problem, Matthews told attendees, is that the systems for application, processing, underwriting, information gathering, funding and closing aren't linked together.
How the Courts Ruled: This Year's Key Real Estate Decisions
Court decisions on real estate issues can help guide your business practices. Reflect on these recent cases to understand how they may impact you and your clients.
Residents have 30 days to protest Hinds tax hike
Hinds County taxpayers opposed to a $30 million general obligation bond issue will have 30 days to protest before plans move forward. Supervisors passed a resolution of intent 3-2 Monday in support of the bond issue that could mean a 1-mill tax increase in fiscal 2008.
Quitclaim deed OK, but title insurance needed
Sellers who are divorcing often use such a deed, but buyer needs to protect self with owner's policy Q: We are trying to buy a house from a couple involved in a nasty divorce. They each have ``street fighter'' divorce lawyers who use one tactic after another to delay the sale closing. Just when we get close to a closing date, it gets postponed. The latest tactic is we will get only two quitclaim deeds, one signed by the ex-wife and one signed by the ex-husband. Is this dangerous for us?
Spitzer Notifies Insurers Contingent Commissions No Longer an Option
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has notified four leading insurance companies that, under agreements reached with his office earlier this year, they may no longer pay "contingent commissions" to agents and brokers that sell automobile, homeowners and certain other insurance products to consumers.
As housing goes, so goes the US economy?
Evidence keeps piling up that the housing sector, after fueling the American economy with its historic boom, is now in a recession. Usually, housing downturns precede broader recessions in the whole economy. But this time, forecasters say that, for a range of reasons, the economy may continue on a path of growth.
Insurer Group Urges Supreme Court to Overturn Ruling on Credit Scoring
A national insurance trade group has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the cases of Safeco Insurance v. Burr and Geico General Insurance v. Edo, which said insurers acted in willful disregard of the law by not sending out adverse action notices whenever a consumer's credit information did not result in the consumer receiving the best possible rate.
Missouri says title insurance agents have two price lists
Missouri insurance regulators warned Wednesday that some companies that sell title insurance to homeowners have two sets of prices - one for sophisticated buyers and a second for everyone else.
Two Sentenced In Theft From Title Company
Two people who were arrested in March on charges of scheming to defraud a local title insurance company have been sentenced.
High court rejects Indian tribe's case
Forks property owners are pleased that land dispute is over.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review previous court rulings against the Delaware Nation's claim to 315 acres in Forks Township, land the Indian tribe had hoped to use for a casino or swap for other land. The decision not to consider the case means the issue is dead and should provide relief to property owners in that area. ''This should be the last gasp,'' township solicitor Karl Kline said.
High court rejects Indian tribe's case
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review previous court rulings against the Delaware Nation's claim to 315 acres in Forks Township, land the Indian tribe had hoped to use for a casino or swap for other land.The decision not to consider the case means the issue is dead and should provide relief to property owners in that area. ''This should be the last gasp,'' township solicitor Karl Kline said.
OFHEO to Sue Former Fannie Mae Execs
OFHEO the regulator for mortgage financing concern Fannie Mae, said it intends to sue ousted chief executive Franklin Raines and former chief financial officer Timothy Howard in an effort to recover salaries from the time the company overstated earnings by billions. News of the suit comes just days after Raines received $2.6 million as a “deferred compensation” settlement after being jettisoned from the company in 2004
Title insurance suits expanded
Plaintiffs expanded a lawsuit against title insurance companies over business inducements Wednesday, a day after state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued new guidelines for insurers.
Top court overturns predatory loan ban
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland laws prohibiting predatory lending are unconstitutional because they forbid loans that state regulations allow in other cities. In a 5-2 decision, the court equated the conflict to past cases in which cities tried to impose highway speed limits that were lower than those allowed by state law and to subject bars to earlier closing times than required by state rules.
Expect housing changes under Dems
Homeowners and prospective homebuyers will see changes when the Democrats take control of both houses of Congress early in 2007. Democrats have different priorities from Republicans on issues such as affordable housing, land-use restrictions and predatory lending.
HUD 'police' targeting abuses at settlement
When homebuilders behave badly, some of their customers may have an unexpected resource: The federal government's "RESPA police," who have become increasingly active in resolving consumers' complaints through nonpublic interventions with builders.
Chicago Title acquires Evergreen Title of Brookfield
Chicago Title Insurance Co., a national provider of title insurance and real estate services, is acquiring Evergreen Title Corp., a Brookfield-based title insurance agency.
Credit score alternatives can fatten 'thin files'
Picture this scenario: You've lived in this country for the past 15 years, earned a decent wage, raised a family, always paid your rent, utilities, cell phone bills and other expenses on time, month after month. But you made little or no use of the conventional banking and credit systems - avoiding bank loans, credit cards and debts in general.
Fidelity completes corporate shuffle
The Fidelity group of companies has completed its corporate reorganization as planned, leaving two companies where there had been three.
Study Shows Risky, Least Risky Housing Markets
Some California homeowners may see home prices decline over the next couple of years, according to PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., a Walnut Creek, Calif.–based private mortgage insurer. PMI produces a quarterly U.S. Market Risk Index based on local economic conditions, income, and interest rates.
Oregon Voters Defeat Credit Scoring Bill
Oregon voters rejected Measure 42 -- which would have banned the use of credit-based insurance scoring -- by nearly a two-to-one margin of 65.58 percent to 34.42 percent -- in yesterday's election.
2 Major Homebuilders See Orders Dive
In a sign of a deepening housing slump, two major homebuilders on Tuesday reported steep declines in new orders and weaker fourth-quarter results.
Democratic control of Congress may not be a bad thing for business
Wall Street and business leaders welcome the Democrats' capture of power in Congress as a formula for gridlock that should lead to lower government spending and no significant change in tax law.
Oregon Election: Blocking Credit Scoring Initiative a Top Priority
Defeating an Oregon ballot measure that would ban using credit scoring to set insurance rates has become a top priority for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) and other insurance industry representatives. Measure 42 asks voters whether the state should ban insurers' use of credit scores in whole or in part for purposes of rating insured or applicants.
New York Urged to Tighten Regulations on Title Insurance
An assistant New York attorney general urged the state to step up regulation of the title insurance industry yesterday, arguing that insurance agents were receiving what amount to illegal kickbacks and that New York home buyers were overpaying. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/04/business/04insure.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Fed Official Says Bad Data Helped Fuel Rate Cuts, Housing Speculation
In an apparent and rare in-house critique, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said that because of faulty inflation data, the Fed kept interest rates too low for too long earlier this decade, fueling speculative housing activity.
Mortgage rates fall as economy signals slowdown
Rates on 30-year mortgages dropped this week to the lowest level in a month as financial markets viewed new evidence of a slowing economy as a sign that inflation will decline.
Event to aid new home buyers
The rural development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is hosting an affordable home-ownership expo this week to highlight mortgage programs that have been overshadowed by conventional and not-so-conventional home loans.
GAO Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms
David M. Walker sure talks like he's running for office. "This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids," the comptroller general of the United States warns a packed hall at Austin's historic Driskill Hotel. "We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed." Basically, that makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin.
Finally, e-Closings More Than a Pipe Dream
The pieces are in place for paperless transactions to go mainstream. But in order for it to catch on, all parties on the transaction must be on board. ... a product of Stewart Transaction Solutions of Houston. The company says 15 minutes is an average for an electronic closing and the cost to the consumer is the same as a traditional closing. How Paperless Transactions Work The most critical element ...
Former N.M. Insurance Superintendent Must Appear for Deposition
A judge has ruled that former New Mexico Insurance Superintendent Eric Serna and his former deputy must appear for depositions in a lawsuit that contends a Santa Fe couple paid too much for title insurance. Serna and Joe Ruiz did not attend a hearing on the matter Friday before District Judge James Hall.
Who should insure against terrorism?
Since 9/11 businesses have had to insure themselves against possibilities once thought unimaginable. Right after the 2001 attacks, many couldn't. The cost of terrorism insurance skyrocketed, and some insurers simply refused coverage. .. Congress eventually stepped in and guaranteed that losses. But the fix - the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) - was temporary. And while the law has been extended once, it will expire at the end of 2007.
Bay Area foreclosures on rise -- adjustable loans a growing threat
Falling prices, sluggish sales and mortgages that let borrowers pile up debt faster than they can pay it off could put more Bay Area homeowners out of their houses this year than at any other time this decade.
Fidelity National Title to buy back up to 25M shares
Fidelity National (NYSE: FNT) CEO Bill Foley said the repurchase is a way to take advantage of what the company thinks is an underpricing of Fidelity stock by the market. The purchases will be made on the open market, in block purchases or in privately negotiated transactions, depending on market conditions and other factors.
Title insurance is not "just another fee"
Title insurance is little understood by most consumers. In fact, a recent survey by the American Land Title Association revealed that most home buyers think of title insurance as "just another fee" they have to pay to buy a home. They don't really know what it does, or how it protects them.
MISMO brings government into e-mortgage fold
MISMO has formed an alliance with Ginnie Mae that will establish one or more Government Housing Workgroup(s) within MISMO. The purpose of the alliance is to develop and publish government standards relating to electronic mortgage transactions involving government entities within the MISMO framework and utilizing the MISMO infrastructure.
Inside America's Richest Insurance Racket
Title insurance firms rake in $18 billion a year for a product that is outdated, largely unneeded--and protected by law.
Lawmakers Probe Title Insurance Business
House Panel Examines Title Insurance Business Over Allegations of Kickbacks, Other Abuses. Title insurance costs people $17 billion each year, an expensive and often confusing home-buying requirement. The business came under congressional scrutiny Wednesday over allegations of kickbacks and other abuses.
Teranet launches province-wide pilot of new real estate service
Teranet this week announced the launch of a province-wide pilot for its Closure service, which enables lawyers to securely control the transfer of real estate closing funds online. Following successful beta testing that began in March 2006, Teranet is inviting a select group of real estate law firms in Ontario to pilot the service.
Alliant National Title Insurance Co. Partners with ClosingSite to Offer Faster Closings
Online service offers consumers, professionals real-time, transparent closing experience
Be sure to buy title insurance when purchasing home
The American Title Association said title insurance makes sure the history of your new property will be thoroughly checked. Attorneys check to see there aren't any outstanding liens or judgments on your land so you will own your house free and clear.
Fannie Mae Files Restitution Plan With Regulator
A committee of directors from the Fannie Mae Corporation filed a report with regulators Monday outlining any plans the company may have to seek restitution from executives who played a role in the company’s $11 billion accounting scandal.
Title insurance protects both buyers and lenders
Just about everybody understands the need to purchase automobile and homeowner's insurance to protect against unexpected losses that are often more costly than most of us can afford to pay. We hope we never have to file a claim but, just in case, we pay relatively affordable premiums for protection.
Fannie, Freddie chiefs see danger in new mortgages
Popular new mortgage products that have helped fuel the U.S. housing boom will soon lead to more delinquencies and foreclosures as rates are reset, the chiefs of mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said Monday.
Two title companies face lawsuit
Several Washington homeowners are suing two title companies, claiming that inducements the companies illegally paid to get business referrals drove up the cost of their title insurance policies. Romulo and Purita Lorenzo of Mill Creek and Catherine Blaylock and Jill Maccinnes of Bellevue filed suit in King County Superior Court against First American Title Insurance Co. and Pacific Northwest Title Co. of Washington on Wednesday -- two days after state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued a report saying these and other title companies regularly exceeded a $25-a- year legal cap on spending to entice someone to steer business their way.
Judge directs Berks official to record deeds faster
A lawsuit accusing Berks County Recorder of Deeds Ellie Antoine of violating state law by taking too long to record property documents ended Tuesday with a court order requiring her to eliminate the backlog. In his order, Senior Judge Edward G. Biester Jr. of Bucks County stated that Antoine must pay overtime or hire additional staff, if necessary, to catch up within the next two months.
Title insurance firms pay to win business, pass illegal costs to home buyers
Washington title insurance companies are wining and dining real estate agents, lenders and builders at the expense of home buyers, according to a state report.
Title Insurers Paid Thousands for Lavish Gifts for Referrals
... coming under new regulatory scrutiny. In a report issued yesterday, Washington state regulators said that title insurance companies there flouted laws by spending thousands of dollars on pro basketball tickets, shopping trips, cocktail parties, boat ...
All lenders should scrutinize exotic mortgages: U.S.
All banks and mortgage originators, not just federally regulated ones, should use caution when offering exotic loans like payment-deferral products to prospective home buyers, a top U.S. banking regulator said Tuesday.
Dispute over property deed lives on in Imperial County
A stake marked a plot just north of Interstate 8 between Midway Well and Gordons Well that is part of a "wild deed" claim in Imperial County. EL CENTRO – A stocky rancher with a reputation for stretching the truth breezed into this desert town about 40 years ago with big news. The way several people recall it, Robert Earl Harvey Sr. announced he owned about a quarter of eastern Imperial County and had the paperwork to prove it.
New Program Solves Reservation Home Ownership Conundrum
Building a home on the reservation can be one of the trickiest problems in Indian country. Individual ownership brings back memories of the allotment policy of the late 19th century, and its not-so-hidden goal of breaking up tribes and taking land from Indian hands. But the federal holding of tribal land in trust, designed to protect tribal territory, makes it very difficult to get a bank mortgage or to obtain the economic return on a home that the rest of the society expects as a matter of course.
Mexico's Baja Tempts U.S. Buyers With Beaches, Title Insurance
Lynn Feenaughty bought a builder's promise and an empty lot near the village of Loreto, on Mexico's Baja California coast, after being priced out of Puerto Vallarta, his first choice for a retirement home. Feenaughty, part of a wave of U.S. buyers in new coastal communities, made the $201,000 leap of faith into an undeveloped area last year after Mexico relaxed foreign-investment laws and U.S. companies began offering escrow service and title insurance, reducing risks.
Title insurance case settled in local court
Somewhat of a legal landmark passed with little notice on Monday, as a class-action lawsuit was settled in Dyer County Circuit Court. It is believed to be the first such civil action seen in the venue, which most often is the setting for the usual civil and criminal cases.
EchoSign launches BlackBerry e-signature service
Six years after the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act took effect, many U.S. companies have come to rely on online services working with desktops and handheld computers to process legal authorizations. Some solutions involve transmitting a fax with a signature; others involve companies that have written their own custom software to capture a name signed with a stylus on a touchscreen.
Kansas Secured Title to open office in Eureka
Kansas Secured Title, a subsidiary of Title Midwest Inc., will open an office Oct. 30 in Eureka. Tonya Haga, vice president for Butler County operations, will be in charge of the Eureka office. Kansas Secured Title has offices in Wichita, Andover and Augusta.
Mortgage fraud rises in cooling housing market
Trust has long been an issue between real estate professionals and their clients. But perhaps with good reason.
Avoid sale headaches with a well-researched title company
Closing the sale of your house or business is easy, if you choose the right title company. Title companies, or any settlement agent who performs a closing -- attorneys, escrow agents or title insurance companies -- get down and dirty with the multitude of ministerial duties involved in a closing.
Mortgage fraud rocks Fifth Third Bank
A multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme involving pricey homes in Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham has resulted in a half-dozen firings and resignations at Fifth Third Bank in an alleged scheme involving aconspiracy among bank employees, appraisers, title companies, and others. Fifth Third first went to court last year over one of the suspect mortgages but later said at least 11 fraudulent deals were part of the scheme. It filed an amended lawsuit in August seeking more than $10.8 million in damages from 44 defendants it alleges were involved in seven of the real estate deals.
Rising Foreclosure Rate Lures Investors
Savvy investors know that there's money to be made in good times and bad. Slowing home sales have wags predicting opportunities in one of the saddest segments of a falling real estate market: foreclosures.For the past few months, analysts nationwide have been touting foreclosure opportunities, in which investors, eager for properties to flip or rent, try to buy them well under market. Though foreclosures have picked up, analysts tracking the trend say the bulk of distress sales are likely in 2007 and 2008, as many adjustable-rate mortgages reset.
Backstop Negatively Affects Private Capacity
A new federal report has found that the long-term development of the private terrorism insurance market remains at best uncertain due to the unpredictable nature of terrorist attacks.
Caught in housing squeeze
Even in one of the nation's most affluent states, rising housing costs are stretching many Maryland households thin as they spend an increasing proportion of their income on rent or mortgages, according to figures released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2000, roughly a third of Maryland renters paid 30 percent or more of their income on rent and utilities. Last year, 45.3 percent of all the state's renters spent at least 30 percent of their income on housing, according to the Census' 2005 American Community Survey.
"Option ARMs": a ticking bomb?
For retirees Patrick and Marilou Foley, a mortgage carrying a low 2 percent interest rate seemed an answer to their prayers. Marilou wanted to move from their two-story Littleton home into a ranch-style home where she could better care for Patrick, a former schoolteacher in the early stages of dementia.
Title report, insurance can help fend off fraud
Have you heard the one about the crook who looked for shabby yards?
First American names chief marketing officer
The First American Corp ., the Santa Ana title insurance and business information company, named Sandra Bell Monday to the newly created position of chief marketing officer.
Insurers Are Ready to Fight to Keep Federal Backing of Terrorism Coverage
Insurance and business groups are gearing up for a battle to preserve a government program that would cover most of the losses from another major terrorist attack. After Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush campaigned for the program to shield insurers from the bulk of the cost of an attack up to $100 billion. Without such backing, few insurers were willing to sell the coverage.
Foreclosure report seen as warning of a crisis
The St. Paul City Council was told that predatory and subprime lending are major culprits in the spike in seizure of people's homes.
Voters Push Back on Eminent Domain
A few years ago eminent domain, or the government's right to take private property for public use, was hardly a hot button issue. But this fall it has become the most widespread topic on ballot initiatives across the country, in large part a reaction to a recent controversial Supreme Court decision.
State accuses title firm of illegal kickback ploy
Houston-based Stewart Title Guaranty Co. illegally channeled payments to home builders and lenders in exchange for steering their title business to the firm, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi alleged in a formal accusation Monday.
The Most Affordable Housing Markets
There is probably nothing that drives the average homeowner crazier than thinking that he could have bought his house for less. How many times do we find ourselves resenting neighbors who had the good luck to move into their home when the market was at a low, or kicking ourselves for not having bought sooner? And even if the guy down the block moved in after you and paid even more than you did, that doesn't help as much as it should.
First American Inks Pact with Nationstar Mortgage
Business information provider First American (FAF - commentary - Cramer's Take) said Monday its subsidiary First American Real Estate Solutions has entered into an agreement with Nationstar Mortgage to provide document and lien release services following loan closings.
How long will housing slump last?
First came a slowdown in the volume of home sales. Now prices are falling, and the question for anyone selling, buying, or even just hanging onto a home is: How far and how fast? The expert consensus: The slump could last into the summer of 2007. And the speed could depend on how many people hit the panic button or take their homes off the market.
Median home price dips for first time since '95
Nervous home sellers finally threw in the towel–and the kitchen sink–last month, lowering the prices they'll accept to sell their houses, the first time they've done so in 11 years.
Real estate industry adjusts to slump - Responses range from consolidating companies to opening a branch office
A real estate appraiser for 22 years, Katherine Owen is sure she can devise a way to guide her small company through the housing slowdown, even though her business is off 30 percent this year. Steven Ross, a Realtor for a mere 18 months, says he's confident, too, but admits he's working a lot harder now. He knocks on 100 to 150 doors a day around Newbury Park, trying to drum up listings for his portfolio at Coldwell Banker.
Voters get a say on land rights
Eleven states are giving voters their first chance this fall to override last year's Supreme Court ruling that allows local governments seeking more tax revenue to seize private property and give it to developers.
Florida Leads In Home Foreclosures
The American dream is turning into a nightmare for a growing number of Florida homeowners. The sunshine state now leads the nation in home mortgages entering some stage of foreclosure.
Former Freddie Mac CFO Joins PCAOB
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board announced Wednesday that former Freddie Mac CFO Martin Baumann has joined the board as deputy director in the office of research and analysis. - (The letter can be accessed on the SEC’s Web site at: http://www.sec.gov/info/accountants/staffletters.shtml)
First American Inks Pact With RP Data
Business information provider First American said Wednesday it entered into a strategic alliance with RP Data, a privately-held provider of property information for Australia and New Zealand. The alliance would facilitate RP Data's expansion in the Asia Pacific region, the First American said.
Home buyers' refunds bounce
Nearly 600 Michigan homeowners who were owed their share of a $27.5-million class action are angry that the checks bounced, leaving a trail of fees and frustration. Lalain is one of the more than 66,000 new-home buyers in Michigan who won the settlement after they were overcharged for title insurance while home builders got discounts. The arrangement violated federal law.
AmeriPoint Title makes a move into the title insurance business
San Antonio's AmeriPoint Title has joined with a group of independent title companies and investors in Texas and Colorado to purchase Alliant National Title Insurance Co.
Freddie Mac says U.S. investigation dropped
A U.S. criminal probe into accounting missteps at Freddie Mac appears to be over, the mortgage finance company said Tuesday. "The U.S. Attorney's office has not initiated contact with us in well over two years and it is our understanding that the matter is inactive," said Doug Duvall, Freddie's senior director of public relations. "We expect no further action in this matter," Duvall said.
How Low Will Real Estate Go?
Get used to it--the seller's market is closing up shop. The days of fat, fast home value increases are gone. Pack away those flipping fantasies. "The boom is definitely over, there's no debate about that," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of West Chester, Pa.-based research firm Moody's Economy.com. "Now the question is more how hard is it going to land, if it lands at all." The answer? Depends who you ask--and what location you're talking about. How to feel about it? Depends which side of the market you're on--and what location you're talking about.
They promise the American Dream: A home of your own -- with ultra-low rates and payments anyone can afford. Now, the trap has sprung. For cash-strapped homeowners, it was a pitch they couldn't refuse: Refinance your mortgage at a bargain rate and cut your payments in half. New home buyers, stretching to afford something in a super-heated market, didn't even need to produce documentation, much less a downpayment.
Regulators Approve LandAmerica's Purchase of Title Insurer
Arizona state regulators signed off on a deal that will allow LandAmerica Financial Group to purchase Capital Title Group Inc., a title insurance company, in a for $251 million deal. Richmond, Va.-based LandAmerica will use a combination of cash and stock to purchase the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Capital Title. LandAmerica, the nation’s third largest title insurer, will borrow $100 million for the purchase.
Governor signs predatory lending bill
A bill seeking to protect the growing number of aging residents duped into risky reverse mortgages because they have valuable houses but little cash was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday.
Home Prices Fall in Nearly One-Fourth of Metropolitan Regions
Prices of traditional single-family dwellings fell in 87 of the nation’s 379 major metropolitan areas from the first quarter to the second, the government reported yesterday, as the overall value of homes leveled off across the country. On a quarterly basis, prices were lower in Boston, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and much of the Midwest, where the loss of manufacturing jobs has hit the housing market hard.
How useful are housing market indicators?
How useful are housing market indicators -- home prices, new construction data, home maintenance expendictures, months' supply on the market, etc. -- in predicting the behavior of the residential real estate market? According to John Krainer, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the U.S. housing market has experienced eight downturns since 1976. He examined several residential investment indicators to see how reliable they were in predicting market downturns, focusing particularly on new homes, which "are likely to be more sensitive to market weakness" than existing homes.
Old Republic Title celebrates 40th year in business
There are at least a dozen title companies in Montgomery County these days that provide insurance for real estate transactions. But 40 years ago there was only company - Conroe Title and Abstract - that offered the kind of service so many homebuyers today take for granted.
Trump to open unit here - Mortgage offices coming to Colo., 14 other states
Donald Trump, the celebrity real estate developer known for his role in the TV show The Apprentice and the signature line "You're fired!" plans to open a mortgage office in Denver within a few months. Trump Mortgage LLC has acquired mortgage licenses in 15 states, including Colorado, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Desperate home sellers turning to auctions
Back in December 2004, when David Holland paid $315,700 for a new home in an east Venice Centex subdivision, the granite-and-tile beauty looked like an easy flip.
Stewart spins off new company
Transaction manager and real estate information services provider Stewart Information Services Corp. said its Stewart Geo Technologies has created Stewart re-source Inc., a new company to market the Web-based, commercial real estate information product of the same name. Former Stewart Geo Technologies president and CEO Kas Ebrahim will now serve as the new company's president and CEO.
Escrow agents rally in S.F. to oppose plan to slash fees
An overflowing crowd of escrow agents and title insurers gathered Wednesday in San Francisco to oppose California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi's plans to adopt regulations that he ...
State tries to reduce title fees
Representatives of the title insurance and escrow industries turned out in force at a public hearing in San Francisco on Wednesday to protest California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi's proposal to drastically roll back their rates and fees.
Fed Doesn't Signal Another Hike Likely, Aug. Minutes Show
The Federal Reserve's decision to pause its rate hike campaign on Aug. 8 was a "close call," according to minutes from that meeting released Tuesday. But while central bankers remain concerned about inflation, signs of a housing-led slowdown convinced them to call a halt after two years to avoid "the risks of tightening too much."
Hearing set for title-fee changes
Consumer advocates across the nation will be closely watching this week's tense showdown between Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and the title insurance industry. Charging that title and escrow services are "rife with illegal kickbacks and gratuities," Garamendi will hear testimony today on his proposal to roll back service fees to 2000 levels. The rate reduction could take effect as early as March 1.
Home loan demand hits three-year low
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- U.S. mortgage applications fell for the first time in four weeks as demand for home purchase loans dropped to the lowest level in nearly three years, an industry trade group said Wednesday.
Mortgage Market Begins to See Cracks
As Subprime-Loan Problems Emerge
First the housing bubble deflates. Then come the credit problems. As homes sales have fallen and borrowing costs have edged higher, the mortgage business has slowed down. The big question is whether credit-quality deteriorates. While customers have been able to pay off loans in high numbers for years, the markets are seeing the first glimmerings of problems among customers with poor credit.
The language of home loans
Understanding the terminology mortgage lenders use when talking with their customers can be as difficult as understanding how certain current events create fluctuations in the stock market. In an effort to make readers better mortgage shoppers, I offer the following brief glossary of mortgage terms.
Insurance industry takes on global warming
Global warming is making things uncomfortable for the insurance industry. Some of the world's largest insurance companies and brokerages, including giants such as AIG, Novato-based Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., and the international brokerage Marsh & McLennan, are concluding that climate change is a business reality that must be mitigated - and perhaps profited from.
Insurance in Garamendi's crosshairs
Homeowner's insurance rates could fall by 20 percent to 25 percent within the next several months, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said Wednesday.
Title insurance company agrees to settlement
The Colorado Division of Insurance announced Wednesday that it reached a settlement with LandAmerica Financial Group stemming from an investigation into alleged kickbacks to builders and lenders. LandAmerica, which does business in Colorado as Commonwealth Land Title, Lawyers Title and Transaction Title, is Colorado's second-largest title insurer.
Court to rule on $15M policy of Kissel's
The estranged widow of real estate swindler Andrew Kissel has agreed to allow a judge to determine whether a multimillion-dollar life insurance policy should be used to pay a $16 million judgment won by two mortgage companies he defrauded, attorneys said.
Signature GMAC establishes insurance subsidiary
Signature GMAC Real Estate has established a separate insurance subsidiary to provide Central Florida homeowners with automobile and commercial insurance coverage.
Title firm sells peace of mind - Services protect property buyers
Florida Sun Title has moved to the Central Cape Business Park. Florida Sun Title has moved to a new location and offers customers a security blanket for what could be the largest investment experience of their life.
Georgia county revamps IT systems
Tyler Technologies has signed its largest agency-wide contract to provide technology for multiple government departments. The agreement was signed with Columbia County, Ga., and represents the broadest implementation to date of multiple Tyler systems with one local government, the company said.
The Kelo Backlash
A year ago, before the Supreme Court issued its decision in Kelo v. New London, the abuse of eminent domain was practically invisible. Today it's a hot-button issue in nearly every state in the Union...
Closing costs add up most in Texas, N.Y.
Closing costs — the money consumers pay to cover title searches, application fees and other expenses when buying a home — average more than $3,000 nationwide, according to a survey. The study by Bankrate.com looked at the closing costs charged by lenders in major cities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Suit filed against title firm
A lawsuit alleging that Edina Realty Title Inc. systematically overcharged its customers for title insurance by not giving them 40 percent "reissue" discounts that they were entitled to has been filed in Hennepin County District Court.
First American Inks Pact With RP Data
Business information provider First American said Wednesday it entered into a strategic alliance with RP Data, a privately-held provider of property information for Australia and New Zealand.
US house market 'at 15-year low'
Interest rate rises appear to have cooled the US housing market Optimism among US house builders has fallen to its lowest level in 15 years, the latest sign that a once booming market has now slowed sharply.
Serving minority home buyers
Not every financial services company these days has a senior vice president who uses the term "empanada" as a business term.But Pablo Wong, Fidelity National Financial's senior vice president for marketing development, is as likely to bring up the word -- in a discussion about cultural comparisons between Latino and Filipino home buyers -- as he is to talk of market segments and demographic growth.
Closing costs average over $3,000, study finds
Closing costs, the money consumers pay to cover title searches, application fees and other expenses when buying a home average more than $3,000 nationwide, according to a survey being released today.
We'll have real 2004 results by end of 2006, Fannie Mae says
Fannie Mae said Wednesday that it had identified all of its accounting errors and is on track to report its long-delayed 2004 results by the end of the ...
Housing slowdown leads to boom in mini-storage units
Rising interest rates and concerns over the direction of housing prices are prompting more potential home buyers to remain on the sidelines, spurring increased demand not only for apartments but for mini-storage units as well, said Hans Lapping, an attorney with Miller, Starr & Regalia in Walnut Creek.
Title insurance company formed
A new title insurance company, Legacy Title Services, has been formed by Prudential Kansas City Realty, Pulaski Bank and First American Title.
Insurance regulators set hearing in Bay area
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has scheduled a public hearing Aug. 11 in the Bradenton area to compile testimony on commercial insurance problems faced by Florida businesses. The hearing is the latest effort by regulators to gauge the scope and nature of a burgeoning commercial insurance crisis in the state, according to a release. An online poll conducted by the Office of Insurance Regulation found that of the 1,900 respondents, 42 percent were either cancelled or non-renewed by their insurer in the last six months. Thirty-two percent were able to secure new coverage but with generally much higher rates, less coverage or both.
United Title setting its sights on S.A. market
This past March, Rick Radigan left behind more than two decades of employment at First American Title Insurance Company of Texas to lead the growth of a new title firm in San Antonio.
E-mortgages' on the way
There's a quiet revolution going on in the mortgage industry: Home buyers soon will be securing mortgages and closing on sales almost as easily and conveniently as they purchase an airline ticket online.
Alliant is company's new name
Agents Title Insurance Co. has changed its name to Alliant National Title Insurance Co., effective in Colorado this week, company officials said.
Housing slowdown, legal costs impact Capital Title
Capital Title Tuesday reported second-quarter revenue of $84.9 million, down nearly 20 percent from sales of $106 million a year ago. Net income also fell dramatically, to $2.7 million, or 9 cents per share, from $7.2 million, or 30 cents per share.
Why title insurance is a necessary and sometimes costly evil
Just about everybody understands the need to purchase automobile and homeowner's insurance to protect against unexpected losses that are often more costly than most of us can afford to pay. We hope we never have to file an auto or homeowner's insurance claim but, just in case, we pay relatively affordable premiums for protection.
Does Title Insurance Eliminate Need for Survey?
Since title insurance was introduced in Canada in the early 1990s, it has been marketed as an inexpensive replacement for a property survey. But land surveyors and some lawyers say that consumers in a real estate transaction are putting themselves at risk by not getting an up-to-date survey, even if they have title insurance.
Minn. Plans Program to Raise Public Awareness of Insurance Crimes
At a rate of about three a day, state Commerce Department regulators have been posting enforcement actions against insurance agencies and companies, real estate agents, mortgage originators, security brokers and others. In response the Minnesota Department of Commerce is planning a major outreach to warn consumers when insurance agents in their area have run afoul of the law.
Update due on eminent domain law
The Cincinnati Equirer - July 28, 2006 At the end of its 58-page decision on eminent domain Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court added a footnote that could substantially raise the stakes for lawmakers trying to reform the state's decades-old eminent domain statute. Footnote 16," as it's already being called, was a coded message to lawmakers: Reform the law allowing government takings, or the courts may strike down Ohio's eminent domain law.
Court limits eminent domain
In a closely watched case with national implications, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that governments and developers cannot use economic benefit as the sole reason for seizing private property. The decision is a major victory for property owners in Ohio and an explicit rejection of a U.S. Supreme Court eminent-domain ruling last year. In a Connecticut case, the high court said economic development served such an important public purpose that it justified the taking of even unblighted land.
Slow home sales cut Stewart profit
Stewart Information Services Corp. reported its quarterly profit fell to less than half of what it was a year ago. The Houston company, which sells title insurance, saw its revenue drop because of the slowdown in home sales and refinancing in some parts of the country.
Insurers say terror too risky to cover
Insurers will need government backup to fund business in areas at high risk for terrorist attacks beyond December 2007, when a federal measure is set to expire, industry officials told lawmakers.
Foreclosure Filings Skyrocketing In Massachusetts
Mortgage foreclosures are going through the roof in Massachusetts. The latest statistics show lenders filed notices against more than 4,000 homeowners in the last quarter. That's a 66 percent increase in the last year.
Title insurance: A home saver
Title insurance, not normally a sexy topic, became newsworthy recently when 1,000 Wellington area property owners received notices from a Louisiana company claiming to hold mineral rights on their land. Those notices had the homeowners scrambling to find their title insurance policies, issued when they purchased their homes. And while experts ultimately said that the mineral rights claims were probably worthless, the incident underscores the importance of purchasing -- and understanding -- title insurance.
HUD settles kickback case
In the first enforcement action of its kind, HUD settled with two home builders and a national mortgage lender for $1.6 million for their role in an illegal kickback scheme.
Insurance chief attacks title, escrow fees
California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said Wednesday he plans to adopt regulations that would save homeowners $1 billion a year by rolling back the rates title insurers and escrow firms can charge.
Treasury repeats call for Fannie, Freddie restrictions
The huge investment portfolios held by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be tied to their housing missions but not necessarily shrunken, a top U.S. Treasury official said Wednesday.
Our title insurance is also high
Florida homeowners are paying premiums as much as 136 percent higher than consumers in other states for comparable title insurance, according to a preliminary report released Monday by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The report, funded by a provision of the 2006 Florida Legislature, showed that six title insurance companies wrote nearly all of the business in the state.
Calumet title insurance policy found
A paperwork snare that threatened to delay progress on a $28 million biodiesel plant has been resolved, attorney William Cisek told Rouseville Borough Council Tuesday. Employees at an Indianapolis title insurance company found the policy that covers the former Pennzoil refinery along Route 8. It was resting on the desk of a vacationing employee, Cisek said.
Could Fidelity Take Over Online Real Estate?
Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions (FNRES) is rumored to be up to something big. Though no one's talking at the company, it's being said that the company is finally going to put all the pieces together and launch a major threat to online competitors who drive traffic to Realtors. Judging from the company's strengths as a subsidiary of one of the largest title insurance companies in the world and its position as a major productivity service provider to Realtors and their MLSs, whatever FNRES has planned is sure to be Realtor-friendly.
No Safety Net for Fannie and Freddie
n the wake of scandals, Congress should follow the Bush administration to take bolder action.
40,000 MILA Broker Subscribers Can Use a la mode SureDocs for Mortgage Disclosures
SureDocs is desktop software that allows brokers to generate PDF versions of origination documents directly from any print program.
Judge delays ruling on local lending law
A Montgomery County judge yesterday said he needs more time to consider the legality of a predatory lending law that a group of mortgage lenders is contesting. Circuit Court Judge Michael D. Mason maintained an injunction barring the law from taking effect until he makes a final ruling.
Survey: Homeowners still expect price rises
Survey: Homeowners still expect price rises South Florida Business Journal July 6, 2006 When asked, 58 percent of Florida homeowners surveyed said they think the value of their homes will continue to rise over the next 12 months, despite indications the state's unprecedented five-year housing boom is waning. The annual survey, commissioned by Orlando-based Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund, polled more than 1,000 homeowners throughout the state between May and June.
Cooling Home Market Spurs Interest in Foreclosure Sales
Rising interest rates and a cooling housing market are whetting the appetite of real-estate bargain hunters and fueling interest in Web sites that list homes in, or near, foreclosure.
House Advances Federal Flood Bill
The federal flood insurance program, still reeling from historic losses from Hurricane Katrina, may get a helping hand from Congress. The House voted 416-4 Tuesday to phase out subsidies on some vacation homes and commercial property and raise premiums at a faster rate. The bill also increases the amount of coverage a property owner can buy and boosts fines for mortgage lenders who don't tell customers they have to buy flood insurance.
Title insurance rate reductions approved following Spitzer settlement
The New York state Insurance Department has approved 15 percent rate reductions for five title insurance companies that command 93 percent of the state's market share. The new rates take effect immediately for Fidelity National Financial Group, First American Title Group, LandAmerica Financial Group Inc., Stewart Title Cos., and Washington Title Insurance Co.
Denver firm to buy Raleigh insurance agency
A Colorado insurance company has sealed a deal to purchase Raleigh-based Attorneys Title Insurance Agency for an undisclosed sum. Denver-based United General Title Insurance Co., a subsidiary of First American Title Insurance Co., on Thursday said it plans to buy Attorneys Title, which has eight offices spread among seven cities across North Carolina.
Interest rates, market trap more homeowners
While a strong economy and good job market reduced home foreclosure rates in the first quarter nationally, an increasing number of people in St. Louis County appear to be losing their homes to foreclosure.
Prep work can head off closing-fee surprises
You've emptied the cookie jar and searched the couch for loose change. You've finally managed to scrape together a down payment for your first home. Only now you find you have to come up with thousands of dollars more to pay a long list of confusing fees called "closing costs."
Title vitals: Why title insurance is so important to buyers
Whether it be “Dr.,” “Sir,” or “Mrs.,” one's title says a lot about the person. But when it comes to real estate matters, your “title” takes on a whole new significance - one that can mean the difference between worry-free rightful ownership and a devastating vulnerability to unforeseen forces that can lawfully lay claim to your property. This is why obtaining title insurance is an absolute must for homebuyers, say experts.
Asian Americans better off as home buyers
More than 500 real estate professionals gathered at the Santa Clara Convention Center June 1 for The Changing Face of Homeownership: A Real Estate Multicultual Marketing Conference organized by First American Title Insurance Company. White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration, Leon Panetta, keynoted the event.
Title insurance embroils county
Title insurance embroils county Wayne register of deeds says plan to sell policies has nothing to do with companies' lawsuit. The Detroit News June 16, 2006 Wayne County Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood, who was sued last week by title insurance companies who want a receiver appointed to run his office, today will announce a plan for the county office to compete with those companies by selling its own title insurance.
Foreclosures may jump as ARMs reset
As more ARMs adjust upward and housing prices begin to dip, many Americans like Britten can't refinance and are finding themselves trapped in too-high monthly payments. For those who can't make their payments, foreclosure - the legal process by which the lender reposseses the house because the owner has defaulted on payments - is the only way out.
Three Insurers Sue To Recover Claims Paid in '02 Wildfire
Three insurance companies filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday to recover $7.04 million in claims paid for homes damaged or destroyed in the 2002 Hayman Fire in Colorado. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. Inc., three Hartford insurance entities, and Allstate Insurance Co. claim the U.S. Forest Service was negligent, partly because of how the agency supervised the forestry worker who started the worst wildfire in Colorado history.
Home prices too high in 71 cities
WASHINGTON — Single-family homes in 71 U.S. cities were extremely overvalued in the first quarter of 2006 and at risk of price correction, with the costliest properties clustered in California and Florida, economists said Monday.
Housing boom will not end in a crash, says Harvard
Markets seldom disappoint both bulls and bears for long. But over the coming years the US housing market looks likely to do just that, according to a study by Harvard University.
Title insurance acquisition set
United General Title Insurance plans to buy Raleigh-based Attorneys Title Insurance Agency, a nearly 27-year-old company with offices in seven North Carolina cities. Denver-based United General said it plans to add employees and offices in the state. The combined company will continue to operate as Attorneys Title in North Carolina.
Title insurance acquisition set
RALEIGH - United General Title Insurance plans to buy Raleigh-based Attorneys Title Insurance Agency, a nearly 27-year-old company with offices in seven North Carolina cities. Denver-based United General said it plans to add employees and offices in the state. The combined company will continue to operate as Attorneys Title in North Carolina.
Regulators Propose New Standards for Title Insurance and Annuity Products
Working through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), state insurance regulators are making progress in developing new examination standards addressing marketing and sales practices for title, life and annuity products.
Legislation unleashes FHA to offer better deals
An unusual Capitol Hill alliance of liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans, commercial banks, real estate brokers, ethnic group lobbies, home builders and mortgage brokers is pushing for legislation that could give thousands of first-time home purchasers a better deal than they get in the mortgage market today.
Residents rally to keep land a nature preserve
A couple's dream to have their land turned into a nature preserve became a reality Thursday when area residents paid or pledged enough money to meet a $60,000 goal needed by the Land Conservatory of West Michigan to assume the property.
S&P Alters Approach to Gauging Insurers' Terrorism Exposure
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said it is changing its process for evaluating the terrorism exposure of insurers and reinsurers. The updated process is partly a response to the increased insurance retentions under the two-year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, and it is also to quantify further the exposure and risk-management capabilities of the insurance industry. The process change will affect insurance and reinsurance companies globally and is consistent across sectors, as Standard & Poor's said it will be using the same approach and questionnaire for all property/casualty companies.
Housing industry lags in switch to paperless deals
These days, you can use a computer to order an entire wardrobe without trying on clothes first. You could earn a college degree without ever setting foot in a classroom. Or buy a car without stepping onto the lot. But while so many transactions can be completed electronically, buying a house has remained rooted in the world of paper -- reams of it, in fact, as anyone who has sat through a tedious closing ceremony could attest to. The real estate industry has been slow to adopt change, and homeowners and buyers are still wary of putting such important financial information online.
Insurance commission reaches settlement with LandAmerica
Insurance Commissioner Alice A. Molasky-Arman announced Wednesday that she has reached an agreement with LandAmerica Financial Group Inc., the parent company of Lawyers Title Insurance Corp., Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co., Transnation Title Insurance Co., LandAmerica Reinsurance Services Inc., Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. of New Jersey, Land Title Insurance Co. and the Title Insurance Co. of Nevada, concerning illegal title insurance rebating.
Title insurer is sentenced to probation
-- Some legal experts insist the former Lake County agent should have spent time in prison. A Lake County title-insurance agent who admitted stealing $1.2 million in customers' escrow money has been placed on probation, with no prison time, after repaying the ill-gotten cash.
What if you could close without so much paper?
These days, you can use a computer to order an entire wardrobe without trying on clothes first. You could earn a college degree without ever setting foot in a classroom. Or buy a car without stepping onto the lot.
Two Major Title Insurance Cos. in N.Y. Ordered to End Rebate Practice
Two major title insurance companies have agreed to end a practice of providing rebates to major commercial property customers at the expense of homeowners and small businesses, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Tuesday.
Country Club deed discrepancy pops up despite title insurance
One part of the home-buying process is aimed at avoiding situations such as those that two sets of Aspens Commons buyers say they face.
Colorado foreclosure rate still No. 1 in U.S.; One in every 494 households affected
For the second consecutive month, Colorado has the dubious distinction of having the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, the latest sign that the weak, lower-priced housing market continues to plague the economy. The report by RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, Calif., shows that 3,706 homes in Colorado were in some state of foreclosure in April.
It's a good policy to buy title insurance
At the next dinner party you attend, ask your neighbor at the table about the title insurance policy she bought when she purchased her home. Chances are either her eyes will glaze over or she'll insist it's a big scam. Congress is weighing the scam reports. But even as Congress considers these claims, Washington-area real estate consumers, real estate agents and settlement agents say that title insurance does, in fact, give buyers peace of mind. They point out that there are a couple of ways to save money on title insurance..
Midwest Title opens fourth area office
Despite a slowing real estate environment, Midwest Title Co. has opened a new office.
Colorado foreclosure rate still No. 1 in U.S.
For the second consecutive month, Colorado has the dubious distinction of having the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, the latest sign that the weak, lower-priced housing market continues to plague the economy.
Title insurance embroils county
Wayne County Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood, who was sued last week by title insurance companies who want a receiver appointed to run his office, today will announce a plan for the county office to compete with those companies by selling its own title insurance.
U.S. program maps out flood coverage
If your home is flooded, don't look to your homeowner's insurance policy for coverage. Although your insurance company might be one of the 200 companies nationwide that write and service flood insurance policies for the government, the actual insurance itself is available only through the federal government's flood insurance program.
Wayne Co. may offer its own title insurance
With title insurance companies threatening to stop selling policies in Wayne County because of administrative problems they say exist at the recorder's office, Register of Deeds Bernard Youngblood is scheduled to announce a plan today to have the county sell its own title insurance.
Title companies sue Wayne County, cite deed delays
DETROIT (AP) -- Seven title companies have filed a federal lawsuit in which they say the Wayne County register of deeds office is mismanaged and takes months to record property documents. The suit filed Thursday seeks to have a receiver appointed to oversee the office and also seeks monetary damages.
Actuaries to White House: Federal Insurance Backstop Needed
The American Academy of Actuaries, in response to questions posed by the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, has submitted its terrorism risk insurance analysis, which concludes that a national framework for terrorism risk is necessary if terrorism coverage is to be widely and readily available.
U.S. Senate Panel Advises Scrapping, Then Rebuilding, FEMA
The United States' disaster response agency should be abolished and rebuilt from scratch to avoid a repeat of government failures exposed by Hurricane Katrina, a Senate inquiry has concluded.
Nation’s flood insurance plan faces overhaul
Premiums will see hefty increases
Flood insurance premiums, which this year cost northeast Indiana residents an average of $545, are likely to increase as Congress tries to rescue a program that is hemorrhaging cash.
Foreclosure rates in Hub through roof
-- Shady mortgage operators have been flooding unbelievably easy credit into Boston’s neighorhoods. But the payment on all those high-interest rate, no-money-down loans may now be coming due in a tidal wave of forclosures slamming into the city’s poorest ZIP codes. Just four months into the year, banks and mortgage lenders have begun foreclosure proceedings on 238 homes across the city.
Freddie Mac Settles Lawsuit for $410 Million
-- Freddie Mac, the mortgage financer, agreed yesterday to pay $410 million in cash to settle a shareholder lawsuit over accounting mistakes that led it to restate three years of earnings. he settlement will reduce first-quarter net income for 2005 by about $220 million after tax, Freddie Mac, a government-chartered company, said yesterday. Shareholders sued Freddie Mac after the company's directors found executives had manipulated accounting rules to reduce earnings volatility.
Mortgage Lenders: Who's Most At Risk
As delinquency rates rise, red flags are flying over some aggressive finance outfits. For months doomsayers have been predicting that the slowing housing market, along with rising interest rates, would lead to mortgage foreclosures and bank losses. That hasn't happened yet, but delinquency rates have started to rise.
Non-lawyer in the house: OK for real estate closings?
The Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts and the Title Appraisal Vendor Management Association are squaring off over a bill in the Massachusetts legislature that would open the real estate closing business to non-lawyers.
Mortgage company fined, banned from state
A lawsuit filed in November 2004 by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office culminated Tuesday with a “fraudulent” mortgage lending company being fined and being banned from doing business in Illinois, according to a release.
Treasury Rate Signals Burdens for Borrowers
The era of cheap money may finally be nearing its end. Investors pushed up the yield on the government's benchmark note to over 5 percent on Thursday, its highest point in nearly four years and a signal that many borrowers will soon be paying more on mortgages and home equity loans.
Colorado Targes 180 "Sham" Affiliated Businesses
Erin Toll, deputy commissioner of the Colorado Insurance Department, has pledged to close 180 affiliated businesses operating illegally in her state this year; seeking legislation in Colorado to increase licensing requirements and to stop "sham" affiliated businesses that she hopes will be a model for other states.
First American, Dorado give lenders POS access to pricing, origination tools
Dorado and First American Fulfillment Solutions have announced plans to deliver a full loan origination solution. Through the Dorado ChannelMaster/POS and PriceMaster offerings, First American Fulfillment customers will get point-of-sale and pricing functionality when using First American Fulfillment Solutions.
Regulators target lending abuse
State regulators are moving to curb abusive tactics and loose standards used by some mortgage lenders offering unconventional loans with interest-only and multiple-payment options.
New Orleans Residents Await Guidance on Flood Zones
Audrey Celistan desperately wants to return to New Orleans and rebuild the three-bedroom brick house she lived in for 42 years before Hurricane Katrina drowned it in more than 10 feet (3 meters) of muddy water. Lucky for her, Celistan has homeowner's and flood insurance. But like thousands of other homeowners, she is afraid to do much because federal officials have not yet issued new flood advisories for New Orleans and adjacent parishes.
1004 appraisal reports available to consumers through Electronic Appraiser-eAppraiseIT union
A partnership between the two companies will ensure access to full appraisals in five days. The full 1004 appraisal should improve transactions for do-it-yourself homeowners in the “for sale by owner” (FSBO) market, the companies said.
Title insurance rules added to lending bill
After two years of hanging in limbo, legislation requiring that Ohio homebuyers be told about the protections afforded by homeowner's title insurance is now part of a faster-moving bill.
Mortgage Lenders Dismiss Concerns Over Risky Loans
-- Bank trade groups and financial institutions blasted proposals by bank regulators to rein in unconventional mortgages that allow borrowers to afford more expensive housing, dismissing concerns about risk as overblown.
The Web is changing the whole industry and creating do-it-yourself home buyers
Finding the perfect Braintree home to accommodate three children, his wife, and his mother-in-law has been a challenge for Mark Riley. But searching for the house has been a breeze thanks to a proliferation of Internet tools that have freed buyers from total dependence on real estate agents.
G.M. Sells Big Stake in Loan Unit
General Motors sold a 78 percent stake in its commercial mortgage business, one part of its vast financing division, to an investor group on Thursday, the latest move in the struggling automaker's efforts to raise cash. The deal includes $1.5 billion in cash and the repayment of about $7.3 billion in intercompany loans.
Title companies ordered to stop doing business in California
California's insurance commissioner has ordered two Nevada-based title companies to stop doing business in California until they get a proper license. Commissioner John Garamendi said Wednesday that his office has issued cease and desist orders to Marquis Title & Escrow Inc., based in Carson City, and to TSI Title & Escrow Inc., based in Stateline.
Will state mortgage law invade privacy, discriminate?
Law will be tested in Chicago market, and possibly expand to other areas within four years. A new lending law signed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is on the horizon. House Bill 4050 was passed to aid those wishing to obtain home financing and avoid abusive lending tactics.
Homeowners stretched perilously
If the nation's real estate boom collapses, its first victims may well be low-income minorities and immigrants in a big US city like Boston.
Fees up for title searches: Last-minute payments soften blow for county
When the only bid for title and lien search services came in more than double over last year’s costs, Butte-Silver Bow treasurer Pat Callaghan had a budget dilemma on his hands.
Woodlake properties mixed-up - Owners may not hold deeds to their condos
An error more than 20 years ago by the developer of a Hilton Head Island condominium complex has caused headaches for property owners who, as it turns out, don't own the unit they thought they owned. The property owners association at Woodlake Villas on Mathews Drive has identified a problem with titles of up to 36 units at the 224-unit complex. Due to a mix-up in 1983 by the developer, an owner's deed may not correspond with the unit he lives in.
Capital Title reports record revenue
Capital Title Group Inc. reported record revenue of $380.2 million for 2005, an increase of 26.6 percent from revenue of $300.3 million reported for full year 2004. Annual earnings were $19.7 million or 79 cents per share, compared with 2004 earnings of $14.2 million or 64 cents per share.
Title Insurance: Better Safe Than Sorry
After two years of record profits for title-insurance companies, the state Public Regulation Commission has decreased title-insurance rates by 5 percent. Every year, the PRC's insurance division holds a hearing to determine titleinsurance rates, and for this year's rates it took place in November. Eric Serna, the commission's superintendent of insurance, presided over the hearing, listening to testimony about the titleinsurance industry, the expected price of homes and suggested rates.
Borrowers fret as more foreclosures loom as Feds warns lenders be more careful with interest-only and payment-option ARMs.
Foreclosures will rise over the next few years, experts agree. While each foreclosure is traumatic for the family that loses a house, the coming wave of defaults won't swamp the system.
Lending law a wrench in home finances
Montgomery County residents in the process of buying, selling or refinancing a home are finding themselves in a tight spot as at least 50 mortgage lenders have pulled their services out of the county as a result of a discriminatory lending law scheduled to go into effect tomorrow.
Prosecutor fired because of lawsuit
A Fayette County assistant district attorney was fired this week after a California title insurance company filed a lawsuit alleging he and his wife forged closing documents bearing its name on real estate transactions through his private law practice.
Legislation on old roads moves to Senate
MONTPELIER, Vt. --A bill designed to clean up centuries of confusion over ownership of roads is headed to the Senate. The so-called ancient roads bill cleared the House on Friday .At issue are the rights of way for roads that have long been abandoned.
State probe propels federal inquiry
The investigative arm of Congress is being asked to probe the nation's title industry, largely due to a Colorado Division of Insurance investigation of title agencies here that has spawned similar probes nationwide.
'Exotic' mortgages tempt more buyers
The cheap mortgages that fueled America's real-estate boom are beginning to hurt the homeowners they once helped. Higher interest rates and the end of honeymoon periods for too-good-to-be-true teaser rates are causing payment shock for those who said "I do" to exotic loans.
Bankruptcy rules feed foreclosures
Bankruptcy reform appears to be catching homeowners unaware and playing a role in accelerating first-quarter foreclosure rates in Bexar County and around the state. February foreclosure postings in Bexar County were the highest since December 2004. And the monthly average this quarter was 753 compared with a monthly average of 699 in 2005.
Spitzer said to eye title insurers Paper says the New York AG's office is looking at possible illegal rebates and referral fees.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer may have found a new industry to investigate, as a published report says state authorities are probing whether some of the nation's biggest title-insurance companies illegally paid secret rebates and referral fees that could have raised costs for those buying or refinancing a home.
Real estate continues to cool
After five adrenaline-pumping years of real estate sales, 2006 is already fulfilling predictions of a weaker market. Sales of existing homes fell in January for the fifth month in a row, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said Tuesday. The same month, new-home sales slid 5%, the government said Monday. Builders are seeing more orders canceled. Meanwhile, the number of homeowners who are late paying their mortgages has been creeping up.
Bankruptcy rules feed foreclosures
Bankruptcy reform appears to be catching homeowners unaware and playing a role in accelerating first-quarter foreclosure rates in Bexar County and around the state. February foreclosure postings in Bexar County were the highest since December 2004. And the monthly average this quarter was 753 compared with a monthly average of 699 in 2005.
U.S. Homes Play A Larger Role In Retirement Plans
Housing wealth is growing as other savings methods decline
Congressman calls for title-insurance investigation
Congressman Michael Oxley says something stinks in the title-insurance industry. The chairman of the Financial Services Committee is calling for an investigation into the companies that sell insurance to insure the legal transfer of ownership from sellers to buyers.
Real estate fraud grows in Colorado
In a major crackdown on mortgage fraud in Colorado, federal and state officials are aggressively prosecuting real estate agents, mortgage brokers and homeowners engaged in a wide range of real estate schemes.
House bill limits property seizure powers
The Iowa House late Wednesday approved legislation to put greater restrictions on the power local governments have to take private property for public purposes. House File 2351 is a response to last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled governments can use so-called eminent domain to spur business development.
States Curbing Right to Seize Private Homes
In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government's power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes.
Terrorism Insurance: Pricing Steady, But Long Term Solution Needed, Says Expert
Pricing to cover terrorism risks is unlikely to change in the short term following renewal of the federal reinsurance program, however that could change quickly if there is another terrorist event, according to a n industry expert.
Obama, Durbin propose federal mortgage reforms
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) proposed a sweeping set of federal reforms Tuesday to combat mortgage fraud, ratcheting up enforcement and creating a national database of brokers who have been disciplined. Obama's bill would increase funding for federal law enforcement programs, create new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud and require industry insiders to report suspicious activity.
Paperless mortgages move into mainstream
Two years ago, a handful were completed electronically. Last year, a couple hundred. This year, Paul Rakowicz expects his firm will help close thousands of mortgages without stacks and stacks of paper..
Land dispute muddies river development project
A dispute over who owns a potentially key piece of property on Tower’s riverfront has created the latest snag in a plan to build “boathouse condominiums” there.