Free Virtual Resources For Learning From Home

Schools everywhere in North Texas have reported closings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your role as a parent now includes teacher, check some of these amazing resources to keep your kids learning and engaged. 

PBS Kids Daily: http://public.pbs.org/PBSKIDSDaily?source=fb&fbclid=IwAR2Cw7H4OahmAZD0eM1T2Zbr-MZUoJKApg2xAfYZtojqR2Obb-EAbcSUhC8

PBS has a great newsletter that you can sign up for and each day they will email you new activities to keep your kids occupied throughout the day. This includes printable board games, family discussions, and problem solving questions. 

 

Kids Activities Blog: https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/135609/list-of-education-companies-offering-free-subscriptions/?fbclid=IwAR2n0uTaq0t0QczxHOQcOmf16fD2d8JWYbg5gkDElPUbQo5ButpcGqK1udU

This site links you to hundreds of education companies who are now giving out their resources for free. There are lots of hours of learning to ensure that your kids keep learning every day. 

 

Ivy League Classes: https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/ivy-league-free-online-courses-a0d7ae675869/?fbclid=IwAR1LPcJSc5LnAaYaDBRGVVvIw41SnYDNzdu4BP7SNAYO_GBCVpLAWUb3uxU

Many Ivy League schools have online classes that you can audit for free. From computer science to personal development and over 500 classes there is something for everyone. 

 

Virtual Museum Tours:

https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social-share-article&utm_content=20200313&fbclid=IwAR15xbO2NXCGT1dHaF7Q3LA3V_EaImd6qqadY-o5h5TK0T8RTKZj9RE1-lc

Need an exciting art lesson? Or maybe you just need an escape? This website links you to many virtual museum tours. Experience the best museums from London to Seoul in the comfort of your own home.

 

Stream Free Operas from the Met:

https://www.metopera.org/

Have you always thought that you could get really into opera if it were more easily accessible? Well, now is your chance. The Metropolitan Opera will host “Nightly Met Opera Streams” on its website in an attempt to continue providing opera to its audience members.

 

North Texas Organizations Helping Children in Need:

https://www.facebook.com/RepublicTitle/photos/a.1402911803352549/2451662141810838/?type=3&theater

During this time of school closures, many children in North Texas will not be receiving the breakfast and lunch they rely on from school. Visit the Republic Title Facebook page for links to local organizations who are assisting children in need.

February 2020 Stats Are in!

The February 2020 DFW area real estate statistics are in and we’ve got the numbers! Take a look at our stats infographics, separated by county, with MLS area stats on each county report as well! These infographics and video are perfect for social sharing so feel free to post them!

To see past month’s reports, please visit our resources section here.

For the full report from the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center, click here. For NTREIS County reports click here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Laboratory Research & Quality Control on a high technology equipment.

A Message to our Customers Regarding COVID-19

At Republic Title, the health and well-being of our customers, employees and communities is our top priority. As the effects of COVID-19 continue to evolve, we want to reach out with information about our efforts to ensure the safety of all involved while continuing to provide uninterrupted service to our valued clients.

Our offices are open for business. Should the need arise to temporarily close any of our offices, we have contingency plans in place to conduct business at alternate offices with limited interruptions so that we are still able to handle your transactions. In the event of a possible closure, advance notice will be communicated to our customers as well as posted on our website. Any updates will be posted regularly. If you have further questions, we encourage you to reach out to your closing team.

Cleanliness of our offices is always a top priority but in light of recent COVID-19 news, Republic Title is taking additional precautions to protect our customers and employees. This includes providing hand sanitizer at our offices and extra sanitizing after each closing. 

Out of an abundance of caution, Republic Title will be postponing all classes that we have scheduled through Friday, April 10. The health of our employees and customers is of the utmost importance and we feel this is best to minimize risk.

We are monitoring this situation closely. We realize that our clients are experiencing the same challenges we are in terms of business continuity and are trying to determine the best way to protect all parties involved and help prevent further spread of the virus. We are here for you and will communicate with you should there be any changes to our normal business process.

house graphic republic title

Texas Housing Insight – January 2020 Summary

January 2020 Summary

Please note this review does not account for the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak but reflects the market through January 2020.

Texas housing sales stabilized in January after reaching a record high the previous month. Steady employment growth and falling mortgage interest rates continued to support housing demand, as exemplified by increased mortgage applications and a downtick in the average days on market. Inventories were constrained, especially for homes priced less than $300,000, but renewed permit issuance indicates positive construction activity in 2020. Although home-price appreciation has moderated over the past few years, tight supply levels put additional affordability pressure on top of lackluster average wage growth. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, there may be disruptions to building material supply chains and the visiting and showing of homes for sale, threatening the Texas housing market. These effects will probably be reflected in the second quarter of the year.

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, balanced after trending upward for four straight months as construction employment growth slowed. The Residential Construction Leading Index dipped slightly as housing starts decreased but hovered around the post-crisis high, suggesting solid levels of construction in the coming months.

Fourth quarter private bank loan data corroborated stable construction activity at the end of the year, increasing 0.8 percent quarter over quarter (QOQ). Multifamily investment climbed throughout 2019, rising 2.1 percent to $8.6 billion during 4Q2019. The one-to-four unit sector, however, stalled through the second half of the year after reaching a cycle-high in 2Q2019 of $7.7 billion.

Single-family construction permits started the year strong, increasing 3.2 percent to a post-recessionary high after a sluggish end to 2019. Texas led the nation with 11,100 nonseasonally adjusted permits, accounting for more than 17 percent of the U.S. total but ranking eighth in per capita issuance. At the metropolitan level, Houston topped the list with 3,565 permits, followed by DFW with 3,370. Austin permits increased to 1,472 while maintaining the highest per capita rate in the Texas Urban Triangle. In San Antonio, monthly permits surged to 846. Texas’ multifamily sector increased issuance in January but failed to recover to levels reached in 3Q2019 after falling at year end.

Decreased permitting activity in the last months of 2019 weighed on total Texas housing starts in January, falling 7.3 percent amid a drawback in the single-family sector. The trend, however, remained on a strong upward trajectory. Meanwhile, single-family private construction values dropped 11.1 percent to their lowest level since June 2019 after adjusting for inflation, corroborating loan value data. After reaching an all-time high in October, San Antonio construction values trended downward, comprising half of the monthly decrease. The metric declined for the second straight month in Austin and DFW. Houston values, however, reached an annual high after improving 3.3 percent.

Strong sales activity chipped away at the state’s supply of active listings. Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) fell for the third consecutive month to 3.4 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. The MOI for homes priced less than $300,000 fell to 2.7 months, while inventory for luxury homes (those priced more than $500,000) remained elevated at eight months. This disparity exemplifies the shortage of affordable housing, although efforts have been made to more closely match demand and supply.

Inventory in the major metros was even more constrained than the statewide average. Austin’s MOI fell to an all-time low of two months, while the Dallas and Fort Worth MOIs ticked down to 2.9 and 2.4 months, respectively. San Antonio’s metric registered less than 3.4 months as inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 dropped to levels unseen in more than a year after gradual improvement during 4Q2019. Houston was the exception as the metro’s supply of active listings continued to rise despite strong sales activity, boosting inventory to 3.9 months.

Demand

Total housing sales during January flattened just below record levels reached at year end. Nonseasonally adjusted sales for home priced at the lower end of the market (less than $200,000), however, were well below the series’ January historical average. Sales volumes within the price range fell year over year (YOY) despite lower interest rates and solid demand fundamentals amid inventory constraints at the lower end of the market. Homes priced less than $200,000 constituted 36 percent of total monthly sales versus 72 percent in 2011.

Sales activity in the major metros cooled after accelerating during the fourth quarter. Houston sales corrected downward 2.2 percent from an all-time high in December, while Dallas monthly sales stabilized at a record 6,000 after increasing 11.3 percent at year end. In Austin, sales for homes priced $200,000-$400,000 stalled as inventory tightened after strong activity in 2019, pulling overall sales down 1.3 percent in the MSA. San Antonio extended a steady upward trend, although Fort Worth sales volumes flattened at their annual average.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) stabilized at 59 days, indicating healthy demand. San Antonio and Houston’s DOMs hovered around the statewide level at 59 and 58 days, respectively. In Austin, the metric averaged 51 days, shedding ten days from its year-ago level. The DOMs in Dallas and Fort Worth trended upward for most of 2019 after low levels between 2015-17 but showed signs of stabilizing at 55 and 44 days, respectively.

After speculations of a U.S.-China trade truce supported modest increases in interest rates during 4Q2019, U.S.-Iranian military strikes and initial news of the coronavirus outbreak pulled rates down in January. Current economic fundamentals at the state and national level, however, remain healthy. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell below 1.8 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate decreased to 3.6 percent. After declining the previous month, mortgage applications for home purchases increased 9.1 percent. Refinance activity stumbled on the month, but the overall trend remained positive considering refinance mortgage applications nearly tripled during 2019.

Prices

The Texas median home price flattened to $247,200, although YOY growth hovered around 5.6 percent for the second straight month amid strong sales and inventory contractions. The nationwide existing-home median price increased 6.8 percent YOY to $283,200 compared with Texas’ existing-home price of $239,800. The gap between the U.S. and Texas new-home median price ($352,600 and $293,000, respectively) widened to $59,000 in January after averaging $30,000 in 2019.

Movements in the median home price varied on the metropolitan level. Houston and Austin each shed $1,900 off their median home price, pulling the metric down to $247,800 and $320,400, respectively, while the median price in San Antonio steadied at $236,200. North Texas, however, registered $5,800 and $9,000 increases in Dallas ($302,800) and Fort Worth ($254,200), respectively. The rise in the former may be explained by the recent surge in sales whereas the latter’s price hike is likely an upward correction after falling $7,600 over the previous two months.  

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index, a better measure of changes in single-family home values, provides insight into how Texas home prices evolve. The index indicated more moderate annual home price appreciation of 3.6 percent. Strong demand and dwindling supply pushed Austin’s index up 5.9 percent YOY. Home prices in Houston and Fort Worth increased at a pace of 2.7 and 3.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the Dallas and San Antonio indexes rose just 2.4 percent YOY each. Except for in Austin, home price growth in the major metros has stabilized at more moderate levels than during 2014-17. Persistent wage improvement that outpaces home price appreciation, however, is necessary to maintain overall housing affordability, which remains a challenge to the Texas home market.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, and Paige Silva (March 10, 2020) https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-In…

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Republic Title and Fairway conduct 100% digital settlement using RON technology

For a borrower residing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, closing on a real estate transaction for a property in Texas presented several obstacles to overcome. Being 8,000 miles apart and spanning multiple time zones, items at the top of the list included scheduling a notarization appointment with the embassy and getting closing documents delivered in a timely manner. Thanks to recent legislative changes that opened the door for Remote Online Notarization (aka “RON”), these obstacles were quickly dismissed. Through this innovative technology, Republic Title and Fairway were able to provide an alternative closing experience that was both convenient and expedient. 

RON is a new, technology-driven notarial process that allows the signer to appear before the notary over a live audio-video feed while executing digital documents. Additionally, all closings are recorded to provide a verifiable transaction record for security and compliance purposes. In this scenario, the Title Company, Lender, and Borrower were able to connect virtually through a secure, online closing room where closing documents were uploaded. The closer and signer met and returned fully-executed, compliant documents within an hour.  Without RON, this process would have taken several days and added expense.

With the closer being located in Plano, Texas and the borrower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, RON was the key ingredient to bridge the gap across continents and time zones.  The borrower was able to close comfortably from their place of business without the need for an appointment with the embassy or worrying about having to leave work to go to a physical signing.

“Full eClosing is new to the mortgage and title industries and is a game changer for busy professionals.  It is exciting to partner with a title company that understands the importance of offering leading edge technology and solutions.  Kudos to the teams at Fairway and Republic Title for a seamless full eClosing for my borrower,” said Kristy Osborn, Senior Loan Officer with Fairway (NMLS #999896).

“With the adoption of RON, we are able to take Republic Title’s unrivaled customer service to the next level by increasing the efficiency without losing the face-to face experience to which our customers are accustomed to.  It’s the advantage of using the latest technology while still maintaining that personal touch.” said Robin Riggs, Vice President/Escrow Officer with Republic Title’s eVolve digital settlement and signing services division.

The transaction that took place is really just the beginning. Title agents are now able to streamline the residential mortgage closing process, delivering unparalleled serviceability to home buyers and sellers throughout the U.S.  “Title plays a critical role in the adoption of RON and it is equally important to have a lending partner that sees the added convenience this technology brings to the real estate life cycle,” said Dennis Pospisil, Senior Vice President/Digital Settlement and Signing Services with eVolve, Republic Title’s digital settlement and signing services division.

eVolve is Republic Title’s newest digital settlement and signing services division which provides an alternative closing experience for sellers, buyers and real estate agents.  eVolve’s approach is to provide a completely digital real estate closing process from start to finish, through the delivery of title and escrow services by way of secure collaboration and Remote Online eClosings.

eVolve has been operating in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas market for the past 12 months and will allow Republic Title to handle digital transactions in every major market in Texas (including Austin, San Antonio and Houston).

Sources:  Republic Title eVolve and Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

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Preparing For Spring

Spring Cleaning and Maintenance Tips To Get Your Home Ready For The Season

Interior
□ Inspect and change out HVAC filters.
□ Clean kitchen sink disposal.
□ Clean range hood filters.
□ Inspect your fire extinguisher(s).
□ Get your air conditioning system ready for summer; empty drain pans, check hose connections for leaks. Consider getting an HVAC technician to service your system biannually. This will help it run optimally year-round.
□ Inspect your attic crawl spaces. Look for signs of vermin infestation. Contact a pest control professional if any concerns arise.
□ Run water and flush toilets in unused spaces.
□ Check water softener and add salt if needed.
□ Test your water heater’s pressure relief valve.
□ Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries if necessary.
□ Spring cleaning! Now is the time to give your house a deep clean.

Exterior
□ Get your lawn ready for the warm temperatures. Clear your yard of any debris and aerate your lawn if needed (you might need a professional to do this.) Early spring is the best time to lay pre-emergent herbicide. This will prevent weeds from growing.
□ Check exterior drainage.
□ Clean out gutters.
□ Inspect the exterior of your home. Look for soil erosion and add fill dirt/sod if needed.
□ Inspect roof for damage, leaks and missing shingles.
□ Inspect exterior walls including eaves for any cracks or holes where insects or critters could enter.
□ Check seals around windows, caulk if necessary.
□ Check for loose, warped or splintered boards on your deck/patio. Now is a good time to seal/stain if needed.
□ If you stored your lawn furniture for the winter, bring it outdoors and give it a rinse or wash
with a mild detergent.
□ Go ahead and have a little fun! Plant seasonal flowers to add color to your landscape. Flowers that thrive in spring in North Texas are cosmos, marigolds, zinnias and pentas.

Click here for printable version