Top 5 Reasons to Refinance Your Home Right Now

With interest rates at all-time lows, now is the time to consider refinancing.  Did you know there are title policy discounts available to some homeowners when refinancing?  There is! Here are the top 5 reasons to refi now.

LOW RATES

Mortgage interest rates are at an all time low and are currently averaging at 3.25% but can be as low as 2.5% for some!

SAVE MONEY

Securing a rate 1-2% lower than your current mortgage can save you hundreds of dollars a month.

PAY DOWN / PAY OUT

Alleviate the burden of high interest debt by refinancing your loan with a new, lower rate or shorter term loan to potentially save thousands of dollars over the course of your loan.

AVAILABLE TITLE POLICY CREDITS

If the loan you will be refinancing is a previously insured loan that is less than 4 years old you may be entitled to a 50% credit on the cost of the new title policy. If the loan being paid off is between 4 and 8 years old you may be entitled to a 25% credit on the cost of the new title policy.

REMODEL OR MAJOR ONE-TIME PURCHASE

Take advantage of the equity you have in your home to
take out a home equity loan for that remodel you’ve been
thinking about for years or for a major one-time purchase.

For more information on refinancing, or to discuss your options contact your local lender.  If you have questions about title insurance and fees contact your local Republic Title Office.

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April 2020 Stats Are In!

The April 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.

The Census and North Texas Real Estate

What is the census?

The 2020 census aims to count every living person in the United States and five U.S. territories. In mid-March, homes across the country began receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you’ll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.

Why is the census so important?

Responding to the census largely affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans to allocate those funds, and the amount of representation your community receives in the government. Results from the census determine the distribution and allocation of $675 billion in federal funding to hospitals, schools, libraries and housing programs, among others.

How does the census affect real estate?

Results are especially important for REALTORS as the data will inform the federal government about housing needs, demands, and trends. It also helps real estate investors decide where to build new homes, businesses and improve various neighborhood aspects. Ensuring a correct counting of the number of people in the state of Texas helps to provide billions of dollars in infrastructure funding as well as multiple congressional seats. Responses from this census will help produce statistics about homeownership and renting, data which serves as one indicator of the nation’s economy.

At Republic Title we want to help insure that all of our customers elect to be counted in the census and want everyone to know that your personally identifiable information is protected by law and cannot be shared outside of the Census Bureau.

Additional Census Resources

For more information on the census, visit www.2020census.gov

Thanks to our friends at Collin County Association of REALTORs who made videos in 26 different languages explaining the census. https://www.ccar.net/census/

 

Sources: http://2020census.gov , https://www.nar.realtor/ , http://texasrealestate.com

 

Texas Housing Insight – March 2020 Summary

Here is the March 2020 Summary from Texas A&M Real Estate Center.

 



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


With half the month affected by the domestic coronavirus outbreak, total Texas housing sales decreased 4 percent in March, but still resulted in moderate first quarter growth. This decline does not bode well for second quarter home sales, when shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders were implemented, increasing the reluctance of potential buyers and sellers to visit and show homes for sale. Supply-side activity decelerated amid uncertain economic conditions, but average days on market indicated steady demand. Median home-price appreciation remained stable, corroborated by the Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index. The coronavirus outbreak is the greatest threat to the Texas housing market since the 1986-90 recession via disruptions to buyer and seller confidence, the negative income shock, and wariness of visiting and showing homes for sale. Preliminary effects showed in the March data with more significant impacts almost certain to appear during the second quarter of the year.

Supply*

Contemporaneous and anticipated construction levels took a step back in March after reaching post-recessionary highs the prior month, signaling a coronavirus-induced downturn. The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, declined due to industry wage and employment cuts. Decreased building permits and housing starts offset falling interest rates, pulling the Residential Construction Leading Index down.

According to Metrostudy, activity at the earliest stage of the construction cycle cooled as the number of new vacant developed lots (VDLs) in the Texas Urban Triangle declined 5.4 percent quarter over quarter (QOQ) after reaching a post-recessionary high in 3Q2019. Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and San Antonio VDLs fell for the second straight quarter, most notably in the $300,000-$400,000 price range. On the other hand, Austin’s VDLs exceeded its average in 2019 while Houston lot development surged to a record-breaking 10,700 amid accelerated activity in the lowest-priced cohort (homes priced less than $200,000).

Quarterly fluctuations in the major metros’ single-family construction permits reflected movements in VDLs. On a month-over-month basis, issuance slowed across the board, although Texas continued to lead the nation in nonseasonally adjusted permits on both the state and metropolitan levels. Houston and DFW topped the list, issuing 4,116 and 3,506 monthly permits, respectively. Austin ranked fifth after Phoenix and Atlanta with 1,869 permits, while San Antonio permits numbered 966. Meanwhile, Texas’ multifamily permits fell about 5 percent QOQ despite monthly improvements in March.

Total Texas housing starts normalized after skyrocketing the previous month, decelerating to 4.6 percent QOQ growth. In the single-family sector, Metrostudy data confirmed strong supply-side activity in Houston with a post-crisis record 9,000 homes breaking ground in the first quarter. Dallas and San Antonio single-family starts flattened to start the year after reaching post-recessionary highs the previous quarter. In Austin, starts showed signs of normalizing after rapid growth during 2019.

Following solid improvement to start the year, single-family private construction values dropped nearly 6 percent in March to end the quarter with modest growth. San Antonio continued to correct downward after a rapid climb during the second half of 2019. Austin construction values decelerated in 1Q2020, while Houston’s showed signs of flattening. Values in North Texas, however, accelerated 6.4 percent QOQ.

Decreased sales slowed the decline in Texas’ months of inventory (MOI), which settled at 3.2 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 (where four-fifths of total sales take place) held at 2.5 months as a sizeable reduction in sales offset a downtick in the supply of active listings. In the luxury home market (comprised of homes priced more than $500,000), the MOI fell below 7 months but remained elevated compared to the lower-priced cohorts.

Movements in inventory levels differed among the major metros. The San Antonio MOI dipped to an all-time low of 2.9 months, while North Texas inventory slid below 2.5 months in Dallas and 2.3 months in Fort Worth. On the other hand, Austin’s metric ticked up above 1.7 months as fluctuations in the metro’s inventory for homes priced under $300,000 mirrored the state’s change. Houston registered broader increases for an overall MOI of 3.7 months with only luxury home inventory shrinking (but still exceeding eight months).

Demand

As COVID-19 concerns affected the showing and visiting of homes for sale, particularly during the last half of the month, total housing sales fell 4 percent in March with decreases in every price cohort. The monthly decline, however, was more palatable than the 10.2 percent national plummet. Moreover, Texas sales increased 2.2 percent QOQ, exceeding the countrywide growth rate of 1.4 percent.

Monthly resale transactions contracted in each of the major metros for a statewide drop of 3.3 percent, but changes in quarterly sales volumes differed. Dallas and San Antonio existing-home sales rose 4.9 and 3.5 percent QOQ, respectively, with the latter maintaining positive momentum. Houston also exhibited an upward trend albeit at a more moderate rate, increasing 1 percent QOQ. In Austin and Fort Worth, quarterly resale volumes fell flat.

In the new-home market, homes priced more than $300,000 accounted for the 2.1 percent QOQ increase in the Texas Urban Triangle. North Texas and Houston new-home sales surged 7.8 and 5.2 percent, respectively, with the latter recording improvement five quarters in a row. Momentum in Central Texas faltered as sales declined 1.5 and 7.2 percent in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, from post-crisis records at year end.

Ahead of the most serious coronavirus impacts, Texas’ homeownership rate rose to its greatest level since 2012 at 64.4 percent in 1Q2020, just one percentage point less than the U.S. rate. On the metropolitan level, all four major metros registered an increase in homeownership. Houston reached a post-recessionary high of 65.5 percent, while the San Antonio metric also exceeded the statewide average with 66.1 percent homeownership. In Dallas and Austin, homeownership was slightly lower at 62.6 and 58.9 percent, respectively. Homeownership rates could suffer as COVID-19 foreclosure-protection policies expire later this year.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) flattened at 59 days, indicating still-healthy demand. Houston’s and Fort Worth’s DOMs steadied at their yearlong averages of 58 and 44 days, respectively. The San Antonio metric ticked up slightly to 62 days, but the average home sold after only 50 days in Austin and 51 days in Dallas. The downward trends confirmed robust demand despite falling sales.

The domestic coronavirus outbreak and falling oil prices pulled interest rates down in March. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield dropped to 0.9 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate remained less than 3.5 percent. While applications to refinance home loans doubled in the first quarter, mortgage applications for home purchases fell 11.3 percent in March amid reduced showing and visiting of houses and an uncertain economic climate. Decreased home purchase mortgage applications may indicate a slowdown in sales in the coming months.

Prices

The Texas median home price rose to $249,000, a 5.8 percent YOY increase. Austin pushed the statewide metric upward, posting double-digit home-price appreciation for the second straight month as the median home price reached $337,200. In San Antonio, the median price accelerated 6.6 percent YOY to $241,000. However, home-price appreciation moderated in North Texas and Houston where the median prices remained below record highs. The Dallas metric hovered at $298,100 as Fort Worth’s and Houston’s declined to $249,000 and $249,400, respectively.

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 3.8 percent, but the rate of change steadied, similar to the median home price. The same phenomenon was observed on the metropolitan level (growth rates for each metro’s median home price exceeded its respective index, but the pace trended in the same direction). Austin’s index maintained a rapid clip, rising 5.9 percent YOY. The Dallas and Houston indices also picked up, increasing 2.5 and 3.0 percent, respectively. Growth in Fort Worth’s and San Antonio’s indexes slowed but remained slightly elevated at 3.6 and 3.4 percent, respectively. Favorable housing affordability relative to other parts of the country supported the Lone Star State’s economic growth in the years following the burst of the housing bubble a decade ago. Texas needs to maintain affordability for the housing market to remain a stalwart in the impending recession and subsequent recovery.  

The data reported here reflect only preliminary COVID-19 impacts on the Texas housing market, although the Saudi-Russian oil price war greatly affected the energy commodities and related employment in March. The anticipated events of the next few months and the revised economic expectations for the second half of the year will overshadow recent optimistic conditions. The government stimulus bill signed late in March allowing forbearances on federally backed mortgage loans, moratoriums on evictions, and direct financial payments to Americans earning within an income threshold will aid current homeowners, but is unlikely to spur additional, immediate-home sales.

The Real Estate Center forecasted single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (see table). The Center projected only one month in advance due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of reliable and timely data. In April, statewide sales are expected to fall by more than three times as much as during March, plummeting 14.4 percent. Austin and North Texas activity may act similarly. Houston and San Antonio single-family sales, however, are predicted to nosedive around 17.4 and 12.2 percent next month after relatively moderate decreases of 3.0 and 3.5 percent, respectively, in March.

________________

All measurements are calculated using seasonally adjusted data, and percentage changes are calculated month over month, unless stated otherwise.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter (May 11, 2020)

https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-Insight

 

Spotlight On: Texas Escrow Company

If you have real property for sale, which is used in your trade or business, or is held for investment, you may be eligible to defer the capital gains tax when the property is sold by utilizing a deferred 1031 Exchange. In order to receive this tax treatment, you should contact a Qualified Intermediary, like Texas Escrow Company, a subsidiary of Republic Title of Texas, Inc., and complete the documentation necessary to create your exchange before you close the sale of your property.

The property sold needs to be real estate that you have held for investment or used in your trade or business, such as an office building or rent house. Vacation homes for your personal use, or your personal residence, do not qualify for this tax treatment. You should consult your accountant or attorney for advice on the utilization of a 1031 Exchange, especially if your accountant files your income tax return. It is important that the person filing your income tax return agrees that the exchange achieves the tax deferral you want. Your accountant can also estimate the tax payable on your sale so you can evaluate whether you want to do a 1031 Exchange. The 1031 Exchange only defers the capital gains tax (long or short term) on the sale of real property by purchasing replacement real property of an equal or greater value than the property sold.

Using exchange funds to purchase like-kind replacement real property for an investment, or use in your trade or business, and then later selling that replacement property in another 1031 Exchange to purchase other replacement property, will continue to defer the capital gains tax, plus any additional gain that might accrue by virtue of an increased value of the replacement property. In many cases, once you start exchanging real property, you need to continue using 1031 Exchanges to purchase real property if you wish to continue deferring the capital gains tax. When you sell the replacement property without using a 1031 Exchange, capital gains taxes will be due.

We suggest that you review the supplemental Definitions and Rules of a Deferred 1031 Exchange which is written in easy to understand language to familiarize yourself with some of the terms and rules, that are involved in a 1031 Exchange. All the definitions and rules of a deferred 1031 Exchange should be discussed with your tax advisor, accountant, attorney and a Qualified Intermediary before you do any exchange transaction. The rules encompass all kinds of situations and we repeat that it is imperative to consult with your tax advisors and a Qualified Intermediary about the transaction you have in mind before you sell and, in some cases, before you even contract to sell.

For more information on 1031 Exchange, please reach out to our Texas Escrow Company team:

Bill Kramer
Executive Chairman
214.855.8850
bkramer@republictitle.com

Carla Janousek
Sr. Vice President, CES®
214.855.8879
cjanousek@republictitle.com

Helen Wooten
Exchange Assistant
214.855.8879
hwooten@republictitle.com

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Taking Fear Out of a Fearful Market

As business continues to shift each day and we are all working in this new normal, we asked Shaun Neidigh, Vice President/Business Development for a sneak peek at his new Mind Over Market class where he discusses fears in the market and how to overcome the six roadblocks that might be holding you back.

Mind Over Market with Shaun Neidigh

Real Estate can be a rollercoaster for many of the people that call it their career. For many of us, the rollercoaster ride does not come from the market itself but rather how we adapt to the changes it brings. As we all know, there are many reasons why change happens in the real estate market. When talking to our peers in real estate, one major theme that came up repeatedly when discussing change was the element of fear.

Let’s start by identifying what fear really is. According to Dictionary.com, fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Many people believe there are two distinct types for fears, real fear and physiological fears also known as phobias. Specifically for this article we are focusing on physiological fears and how they can control the decisions and direction of our real estate career.

While researching this topic to develop our Mind Over Market class, we interviewed several Realtors and were able to come up with six specific areas, or roadblocks, that agents seemed to struggle with that had a direct impact on their business.

  • Fear of the contract
  • Fear of talking to people
  • Fear of no business
  • Fear of too much business
  • Fear of competition
  • Fear of having a difficult decision

In our class Mind over Market, we go into great detail on these six roadblocks and how each one can impact all levels of experience for both individual real estate agents and large teams. We look at how developing daily task regiments and the idea of “living by your calendar” can help organize your mind and take some of the anxiety out of the things we can and can’t control. We highlight the use of your relationships (especially when you are new to the business) and how those relationships can blossom into partnerships for a long career in real estate. Finally, we discuss the tools available to real estate agents that if put into practice can set the stage for true success no matter what type of market is given to us.

At Republic Title, we want to be a resource for your success. Our Mind Over Market class is one of many educational opportunities that we provide to help you take your business to the next level. To learn more about this class or any others, please reach out to Republic Title’s Education Department at education@republictitle.com.

Republic Title completes their 100th RON in 2020

Republic Title is proud to announce that we have completed 100 Remote Online eClosings in 2020.

What is a Remote Online eClosing and how does it work? 

Remote Online eClosing takes place…wait for it…online! The signer and the notary need not be in the same room, or even in the same state!

This type of eClosing allows all parties to be remote and perform the closing through videoconference via a webcam. All documents are signed and notarized electronically during the videoconference. This is the most highly regulated type of eClosing, and special commissions are required to electronically notarize documents. Remote online eClosings are very popular and useful for the seller side of the transaction since, in most cases, there are no loan documents involved for the seller.

Republic Title has completed these 100 Remote Online eClosing through eVolve, our 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).