October Stats Are In!

The October 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.

Texas Housing Insight – September 2020

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


Total Texas housing sales rebounded 6.3 percent in September, pushing third-quarter activity up more than one-third above depressed 2Q2020 levels. Historically low mortgage interest rates helped elevate sales, with new-home transactions increasing more than 8 percent. The Lone Star State’s homeownership rate rose to an all-time high of 70 percent, exceeding the national metric for the first time since 2012. Survey data, however, indicated Texas mortgagees may be more at risk of foreclosure in the coming months than the average U.S. household due to a higher proportion of FHA and VA loans in the state. 

On the supply side, lot development slowed in 3Q2020, but single-family building permits and construction values trended upward. Additional housing is greatly needed as months inventory slid to record lows, especially for homes priced less than $300,000. Constrained inventory contributed to the near-double-digit growth in the median home price as the composition of sales shifted toward higher-priced houses. The Real Estate Center’s Repeat Sales Home Price Index also accelerated, albeit at a more moderate pace, threatening recent improvements in affordability. The pandemic remains the greatest headwind to the Texas housing market as the Center projected a slowdown in single-family sales during October amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Supply1

 

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, ticked up modestly due to improvements in industry wages, employment, and construction values. The Residential Construction Leading Index rose for the fifth straight month amid increased building permits and housing starts and a decrease in the real ten-year Treasury bill. The major metros also registered growth in their leading indexes except for San Antonio, where permits and starts fell, pulling the metric down.

According to Zonda (formerly Metrostudy), activity at the earliest stage of the construction cycle was sluggish during the third quarter as the number of new vacant developed lots (VDLs) in the Texas Urban Triangle flattened. Only VDLs in North Texas posted an increase, rising more than 40 percent quarter over quarter (QOQ) due to improvement in the $300,000 and above price range. San Antonio’s metric normalized after doubling the previous quarter but still trended upward. Vacant lot development in Austin, however, registered a one-fifth drop below 4Q2019 levels, while Houston posted its second straight quarterly decline following a yearlong climb.

Single-family construction permits backtracked 1 percent in September but remained on a strong upward trajectory after reaching an all-time high the prior month. The decrease was largely concentrated in Houston, where nonseasonally adjusted permits fell to 4,570. Nevertheless, the metro topped the national list, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) with 4,193 permits. Issuance in Central Texas flattened at 1,843 and 905 permits in Austin and San Antonio, respectively. On the other hand, Texas’ multifamily permits almost doubled in September, rising to a year-to-date (YTD) high due to renewed strength in the apartment sector. Still, multifamily permits sank 2.2 percent QOQ.

Total Texas housing starts rebounded 20.6 percent on a monthly basis despite record-breaking lumber prices. Zonda data revealed more than 27,100 single-family homes broke ground in the Texas Urban Triangle in 3Q2020, surging 6.1 percent. Activity for homes priced less than $500,000 increased statewide and in Houston, where starts rose 24.6 percent QOQ. San Antonio registered upticks across the price spectrum, climbing 28 percent overall. Starts in Austin and Dallas, however, declined 9.2 and 7.0 percent, respectively, after just modest improvement the previous quarter.

Although single-family private construction values backtracked on a monthly basis in September, third-quarter values rebounded 32.8 percent following a decline during the second quarter. Central Texas posted the largest monthly decreases but increased 28.5 percent QOQ in Austin and 17.5 percent in San Antonio. The metric also maintained a strong upward trend in Dallas and Houston, rising 21.1 and 48.7 percent QOQ, respectively.

Record sales and a dwindling supply of active listings pulled Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) down to an all-time low of 2.2 months. A total MOI of around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 was even more constrained, sliding below 1.6 months. The MOI for luxury homes (homes priced more than $500,000), although elevated at 5.7 months, decreased for the fourth straight month.

Inventory fell to unprecedented levels in the major metros as well, plummeting to one month in Austin. The metro’s MOI for homes priced less than $300,000 was just half a month. In North Texas, inventory dropped to 1.8 and 1.6 months in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. San Antonio’s metric matched the state average, while Houston’s MOI sank for the sixth consecutive month to 2.5 months.

Demand

Total housing sales accelerated 6.3 percent in September to an unprecedented high, boosted by historically low mortgage rates. Every price cohort registered increased activity, boosting YTD sales up more than 5 percent above transactions during the same period last year. The Lone Star State continued to outpace the national metric, which surpassed last year’s nine-month sum by 2.1 percent. The current rate of sales, however, is unsustainable given Texas’ depleted inventory.

A shift in preferences from inner-city apartments to homes outside the city center with more space supported new-home sales as well. Per Zonda, Austin new-home sales accelerated 13.1 percent QOQ to an all-time high of 5,389. Increased activity in DFW and San Antonio resulted in 10,782 and 4,150 sales, respectively. Houston sold 8,276 new homes, less than the prior quarter, but posted its tenth straight year-over-year (YOY) improvement.

Strong sales activity during 3Q2020 pushed Texas’ homeownership rate up well above the national rate of 67.4 percent to an unprecedented 70 percent (with the U.S. Census’ Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey series beginning 1996). Nationally, homeownership fell across all races and every age group, except for 65 years and older. At the metropolitan level, Austin registered the greatest homeownership rate of out Texas’ Urban Triangle for the first time in 12 years, rising almost 9 percentage points to 74.7 percent. DFW’s metric climbed to 69 percent, while San Antonio homeownership stabilized at 66.3 percent. Houston was the exception, with the proportion of owner-occupied units falling from 67.9 to 65.5 percent. Homeownership could suffer in 2021 as COVID-19 foreclosure-protection policies expire.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) slid to an all-time low of 54 days, corroborating robust demand despite the pandemic. Austin posted the most drastic annual decline, shaving two weeks off its metric to drop to 39 days. The DOM trended downward in North Texas, falling to 42 and 41 days in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. Houston’s metric matched the statewide measure, while the average home in San Antonio sold after 58 days.

 

Low inflation expectations and persistent economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, in part due to a dubious timeline for a second round of fiscal stimulus, kept interest rates at historically low levels. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield inched up for the second straight month to 0.7 percent2, but the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate fell to an unprecedented low below 2.9 percent (series starting in 1971). Mortgage rates slid to decades-low levels within Texas during August, sinking to 3.01 and 3.07 percent for non-GSE and GSE loans, respectively. The drop in rates pushed home-purchase applications up 15.5 percent YTD in September. Refinance activity increased for the first time since March, rising more than 50 percent YTD. (For more information, see Finding a Representative Interest Rate for the Typical Texas Mortgagee.)

In August, the median loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) constituting the “typical” Texas conventional-loan mortgage decreased from 85.3 to 84.0 and 35.5 to 34.9, respectively, reaching multiyear lows. Meanwhile, the median credit score ticked up from 750 to 753 as average consumer credit scores have been rising during the pandemic due to early relief actions taken by the federal government and lenders that helped some households pay off debt and save money. The median DTI of the typical Texas borrower who obtained a loan from a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) inched up to 35.6 from 35.5, but the median LTV declined to 85.3 from 85.8. The overall trend of improved credit profiles may reflect tightening lending standards as economic uncertainty prevails.

Prices

The Texas median home price accelerated 9.9 percent YOY in September, reaching a record high $266,500 as the price per square foot for existing homes posted an unprecedented $127. Annual price growth exceeded 11 percent in three of the state’s major regions – Austin ($359,300), Dallas ($326,100), and San Antonio ($261,000). In Fort Worth ($269,900) and Houston ($266,400), the median home price rose 9.0 and 8.5 percent, respectively. The shift in the composition of sales toward higher-priced homes due to constrained inventories at the lower end of the price spectrum contributed to the increase in home prices.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index accounts for such compositional effects and provides a better measure of changes in single-family home values. The index suggested more moderate home-price appreciation than the change in the median price, but it still accelerated 5 percent annually in 3Q2020. At the metropolitan level, Austin’s metric rose at the fastest pace, skyrocketing 8.4 percent, followed by Fort Worth and San Antonio, where the index jumped 5.1 and 5.0 percent, respectively. The larger metros posted home-price appreciation of more moderate rates, increasing 4.4 percent in Dallas and 3.6 percent in Houston.

Historically low interest rates supported increased housing affordability in Texas’ major metros during the third quarter, but elevated home prices slowed the upward climb established within the past year. Fort Worth and Houston were the most affordable locales with an index of 1.9, indicating that a family earning the median income could afford a home 90 percent more than the median sale price. In both Austin and San Antonio, the metric flattened to 1.7, while Dallas’ index fell slightly below that of the Central Texas reading. Continued improvement is important to Texas’ demographic advantages that have supported the state’s economic prosperity over the past decade.

Single-Family Forecast

The Real Estate Center projected single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (Table 1). 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. Texas sales are expected to increase less than 1 percent in October after climbing by more than a tenth in September. Amid shrinking inventory and an upturn in COVID-19 cases, the rapid pace in Austin and Houston is anticipated to decelerate to 2.1 and 2.4 percent improvement, respectively. Meanwhile, single-family sales are predicted to tick up just 0.9 percent in DFW, and decline 2.2 percent in San Antonio.

Household Pulse Survey

According to the U.S. Census’ Household Pulse Survey, 7 percent of Texas homeowners were behind on their mortgage payments during September, greater than the national rate of 6 percent (Table 2). Although the proportion of homes owned free and clear in DFW and Houston was less than the state average, the percentage of households delinquent hovered around the statewide rate due to a greater ratio of occupants who were current on their mortgage payments. Of the Texas respondents who were not current, more than one-fifth expected foreclosure to be either very likely or somewhat likely in the next two months compared with just 18 percent nationwide (Table 3). That same metric, however, was lower in the state’s largest metro areas where local foreclosure protections may be in place. Currently, federal foreclosure moratoriums are in place until Dec. 31, 2020. Continued stability in the housing market is essential to Texas’ economic recovery.

________________

 

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

2 Bond and mortgage interest rates are nonseasonally adjusted. Loan-to-value ratios, debt-to-income ratios, and the credit score component are also nonseasonally adjusted. Texas data typically lags the Texas Housing Insight by one month.

Closing Time: 6 Steps Every Homeowner Should Expect

Get owner’s title insurance and buy your home with confidence

Your long home-buying journey is almost over. You found the home you love, the seller agreed to your offer and now it’s time for closing. Of course, there’s a lot to think about right now, and the last thing you want is something­ to go wrong. So make sure you work with an experienced closing agent to help ensure the details come together and everything runs smoothly.

As soon as the seller accepts your offer, the behind-the-scenes work begins. You can expect closing to happen within 30 to 90 days.

 1.    Select a Closing Agent

If you are working with a real estate agent, with your permission, he or she may place an order with a closing agent/title company as soon as your sales contract is accepted.

Most homebuyers rely on their real estate agent to select a closing agent—someone they work with regularly and know to be professional, reliable and efficient. However, you can choose your own closing agent if you wish. The closing agent will oversee the closing process and make sure everything happens in the right order and on time, without unnecessary delays or glitches.

2.    Contract + Earnest Money Delivery

Once your contract has been signed by all parties it is then delivered to the closing agent/title company of your choice.  The closing agent reviews the contract for completeness.   The agent will also deposit your earnest money into an escrow account, where the funds will remain until closing.

3.    Title Search is Conducted

Once the title company receives your contract, the title company conducts a search of the public records. This should identify any issues with the title such as liens against the property, utility easements, and so on.  After the title search is complete, the title company will provide you with a title commitment.

4.    Title Insurance

There are two kinds of title insurance coverage: a Lender’s policy, which covers the lender for the amount of the mortgage loan; and an Owner’s policy, which covers the homebuyer for the amount of the purchase price. If you are obtaining a loan, the bank or lender will typically require that you purchase a Lender’s policy. However, it only protects the lender.

It is always recommended that you obtain an Owner’s policy to insure your investment. The Seller generally pays for the Owner’s policy and the Buyer generally pays for the lender’s title policy.

5.    Obtain a Closing Disclosure

Your lender or the closing agent will provide a Closing Disclosure to you at least three days prior to closing that will show all of the charges and credits and what amount you have to bring to closing.  Please note that any amount over $1,499.99 must be sent to the closing agent by wire transfer or cashiers check.

If you or your lender makes certain significant changes between the time the Closing Disclosure form is given to you and the closing, you must be provided a new form and an additional three-business-day waiting period after receipt of the new form. This applies if the creditor:

  • Makes changes to the APR above ⅛ of a percent for most loans (and ¼ of a percent for loans with irregular payments or periods)
  • Changes the loan product
  • Adds a prepayment penalty to the loan

If the changes are less significant, they can be disclosed on a revised Closing Disclosure form provided to you at or before closing, without delaying the closing.

6.    The Finish Line: Prepare for Closing

As closing day approaches, the closing agent orders any updated information that may be required. Once the closing agent confirms with the lender and the seller, he or she will set a final date, time and location of the closing.

On closing day, all of the behind-the-scenes work is complete. While you’ve been busy packing, ordering utilities and coordinating the movers, your closing agent has been managing the closing process so that you can rest assured, knowing all the paperwork is in order.

 

This is a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

What Every REALTOR® Should Know About Owner’s Title Insurance

Make sure all of your clients are protected

You’re a real estate agent, so you know that buying a home can be overwhelming for many of your clients. Homebuyers can easily feel confused and frustrated by the mounds of paperwork they have to sign. Plus, all the fees associated with closing can sometimes be a surprise even to an experienced buyer.

Owner’s title insurance is one of those items often misunderstood by homebuyers at closing, yet its value is tremendous. As an important advisor to your clients, you are in the position to help them understand the value of owner’s title insurance and the dangers that can be incurred without it. 

What is title insurance?

Owner’s title insurance is a policy that protects homebuyers’ property rights. For the same reasons that the bank requires a lender’s insurance policy, a homebuyer obtains owner’s title insurance to protect their legal claims to the property. 

How it protects your clients

Say, for example, your client recently purchased a new home from a builder, but the builder failed to pay the roofer. Wanting to be paid, the roofer filed a lien against the property. Without owner’s title insurance, your client would be responsible for paying this existing debt—meaning they’d be paying the roofer out of pocket instead of purchasing something nice for their new home, like new living room furniture. This is just one example of how owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers’ from various significant risks. With owner’s title insurance, your client would be protected from certain legal or financial responsibilities.

Enduring value

The good news is that owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers, as long as they or their heirs* own the home. For a low, one-time fee, homebuyers can know they are protected from inheriting existing debts or claims to their property.

State regulations and CFPB

In Texas, title insurance is regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulates closing and settlement practices which can impact title insurance. Keep in mind that title insurance industry practices vary due to differences in state laws and local real estate customs.

Free resources for Realtors®

Together, real estate agents, land title insurance professionals and other stakeholders involved in real estate transactions can provide homebuyers with the protection they deserve during the home closing process.  For more resources relating to title insurance and the homebuying process, visit: www.republictitle.com/residential-resources

*This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

September Stats Are In!

The September 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.

Texas Housing Insight – August 2020

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


Total Texas housing sales declined 4.1 percent in August from an all-time high the previous month as pent-up demand from the economic shutdown normalized. Nevertheless, sales were up 3.1 percent YTD compared with activity during the first eight months of 2019. Strong demand for housing supported permit issuance, which increased for the fourth straight month to record-breaking levels. Current inventory, however, extended a year-long fall, particularly at the bottom of the price spectrum. That shortage contributed to the shift in the distribution of sales toward higher-priced homes and pushed the median home price up 8.4 percent annually. The Real Estate Center’s Repeat Sales Home Price Index, however, suggested more moderate home-price appreciation while single-family housing sales in September are expected to recover fully from August’s backslide.

Supply

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, increased for the third consecutive month as industry employment, wages, and construction values inched up. The Residential Construction Leading Index also accelerated amid rising permit issuance, suggesting ongoing activity in the coming months. Conversely, the major metros’ leading indexes declined, with the exception of Houston, as multifamily building permits and housing starts dropped. A modest uptick in the real rate of the ten-year Treasury bill also pulled down the leading indexes.

Single-family construction permits increased 6.6 percent, a moderate improvement compared with the previous three months but still reached a record-breaking 14,000 permits. Texas remained the national leader, contributing 16 percent of the national total. All of Texas’ major metros issued post-Great Recession highs after accounting for seasonality, except for San Antonio, where the metric recorded 920 nonseasonally adjusted permits. Houston and Dallas posted 4,768 and 3,906 permits, respectively, while Austin issued 1,854. On the other hand, Texas’ multifamily permits dropped 28.4 percent, with the year-to-date (YTD) sum running 4 percent behind the total during the same period last year.

Total Texas housing starts fell 24.5 percent in August, normalizing to their two-year average as lumber prices accelerated for the fourth straight month. Single-family private construction values also slowed, although growth was still positive at 2.9 percent. The improvement was largely due to Austin values skyrocketing 30.4 percent to a record high. The metric increased modestly in North Texas and decreased slightly in San Antonio, while Houston values backtracked 14.6 percent.

The number of new listings hitting the market has failed to keep pace with sales, pulling Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) down to a record 2.4 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 was even more constrained, sliding to less than 1.8 months. The MOI for luxury homes (homes priced more than $500,000), although elevated at 6.3 months, decreased for the third straight month.

Inventory was even more limited in the major metros, falling to 1.2 months in Austin as the MOI for homes priced from $200,000-$400,000 plummeted below one month. In North Texas, the MOI dropped to 1.9 and 1.7 months in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. San Antonio’s metric sank to 2.3 months, while Houston’s MOI slipped to 2.7 months.

Demand

Total housing sales decreased 4.1 percent in August from an all-time high the prior month as pent-up demand from the economic shutdown waned. The trend, however, remained on an upward trajectory as low mortgage rates stimulated activity. Every price cohort less than $400,000 registered a decline in sales; on the other hand, a record-breaking 4,000 luxury homes were sold. The number of Texas’ sales transactions so far in 2020 outpaced last year’s eight-month sum by 3.1 percent. National YTD sales fell half a percent relative to the same period in 2019.

Sales also declined at the metropolitan level, most notably in Houston, which registered a 7.9 percent monthly drop. Most of the pullback in activity was due to a reduction in sales for homes priced less than $400,000. The metric in Dallas and Fort Worth decreased 5.2 and 4.1 percent, respectively, while San Antonio sales fell 2.9 percent. Austin was the exception, although the increase in sales was modest. Nevertheless, the metric posted a record-breaking 3,622 sales as the share of luxury homes sold exceeded one-fifth for the first time ever.   

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) slid below year-ago levels to 57 days, corroborating robust demand despite the pandemic-induced recession. The average home in all four major metros sold faster than during August 2019, with the Dallas and Fort Worth metric decreasing to 48 and 44 days, respectively. Austin’s DOM shaved almost two weeks off its reading from last year, falling to 49 days. At 58 days, the DOM in Houston and San Antonio, however, was slightly higher than the statewide average.  

Persistent economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic kept interest rates at historically low levels. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield inched up slightly but stayed below 0.7 percent*, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate was less than 3 percent for the first time in series history (starting in 1971). Mortgage rates extended a year-and-a-half-long slide within Texas during July, falling to 3.18 and 3.21 percent for non-GSE and GSE loans, respectively. The slide in rates pushed home-purchase applications up 15.1 percent YTD in August. Refinance activity continued to normalize after spiking at the onset of the pandemic but still remained 40 percent above year-end levels. (For more information, see Finding a Representative Interest Rate for the Typical Texas Mortgagee.)

In July, the median loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) constituting the “typical” Texas conventional-loan Texas mortgage decreased for the second straight month from 86.5 and 35.1 to 82.3 and 33.6, respectively. Meanwhile, the median credit score ticked up from 751 to 758, its highest reading in almost three decades. The median LTV (86.0) and DTI (35.5) of the typical Texas borrower who obtained a loan from a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) also declined, albeit less drastically than the corresponding components of the typical conventional loan (from 86.7 and 35.6, respectively). The improved credit profiles may reflect tightening lending standards as economic uncertainty looms heading into autumn.

Prices

The Texas median home price flattened at $261,300 in August but climbed 8.4 percent year over year (YOY). The annual growth rate in Central Texas and Dallas surpassed the state average, pushing the median price to $347,800 and $251,000 in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, and $319,800 in Dallas. On the other hand, YOY growth slowed to around 6.5 percent in both Fort Worth and Houston for a median price of $260,700 in the former and $260,600 in the latter. The growth rate in median sale price reflects the relative strength of demand for higher-priced homes as the lower-end of the market has been more vulnerable to recent employment shocks and constrained inventory.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index accounts for such compositional effects and provides a better measure of changes in single-family home values. The index suggested more moderate home-price appreciation than the change in the median price, but it still accelerated 5.4 percent annually in August compared with 4.2 percent the month prior. Austin’s metric rose at the fastest clip, jumping 8.3 percent and pushing the statewide rate above 5 percent for the first time in three years. The index climbed 5.7 percent in Fort Worth and 5.1 percent in San Antonio. The metric increased more moderately in Dallas and Houston, posting 4.6 percent and 4.1 percent YOY growth, respectively.  

Single-Family Forecast

The Real Estate Center projected single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (see table). Only one month in advance was projected due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of reliable and timely data. Texas sales are expected to rebound 13.7 percent in September after decreasing by more than a tenth in August. The desire to capitalize on historically low interest rates is driving home sales with activity in Central Texas and Houston predicted to accelerate around 16 percent, while DFW sales are projected to increase 13.1 percent. Texas’ housing market remains a pillar of the state’s economic recovery.

________________

* Bond and mortgage interest rates are nonseasonally adjusted. Loan-to-value ratios, debt-to-income ratios, and the credit score component are also nonseasonally adjusted.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter (October 13, 2020)

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

eClosing 101: Hybrid, In-Person and Remote Online

Broadly speaking, eClosings fall along a continuum that include three basic types – hybrid, in-person, and remote online. These methods incorporate varying amounts of the eClosing elements. In today’s blog, Dennis Pospisil, Senior Vice President/Digital Settlement and Signing Services, breaks down the different types of eClosings.

Hybrid eClosing “Hybrid” (“procedural” documents only closing) – At the low-end of the spectrum is the Hybrid or procedural documents only eClosing. This “entry-level” eClosing only involves electronic documents that do not need to be notarized or recorded, such as loan disclosures and settlement statements. The remainder of the closing takes place in a traditional manner.

All parties appear in person at the closing table, but some documents are signed electronically and some, typically collateral, notarized, and witnessed loan documents are wet signed. For documents that are electronically signed, generally one electronic signature is applied across all documents. Hybrid eClosings are the most popular and most widely used type of eClosing.

In-Person eClosing In-person – The middle-tier approach to eClosing involves electronically recording electronic documents with electronic signatures and electronic notarizations.  The closing takes place in-person utilizing a shared computer or tablet.

All parties appear in person either at the settlement agent’s office or in the presence of a mobile notary, and all documents are both signed and notarized electronically. Very few closings are full eClosings because a large percentage of lenders are not ready to have the note electronically signed.

Remote Online eClosing Remote Online eClosing (“RON”) is a new, technology-driven notarial process that allows the signer to appear before the notary over a live audio-video feed when executing digital documents.

Click here if you would like more information on our digital settlement services.

The FAQs of Title Insurance for Homebuyers

For most of us, a home is the largest investment we’ll make in our lives. To buy with confidence, get owner’s title insurance. It’s the smart way to protect your property from legal claims. To help you understand how owner’s title insurance works, here are answers to common questions.

What is title?

Title is your right to own or use your property. Title also establishes any limitations on those rights.

What is a title search?

A title search is an early step in the homebuying process to uncover issues that could limit your rights to the property. After the title search is complete, the title company can provide a title insurance commitment and then, after any requirements are met and closing occurs, a title policy.

What is title insurance?

If you’re buying a home, title insurance is a policy that protects your investment and property rights.

There are two different types of title insurance: an owner’s policy and a lender’s policy.

  1. An owner’s policy is the best way to protect your property rights. Either the buyer or seller may pay for this policy. Ask your title professional how it’s handled in your area.
  2. A lender’s policy is usually required by the lender and only protects the lender’s financial interests. The buyer typically pays for this policy, but that varies depending on geography. Ask your title professional how it’s handled in your area.

Why should I purchase owner’s title insurance?

Owner’s title insurance protects your investment in your property from certain future legal claims regarding ownership of, or liens on, your property. For a one-time fee, you and your heirs* receive coverage for as long as you own your home. The owner’s policy also covers potential legal fees and court costs for settling claims covered by your policy.

What does owner’s title insurance cover?

Sometimes undiscoverable defects can come up after the title search. Under an owner’s title insurance policy, you are protected against certain undiscovered errors in the title.

Title issues include unknown:

  • Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or a lien against the property because the seller has not paid his taxes
  • Pending legal action against the property that could affect you
  • Unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of the property

Unforeseeable title claims include:

  • Forgery: making a false document
    • For example, the seller misrepresents the identity of the person who sold the property.
  • Fraud: deception to achieve unfair gain
    • For example, someone steals your identity and either sells your house without your knowledge or consent, or takes out a second mortgage on the property and walks away with the money.
  • Clerical error: inconsistent paperwork and historical records
    • For example, an unforeseeable discrepancy in the property or fence line can cause confusion in ownership rights.

What does owner’s title insurance cost?

The one-time payment for owner’s title insurance is low relative to the value of your home. In Texas, rates are based on the sales price of the property and are set by the Texas Department of Insurance. You can calculate title insurance premium rates using the insurance calculator found on our website.

How long am I covered?

Your owner’s insurance policy lasts for as long as you or your heirs* own your property. Your life will change over time, but your protection never will.

What happens at closing?

Closing is the final step in executing the homebuying transaction and involves signing the documents that allows the creation of your new loan (if applicable), and transfer of ownership to occur. Upon completion of the closing and funding process, you get the keys to your home!

 

*This offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

Fall Maintenance Tips

Now that the temperatures are starting to cool down, it is the perfect time to start thinking about some interior/exterior maintenance around your home.

Here are some great DIY tips to get you started:

Exterior Fixes

  • Regularly clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.
  • Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood.
  • Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.
  • Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in.
  • To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs. Run the water until the pipes are empty. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes, if not; the water can freeze up and damage the pipes.
  • Wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape. It will save energy and prevent them from freezing.

System Maintenance

  • Clean and replace filters in your furnace or heating system. Contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service your gas heater or furnace to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Your local utility company will often provide this service for free.
  • If you use a hot water system for heating, drain the expansion tank, check the water pressure, and bleed your radiators.
  • Check the attic to make sure the insulation is installed properly. The vapor barrier on insulation should face down toward the living space. If it is installed incorrectly (with the vapor barrier facing up) then the insulation will trap moisture causing possible water problems. Cut slits in the vapor barrier to allow moisture to escape. To install attic insulation, unroll the insulation with the paper side out. Install small pieces of insulation between the joists on the attic floor. Be careful not to step between the joists.

Fall Garden Maintenance

  • Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials. Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing. But perennials often appear as though they too have bitten the bullet. That’s because their top growth dies back, although in most cases the root ball is hardy enough to survive even extreme temperatures, especially if it’s covered with a layer of mulch.
  • The best time to mulch perennials is after the first hard freeze. Just make sure you don’t cover the crown or center of the plant, because that can lead to rot.
  • Clean garden tools before storing for the winter.
  • Trim dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a winter storm.
  • Rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. Large leaves in particular, especially when they get wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below and lead to all kinds of insect and disease problems. So it’s a good idea to routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces.
  • Put the raked leaves in the compost pile or use as a mulch. Whatever you do, don’t waste fallen leaves because they’re an excellent source of nutrients and organic matter. You can also add them to flower beds to put a winter blanket on your garden.
  • Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you’re done, spread fertilizer then grass seed.
  • This will be the ideal time to sow cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye – it will give them the opportunity to germinate and develop a good root system before freezing temperatures arrive. It’s also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.

Check for Pests

  • Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. With gable vents that lead into the attic it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.
  • Even after closing off those entryways, pests can still find a way in. The first place to check for any unwanted guests is under the kitchen cupboards and appliances.

Safety Checks

  • Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home. A smoke alarm can save lives in a house fire. A carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.
  • Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless byproduct of burning oil or natural gas, and it can be deadly. For just a few dollars, a carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm if the levels get too high.
  • Always install carbon monoxide detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions. Generally they should be installed near each potential source of carbon monoxide, and within ear shot of the living and sleeping areas.
  • Have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Happy Fall Y’all!

Source: https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/maintenance-and-repair/repairing/autumn-maintenance-tips

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