Going up in a red balloon

Plano Balloon Festival – September 20-22, 2019

We all look forward to the Plano Balloon Festival this time of year.  Did you know that this year marks the 40th year of Ballooning in Plano and Collin County?

This three day event starts Friday at 4:00 pm at Oak Point Park – 2801 E. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano. The balloon launch is at 6:00 pm on Friday and 7:00 am and 6:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting). There are also a ton of fun events for the whole family.

Go to Plano Balloon Festival website and see the full schedule of events.

house graphic republic title

Texas Housing Insight

Here is a great post from Texas A&M Real Estate Center regarding home sales.

 

Texas housing sales recovered after second-quarter declines, trending upward amid lower mortgage interest rates and a robust economy. Mortgage applications for home purchases and refinances continued to rise, nudged by further decreases in interest rates. Demand was stable as the average home sold after two months on the market. On the supply side, single-family housing permits recovered from second quarter stagnation; however, starts remained sluggish. Home-price appreciation slowed but outpaced wage growth. Housing affordability continues to be the greatest challenge to the housing market across the state.

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, inched up amid ongoing payroll growth in the industry. Higher wages and an upturn in construction values, however, are crucial for the metric’s continued growth. The Residential Construction Leading Index rose to its highest level since the Great Recession as falling interest rates and a rebound in building permits favored a more positive outlook.

Single-family construction permits bounced back 16.5 percent after staggering in June, but the year-to-date (YTD) count remained behind January through July of last year. Nevertheless, Texas’ 10,504 monthly permits (nonseasonally adjusted) accounted for 15 percent of the U.S. total, extending a 13-year stretch as the national leader. Houston and DFW topped the list at the metropolitan level with 3,493 and 2,944 permits, respectively, but North Texas activity remained suppressed through 2019. On the other hand, permits rebounded in Central Texas after taking a step back in June. Austin ranked fifth behind Phoenix and Atlanta with 1,525 permits. San Antonio issued 817 permits, up 10.9 percent year over year (YOY).

Total Texas housing starts flattened as apartment construction stumbled on top of a steep decline in June. The single-family sector remained stagnant while single-family private construction values perpetuated a yearlong trend of decline. Houston construction values rebounded after falling to a seven-year low but trended downward. DFW registered similar movement while Austin and San Antonio values dipped in July.

Dwindling supply pulled Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) to the lowest level this year at 3.7 months. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. The MOI for homes priced less than $300,000, which comprised the majority of sales, ticked below 2.8 months. Inventory for luxury homes (those priced more than $500,000), however, increased for the fourth consecutive month to reach an MOI of nine months. These divergent trends exemplify the shortage of affordable housing and the current mismatch between demand and supply.

The MOI ticked down across the major metros, chipping away at 2018 gains. Houston’s MOI fell below four months. Dallas and Fort Worth reached YTD lows at 3.2 and 2.6 months, respectively. In San Antonio, the MOI slid to 3.6 months, while Austin inventories fell to a three-year low, registering below 2.4 months.

Demand

Total housing sales through the MLS corrected upward 17 percent in July after declines in the previous two months. All price cohorts registered double-digit YTD growth except for homes priced less than $100,000, where a shortage of supply constrains sales. Despite the monthly jump, the sales pace shows signs of slowing in the $200,000-$300,000 price range, where more than a third of transactions take place.

After reaching YTD lows in June, metropolitan housing sales posted cycle-highs. Resale activity in Central Texas boosted YTD sales by 3.7 and 3.1 percent in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, compared with the same period last year. Total sales in Houston registered a 1.2 percent rise as the existing-home transactions increased at a more moderate pace. Growth in Dallas and Fort Worth home sales flattened at 1.0 and 0.7 percent, respectively, as North Texas’ resale market fell short of 2018 levels in the first seven months.

As sales stabilized, Texas’ average days on market (DOM) inched up to 60 days. Demand in the major metros also softened slightly but hovered around yearlong averages. Austin and San Antonio’s DOM stabilized at 59 days, as did Houston’s metric after falling the second quarter. The DOM in Fort Worth ticked up to 45 days. Dallas was the exception, where the DOM extended a sharp incline, reaching a six-and-a-half-year high of 58 days.

Continued concerns about global economic growth and trade uncertainty pulled interest rates down for the ninth consecutive month. Economic fundamentals at the state and national level, however, remain healthy and stable. Interest rates could fall further following the Federal Reserve’s rate cut. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield flattened at a two-and-a-half year low of 2.1 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate dropped below 3.8 percent. Texans capitalized on lower rates, pushing mortgage applications for home purchases up 18.1 percent YTD. Refinance mortgage applications, which are more sensitive to interest rate fluctuations, have doubled since year-end.

Prices

The Texas median home price posted a new record-high, reaching $240,500. The annual rate of growth was 3.8 percent, below the 2018 average of 4.6 percent. Austin led the state with an all-time high median price of $315,500, followed by Dallas at $292,900. The median price in Fort Worth ($241,800) and Houston ($240,900) fell $800 and $400, respectively, from second-quarter record highs. San Antonio was the only metro with a median price below the statewide level, posting $232,500.

The Texas Repeat Sales Index increased 4.1 percent YOY on a statewide basis, insinuating greater home-price appreciation than the annual change in the Texas median home price. The index did, however, corroborate slowing growth compared with the 2018 and 2017 averages of 4.3 and 5.1 percent, respectively. North Texas registered 2.9 and 4.2 percent in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively; however, appreciation calmed in comparison to 2018 levels. On the other hand, Austin’s index accelerated 5.2 percent, the fastest growth rate in over two years. Houston and San Antonio’s indices rose above last year’s average pace to 2.8 and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Click here for the full report.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, and Paige Silva (September 6, 2019)

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

DFW Real Estate, Housing Market, Title Insurance, Title Company

Remine At-A-Glance

Did you know that there is a program that allows you to farm neighborhoods much more efficiently?  Our Technology Trainers, Annette and Robin, teach a great class that dives into how Remine can change your farming game. 

Check out our Remine At-A-Glance class and learn how to better farm neighborhoods.

Click this link to sign up for this class or any of our other classes offered by wonderful and knowledgeable trainers.

Big Changes Being Made to Rollback Taxes for Agricultural Land in Texas

Here is some very helpful information of changes that were made regarding land used for agricultural purpose.

HB 1743 was passed and amends sections 23.55 and 23.76 of the Property Tax Code regarding the appraisal methods and procedures in Texas.  Specific changes made to the Property Tax Code are in regards to rollback taxes for agricultural land.  Land that is converted from agricultural use to non-agricultural use will still incur a rollback tax.  However, starting September 1, 2019 the number of years for a rollback tax bill for changing to a non-agricultural use will be reduced from five years to three years and the interest rate imposed on a rollback tax bill is also reduced from 7% to 5%.

Source:   Dr. Blake Bennett, Associate Professor and Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Title Insurance Rate Change Effective September 1, 2019 – Reminder

Please note that beginning September 1, 2019, there will be a change to the basic premium rate for title insurance including an overall adjustment of -4.9 percent.

The Texas Commissioner of Insurance has issued an order adjusting the basic premium rate for title insurance and amending R-5, R-8 and R-20.

Summary of Changes

Basic Premium Rate – Includes an overall rate adjustment of -4.9 percent, a starting base rate of $25,000 and three new rate tiers for policies with face values over $25, $50 and $100 million.

Refinance Rate Amendment – Amends Rate Rule R-8 to provide for a 50 percent credit within the first four years and a 25 percent credit between four and eight years.

Simultaneous Issue Discount Expansion in R-5 – Allows a simultaneous issue rate credit for 90 days on transactions $5 million and above. The premium is $100 for each loan policy under these circumstances.

Construction Credit Expansion in R-20 – An extension of the credit for developers of large construction projects from one year to two years with a simultaneous issue rate for the loan policy.

These new rates will go into effect on all transactions that close (the date the papers are signed) starting on September 1, 2019.

Read the Order and View the Amendments

These changes are outlined in TDI’s adoption order. The revised rate chart and amended rules can be found in the following exhibits:

  • Exhibit A – Basic Premium Rates; Calculation for Policies in Excess of $100,000 with Examples
  • Exhibit B – (R-5) Simultaneous Issuance of Owner’s and Loan Policies
  • Exhibit C – (R-8) Loan Policy on a Loan to Take Up, Renew, Extend, or Satisfy an Existing Lien(s)
  • Exhibit D – (R-20) Owner’s Policy After Construction Period

Republic Title Online Resources

Please visit our website for additional online resources including:

As always, please feel free to contact your escrow officer if you have any questions about the new rates.  If you would like printed rate cards or need help using our online calculator, please contact one of business development representatives.

2018 – 2019 School Accountability Ratings Are Now Available

The 2018-2019 School Accountability Ratings have been released by Texas Education Agency. Click here for full ratings information for the DFW Area.  

If you would like more information regarding these ratings and other school related information, please visit the Texas Education Agency website.

Disclaimer:  This information was furnished by outside parties and Republic Title makes no claim to the accuracy.  Please contact the school district or the Texas Education Agency directly for any further information or explanation of ratings.

Yellow School bus with stop sigh in the street with red light open. Photo was taken in Canada.

Back To School Safety Tips

 It’s that time of year again when parents and children across the country are preparing to go back to school. Here are some great tips from ADT to help you and your student to be safe and have a great year!

School Zone Driving Safety Tips

  • Be on the lookout for school zone signals and ALWAYS obey the speed limits.
  • When entering a school zone, be sure to slow down and obey all traffic laws.
  • Always stop for school busses that are loading or unloading children.
  • Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.
  • Be aware of and watch out for children near schools, bus stops, sidewalks, in the streets, in school parking lots, etc.
  • Never pass other vehicles while driving in a school zone.
  • Never change lanes while driving in a school zone.
  • Never make U-Turns while driving in a school zone.
  • Never text while driving in a school zone.
  • Avoid using a cell phone, unless it is completely hands-free, while driving in a school zone.
  • Unless licensed to do so, never use handicap or emergency vehicle lanes or spaces to drop off or pick up children at school.

Riding Your Bike to School

  • Check with the school to make sure your child is allowed to ride their bicycle to school. Some schools do not allow students to ride bicycles to school until they reach a specific grade.
  • Make sure your child always wears a bicycle helmet! Failure to wear one could result in a traffic citation. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
  • Obey the rules of the road; the rules are the same for all vehicles, including bicycles.
  • Always stay on the right-hand side of the road and ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Be sure your child know and uses all of the appropriate hand signals.
  • Choose the safest route between home and school and practice it with children until they can demonstrate traffic safety awareness.
  • If possible, try to ride with someone else. There is safety in numbers.

Playground Safety

  • MA supervisor must always be present when children are at the school’s playground. Make sure your school has someone who monitors the playgrounds at all times.
  • Playground equipment should be surrounded by shock-absorbing material that is at least nine inches thick.
  • Protective surfaces should extend six feet in all directions around the playground equipment. For swings, it should extend twice the height of the set.
  • Due to strangulation hazards, do not attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes or cords of any kind to playground equipment.
  • Be watchful of sharp edges or points on equipment.
  • Alert the school if you notice anything strange about the playground equipment at your child’s school.
  • Spaces that can trap children, such as openings between ladder rungs, should measure less than three and a half inches or more than nine inches.
  • All elevated surfaces, such as ramps, should have guardrails to prevent falls.

Walking to School

  • Leave early enough to arrive at school at least 10 minutes prior to the start of school.
  • Use the same route every day and never use shortcuts.
  • Go straight home after school. Do not go anywhere else without permission.
  • Always use public sidewalks and streets when walking to school.
  • Demonstrate traffic safety awareness and pick the safest route between your home and the school and practice walking it with your children.
  • Try and walk to school with other students. There is strength in numbers.
  • Teach your children to recognize and obey traffic signals, signs, and pavement markings.
  • Only cross streets at designated crosswalks, street corners and traffic controlled intersections.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street and never enter streets from between obstacles like parked cars, shrubbery, signs, etc.
  • Always walk and never run across intersections.
  • Avoid talking to strangers. Teach your children to get distance between themselves and anyone who tries to approach or make contact with them.
  • If a stranger does approach your child, make sure they know to immediately report the incident to you or a teacher.
  • Teach your children to never get into a vehicle with anyone, even if they know them, without your permission.

Clothing and School Supplies

  • To prevent injury, backpacks should have wide straps, padding in the back and shoulders, and should not weigh more than 10 to 15 percent of a child’s body weight.
  • When placing items in a backpack, place the heavier items in first. The closer the heavier items are to a child’s back, the less strain it will cause.
  • Children should use both backpack straps and all compartments for even distribution of weight.
  • Remove drawstrings from jackets, sweatshirts, and hooded shirts to reduce the risk of strangulation injuries.
  • Art supplies in the classroom should always be child safe and non-toxic. Be sure they have “CONFORMS TO ASTM D-4236” on their packaging.
  • Make sure your child’s school is up-to-date on the latest recalled children’s products and toys.

School Bus Safety

  • Make habit of arriving at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled arrival of the bus.
  • Make sure your child stays out of the street and avoids excessive horseplay while waiting for the school bus.
  • Be sure the bus comes to a complete stop before getting on or off.
  • When riding the bus, make sure your child understands they must remain seated and keep their head and arms inside the bus at all times.
  • Do not shout or distract the driver.
  • Do not walk in the driver’s “blind spot” — this is the area from the front of the bus to about 10 feet in front of the bus.

Source: https://www.adt.com/resources/back-to-school-safety

Sold Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful New House.

After Closing Reminders For Sellers

Your house has sold and the deal is closed.  Now what do you do?

Here are some reminders for you as the seller:

  • Cancel your homeowners insurance with your insurance agent once the transaction has closed, funded and your personal items have been removed from the home. There may be a prorated refund of your homeowner’s policy, based on the latest renewal date, owed to you. If you are remaining at the property after closing, you should notify your insurance agent of this change.
  • Cancel your auto deduction for your house payment with your current lender if applicable.
  • Your lender will refund all monies left in your escrow account approximately 15 to 30 business days after receipt of the payoff funds. The lender will mail a package containing your original Promissory Note marked “PAID” and the other loan file documents. Retain these for future reference. When you receive this confirmation, you may also receive a “Release of Lien” or “Reconveyance of Lien” from your lender. If the release does not appear to have been recorded with the County Clerk’s office, please forward it to your closer at the title company. We have collected for the recording of the document at closing and will send it to the County to be filed, thereby releasing the lien of record.
  • Depending on what time of the year you sold your property, the Taxing Appraisal District may not have updated the account to show a change in ownership. If you receive a Tax Bill for the property that you sold, refer to your closing statement and send the bill to the new owners.
  • You will receive a Substitute Form 1099-S from Republic Title within 30 days of closing. In addition, retain your closing statement, it serves as a Substitute Form 1099-S for tax purposes.

We hope these tips have been helpful to you in answering any post closing questions you may have had. As always, please do not hesitate to contact your closer should you have any questions. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this transaction.

Click here for printable version.