What is Survey Deletion Coverage?

Survey Deletion Coverage is often also referred to as “Survey Deletion”, “Survey Amendment”, and “Survey Coverage.”  When survey deletion coverage is given in the title policy it offers Buyers protection for errors or omissions that may have been made by the surveyor and accepted by the title company by changing the language in the “standard exception” of the title policy to read “Shortages in Area” only.  The “standard survey exception” in a title commitment or policy (before being amended) reads:

“Any discrepancies, conflicts, or shortage in area or boundary lines, or any encroachments or protrusions, or any overlapping of improvements.”

 Upon receipt of an acceptable survey, the title company may amend this exception to read “Shortages in area” only.   Things that a title company will look at to determine if a survey will be acceptable include, but are not limited to, the following:  that items noted on the survey are listed in the title commitment, verify the legal description, check platted building lines and platted easements, and other matters such as the seal and signature of the engineer, date of the survey, and north directional arrow. 

Survey Deletion is addressed in paragraph 6. A. (8) of the TREC One to Four Family Residential Contract, where the parties select between the options of amending or not amending the standard exception in the title policy and who will be responsible for the payment of the premium.

There are other issues that may show up in the review of a survey, such as a building or driveway or fence over a building line, or into a platted easement.  When this happens, the title company may still accept the survey and amend the standard exception to read “Shortages in Area” only, but will generally add a special exception on Schedule B of the title commitment and owner’s title policy for any of these issues that were shown on the survey.              

The cost of survey deletion coverage on residential transactions is 5% of the Owners Title Policy Premium, and is 15% of the Owner Title Policy Premium in a commercial transaction.

For more information on Survey Deletion Coverage, download our Survey Deletion Coverage Q&A flyer 

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Bridging the Settlement and Lender Divide in a Digital World

Republic Title’s Dennis Pospisil, Senior Vice President of Digital Settlement and Signing Services recently sat down with eOrignal to talk about bridging the lender and settlement divide in a digital world. Check out the conversation here:

eOriginal: What barriers do you see standing in the way of a completely digital real estate experience?

Teri:

I think engagement and adoption across the industry is crucial, but certain barriers may exist, like having the necessary equipment to support the adoption of digital mortgages. For example, consider escrow agents using a mobile notary. Are they prepared, willing and ready to take digital closings on the road with them? Has everyone (and I do mean everyone) involved in the closing had the required training? Are they setup in the system with logins, etc.?

The other thing that concerns me is the existence of multiple platforms. Is that scalable for settlement companies? Are settlement companies willing to receive transactions across multiple systems?

On a different side of the transaction, are loan officers willing to adopt and change what the closing experience and celebration will look like? Will they partner for the future by thinking about what they want the closing experience to look like in the years to come?

These are a few of the questions I believe the industry should consider as we move into this digital era.

Dennis:

Many people subscribe to the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” philosophy, but sometimes it is about making an existing way of doing things better. To continually be relevant in the market, you have to ask, “Can we make it better?  If so, how?” I don’t see enough mortgage professionals focusing on those questions.

There are other barriers directly related to finances. For example, some settlement companies are not setup properly for high speed internet nor, in some cases, do they possess technology like tablets, laptops, and/or other items that are necessary to conduct a completely digital closing.

Lastly, there are practical barriers unique to our industry, such as legislation and the county clerks’ offices in the areas we serve. Does your state have legislation in place supporting remote online notarization (RON)? Does your state have legislation in place supporting the papering out of eSigned recordable documents? What about the steps necessary to bridge the traditional method of recording with the non-traditional method of eSigning?

Unique barriers are going to exist outside of these thoughts, so those interested in supporting digital closings must identify and work through them one at time.

eOriginal: What do you think is on the horizon? How about 5 to 10 years from now?

Dennis:

First, I think we’ll see additional RON legislation in various states. We are still at the beginning of this new digital age and several states still don’t have legislation in place to allow remote online notarization. You also have some states with RON legislation in place but with a few key elements still missing or being worked on, like a “papering out” bill. As an example, Texas should expect a “papering out” bill to pass very soon, as early as September 2019.

On the seller side of real estate transactions, I see RON making a shift towards a new and more convenient experience. The borrower side is probably heading in that direction as well, but from a settlement agent’s perspective, we’ll have to see how each of our lending partners adopts the concept of digital settlement, since it isn’t something we can control.

Then we have AI, or artificial intelligence, and machine learning, which are big ticket items beginning to play a role in the life cycle of the real estate transaction. They are still some time away, but it’s fascinating to read about all the work and projects already underway.

To help the readers understand the interplay a bit better, consider AI as the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart.” Machine learning is a subset or current application of AI based around the idea of providing machines access to data and letting them ‘learn’ for themselves. Within our space, we are already seeing some of the large-scale real estate sites using AI for home or rental recommendations.

Teri:

I agree with Dennis’s comments. At Fairway, the experience delivered to the consumer is critical, and we see settlement agents as a crucial component to ensuring that experience is positive, both now and into the future.

The mortgage industry is moving quite quickly. On the one hand, you have the proposed Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) changes that are happening, and on the other hand we see many different investors, programs, and products available, so it takes a lot of effort just to keep up with our market. Then factor in the Ginnie Mae offerings and the move toward digital transactions, and it’s clear that this is an exciting time to be in mortgage!

eOriginal: Where can others go to learn more about digital mortgages and lender and/or settlement agent best practices?

Teri:

They’ve already found one resource, this blog article. Others worth visiting include:

Dennis:

Adding to the list that Teri provided I’d say the following are good resources:

To view the full webinar, please visit http://info.eoriginal.com/W-JUL-MG-DC-19_On-Demand-LP.html?Digital_Source=Website

Source:  https://www.eoriginal.com/blog/voice-from-the-industry-settlement-and-lenders-answer-key-questions-about-digital-closings/

 

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Texas Housing Insight

Here is the 2019 Annual Summary from Texas A&M Real Estate Center.

2019 Annual Summary

Texas housing sales recovered from a 2018 slowdown as homes sold through the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) increased 3.8 percent in 2019. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to a three-year low, which, along with steady economic growth at both the national and state levels, bolstered housing demand. Although inventories remained constrained, especially for homes priced less than $300,000, home-price appreciation slowed for the third straight year. Housing affordability, which has supported Texas’ population and economic growth since the housing crisis, remains the greatest challenge to the Texas home market.

Single-family sales are projected to accelerate 6.4 percent in 2020, assuming mortgage rates remain relatively low and economic activity continues. Anticipated increases in supply-side activity, as indicated by improved vacant lot development, permit issuance, and housing starts, should keep price appreciation at more manageable levels than during the recovery period following the mid-decade oil bust. (For additional commentary, see the 2020 Texas Housing & Economic Outlook at www.recenter.tamu.edu.)

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, rose 2.2 percent annually as industry employment increased. Momentum should continue into 2020 as indicated by the Texas Residential Construction Leading Index, which reached its highest level since before the Great Recession. Relatively low interest rates and upward-trending housing permits and starts supported the positive outlook.

In response to supply shortages, developers accelerated activity at the earliest stage of the construction cycle. According to Metrostudy, the number of new vacant developed lots (VDLs) in the Texas Urban Triangle reached its highest level in the post-recessionary period at more than 107,000, resulting in 11.2 percent annual growth. Much of the development in Houston and San Antonio were for homes intended to sell for less than $300,000. Austin developed a record 22,000 lots, although higher construction costs forced most of the development into the $200,000-$400,000 range. Activity in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) stepped back after eight consecutive annual increases but remained elevated compared with the metro’s five-year average.

Increased lot development in Central Texas pushed single-family housing construction permits up 2.4 percent. Austin issued a record-high 18,100 permits while San Antonio activity accelerated to 9,100 permits. Despite rising VDLs in Houston, permits flattened after exceeding 40,000 in 2018 for the first time since 2007. Meanwhile in North Texas, issuance declined 3.1 percent to 35,100 permits, driven by a moderate decrease in Dallas-Plano-Irving.

Total Texas housing starts faltered to start the year but finished strong, increasing 11.5 percent as the single-family sector gained momentum in the second half of 2019. Per Metrostudy, starts for single-family homes priced less than $200,000 rose for the first time since 2012, signaling renewed efforts to provide residences at the lower end of the price spectrum. Housing starts in that bottom price range, however, constituted only 6 percent of the 98,400 single-family homes that broke ground in the major metros. Most of the improvement was due to surges in Austin and San Antonio, corresponding to similar trends in VDLs and permits. Starts in DFW and Houston flattened, comprising two-thirds of Texas metropolitan starts, the lowest share in series history.

A total of $32.1 billion of new construction poured into Texas’ single-family market amid economic and population growth. Single-family private construction values, however, declined 5.7 percent annually after adjusting for inflation. The ratio of construction value per housing start trended downward for most of 2019, a result of homebuilders’ efforts to boost supply at the lower end of the market. At the metro level, Houston construction values normalized after an 8.2 percent increase in 2018 due to Hurricane Harvey rebuilding efforts. DFW values dropped for the second straight year as supply-side metrics stagnated. On the bright side, Central Texas activity continued to trend up, although Austin showed signs of decelerating.

Texas’ total months of inventory (MOI) fell to 3.1 months due to record-breaking sales; however, increased residential construction supported active listings as the MOI steadied at its three-year average. A total MOI of around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory fell across all price cohorts, but homes priced less than $300,000 fared the worst with only 2.6 months of supply. The MOI for luxury homes (priced more than $500,000) was 5.5 months. This disparity exemplifies the shortage of affordable housing, although efforts have been made to more closely match demand and supply.

After improvement the previous year in all the major metros, only San Antonio’s MOI extended the upward trend, ticking up to 3.2 months. Fort Worth inventory flattened at 2.1 months. Austin’s metric experienced the steepest decrease with inventories the most constrained in 20 years, dropping to 1.8 months as accelerated sales chipped away at active listings. Positive momentum in early supply measures, however, bodes well for Austin inventory in 2020. The Dallas and Houston MOIs fell to 2.4 and 3.4 months, respectively, amid rapid sales, but increased supply tempered the decline.

Demand

A record 356,576 Texas homes sold through MLSs in 2019, accelerating 3.8 percent. The bottom end of the market (homes priced less than $200,000) continued to drag on activity due to a lack of supply and rising construction costs but did not hinder total sales from exceeding the national pace (1.1 percent) for the third straight year. Some of the 2019 growth can be attributed to softer sales in the previous year due to interest rate hikes, but the average 2018–19 growth was a respectable 3 percent.

At the metropolitan level, Austin led with annual growth of 5.9 percent, followed by San Antonio sales, which climbed 5.7 percent. In Houston, transactions matched 2018 improvement of 3.4 percent. North Texas sales increased 3.8 and 1.4 percent in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively, after falling the previous year as the market adjusted to steep home-price appreciation between 2013–17.

In the new-home market, all four major metros recorded positive growth for the second consecutive year. Metrostudy data revealed Houston new-home sales increased 9.2 percent, exceeding pre-oil bust levels. Houston’s market share of new homes sold in the major metros, however, slid from 41 percent as early as 2017 to just over one-third. DFW and Austin gained market share as new-home sales increased 6.1 and 14.9 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, San Antonio sold 12,700 new homes, marking the best year since before the housing crisis.

Homeownership across the country flattened at 64.5 percent and decreased slightly in Texas to 62.4 percent. Although the recent rise in home purchases by millennials relieved some of the downward pressure associated with an aging population, many potential homeowners struggle with saving enough money for a down payment. On the positive side, the decrease in homeownership may be partially due to an increasing number of young adults forming their own households, in which case the first step is typically renting versus buying a home, as they become financially independent. Moreover, net domestic migration as a portion of Texas’ overall population growth in 2019 rose to its highest level since 2006 at 34.2 percent. Movers from other states likely added to the household count but may not have been able to purchase a home right away. On the metro level, San Antonio maintained the highest homeownership rate at 62.5 percent despite declining relative to 2018. The metric in DFW also decreased, falling to 60.7 percent. Austin and Houston, on the other hand, registered increases in homeownership, pushing the rate up to 59.0 and 61.3 percent, respectively. 

Amid solid economic growth, Texas’ average days on market (DOM) balanced at 59 days, corroborating robust housing demand. San Antonio’s DOM matched that of the statewide measure versus 57 days in 2018 as inventory increased. The metric moved similarly in Houston as the average home sold after 57 days compared with 56 days the previous year. Demand softened in DFW but remained strong relative to the rest of the state, averaging 53 and 43 days in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. After ticking up for four straight years in Austin, the metro’s DOM stabilized at 55 days.

Interest rates fell through the first three quarters of 2019 and hovered at levels unseen since the mid-decade oil bust as the national economy continued to grow in its longest expansion on record. Uncertainty regarding trade disputes and the slowing global economy pulled long-term rates below those for short-term instruments (inverting the yield curve) to start the second half of the year but has since reverted to normal conditions. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield averaged 2.1 percent while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate shed 60 basis points, falling to 3.9 percent. Texans capitalized on lower rates, pushing mortgage applications for home purchases up 26.7 percent compared with 2018. Refinance mortgage applications, which are more sensitive to interest rate fluctuations, nearly tripled during the same time period.

Prices

Despite low inventory and increased sales, home-price appreciation decelerated to its slowest pace since 2011. The Texas median home price jumped 3.2 percent annually relative to growth of 4.3 percent in 2018. Although the growth rate moderated, the median price reached an all-time high of $240,000, a $7,500 increase. Some of the upward pressure may be due to a distributional shift in sales activity away from homes priced below $100,000.

Median price appreciation in Texas’ major metros moderated. The median home price in Austin ($315,000) and San Antonio ($230,000), rose 3.3 and 3.6 percent, respectively. Fort Worth’s median home price climbed 5 percent but just surpassed the statewide average at $243,600, while the Dallas metric increased 2.5 percent to $292,000. Houston was the exception where the median price growth rate accelerated from 3.1 to 4.3 percent in 2019, resulting in a $10,000 hike to $245,000. 

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 rose 3.8 percent year over year (YOY) in 4Q2019, matching the growth rate in 4Q2018. In Austin, the index was more in line with economic theory as it pertains to dwindling supply and rising demand than the metro’s median price, accelerating 5.4 percent relative to 2.9 percent the previous year. San Antonio’s index exhibited upward pressure, rising 4.2 percent as sales activity picked up. The Dallas and Fort Worth indexes continued to reduce pace to 2.2 and 4.0 percent growth, respectively, after increasing about 8 percent mid-decade. Houston’s metric experienced steady growth at 2.6 percent.

Slower home-price appreciation and lower interest rates boosted housing affordability. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index measures the share of homes sold that would have been affordable to a family earning the local median income, based on standard mortgage underwriting criteria. In 3Q2019, the national estimate was 64.3 percent, up nearly 7 percentage points from one year prior. In Texas, the major metros reported increased affordability. Austin was the most affordable with an index value of 66.1, an improvement of 11.3 percentage points from 3Q2018. The San Antonio and Houston indices were close behind at 64.9 and 64.6 percent, respectively. Although affordability rose in Dallas and Fort Worth, the proportion of homes that families earning the local median income could afford fell below the nationwide average at 57.8 and 62.7 percent, respectively. Texas enjoyed greater affordability than the rest of the country in the years prior to and immediately following the Great Recession, but, it has recently seen a decline in affordability. Continued improvement is important to Texas’ demographic advantages that have supported the state’s economic prosperity over the past decade.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, and Paige Silva (February 5, 2020) https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-In…

Welcome to Texas

Texas Welcomed More Than a Half-Million New Residents in 2018

The 2020 Texas Relocation Report released today by Texas REALTORS® shows the state ranked second in the nation for relocation activity in 2018, with 563,945 new residents moving to the state. 

Texas eclipsed its 2017 total for new residents (524,511), and accounting for those moving out of state, saw a 78.1% increase in net new residents—from from 57,173 in 2017 to 101,805 residents in 2018. 

“For the sixth year in a row, more than half a million people chose Texas as their new home,” said Cindi Bulla, 2020 chairman of Texas REALTORS®. “And why not? In addition to its business-friendly environment with no state income tax and abundance of jobs, land. and opportunity, Texas is known for its diverse, friendly spirit and culture.”

The top states for incoming residents to Texas were California (86,164), Florida (37,262), Louisiana (29,108), Oklahoma (24,590), and New York (21,509). Compared to 2017, the number of incoming residents from California increased 36.4% in 2018. Of the state’s new residents, 201,559 moved to Texas from outside of the country. 

Texas saw 462,140 residents relocate out of state in 2018—the third-highest figure among U.S. states. California (37,810), Oklahoma (31,551), Colorado (26,930), Florida (24,197), and Louisiana (23,588) were the top destinations for those moving out of Texas. 

Source: https://www.texasrealestate.com/members/posts/texas-welcomed-more-than-a-half-million-new-residents-in-2018/

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Voice from the Industry: Leading the Digital Charge in Settlement

Republic Title’s Dennis Pospisil, Senior Vice President of Digital Settlement and Signing Services recently sat down with eOrignal to talk about digital trends from a settlement industry perspective. Check out the full conversation here:

eOriginal: Dennis, would you mind giving our readers an overview of your background?

Dennis: I originally received a degree in Information and Operations Management (or MIS), which focused on the intersection between technology and business. But my work history centers on real estate, having started my career as a real estate agent and then working across all aspects of a settlement company, eventually finding myself leading the charge for technology at Republic Title of Texas, Inc.

eOriginal: Why is Republic Title of Texas supporting the move toward digital mortgages? What is in it for you?

Dennis: At Republic, we take an “outside-in” approach, meaning that we first consider what is best for our customers, along with their wants and needs. We are starting to see the persona of the consumer change. Gone are the Baby Boomers and in are the Generation Xers and Millennials, who tend to be more comfortable with and have a preference for digital technologies.

Secondly, we consider decisions from a strategic company perspective, ensuring we meet the needs of the market. The market desires a digital buying experience, and frankly, closing is the last piece of the buying process that hasn’t gone digital. There is a lot of pent-up value waiting to be tapped just by digitizing that last element.

eOriginal: You’ve had a lot of experience with digital technologies. Would you mind talking about your early experiences with digital mortgages?

Dennis: I’ve done a number of hybrid closings on smaller platforms that died over the years. In those early days, the promise of digital closings sounded great from a settlement agent’s perspective, but the settlement community did not have the right technology to make it a convenient and positive experience for the consumer.

To paint a picture, consider what a closing with both electronically and wet-signed documents was like 10 years ago. The first part of the closing would go smoothly, but just when the borrower thinks they are finished, they would need to step into another room to complete the eSigning portion with a desktop computer and a large monitor. That’s not just inconvenient for the borrower, it’s also confusing.

But today, with mobile devices and tablets as well as existing wireless technologies, the supporting technology is in place to ensure a smooth digital closing experience.  We can offer concierge closing services that match the busy lives of today’s consumers.

eOriginal: You’ve used several digital solutions. What is some advice you can give to mortgage professionals and, more specifically, settlement agents about what to look for in a solution?

Dennis: I’d suggest they first consider what role the technology plays in their day-to-day activities. Is it an entire production system or is it an ancillary supporting system?

I’d also encourage mortgage professionals to consider the steps required to do basic operations in the product. Are there too many manual or redundant steps? Remember – these systems are supposed to make your lives easier.

Finally, I’ve been exposed to vendors in the past who didn’t have a vision for the future. They might have come out with the innovative and exciting capability that was in the news at the time, but they didn’t consider how those capabilities could provide value at scale, or how to augment and grow them in the future. I suggest others in the industry partner with providers that have a solid roadmap, a pulse on the market, and are seeking to find a different and better way.

eOriginal: What barriers do you see to settlement agents supporting digital mortgages?

Dennis: Many people subscribe to the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” philosophy, but sometimes it is about making an existing way of doing things better. To continually be relevant in the market, you have to ask, “Can we make it better? If so, how?” I don’t see enough mortgage professionals focusing on those questions.

There are other barriers directly related to finances. For example, some settlement companies are not set up for high-speed internet, tablets, or laptops. And, finally, there are practical barriers unique to our industry, like legislation and the county clerks’ offices in the areas we serve. For example, we are still waiting on a “papering out” bill in Texas, but once that is in place, many of the existing hurdles to digital closings will begin to disappear.

eOriginal: One thing we hear about in the market is the potential for cost savings with digital. But we often hear about that in reference to lenders and other sectors of the mortgage ecosystem, not the settlement community. Are there potential cost savings for settlement agents? 

Dennis: Yes, but I prefer to look beyond cost savings and consider revenue potential. Depending on the size of the operation, there are obvious hard cost savings in the form of paper, toner, and devices for printing. There are also softer savings like operational efficiency. At Republic Title of Texas, the efficiencies gained from adopting digital allow us to free our talented employees to drive growth for our business through new services and new markets. It allows us to access our business’s untapped potential.

eOriginal: We’ve talked about costs and revenue opportunities, but what about broader headaches? Can digital technology help there as well?

Dennis: Lost or misplaced files is certainly one headache that digital addresses. When you are using a digital system, your files and data are in one place, easily accessible. Another headache is in the talent management realm. There are talented people that settlement companies cannot hire because they don’t live near any of their brick-and-mortar locations. Supporting a digital process may open more avenues for finding top talent.

eOriginal: Do you feel the adoption and commitment toward digital mortgage is different now than in times past? If so, how?

Dennis: Thinking back to the early 2000s, we saw interest develop and then, just as quickly, disappear. The feeling is substantially different today. For one, we’ve seen many more digital closings this year than in years past. In fact, MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. recently announced that there were more eNotes registered in the first quarter of 2019 than in all of 2018. A second point to consider is that the ecosystem required to support and sustain the digital mortgage movement is taking shape, certainly much more than it did in those early years.

eOriginal: As we close, do you have any suggestions for settlement agencies considering support for digital mortgages?

Dennis: Be sure to approach moving to digital as a strategic initiative, rather than a one-off project. Think about your overall business strategy and then factor where digital can provide a sustainable impact. Be prepared to fully support and build on digital capabilities, rather than making a one-time investment in the latest technology. A commitment to digital requires more than just technology, it requires building a team of positive, digitally ready employees along with a strong ecosystem of digitally enabled partners.

Source: https://www.eoriginal.com/blog/a-voice-from-the-industry-leading-the-digital-charge-in-settlement/

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Tax Information For New Homeowners

As a new property owner, you are required to pay property taxes on this real estate. It is taxed each year by a variety of jurisdictions including the county, city and school district. As a new purchaser, you need to notify the taxing authorities of your ownership so that the tax rolls will reflect the change.  You may do this by contacting the appropriate tax appraisal district in your county from the following list:

Collin County Appraisal District – 469-742-9200 – www.collincad.org

Dallas County Appraisal District – 214-631-0520 – www.dallascad.org

Denton County Appraisal District – 940-349-3800 – www.dentoncad.com

Ellis County Appraisal District – 972-937-3552 – www.elliscad.org

Grayson County Appraisal District – 903-893-9673 – www.graysonappraisal.org

Hunt County Appraisal District – 903-454-3510 – www.hunt-cad.org

Johnson County Appraisal District – 817-648-3000 – www.johnsoncad.com

Kaufman County Appraisal District – 972-932-6081 – www.kaufman-cad.org

Parker County Appraisal District – 817-596-0077 – www.parkercad.org

Rockwall County Appraisal District – 972-771-2034 – www.rockwallcad.com

Tarrant County Appraisal District – 817-284-0024 – www.tad.org

Your property is assigned a single appraised value, which is sent to all taxing jurisdictions. The jurisdiction then applies the tax rate, as set by its governing body, to the appraised value.

In order to qualify for a residential homestead exemption you must provide the following to the Central Appraisal District when submitting your application:

  1. A copy of the applicant’s Texas drivers license or Texas identification certificate.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The property address on the exemption application must match the address listed on the applicant’s Texas driver’s /Texas identification certificate; otherwise the Chief Appraiser is prohibited from approving the exemption.

**TAX EXEMPTIONS
On January 1, value ownership, legal description of the property and exemption status of the taxpayer is determined. Several forms of tax relief are available which may reduce the taxable value of your property. Applying for exemptions is the taxpayer’s responsibility. Some exemptions require a new application each year.  Contact your appraisal district to learn more about the following exemptions and how to file for them:

• General Homestead Exemption
• Over 65 Exemption
• Disabled Individual Exemption
• Disabled Veteran Exemption
• Agriculture Land Exemption

TO RECEIVE YOUR EXEMPTION(S), YOU MUST OWN THE PROPERTY AND BE LIVING IN THE PROPERTY AS OF JANUARY 1ST. YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE APPLIED FOR ON OR BEFORE APRIL 30TH TO RECEIVE THE TAX BENEFITS FOR THIS YEAR, THIS IS A FREE SERVICE.

Remember, tax statements are generally mailed in October of each year. The taxes are payable on or after October 31st, however, you may elect to pay them as late as January 31st without penalty. Taxes become delinquent February 1st and on this date penalties and interest do accrue. If you receive
a Tax Statement and your mortgage company is escrowing funds for taxes from your monthly payments, forward the statement to your mortgage company so that they can pay the taxes.

If the Central Appraisal District sends correspondence regarding your exemption, make sure to respond.

Republic Title of Texas, Inc. makes no express or implied warranty respecting the information presented and assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions.

Click here for a printable version.

Renting vs. Buying – Is this your year?

New year, new house?  Could this be the year you finally buy a house and get out of renting for good? There is a lot to consider with this decision so we’ve put together a list of the advantages of buying and some reasons to keep renting in the event buying is not in your best interest at the moment.  Take a look and think it over!  If you have any questions on buying vs. renting, there’s no better person to talk to than a Realtor.  They are your industry experts and can get you going on the path towards buying.

Advantages of Buying

  • Ample inventory of new and existing homes means more choices and competitive home prices for potential home buyers.
  • Interest rates are generally low right now, making it a great time to buy.
  • When you buy a house, you will know that the mortgage rate for the next 5 to 30 years is going to be the same every month. Rent may continue to increase each year.
  • With each payment, you will build equity and increase the amount of total home ownership.
  • There may be down payment programs available in your area that can help you purchase your first home.

You Should Consider Buying If

  • You want to build wealth.  Investing into real estate is the fastest way to add zeros to the end of your net worth.
  • You want to settle down, build community and know you will be in the same city or town for at least 2 years.

You Should Keep Renting If

  • You need flexibility and don’t want to commit to staying in the same location for the foreseeable future.
  • You have limited income or are unsure about your current job.  Renting allows you the flexibility to downsize your living space.

If you are thinking about buying a home, reach out to a REALTOR® to get started.

Click here for a printable version.

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Texas Housing Insight

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

Texas housing sales stabilized in November after reaching a record high the previous month. Steady employment growth and low mortgage interest rates continued to support housing demand, as exemplified by rising mortgage applications and a downtick in the average days on market. As home builders continued to concentrate their efforts to provide more affordable homes, inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 expanded for the first time since February. Additional supply at the lower end of the market pushed Austin sales to record-breaking levels while also supporting an increase in San Antonio’s sales volume. On the other hand, November home purchases in Houston and North Texas fell due to low inventories in the same price range. Although home-price appreciation has moderated over the past few years, housing affordability remains the primary challenge to the Texas housing market.

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, ticked up with industry wage improvements. The Residential Construction Leading Index rose to its highest level since the Great Recession as housing starts increased, suggesting higher levels of construction in the coming months.

Single-family construction permits fell for the first time in five months, but the year-to-date (YTD) count increased 1.5 percent compared with January-through-November levels in 2018. Texas led the nation with 9,128 nonseasonally adjusted permits, accounting for 16 percent of the U.S. total, but ranked seventh in per capita issuance. On the metropolitan level, Houston topped the list for the 13th straight month with 2,883 permits, followed by DFW with a post-recessionary record 2,789. Issuance remained strong in Central Texas with 1,259 and 736 permits in Austin and San Antonio, respectively. Texas’ monthly multifamily permits stepped back from a YTD record in October but maintained a strong upward trend.

Total Texas housing starts accelerated to a one-and-a-half year high, increasing 6.1 percent amid a rebound in the multifamily sector. Single-family private construction values fell 8.7 percent after data revisions pushed October values upward. November levels, however, were in line with the yearlong average. Houston and San Antonio registered monthly losses but maintained positive momentum. Austin and DFW construction values increased after dropping in October.

Strong construction activity balanced solid sales volumes. Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) remained at 3.6 months for the fifth consecutive month. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. The MOI for homes priced less than $300,000, which comprised two-thirds of sales, ticked above 2.8 as the supply of active listings increased for the third straight month. Inventory for luxury homes (those priced more than $500,000), however, remained elevated at 8.3 months. This disparity exemplifies the shortage of affordable housing, although efforts have been made to more closely match demand and supply.

Inventory continued to decrease in Austin and Dallas, sliding below 2.2 months in the former and posting 3.1 months in the latter. The Fort Worth and Houston MOIs steadied at 2.5 and 3.9 months, respectively. Meanwhile in San Antonio, a recent influx of new listings pushed the MOI to 3.7 months with a notable increase in the $200,000-$300,000 price cohort.

Demand

Total housing sales flattened in November after adjusting for seasonality. The upward trend, however, persisted amid low interest rates and ongoing strength in the job market. Activity for homes priced above $200,000 slowed after reaching record-breaking levels the previous month but increased more than 10 percent compared with 2018 on a YTD basis.

Central Texas sales volumes continued to grow, particularly in Austin, where transactions climbed 3.2 percent for the fifth straight month. Most of the monthly improvement occurred in the $200,000-$300,000 price range after weakness in the first half of the year. San Antonio sales rose 1 percent, largely due to a surge in closings for homes priced below $200,000. Houston and Fort Worth, however, lost traction in the $200,000-$300,000 bracket, pulling total sales down 1.3 and 1.1 percent, respectively. Dallas sales activity declined 3.4 percent with decreases across all price cohorts.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) stabilized at 59 days, indicating healthy demand. The DOM in Houston and San Antonio steadied at 56 and 59 days, respectively. In Austin, the DOM recorded a monthly increase to 57 days but shed two days from a year ago. North Texas demand remained strong compared to the rest of the state with DOMs of 51 and 45 days in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively.

Speculations of a U.S.-China trade truce and continued strength in the national economic data slowed the downward slide in interest rates. Long-term rates were above those for short-term instruments for the second straight month following a four-month yield curve inversion, signaling increased confidence. Concerns of a recession lessened as current economic fundamentals at the state and national level remain healthy and stable. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield rose above 1.8 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate stabilized at 3.7 percent. After falling the previous month, mortgage applications for home purchases climbed nearly 30 percent YTD. Refinance mortgage application activity accelerated as rates remained relatively low, almost tripling since year end.

Prices

The Texas median home price flattened at $245,300, while annual home-price appreciation decelerated to 4.2 percent. The median price for new homes flattened; however, resale transactions, which comprise the majority of home sales, recorded the fastest median price growth rate this year of 5.5 percent year over year (YOY), exceeding the national existing-home price appreciation of 5.4 percent YOY.

On the metropolitan level, median home prices fell. Austin’s median price dropped $14,600 from an all-time high in October to $314,400. San Antonio’s metric shed $6,300, falling to $229,500 as homes priced less than $200,000 comprised more than a third of total sales for the first time since May. The median price in North Texas was $293,600 and $251,800 in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. Houston’s price decreased for the second straight month to $245,100.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index indicated more moderate home price appreciation of 3.7 percent. The Dallas and Houston indices slowed pace, increasing only 2.1 and 2.0 percent YOY, respectively. San Antonio’s index increased 4.1 percent YOY but decelerated from growth as high as 6.6 percent in January. On the other hand, Austin’s and Fort Worth’s indexes accelerated 5.5 and 4.3 percent YOY, respectively. Rising home prices without substantial wage growth decreases overall housing affordability, which remains the primary challenge to the Texas home market.

Click here for the full report.

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

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North Texas home sales set record in 2019

In December, 9,056 houses changed hands, the highest total on record for the final month of any year. 

North Texas’ housing market ended 2019 on a high note, and the jump in sales during the final month was enough to push the year’s home purchases to an all-time high.

Last month’s preowned home sales were up 15% compared with December 2018.

Area real estate agents sold more than 108,000 single-family homes for the year — 3% more than in 2018, according to preliminary data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

“Dallas-Fort Worth winds up with record sales again,” said James Gaines, chief economist for the Real Estate Center. “The Dallas side of the Metroplex was actually a little better than Fort Worth.”

In December, 9,056 houses changed hands, the highest total on record for the final month of any year.

Lower mortgage rates in the second half of 2019 boosted homebuying in the D-FW area and across the country after a slowdown in purchases early last year.

“One of the things that helped was that the fourth quarter of 2018 was a down quarter because interest rates went up, oil prices were down and things slowed down,” Gaines said. “October, November and December numbers looked extraordinarily good on a year-over-year basis.

“The fourth quarter was enough that it made up for some of the slowdown that started earlier in the year.”

Along with the higher sales in December, median single-family home prices in the area were up 5% year over year to $270,000. For all of 2019, North Texas home prices were 3% ahead of those in 2018, according to the Real Estate Center.

At the end of the year, 20,535 houses were listed with real estate agents in the more than two dozen North Texas counties included in the survey. That’s a 4% decline in inventory from the end of 2018.

There are indications that January will be another strong month for North Texas home purchases.

The number of pending sales — properties under contract but not yet closed — is up 18% from a year ago.

Gaines said he doesn’t expect the big home sales gains to continue through the new year.

“We won’t see those percentage rates going forward,” he said. “I don’t think we are going to see those double-digit rates of increase.”

Home prices in North Texas have risen more than 60% in the past 10 years.

 

Looking ahead, Gaines said it’s unrealistic to expect the same kinds of home market growth moving forward.

“The decade of the 20-teens was an exceptional decade for Texas and D-FW in particular,” he said. “As we look forward to the decade of the 2020s, it would be unrealistic to expect us to duplicate that rate of growth.

“It’s not that we won’t grow. It’s just not going to be a very high rate of prosperity.”

More homes were sold in December than ever before in North Texas for the last month of any year.
More homes were sold in December than ever before in North Texas for the last month of any year.(Real Estate Center at Texas A&M)

Source: Dallas Morning News – Steve Brown
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The Promise of Digital Mortgage is a Reality

MBA Tech 2019: The Promise of Digital Mortgage is a Reality

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Last week, the eOriginal team was out in force at MBA Tech 2019. We enjoyed seeing old friends, making new friends, discussing digital best practices and learning what is top of mind when it comes to mortgage technology adoption.

The conference opened with a riveting discussion on the biggest tech innovators and disruptors, featuring George Blankenship, a former executive at Apple Computer, Tesla Motors and Gap, Inc. In his entertaining speech, Blankenship noted, “Do something that is going to impact your industry forever.”

Do something that is going to impact your industry forever.

This resonated with me as it largely aligns with the current state of the industry. Digital mortgage technology is not just about gaining one benefit. It’s about the myriad of benefits that come with an end-to-end digital mortgage process. Fortunately, the ongoing adoption of digital processes that is taking place today will have a lasting impact on the mortgage ecosystem.

Tech Talks: Digital without the Disruption

Shifting gears, a highlight of the conference was eOriginal’s demo in the Tech Showcase. Last year at MBA Tech 2018 in Detroit, we demonstrated what we were bringing to the market. This year, we highlighted the evolution of the market and proved that the promise of digital mortgage is in fact a reality. To do this, we focused on a real-life scenario that recently took place—a digital closing in Texas.

Dennis Pospisil is Senior Vice President at Republic Title of Texas, the settlement agent that conducted the digital closing. He joined eOriginal’s Chief Product Officer, Simon Moir, and Senior Product Manager, Alex Tepe, on stage for a six-minute Q&A-style presentation. Moir and Tepe asked Pospisil about his experience with the digital closing as well as what he had to do to prepare for a paperless settlement.

Believe it or not, Pospisil found out that the closing would be digital just 24-hours ahead of time. Throughout the conversation, he emphasized how easy the process was—it required no training, no contract, and no fees. An iPad was used for the closing, but any type of connected device with a browser and sufficient screen capacity could have been utilized. DocsDirect, the document prep provider, delivered the lender docs, as well as a one-page training document for Republic Title of Texas. A bonus highlighted by Pospisil was the borrower’s excitement over the ease and convenience of a digital closing. Clearly, all parties involved were more than satisfied with the experience.

eNote Volumes on the Rise

So why are electronic notes important to digital adoption? An eNote is an electronic version of what has traditionally been a paper document. Since it is electronic, it needs to be created, signed, and managed in a specific way to ensure that it has the same legal enforceability as paper. This is the most critical document for all parties in the mortgage ecosystem, including lenders, originators, warehouse lenders, custodians, investors, and servicers, as its validity is essential for the downstream life of the loan on the secondary market. eNotes allow tech-forward lenders to maintain agile operations and achieve greater liquidity than they can achieve through traditional paper processes. As of April 1, 2019, 376,618 unique eNotes have been registered on the MERS® eRegistry.  The mortgage industry can continue to expect exponential growth of eNote production in 2019.

Until Next Year, MBA Tech

As the Dallas skyline faded into the distance, I spent some time on the flight reflecting on my experience at the conference. The acceleration of the mortgage industry’s digital transformation comes from all sides. Adoption by originators, custodians, settlement and title agents, doc prep providers, warehouse lenders, servicers, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), and MERS is crucial for its success.

During MBA Tech 2019, it became abundantly clear that digital mortgage isn’t just a promise for the future. It’s a reality today.

Source: https://www.eoriginal.com/blog/mba-tech-2019-the-promise-of-digital-mortgage-is-a-reality/

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