Miracle_morning

Win the Day, Win the Business

You probably know at least five people in your sphere of influence, circle of friends or in your office that you are a little jealous of, right? It seems like they have it all…they enjoy success in every aspect of their lives, from their careers to their relationships and even their level of creature comforts. We all do and we wonder…how do they do it?

Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success Magazine and New York Times best-selling author, says “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

As a self-proclaimed sales and personal development junkie, the most important lesson of all came to me through a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Republic Title sponsored a lecture by him in January of this year. Since reading that book and others by modern thought leaders and motivational gurus, the ONE thing they all do and advise us to do is to have a morning routine. It is a secret weapon to winning the day and, after practicing one for the past three years, I can tell you…it works.

This may be yours: wake up, make and have some coffee, check the phone, maybe read or watch some news, take a shower, have a quick bite and then out the door. While this is more than likely close to everyone’s habit, this is NOT a morning routine. This is the day taking you for a ride, not you taking the day. All of the pros say that a morning routine should consist of at least three action items. By the way, NONE of them involve your smart phone or television.

Hal Elrod practices and writes about Life S.A.V.E.R.S, which include meditation, affirmations, visualization, reading and journaling. Brendon Burchard practices a Power Hour that includes twenty minutes of exercise, journaling and reading each. Mel Robbins has her own too that includes much of the same.

No matter HOW you do it…just DO IT. You can find a morning routine that is the perfect fit for you by searching Google or any of the people above.

And remember, the modern world we live in is filled with more distractions than we can count. Everywhere we go, our attention is being vied for by something. Technology was created to be a tool for better living, and while our constantly evolving “smart” devices are not the enemy, we must realize that they cannot and should not rule our day, much less our life. It is imperative that we remember the ONE thing that we are in control of…OUR MORNINGS.

Win the Day!

Janet Allen, Senior Vice President/Residential Business Development, Republic Title

ABCs of Title Commitment

A Commitment is a document the title company provides to all parties connected with a particular real estate transaction. It discloses the title of record to the property as well as all the liens, defects, burdens and obligations that affect the subject properties. It is comprised of four schedules.

Schedules A, B, C and D are as follows:

Actual Facts
Is the Who, What, Where and How Much section of the Commitment. You will see the names of the buyer, record owner (seller), a legal description of the property, the sales price and the name of the lender, if applicable. It is a good idea to double check this information with the contract.

Buyer Notification
This section lists the general and specific exceptions to the property. It will list
items such as survey matters, taxes, easements, setback lines and a variety of other items that will not be covered by the title policy. It is important to review and discuss any questions you have with your title company.

Clear in Order to Close
These items must be resolved in order to transfer title to the new owner. They might include such things as a mortgage that will be paid off at closing, liens for home improvements or unpaid taxes. All items shown on Schedule C should be discussed and resolved before the closing.

Disclosure
This section outlines the ownership of the title company and all the parties who will share in any part of the insurance premium collected to issue the policy. It includes underwriters, title agents and attorneys.
This information is not to be substituted as legal advice and is descriptive only. If you have any concerns about any portion of your title commitment or any portion of Schedule A,B,C, or D, please contact your attorney.

This information is not to be substituted as legal advice and is descriptive only. If you have any concerns about any portion of your title commitment or any portion of Schedule A,B,C, or D, please contact your attorney.

ABCs of Title Commitment

 

 

Unknown number calling in the middle of the night. Phone call from stranger. Person holding mobile and smartphone in bedroom bed home late. Unexpected call woke up.

IRS Scams – How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door

Over the last few years, phone and email scam’s have been on the rise.  Here’s what you need to know about how the IRS contacts taxpayers, so you’ll be prepared if someone attempts to scam you.

Many taxpayers have encountered individuals impersonating IRS officials – in person, over the telephone and via email. Don’t get scammed. We want you to understand how and when the IRS contacts taxpayers and help you determine whether a contact you may have received is truly from an IRS employee.

The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.

However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.

Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail.

Note that the IRS does not:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a taxpayer.
  • Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.

If you owe taxes:

The IRS instructs taxpayers to make payments to the “United States Treasury.” The IRS provides specific guidelines on how you can make a tax payment at irs.gov/payments.

Here is what the IRS will do:

If an IRS representative visits you, he or she will always provide two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. HSPD-12 is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to see these credentials. And if you would like to verify information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card, the representative will provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.

Collection

IRS collection employees may call or come to a home or business unannounced to collect a tax debt. They will not demand that you make an immediate payment to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.

Learn more about the IRS revenue officers’ collection work.

The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt collectors but only after giving the taxpayer and his or her representative, if one is appointed, written notice. Private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card or gift card. Taxpayers can learn about the IRS payment options on IRS.gov/payments. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not the private collection agency. 

Learn more about how to know if it’s really an IRS Private Debt Collector.

Audits

IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to set up appointments or to discuss items with the taxpayers, but not without having first attempted to notify them by mail. After mailing an official notification of an audit, an auditor/tax examiner may call to discuss items pertaining to the audit. 

Learn more about the IRS audit process.

Criminal Investigations

IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents and they will not demand any sort of payment. 

Learn more about the What Criminal Investigation Does and How Criminal Investigations are Initiated.

Beware of Impersonations

Scams take many shapes and forms, such as phone calls, letters and emails. Many IRS impersonators use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a fabricated tax bill. They may even threaten to arrest or deport their would-be victim if the victim doesn’t comply.

For a comprehensive listing of recent tax scams and consumer alerts, visit Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts.

Know Who to Contact

  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

For more information on this issue as well as other helpful IRS articles, please follow this link.

Source: Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov

Aprio Best practices mark blue logo Republic title

Republic Title Announces ALTA Best Practices Recertification

Republic Title of Texas, Inc. is proud to announce our completion of HA&W’s ComplianceSuccess® Program which certifies compliance with American Land Title Association (ALTA) Best Practices. ALTA’s Best Practices Framework includes:

1.      Licensing: Establish and maintain current License(s) as required to conduct the business of title insurance and settlement services

2.      Escrow Trust Accounting: Adopt and maintain appropriate written procedures and controls for Escrow Trust Accounts allowing for electronic verification of reconciliation.

3.      Protecting NPI: Adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security program to protect Non-public Personal Information as required by local, state and federal law.

4.      Settlement Processes: Adopt standard real estate settlement procedures and policies that help ensure compliance with Federal and State Consumer Financial Laws as applicable to the Settlement process.

5.      Policy Production: Adopt and maintain written procedures related to title policy production, delivery, reporting and premium remittance.

6.       Insurance Coverage: Maintain appropriate professional liability insurance and fidelity coverage.

7.      Consumer Complaints: Adopt and maintain written procedures for resolving consumer complaints.

For more information on ALTA’s Best Practices Framework and why it is important to do business with a company that implements these standards, visit www.alta.org/best-practices

house graphic republic title

Texas Housing Insight for November

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

Note: Due to the ongoing Federal government shutdown, the release of multiple data series has been delayed, and they are not included in this report. The following analysis represents an overview of the Texas housing market based on the available data.

November 2018 Summary

Texas housing sales ticked down 1.1 percent in November and remained on a flat trajectory. The shortage of homes priced below $300,000 and rising interest rates continued to weigh on overall activity. Listing inventories inched forward but still remained tight relative to demand. Housing demand showed signs of normalizing, particularly in North Texas, after a multiyear period of unsustainable growth. Steady population and job growth, however, suggest healthy demand for the duration of the current economic expansion. The recent pause in sales activity calmed home-price appreciation, but rising interest rates hindered affordability across the state.

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, reached its highest level since 2008 as construction employment and wages continued to elevate. Momentum, however, could moderate as indicated by recent declines in the Texas Residential Construction Leading Index (RCLI). Rising interest rates and sluggish residential construction activity over the past few months weighed on the housing market, but robust economic growth upheld a strong foundation.

Third quarter private bank loan data indicated a slowdown in residential construction investment, led by a decline in large multifamily loan values (buildings consisting of five or more units). Funds poured into this sector starting in 2013 but peaked earlier this year. Loans for one-to-four unit projects inched forward to a cycle-high but remained below 2007 levels. Despite the steady increase in loan volumes for small-unit structures, single-family private construction values flattened through most of the state (although October numbers were revised upward).

Sluggish sales provided some breathing room for the supply of active listings, but the Texas months of inventory (MOI) remained below four months. Around six months of inventory is considered a balanced housing market. A spike of new listings in the beginning of 2018 also supported inventory increases. Listing inventories of single-family homes priced at more than $400,000 exhibited the largest uptick this year, reaching 6.6 MOI after bottoming below 5.8 MOI in February. In the $200,000-$300,000 range, the MOI reached a four-year high of 3.3 months. The market for homes priced less than $200,000 remained exceptionally constrained below three MOI.

The MOI reached YTD highs in all the major metros but remained well below equilibrium levels. A steady stream of new MLS listings lifted the MOI up to 3.9 and 3.5 months in Houston and San Antonio, respectively. More homes hitting the market combined with a sales slowdown pushed the Austin and Dallas MOI up to 2.8 and 3.2 months, respectively. Fort Worth also noted an increase to 2.5 MOI, but new listings paused as sellers opted to wait out the market correction in North Texas.

Demand

Total housing sales ticked down 1.1 percent after double-digit growth in October, remaining on a flat trajectory. Most of the decline occurred for homes priced above $400,000. Single-family homes priced between $200,000 and $300,000 accounted for 32 percent of closed listings through an MLS, remaining the most active price cohort with a record-high 8,746 monthly sales. The bottom cohort (consisting of homes priced below $200,000) accounted for 37 percent of MLS sales, down from 69 percent in 2011. Nearly half of these transactions occurred outside the major metros.

Year-over-year sales decreased in all of the major metros following the October rebound. Dallas’ correction continued, with sales down 12.8 percent relative to November 2017. Fort Worth’s decline was more modest at 4.3 percent YOY. The North Texas slowdown marks an adjustment after multiple years of explosive growth, where home-price appreciation significantly outpaced earnings. A steady decline in the list-to-sale-price ratio over the past two years corroborates the transition away from hyper activity. This metric, however, stabilized above 0.96 in recent months, corroborating the solid foundation of the DFW housing market. The ratio also balanced in Austin and Houston despite a 0.2 and 2.8 percent decline YOY. San Antonio was the exception, where sales increased 5.2 percent YOY to a record-high 2,920.

Robust economic growth and the healthy labor market held Texas’ average days on market (DOM) below two months as homes continued to sell at a rapid clip. The DOM trended similarly at 60 days in Austin while averaging 57 and 58 days in Houston and San Antonio, respectively. The rate of sales growth continued to calm in North Texas, providing homebuyers some much-needed breathing room. The Dallas DOM elevated to 48 days, nearly two weeks longer than the record-low in September 2015. Fort Worth maintained the lowest DOM at 42 days but trended upward to more sustainable levels.

Interest rates held near a seven-year high due to the strong national economy, but the flattening yield curve drew investors’ attention. The two- and ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yields settled at 2.86 and 3.12 percent, respectively—hovering around their lowest spread since the Great Recession. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate rose for the fourth consecutive month to 4.87 percent, weighing on the housing affordability conditions. Higher interest rates disproportionately affected Texas refinance mortgage applications, which slid 38.5 percent since January. Purchase applications, which are less sensitive to mortgage rate fluctuations, rebounded with 5.7 percent YOY growth.

Prices

Lagging sales and upticks in inventory moderated home-price gains after substantial post-recession appreciation. The Repeat Sales Indices for the major metros continued to converge following the North Texas boom and Houston’s slowdown after the 2014 oil bust. In Dallas and Fort Worth, the repeat sales indices stabilized at 3.6 and 4.5 percent YOY growth, respectively. Annual price growth decelerated to 3 percent in Austin but picked up 4 percent in San Antonio. Healthy housing activity in Houston pushed the index above 3.4 percent for the second time in two years.

 

Despite the moderation, the Texas median home price hit a record high at $235,727. The Dallas median increased to $288,468, and San Antonio surpassed $227,750. On the other hand, Fort Worth’s and Houston’s medians ticked down to $233,258 and $237,144, respectively, while the Austin median dropped $9,000 to $304,700. Consumer preferences shifted toward smaller homes to combat affordability constraints, pushing the median price per square foot up across the major metros relative to last year. Until wage growth catches up to home-price appreciation, the market will shift toward higher-density housing in the form of reduced lot and home sizes or toward multifamily units.

 

Click here for the full report.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, and Paige Woodson (Nov. 4, 2018)     https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-In…

 

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

house graphic republic title

Texas Housing Insight for October

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

October 2018 Summary

Texas housing sales rebounded 11.8 percent in October but remained on a flat trajectory. The shortage of homes priced below $300,000 and rising interest rates continued to weigh on overall activity. Inventories inched forward but at an insufficient rate relative to demand, and housing starts fell for the fifth time in six months. Despite stability in lot development and single-family building permits, new construction appears incapable of relieving the prolonged shortage of lower-priced homes. Housing demand showed signs of normalization, particularly in North Texas, after a multiyear period of unsustainable growth. Steady population and job growth, however, suggest healthy demand for the duration of the current economic expansion. The recent pause in sales activity calmed home-price appreciation, but rising interest rates hindered affordability across the state.

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, reached its highest level since 2007 as construction employment and wages continued to elevate. This momentum, however, may moderate in the fourth quarter as the Texas Residential Construction Leading Index (RCLI) declined for the second straight month. Rising interest rates, a dip in housing starts, and fewer multifamily permits weighed on the residential construction outlook, but robust economic growth upheld a strong foundation.

Single-family housing construction permits hovered near a cycle-high as builders scrambled to meet demand. Texas remained the leader in permits issued with 9,418 (nonseasonally adjusted), accounting for 15 percent of the national total. Dallas overtook Houston’s top ranking with more than 3,000 permits issued, led by growth in Collin and Tarrant Counties. Houston permits fell below 3,000 for the first time this year as the summer building season came to a close. Austin fell to seventh in the national rankings with 1,275, while San Antonio issued 707 permits, a YTD-high after seasonal adjustment.

Despite increased lot development and building permits, total housing starts fell for the fifth time in six months, erasing most of the first-quarter gains. Growth in earlier stages of the construction-cycle should pressure starts upward, but the current pace is insufficiently matching population growth and deepening housing affordability problems. Single-family private construction values declined across the Texas Urban Triangle and exhibited an overall flat trend. In the multifamily sector, starts recovered most of last quarter’s losses despite flattening rent growth.

A recent sales slowdown provided some breathing room for the supply of active listings, but the Texas months of inventory (MOI) remained suppressed below four months. Around six months of inventory is considered a balanced housing market. A spike of new listings to start the year also provided upward pressure, but the impact is dissipating. Listing inventories of single-family homes priced more than $400,000 exhibited the largest uptick this year, reaching 6.4 MOI after bottoming out below 5.9 MOI in February. In the $200,000-$300,000 range, the MOI reached an annual high of more than 3.2 months. The market for homes priced less than $200,000 remained the exception, where the MOI held at 2.8 months with constant pressure downward.

The MOI reached YTD highs in all the major metros except Fort Worth but remained well below equilibrium levels. A steady stream of new MLS listings lifted the MOI up to 3.8 and 3.4 months in Houston and San Antonio, respectively. On the other hand, Austin and Dallas MOI reached 2.7 and 3.0 months, respectively, amid a recent sales dip. The Fort Worth MOI fell below 2.4 months after six straight monthly increases.

Demand

Total housing sales rebounded 11.8 percent but remained on a flat trajectory. Rising interest rates, declining affordability, and supply shortages continued to hinder activity on homes priced less than $300,000, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of sales through an MLS. Despite the housing market’s moderation, closed listings above the bottom price cohort ($200,000) hovered around record highs.

Sales in North Texas rebounded in October but remained negative YOY as the market adjusted after multiple years of explosive growth. Decreased housing affordability weakened demand at the lower end of the market. In Austin and San Antonio, YOY growth inched into positive territory after slipping in September. Houston surpassed 7,500 monthly sales for the first time this year, led by gains in the $200,000-$300,000 range.

Robust economic growth and the healthy labor market held Texas’ average days on market (DOM) below two months as homes continued to sell at a rapid clip. The DOM trended similarly at 59 days in Austin, while averaging 57 and 56 days in Houston and San Antonio, respectively. Dallas demand methodically softened over the past year, particularly in the lower end of the market, pushing the DOM closer toward 50 days. Fort Worth demand showed slight signs of easing but maintained a DOM at 40 days.

Statewide, the demand for homes priced under $200,000 remained robust as the DOM balanced at a record-low 57 days. This cohort accounted for the largest proportion of sales through an MLS at 38 percent but was remarkably lower than its 72 percent share in 2011. Demand was strongest in the $200,000-$300,000 range (54 DOM), which encompasses more activity in the major metros. Demand for homes priced above $500,000, however, inched above 86 days after sinking below 80 days in June.

Interest rates jumped to a seven-year high amid a booming national economy and rising inflation-expectations. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield reached 3.15 percent for the first time since 2011, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate elevated to more than 4.8 percent. Higher interest rates disproportionately affected Texas refinance mortgage applications, which slid 38 percent since January. Rising rates also pulled down mortgage applications for new-home purchases, but YOY growth remained positive.

Prices

Upticks in inventory moderated home-price gains after substantial post-recession appreciation. The Repeat Sales Indices for the major metros continued to converge following the North Texas boom and Houston’s slowdown after the 2014 oil bust. In Dallas and Fort Worth, the repeat sales indices stabilized at 4.0 and 5.2 percent YOY growth, respectively. Annual price growth decelerated in Austin and San Antonio to 3.3 and 3.2 percent, respectively, while dipping below 2.6 percent in Houston.

Despite the moderation, the Texas median home price increased to $235,200. Every major metro except Dallas broke record levels, led by Austin at $314,900. The San Antonio median price jumped $5,300 from September to October to a total of $227,400, while Houston’s median reached $237,400. The Dallas median price dipped below $281,600 after breaking record levels in September. In Fort Worth, the median home price inched closer to $236,700 amid major supply shortages. The median price per square foot elevated across the metros as consumer preferences shifted toward smaller homes to combat declining affordability.

________________

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

Click here for the full report.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, and Paige Woodson (Nov. 4, 2018)           https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-In…

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