May 2, 2020

Closing Costs in Texas - A Comparison

Recently released national closing cost data showed that in 2019 average closing costs remained flat despite an increase in home prices. The average closing costs in Texas was $3,744 with an average sales price of $274,163.

The average closing costs in Texas was 1.75 percent of the sales price. That put Texas ranked 28th in the country for closing costs based on percentage of sales price.

The closing cost data, announced by ClosingCorp, calculated the cost of title insurance, appraisals, settlement fees, recording fees, surveys and transfer taxes. We don’t have transfer taxes in Texas. If we exclude those transfer taxes, Texas still ranks 28th in the country.

The states with the highest average closing costs, excluding taxes, were Washington DC, New York, Hawaii, and California. That is a reflection of both closing costs and average sales prices being high. If you look at the highest closing by state based solely on percentage of sales price, the highest states were Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington DC, and Maryland. Their percentage averaged more than double the closing costs in Texas.

In most states, consumers can shop around and compare closing costs like they would a mortgage loan or homeowner insurance. Title insurance rates often vary based on several factors such as the purchaser’s credit scores or amount of their down payment. The escrow, legal, and closing fees can even vary from county to county within a state.

In Texas, the cost of title insurance is set and regulated by the state. All Texas title companies are required to charge the same for a title policy. The debate comes up every few years that Texas title insurance should be unregulated. The argument is usually that the free market and more competition would help reduce the cost to the consumer. The Texas Department of Insurance actually lowered title insurance rates in September 2019. For now, the system seems to be working well for our state. 
[where: 75230]

Mar 30, 2020

How title companies pay home sellers

When selling a property, everyone wants to collect a big check. Well, maybe not an actual paper check, but lots of money. If you’re getting funds from the sale of your house, there are a couple of ways to collect your money from the title company when it closes. Just a couple.

Would you like a check or a wire? Those are your basic choices. Title companies can also transfer the funds to another transaction if you are purchasing another property. But we’re not going to pay you in real paper cash, foreign currency, with PayPal, Venmo, Bitcoin or anything else.

If you want your funds as a paper check, keep in mind that your bank is likely to put a hold on the funds, thus keeping you from accessing the money immediately. How long a bank may hold a check depends on the check amount, how long you’ve had your account and the status of your bank account.

Your check deposit will have an automatic hold between one and 10 days business days before you can withdraw the money. You read that right. Up to 10 business days = two weeks. Check with your bank for details on held checks.

Most sellers prefer to receive their funds via wire transfer to their bank account. It’s pretty quick and simple. The title company will need your bank information, including account number, routing number, bank name and how your name appears on the account. All of that information is on a check. We know, no one writes checks anymore. So, dig one out of your desk drawer and bring it to closing. Or just look up your account information on your bank web site.

Don’t fret that sharing this information is risky. We’re all about protecting your financial data. This bank information is like a roach motel (where bugs check in but they don’t check out). We can send money into your account, but we can’t draw it out.

Typically, title companies don’t need your wiring information days in advance. I prefer to get the information at the closing table, directly from the sellers. Then there isn’t a risk of email hacking regarding their funds.

Banks have different wiring deadlines, which is why title companies like to schedule closings for earlier in the day. The deadlines for processing wires often range from 2 until 4:30 in the afternoon depending on which time zone the bank is located.

Before your funds can be wired there are several steps that must take place. Both buyers and sellers must sign all documents before they are scanned and sent to the buyer’s lender for review and approval. After the lender gives funding approval and all funds to close are at the title company, proceeds can be disbursed. That can take anywhere from 15 minutes to two or three hours.

Title companies are here to ensure sellers get their money. Help me, help you – and we’ll show you the money quickly.
[where: 75230]

Mar 22, 2020

Title Companies are still Open for Closings

As the situation with the novel coronavirus continues to evolve, the title business is responding. Currently, the title business is not seeing many interruptions in business. For the most part, transactions are not being delayed or canceled due to current restrictions. Aside from a few inconveniences, it’s mostly business as usual in the title world. 
Most Title Company Work Isn’t Public 
More than 95 percent of the work a title company does is away from public interaction. The actual in-person, signing of documents is just a small piece of the entire closing process. In my office, tables are being wiped down after each closing. Doorknobs, counters and other areas of public contact are being cleaned throughout the day.
Many offices are requesting that only the people required to sign documents attend the closing of the transaction. Agents, lenders, and any other unnecessary parties should not come in. Demand for mobile notaries and in-home closings has increased while the availability of mobile notaries is in short supply. But there is no panic surrounding the ability to close a transaction.
Government Closings Affect Real Estate Closings

What may affect real estate transactions are coronavirus-triggered closings of local government offices. Currently, many county courthouses, district clerks, recording offices, registrars, and other depositories of public records are implementing temporary closures of an undetermined period. How ‘closed’ they are varies between cities and counties. 
There are varying degrees of office closures. Some closures are basically “We’ve gone home and no one is here until we decide to come back.” For others, it’s business as usual, but only people who work there will be allowed in the building. 
The title business relies on government offices to obtain and record vital legal documents. We record deeds and search ownership documents, liens, judgments, etc. through government offices. Fortunately, many county recording offices accept and process electronic recording of documents from title companies. Since that doesn’t involve face-to-face contact, hopefully the process won’t slow much.
Business Continuity is Critical

Government office closures are not the only concern. Private office closings may affect our ability to get mortgage payoffs, HOA documents, lien releases, and other information necessary for normal transactions. Hopefully, those companies want to keep working as much as the rest of us. 
“We have put in place a business continuity plan so that we can continue to service our customers,” says Dawn Moore, CEO of Allegiance Title. “Currently, our offices remain open. The health and well-being of our customers and employees remain our first priority. To that end, Allegiance Title is taking every precaution to prevent potential service disruptions and do our part to slow the spread of the virus.” 
Many title employees are able to work from home and remain accessible through normal channels including web-based tools, email or telephone. Social distancing is also possible given the layout of many title company offices. 
Like other businesses, the buzzwords I’m hearing in the title world are ‘evolving’, ‘flexible’, ‘patience’ and ‘monitoring the situation.’ Regardless of the current situation, the people who want to buy or sell a home are still able to do it.  [where: 75230]