Friday, March 21, 2008

How Have The Local Title Co's Been Affected?

Needless to say this is an interesting post for me to write. I get to see our P&L every month and we have certainly seen better days.

Late last year we had to close our Lompoc and Santa Maria branches because we just couldn't do enough business there to break even. Those 2 markets have been extremely hard hit by foreclosures.

The bad news for the local title companies there is that most of the REO sales are handled by regional offices in either Southern California or Northern California, which means that none of the local title and escrow companies see any of that income on their books.

We weren't the only ones to pull out of those markets, Stewart Title pulled out of Lompoc and then eventually pulled out of the county entirely. United General announced this week that they are pulling out of Santa Barbara and San Luis Counties at the end of this month.

These closings are big news, but it is just part of the picture. Every company locally has had layoffs, and the people that are out of work right now are very talented people. There hasn't been any company that hasn't been affected.

I have had a number of interviews with people who have been layed off and I haven't been in a position to hire any of them even though I know they are good at what they do and have the experience that I only dream of having new employees have.
Where will it all end? Good Question, and one I'm not sure I really know the answer to. I have talked to people at other companies and some seem to think we might see another title company close sometime this year. Others think that we are seeing some signs that the market may improve.

Improve to what is the next question. Will we see some increased refinance activity? Will the number of sale transactions pick up? I haven't seen any signs of a pick up yet, but many of the folks I've spoken to don't think it will happen until the second half of the year.

I certainly feel for all the wonderful people who worked in this industry who now find themselves out of work. I want to say to the folks in Santa Barbara County who are in this industry or have been in this industry, you have made it a well respected and honorable industry to work in. This county is lucky to have or have had these professionals handling the real estate transactions that happen here.

See You In Escrow

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