Friday, June 26, 2009

No, I Can't Give You Any Documents!

I started in the title business 28 years ago. Those were the good old days. I began in customer service for Safeco Title Co. and delivered all kinds of documents and reports. One of those reports was called a property profile.

The property profile in those days included a copy of the tax roll and a grant deed and maybe a printout of some sales comparables for the area. All of these were printed from microfiche and certainly took time to put together.

Over the years these property profiles have grown to include;

  • neighborhood information
  • demographics
  • copies of open trust deeds
  • sales comps and maps that locate those comps
  • plat maps
  • aerial maps

Yesterday was a huge announcement in my world. The department of insurance issued an opinion almost all of these tools we have been supplying we are now no longer allowed to provide.

The only item our compliance people are letting us supply now is the tax roll information. This seems crazy to me, 28 years ago when I first got in to this business I was able to provide more than that. In order to get any of these documents in the future someone has to actually be in an escrow with us.

So a realtor can not ask us for a copy of a grant deed before going on a listing appointment to make sure they are meeting with the correct parties. We can no longer send someone a copy of a notice of default or a copy of a trust deed which have always been used to help the consumer.

We are being told that our customers only option is to sign up for a service that will cause them to pay for these documents. I worry about these services having the necessary expertise to deliver the correct documents. After all it takes our people years of training to find these documents before making copies of them. I am truly concerned that this could be a real problem for consumers.

My thoughts and concerns don't matter though!

The last 24 hours has been filled with delivering this message to our many customers. They have all been great and didn't take any shots at the messenger (me).

Many customers had one question I honestly don't have a real good answer for. That question is why can't you give us copies of deeds or maps? These are some of the very basic tools that we have readily available.

Maybe one of you reading this has an answer. I would love to hear it.

For those of you in California I would also love to hear what your title company representatives are telling you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Santa Barbara's Real Estate Trend Continues-FLAT!

I have to admit I was starting to get optimistic about where the real estate sales numbers were headed. I thought we may see a little stronger number in May than we did. May's closings for the Goleta, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Montecito areas were 105.

With 111 closed transactions and what I perceived as a reasonable number of open escrows in April, I thought the number of closings in May would match or beat April. I was wrong, not the first time and certainly not the last time.

What will happen in the coming months? What happened to all those open escrows we had been seeing? Those are just a couple of the questions that come to mind regarding what's going on.

We are still experiencing a pretty active number of sale escrows opening. This would lead me to believe that the closing number could start rising soon, unless the number of cancellations is going to increase. More wait and see as far as what might be in our future.

The escrows we do have open seem to be hanging in there. The cancellations don't seem to be any higher than usual and I haven't heard about any real issues that would make me think that they aren't going to close. I do believe we are working harder on each escrow and they are certainly taking longer to get to the point of closing.

Why do I think the number of closings is a big deal? I'm a simple guy and supply and demand is the answer. As soon as we see the number of sales begin to increase is when the demand is building and that is when the prices will begin to increase again. Just my opinion!

So I ask you, take a look at the Market Trend Chart on our website and tell me what you think might be going on?