January 2004


2004 housing forecast looking robust

Home sales will continue to provide a strong foundation for the Texas and U.S. economy while other sectors rebound throughout 2004. “With the economy improving, consumer confidence rising, and jobs being created, a growing number of households will sustain strong housing demand,” said David Lereah, chief economist with the National Association of REALTORS®. “Only a modest rise in mortgage interest rates will slightly dampen the pace of home sales.”  (Source: National Association of REALTORS®)

Fixed-Rate Mortgage Rates Drop to Lowest Level in More Than Six Months Sluggish Employment Figures Put a Damper on Financial Markets

McLEAN, VA -- In Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.66 percent, with an average 0.6 point, for the week ending January 15, 2004, down from 5.87 percent last week. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.97 percent. This is the lowest the 30-year FRM has been since the week ending July 11, 2003, when it averaged 5.52 percent.  More storyThe average for the 15-year FRM this week is 4.97 percent, with an average 0.7 point, down from last week’s average of 5.17 percent. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 5.36 percent. This is the lowest the 15-year FRM has been since the week ending July 11, 2003, when it averaged 4.85 percent.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 3.62 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.76 percent last week. At this time last year, the one-year ARM averaged 4.03 percent. This is the lowest the 1-year ARM has been since the week ending July 18, 2003, when it averaged 3.58 percent.

(Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total cost of obtaining the mortgage.)
“Expecting job growth on the order of about 150,000 in December, financial markets were taken aback, to say the least, when those figures came in at only around a thousand new jobs,” said Amy Crews Cutts, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist. “The lack luster employment report had a chilling effect on the market’s recent exuberance, causing mortgage rates to slide to this week’s low levels.

“ Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Board continues to indicate it won’t make any rate changes anytime soon, and it looks like we’re moving from a job-loss recovery to an almost inflation-less recovery, thus insuring that mortgage rates will remain low and affordable.”

Everyone is looking for inflation to appear, but no one seems able to find it. Thus, with no inflationary pressure mortgage rates have continued to slip for the past few weeks, and we expect to see no big change in rates anytime in the foreseeable future," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist. "And because of these generational low rates, we are also seeing generational high single-family housing starts. I think it's fair to say the outlook for the housing industry remains exceptional for the coming new year."


The Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association announced that effective January 1, 2004 title agents and direct operations will again be required to collect a Guaranty Fee of $1.00 per owner or mortgagee title policy reported on quarterly statistical reports. Click here for more information on the specific requirements regarding payment of this fee and a sample remittance form.

The statutory authority for the Guaranty Fund can be found in Article 9.48 of The Insurance Code. (Click here to view Article 9.48.) Section 6.(c) specifically refers to how funds derived from guaranty fees can be used. In addition to covering claims, funds are used to pay for audit expenses, providing a benefit to consumers by insuring the enforcement of state regulations governing title insurance. Questions should be directed to Burnie Burner at TTIGA, 512.474.1587 or bburner@longburner.com


The Underwriter Section Executive Committee elected Glenn Clements as Section Chair and Tim Redding as Vice Chair on November 24, 2003. A vacancy was created with Darryl Tyson's resignation in October.


Please make the following correction in your 2003-2004 Membership Directory
DONALD J. NALICK     (dnalick@titledata.com)


Please join us as we welcome the following new members to TLTA:

First Title of Limestone County, Inc.
Cody Campbell, Manager
108 South Dr. J. B. Riggs Drive, P. O. Box 229
Groesbeck, TX 76642
County: Limestone
Phone: 254.729.7960 Fax: 254.729.7980
email: codycampbell@ftlc.net
website: www.ftlc.net

Guardian Fidelity Title Company
Heidy Sohrt, Managing General Partner
1120 Nasa Road One, Suite 660
Houston, TX 77058
County: Harris
Phone: 281.335.7775 Fax: 281.335.9995
email: heidy@guardianfidelitytitle.com

Integrity Title Company, LLC
Marian Cones, Vice President
9800 Northwest Freeway, Suite 210 (77092)
P. O. Box 70558
Houston, TX 77270
County: Harris
Phone: 713.683.8030 Fax: 713.683.0493
email: shester@integritytc.com
website: www.integritytitlecompany.com

Richmond Title Services, LP
Suzette Switzer Hinds, Executive Vice President
2901 N. Dallas Parkway, Suite 110
Plano, TX 75093
County: Collin, Denton
Phone: 214.291.8808 Fax: 214.291.8809
email: shinds@richmondtitletexas.com
website: www.richmondtitletexas.com

TitleStar of Texas, L.L.C.
Linda Pierce, Operations Manager
1500 South Dairy Ashford, Suite 448
Houston, TX 77077
County: Harris
Phone: 281.504.2458 Fax: 281.504.2407
email: lindap@bbwcdf.com

Associate Members 
Flynn, Campbell & Francis, LLP*
Larry D. Flynn, Managing Partner
700 E. Southlake Blvd., Suite 150
Southlake, TX 76092
County: Tarrant
Phone: 817.329.3000 Fax: 817.481.5464
email: ldflynn@flynncampbell.com

NoteWorld Servicing Center
Linda Remsberg, Executive Vice President
1001 Pacific Ave., Suite 200 (98402)
P. O. Box 2236
Tacoma, WA 98401
County: Out of State
Phone: 253.620.7040 Fax: 253.620.7005
email: lremsberg@noteworld.com
website: www.noteworld.com

Reconveyance Services, Inc.
Jan Hollenbeck, National Sales Manager
154 Village Court, Suite 1
Monroe, WA 98272
County: Out of State
Phone: 360.863.8999 Fax: 360.863.8994
email: janhollenbeck@reconveyanceservices.com
website: www.reconveyanceservices.com


The TLTA Individual Membership program has received a great response from those attending our Regional Seminars. Committee members Joey Prohaska, Sally Vetters and Bruce Liesman have manned an Individual Membership booth at the Austin and Houston seminars with excellent results. As of this writing we have 302 Individual Members. Urge your employees to get more involved in their profession and in TLTA by becoming an Individual Member. 


Looking for the best method to reach other title industry professionals? Whether you are advertising for a job opening, selling your business, equipment or service, the TLTA GREENSHEET is your answer. Click here for the latest GREENSHEET classified ads, your on-line link to title industry related employment and business opportunities in Texas. 


The 2003-2004 edition of the TLTA Membership Directory is now available for purchase. To download an order form, click here.

Expand your professional library with these TLTA publications:

Texas Forms Manual, A Guide for Real Estate and Title Documentation is compiled, edited and maintained by fellow TLTA members. The 8½ x 11, loose-leaf volume contains the documents most commonly used to handle a real estate transaction in Texas – all the way to the closing at the title company. Order yours today, and see why so many real estate and title professionals depend on this valuable resource. Click here http://www.tlta.com/products/formsmanual.pdf to download an order form.

“A Handbook for Texas Abstracters and Title Men”  Written by the late Frank A. Stamper, one of the most distinguished members of the Texas title insurance industry, this textbook is a must for every title professional. Topics include The Evolution of Title Evidence and Assurance, The Texas Registration System Reading, Interpretation and Platting of Property Descriptions and The Abstract Plant. Click here to download an order form.

Extra copies of The 2003 Texas Land Title Institute Course Manual are available for purchase. Complete your reference library with this valuable reference tool! Click here to download an order form.


TLTA seminars are continuing to draw great participation levels from all over the state. The Advanced Closing Seminar held November 13 in Irving was no exception, with 136 attendees and the Land Title Institute is nearing 400 participants. Kudos to our TLTA Education committee and staff who have worked hard to develop innovative and timely topics for you and your co-workers.
Upcoming on TLTA's Calendar:

SOLD OUT! Abstract & Examining Workshop Doral Tesoro Hotel, Fort Worth February 5
Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Seminar Doral Tesoro Hotel, Fort Worth, February 6-7
Land Title School of Texas Hyatt Regency Austin, March  8-12
Management Seminar  Marriott Las Colinas, Irving, April 16
South Texas Regional Seminar   Sheraton Beach Hotel and Condominiums, South Padre Island, April 24
94th Annual Conference  Omni Bayfront Hotel, Corpus Christi  June 4-6

Don't miss the great line-up of programs TLTA is offering this year- and earn CEUs at the same time! For more information about any of these seminars, or to view the 2003-2004 TLTA education calendar, click here.


Sadly, we don't have anything to report in this section of Downdate this month. We know you're out there, and we know you're doing great things! Please send your employee and business news to kathy@tlta.com. We want to let everyone know about your accomplishments and endeavors.


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