Title Security's Blog

Comprehensive Title Insurance & Escrow Services

Leave a comment

Top 10 Issues Facing the Real Estate Industry in 2017

Biggest Issues in Real Estate

The No. 1 challenge? Polarization and political uncertainty.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Political uncertainty affects trade, consumer prices, home prices and mortgage interest rates.
  2. Big baby boomer and millennial populations (who want different things in their homes) are causing generational disruption and housing mismatch.
  3. The proliferation of real estate technology is also going to have a big impact on consumers, agents and brokers.

[Inman News] DENVER — Every year, the Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) surveys its members to discover what the most pressing issues facing the real estate industry might be.

Yesterday, at the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) conference in Denver, CRE chair Scott Muldavin unveiled a list of the 10 challenges the industry will face.

“As real estate agents, we’re all futurists,” said Muldavin, pointing out that purchasing a home, securing a mortgage and even signing a lease are all activities that require some thought about the future.

In a departure from previous years, Muldavin started the list with the item that CRE members think is the most pressing one for the industry to face right now.

1. Political polarization and global uncertainty

“Today we’re going to start at the top because political polarization and global uncertainty is an issue that permeates almost all the other issues,” Muldavin explained.

He noted that resurging nationalism, threats to the European Union and the possibility of war with Iran or North Korea — plus uncertainty relative to trade deals — are all contributing to this challenge.

“There are a lot of unintended consequences,” he noted.

Political polarization and global uncertainty have a particular impact on trade, so port, gateway and coastal communities might find themselves with economic or other problems that they haven’t yet had to tackle.

Add to that the fact that the consumer price index, home prices and interest rates are all rising, mortgages are less affordable and communities are increasingly polarized, and you can see how this issue would affect homeownership on an individual and national scale.

2. The technology boom

“One of the biggest booms today is actually the boom in applications,” said Muldavin, noting that in 2011, $186 million was spent on real estate tech applications, and that number had ballooned to $2.7 billion in 2016.

“This move is going to change every aspect of buying, selling and managing real estate,” he said.

Technology will affect home sales in the following ways:

  • Robotics has come alive — and that means your job might not be safe, which could have an impact on the number of households that can afford to buy a home.
  • Autonomous vehicles are coming sooner or later — Muldavin thinks sooner — and that’s going to mean buildings and parking garages are probably due for some redesign, and builders need to start thinking about that now.
  • Consumers are coming to expect growing sophistication from service providers who leverage technology, so those service providers better be ready to deliver.
  • Smart home devices are becoming increasingly popular.
  • Wireless access and bandwidth are key for residential properties.
  • New modes of transportation and new transportation models could be a boom for the suburbs.

3. Generational disruptions

The two biggest generations in the United States — millennials and baby boomers — have very different challenges and varying priorities and needs when it comes to housing, and that gets especially squirrelly when the two groups need to share living spaces.

This means that office, public and residential living spaces should be designed with the demands of both groups in mind, whenever possible, to meet the needs of this side-by-side generational workforce.

And while young renters and buyers have income limits and are marrying and moving to the suburbs later in life, older owners are downsizing and selling so they can move back to the cities.

4. Retail disruption

“This is not exactly a new issue that the retail markets are having a problem,” said Muldavin.

“Between 1970 and today, malls grew at twice the rate of the population.” He noted that the United States has 40 percent more retail space than Canada, five times more than the United Kingdom and 10 times more than Germany. That’s…a lot, especially when you combine it with the wonders of shopping online.

So is it any surprise that so many retail storefronts are closing up shop?

“Retail’s not dying,” assured Muldavin, “but people like experiences” — so current retail stores might be converted to climbing gyms, offices or what Muldavin calls “omnichannel” stores.

And this will all roll up to impact residential real estate; properties within walking distance will be within high demand, and retail disruption can be a residential value determinant, so it’s unwise to ignore it.

5. Infrastructure investment

“Infrastructure is a long-term problem relative to our competitiveness,” said Muldavin, and it’s another one we can’t ignore — it won’t fix itself and it’s only going to keep deteriorating.

He discussed the the infrastructure plan outlined by the Trump administration and said it would push funds into public transportation and other important infrastructure projects.

However, infrastructure projects of this scope are typically taken on when unemployment is relatively high — which it is definitely not right now; we’re at an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in the U.S., the lowest since 2001.

So where are those infrastructure workers going to come from, and how much will they need to be paid?

There are commercial opportunities for fund management, plus advantages for ports and communities that support global transportation routes, and more infrastructure likely means more jobs (and therefore more money to buy a home), better access to housing and work and other necessary places, improved utilities, improved delivery of goods and more.

“The losers are going to be rural areas, water, electrical grids, parks — anything that doesn’t have a direct public source,” Muldavin said.

6. Housing: The big mismatch

“Affordability is a big issue, but in Cleveland you can still buy a house for $80,000,” Muldavin noted. “So affordability’s not a problem everywhere. The places where jobs are being created, you have huge affordability issues. What they really need to do is get jobs moving to where we have housing that’s affordable.”

This is just one example of the big housing mismatch. Others include:

  • Boomers want large apartments for their downsizing plans while developers have been building much smaller units for millennials.
  • There are far too few starter homes to meet demand in most markets.
  • The poor demand for old, large homes in the suburbs can also hinder move-up or downsizing buyers seeking a change.

7. Lost decades of the middle class

Middle class wages haven’t grown in 20 years, Muldavin noted.

“We have a real challenge in this and it has significant implications for real estate relative to homebuying.”

Is it any surprise that homeownership rates have dropped? Muldavin said that they’re forecasted to go even lower — to 60 percent or below. “We’re not expecting a homebuying boom,” he said.

8. Real estate’s emerging role in health care

Is anyone in the U.S. (aside from perhaps pharmaceutical companies) happy with the state of health care? Muldavin noted that we spend $3 trillion on health care every year in this country, and our outcomes rank 50 out of 55 developed countries surveyed. “We’re not getting a lot done,” Muldavin said, “and real estate has a key role in turning this around.”

That includes both increased health care infrastructure — urgent care centers, ambulatory care centers, clinics and other health care-related locales are popping up to help alleviate the burden from hospitals — and buildings themselves can help enhance and promote our health.

There are programs that can control carbon dioxide and lighting levels, for example, to promote alertness and align with circadian rhythms for better sleep.

9. Immigration

“The problem with immigration and the polarization is we don’t have a comprehensive strategy,” said Muldavin.

There are, of course, implications of toughening the borders against immigration:

  • It blocks access to skilled workers.
  • It impacts innovation.
  • It hampers multifamily development, rents and home sales.
  • It impacts home and rental unit size, as immigrant families are often larger.
  • There will be fewer new household formations, fewer renters and fewer buyers.

10. Climate change

Muldavin explained that whether or not you believe in rising sea levels and climate change, it’s going to affect real estate — because new scientific algorithms might convince other people that your property will soon be (literally) underwater.

“It doesn’t even have to be true for it to affect real estate,” he said.

Muldavin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area by the water, and he explained that his big concern is less about his property and more about how he gets there (and leaves).

“If the access road floods now, I can’t get to my house today,” he said. If it gets worse….

“Even if it’s wrong, the perceptions can affect values a lot,” he said “and particularly for baby boomers when your home is such a huge part of your equity and investment, are you going to take a huge risk and not sell or move?”

By AMBER TAUFEN Staff Writer, Inman News

Leave a comment

What’s Up With Housing This Week?


Dodd-FrankDodd-Frank Law Is Falling Short…
New evidence shows that on a few key measures, the Dodd-Frank law hasn’t put new market pressure on large banks, and that it’s also failed to protect consumers.


Mortgage MathMortgage math doesn’t have to be intimidating!
Here are the numbers you need to know, broken down into simple terms:



Ex Fed Chairman GreenspanGreenspan: Axe Dodd-Frank and Watch Economy Soar
“If you get rid of Dodd-Frank, it’s going to have a very significant positive impact on the economy,” ~Greenspan


Lower Mortgage RatesCheaper Mortgages Could Spur Housing Market.
Will the drop to 3.97% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage encourage home buyers?




Seller's MarketHomes are flying off fast this spring in the ‘strongest seller’s market ever’
Spring homebuyers are pounding the pavement at a furious pace, but the pickings are getting ever slimmer.




Leave a comment

Help Your Buyers Avoid Stress During Move-In

New York Times’ Moving Checklist


• Take a deep breath. Moving is a big step with a bigger transition to follow.

Moving Checklist• Decide how you’ll manage the move. If you’re hiring a moving company, get quotes from at least three places, and check them out. If you’re moving far, arrange for transporting your car. If you’re going to do it yourself, figure out where you will get a truck and how much advance notice will be needed.

• Start pruning. What will stay? What will go? Start as far ahead as you can so that you will sort through the stuff instead of throwing it into a box and taking care of it at your new space. If you’re hiring someone to do the packing, ask them how they would prefer things to be sorted, if at all. This will give you an idea of what you will be trying to sell, too.

• Get packing materials. You can buy boxes, Bubble Wrap and packing tape, but keep an eye on your local Freecycle Network and the free section of Craigslist for people who have recently moved and are giving away boxes.

• If you’re selling a home, attack the inspection repair list. If you don’t have a regular plumber, contractor and/or electrician, it will take time to hire professionals. Closing day comes quickly. Keep all receipts for work in case the buyer asks for them at the closing.


• Change magazine subscriptions.

• Keep packing. There is more stuff than you will expect.

• If you’re moving into an apartment building, find out where the truck can park and if you need to make arrangements or reserve an elevator.

• If you’re selling furniture, make a plan for when and where to list the items for sale. You can probably live without that hutch if it sells on Craigslist in a flash, but not your bed.


• Schedule your change of address at the post office or at moversguide.usps.com.

• Change the address for whatever paper bills you get in the mail.

• Arrange to stop or transfer utilities. Whether you’re selling or buying, ask your broker what the title company will handle and what you should do yourself.

• Arrange for sitters for young children and pets on moving day.


• Other addresses to change: driver’s license and insurance cards (for yourself and your car if you have one). Also, make sure your prescriptions are changed to a local pharmacy or will be delivered to your new address if you get them by mail.

• Keep packing, but make sure to leave out what you’ll need on moving day, and anything else essential if it will take a while for you to be reunited with your stuff. Also, make sure those items are in luggage or boxes clearly marked “DO NOT MOVE.”

• Change or halt newspaper delivery and any other regular deliveries.

• Confirm the date and time of the move; discuss any changes because of possible bad weather, and what the company will and won’t take (plants are rarely moved, and they probably won’t take your fireworks either). If you’re moving into a building, confirm the elevator and parking situation.


• Pack up the food you’re taking with you. (For nonperishables you’re not bringing, donate them to a local food bank.

• Make sure your luggage and the “DO NOT MOVE” boxes are far from what the movers are taking.


• If you can, plan to be with the movers while they load the truck. Take whatever you consider nonreplaceable or too valuable to move with you (jewelry, wedding photos, your children), along with the documents you will need at the closing or move-in and the payment for the movers, plus tip. The American Moving and Storage Association recommends $10 a person for a half-day move and $20 per person for a full day.

• Sweep up behind you, and do one more check of the house, including the basement and attic.

A version of this article appears in print on April 2, 2017, on Page RE10 of the New York edition with the headline: Counting Down to Moving Day.

Leave a comment

Explaining the Appraisal Process to Clients Early is Crucial


It all starts with reasonable pricing, knowing the comparables and advising clients properly.

Inman.com — After a seller and buyer reach a “meeting of the minds,” meaning that they have agreed to a price, terms and conditions so that a sale can move forward, most purchase agreements provide each principal a number of opportunities to re-visit the agreement.

When a problem arises, they can negotiate the issue, renegotiate the purchase offer (specifically, the purchase price), or they reach an impasse that could end the process.

Generally speaking, there are two major events or “contingencies” that stand between two relatively happy parties agreeing to transfer a deed. The two are the property inspection and the mortgage approval.

The property inspection usually occurs within the first week or so, and the appraisal usually occurs within weeks of the proposed settlement date, which makes an appraisal problem tougher on the parties as they are more invested in the process concluding successfully.

The mortgage approval involves a number of activities centered on vetting the buyer and appraising the property. The need for an appraisal is premised upon the concept that a loan is an investment in a buyer.

The lender earns fees for being in a position to make the loan and attempts to protect its investment by making sure that the property is “worth” the risk associated with making a loan to a person who may at some point (for a variety of reasons) become unable or unwilling to continue making the monthly payments to repay the loan.

In addition to whatever has happened to the actual market value of the property compared to the amount loaned, the process of taking the property back is a costly one.

Appraisers evaluate property based on a number of criteria, and the “value” they attach to a specific parcel is based on comparable activity. It is a snapshot that is a moving target.

Markets rise and markets fall so the durability of a given appraisal is not guaranteed. Results from years ago or for purposes other than a sale may be worthless when considered in the present day.

When attaching a marketing price to a listed property and when determining how much to offer a seller, the future appraisal should be given some consideration as no one wants a sale to fail, especially given the timing of the appraisal.

The appraised value is interesting as it purports to suggest a specific whole dollar amount to the “value” of a parcel. I am not an appraiser and respectfully suggest that two or more appraisers will arrive at different valuations.

Further, I would respectfully prefer to see that a sale price was either acceptable (meaning at or below the appraised value) or not rather than seeing a specific number when the value exceeds the offered price.

I have had sellers ask if they could raise the price!

Obviously if a house does not appraise, the parties do need to know the amount to see if they can work it out. As objective as it is meant to be, the result is subjective in that the parties want to still do business but may lack the resources to complete the process.

It all starts with reasonable pricing, knowing the comparables and advising the clients that the appraiser typically has what appears to the final say!

Agents should take time to explain pricing and the appraisal process early in the sale, so that no surprises occur later.

Thank you Inman.com.

via Andrew Wetzel… an associate broker with Long and Foster Real Estate in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

Leave a comment

What’s Up With Housing This Week?


Tampa Bay Home PricesTampa Bay home prices shoot up 11%, kicking off another strong year.
Prices for single-family homes in the Tampa Bay area jumped 11.4% in January from a year ago, far higher than the statewide average and the highest of any major Florida metro area.


CFPBDallas Lawmaker Accuses Democrats of Pushing ‘Tyranny’ in Fight Over CFPB.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling would like to see major changes at the CFPB.


Micro-MansionsWhat do you do when you’ve maxed out mega?
You go micro—as in micro mansion. The idea is to create a home that’s small on space and low on maintenance but big on luxury.



Drones and Construction SafetyA New Use for Drones: On-Site Safety.
A Florida construction firm is utilizing the technology to resolve issues before workers set foot in the field.



Florida Association of RealtorsMortgage rates edge up – but not much
Rates rose negligibly from last week’s 4.15% to 4.16% this week, and half the experts polled this week predict relative stability over the short term.




Leave a comment

What’s Up With Housing?


Cyber FraudDon’t Miss Tuesday’s Coffee Corner at 9:30am.
“What is Cyber-Fraud? Learn How to Protect Yourself and Your Client in Today’s World”



Closing CostsHave You Ever Asked Yourself, How Much Are Closing Costs?
Learn about the fees you’ll pay when you close on the purchase of a home.



U.S. Capitol BuildingRealtors are urged to stay engaged over the next year while Congress considers a full-scale reform to the United States tax code.
Mortgage Interest Deduction… 1031 Exchange… Fannie & Freddie… Flood Insurance


Rising Home PricesThe Great News About Rising Prices for Homeowners
Recently there has been a lot of talk about home prices and if they are accelerating too quickly.


Downtown St PetersburgSt. Petersburg/Tampa/Clearwater is 8th Fastest Metro in the U.S.
Florida dominate Forbes’ annual list of places on the economic upswing.



Home Buying Etiquette7 Unwritten Etiquette Rules Every Home Buyer Should Know.
Here are some unwritten rules of etiquette that home buyers should follow in order to get the home they want without rubbing anyone the wrong way.


Interest Rate HikeA March Rate Hike Now Looks More Likely.
If this trend continues, the Fed may be faced with a hard decision on interest rates when it meets in March.



Leave a comment

What’s Up With Housing?


Tampa Bay Real EstateHere are Tampa Bay’s 25 Priciest Homes of 2016.
Tampa Bay’s luxury market roared back to life in 2016 as an improving economy drove sales of high-end homes to a level not seen in years.




Down PaymentsThink You Need to Save 20% for a Down Payment? Think Again.
Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for first-time home buyers, but many don’t realize that they don’t actually need to put 20% down.


Environmental RegulationsHomebuilders See Profit in Trump Bulldozing Environmental Rules.
Trump, the first builder ever to occupy the White House, is stirring hope in the hearts of developers that America’s lost decade for home construction will end in a flurry of regulatory cuts.


Real Estate Reality TVDo You Watch Real Estate Reality TV?
When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check… Here are 5 myths explained.


Selling Your HomeThe Age-Old Rule of Listing in the Spring is Now Outdated.
Spring has long been considered the best time to try to sell a home, but with digital marketing, traditional rules seem to matter less.