Author Archives: Hallmark Abstract Service

Hallmark Abstract Service

About Hallmark Abstract Service

Hallmark Abstract Service provides title insurance for residential and commercial real estate transactions in New York State and nationwide, underwriting through Chicago Title. HAS opened its doors in 2008 with two primary goals in mind! Number one was to create a title insurance company that would provide our clients with a superior finished product while affording them a seamless and stress-free process. Number two was to make the experience of working with Hallmark Abstract Service as easy and as pleasurable as obtaining title insurance for a real estate transaction could possibly be! From the sheer number of satisfied clients who keep coming back to Hallmark Abstract Service for their title insurance needs, I believe that we have accomplished our goals in the past, and we will continue striving to improve on them in the future! My Background In 1980 I earned an undergraduate degree in economics followed in 1984 by an MBA in finance with a concentration in the tax-exempt market. With this focus on the municipal market I became a municipal bond analyst at Shearson/Lehman Brothers tasked with following both general obligation issuers on the city and state level as well as housing bonds secured by mortgage pools. This experience at Shearson/Lehman Brothers followed by stints at PaineWebber and Citigroup provided a broad framework of understanding concerning the mechanics of mortgage debt in terms of prepayment experience, mortgage quality and the expected duration of a portfolio. Leaving Wall Street I started Exeter Commercial which funded commercial mortgage loans. Title insurance was a critical part of the underwriting and closing process. At the peak of the financial crisis, I recognized both an opportunity and need as many title firms, for a variety of reasons, closed their doors. Out of this, Hallmark Abstract Service was born.

NYC LL97 (Local Law 97): Clarification On Implementation and Enforcement

Excellent tutorial from Adler & Stachenfeld ( Partner YuhTyng Patka ( about the additional draft rules issued by the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) concerning how Local Law 97 will be implemented and enforced.

It is provided below in its entirety, with contact information for YuhTyng Patka at the end.


Last week the NYC Department of Buildings (“DOB”) released additional draft rules further providing clarification as to how Local Law (“LL97”) will be implemented and enforced.  As a reminder, LL97 places a statutory limit on greenhouse gas emissions of NYC buildings 25,000 gross square feet or larger beginning January 1, 2024.  The first “building emissions report” confirming either compliance or non-compliance for the 2024 calendar year must be submitted to DOB by May 1, 2025 for most NYC building owners covered under LL97.

Many NYC building owners had hoped that the January 1, 2024 compliance deadline would eventually be delayed altogether.  That has unfortunately not been the case.  For many, the January 1, 2024 compliance deadline is still applicable and looms in the near future. 

The latest draft rules signal that while the City of New York recognizes the challenges faced by owners in planning for LL97 compliance resulting from the pandemic and rising interest rates, the City is not backing down from its efforts to curb the real estate industry’s impact on carbon emissions. 

To that end, the new rules formalize an extension of the building emissions report deadline (but not the compliance date) for income-restricted multi-family owners from May 1, 2025 to May 1, 2027 at earliest.  (As a reminder, income-restricted multi-family owners and houses of worship can comply with LL97 through prescriptive pathways outlined in the law and have until December 31, 2024 to do so).  The City also encourages and incentivizes owners to electrify their buildings’ heating, cooling, and hot water systems by offering a “beneficial electrification ”credit that can be “banked” and used to minimize future penalties if qualifying electric systems are installed before 2030, with a greater credit granted if such systems are installed prior to 2027.

The new rules also provide a framework for how NYC building owners can mitigate civil penalties associated with noncompliance with LL97.  Penalties will be calculated as the difference between the building emissions limit established for a particular calendar year and the actual emissions reported for such calendar year, multiplied by $268.

If an owner seeks to mitigate a penalty, they must demonstrate DOB’s criteria for mitigating factors with the filed building emissions report.  One mitigating factor DOB will consider is an “unexpected or unforeseeable event” such as a hurricane, flood, or fire. Successful demonstration of an unexpected or unforeseeable event may result in a $0 penalty. 

The other mitigating factor considered by DOB is a showing that “good faith efforts” have been made by the building owner to comply.  The new rules outline what DOB constitutes as “good faith efforts”. 

The owner must demonstrate all of the following:

  • Filed a LL97 building emissions report for the previous calendar year
  • Uploaded benchmarking information (LL84) for the previous calendar year
  • Completed lighting system upgrades and sub-metering requirements (LL88)

Additionally, the owner must demonstrate at least one of the following:

  • Submit a decarbonization plan by May 1, 2025 (discussed further below)
  • Provide evidence of DOB approval for the work necessary to comply
  • Provide evidence that the building is undergoing electrification work
  • Submitted a building emissions report during the 2024-2029 compliance period showing the building was under the limit for such calendar year
  • An owner of a critical facility (e.g. a hospital, dialysis clinic, vaccine manufacturing facility, or other operation critical to human life or safety) shows how payment of the penalty would negative impact the facility’s operations
  • The owner has applied for or been granted an adjustment to the building’s emissions limit

If an owner chooses to mitigate penalties by submission of a decarbonization plan by May 1, 2025, such plan must include:

  • An energy audit
  • An inventory of all heating, cooling, hot water, and electric equipment
  • Description of any work completed since January1, 2013 that resulted in at least 10% emissions reduction as compared to the year prior to work completion
  • A list of proposed alterations and changes to operations and maintenance that will result in net zero carbon emissions by2050 (the removal of a tenant is not a permitted strategy).  The list must include timeline, capital source(s), and estimated emission reductions resulting from the changes.

The decarbonization plan route requires that the work contemplated in the plan be completed within 2 years of submission.  So, if owners are seeking to mitigate penalties for reporting year 2024 which report must be submitted by May 1, 2025, then the decarbonization plan must be implemented and completed by May 1, 2027 and provide compliance for 2024’s emission limit.  Additionally, such decarbonization plan must also show compliance with a building’s 2030 emissions limit by May 1, 2028 and an owner cannot purchase any renewable energy credits (RECs) to comply in 2024-2029. 

Moral of the story:  As we have continuously been advising our audience in the past 4 years, owners need to act swiftly with regards to their LL97 compliance efforts.  The “good faith efforts” outlined by DOB in its latest draft rules confirm such need to move quickly, as most of the criteria require the owner to have begun compliance efforts well in advance of the January 1, 2024 compliance deadline.

If you have any questions regarding any of these new laws and proposals, please contact:

YuhTyng (Tyng) Patka (NYC Tax & Incentives Chair) – 212.692.5532 /

A Great Business Development/Military Veteran Charity Opportunity! Here’s The Math…

A foursome at Sebonack Country Club in Southampton will be auctioned at the 13th Annual Heroes To Heroes Foundation Golf & Tennis Classic on July 17th (early bidding is available).

This Presents A Huge Business Development Tool And Opportunity For A Business Or Law Firm…

For those unfamiliar, ‘Sebonack Country Club is one of the most exclusive in the world and so, the cost of playing a round is high. Even the initiation fee is very high at $500,000. It’s a private club so if you have the money, you can apply. However, membership is limited and has a long waiting period.’

The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak, and is currently #38 on the list of Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Courses!

The minimum bid for this Sebonack foursome that includes lunch and cart (not caddy), and that is fully tax-deductible, is $7,500 ($5,475 effective cost in the combined 27% NYS and Federal combined tax bracket)(some date restrictions exist).

Not an insignificant amount of money, but the reality is that for one of your clients or prospects who is also a golfer, the idea of ever playing Sebonack is more of a bucket list item than one that has the potential of ever becoming a reality!

And, what’s better than spending 4 or 5 hours on a golf course with a (potential) business partner?

Have questions? Like to put in a bid prior to the event on July 17th?

Just let Mike Haltman know at

Who Is The Heroes To Heroes Foundation?

The Heroes To Heroes Foundation ( is a nondenominational combat veteran 501(c)(3) with a mission of saving vets who return home suffering moral injury, and live at serious risk of death by suicide.

The 18-month program utilizes peer support, spiritual awakening, and reconnection to faith, helping these American heroes to finally open up and begin the process of healing. The end result is that they are ultimately able to live their best lives!

Between program years 1 and 2, Teams go on 10-day journeys to Israel where they visit some of the worlds holiest sites including the Wailing Wall, Stations of the Cross, Yad Vashem and much more.

Evenings are spent as a group in discussion sessions.

Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Michael Haltman has the honor and privilege of serving as the Heroes To Heroes Foundation Board Chair.

The details of the Golf Classic can be found here:

The Hallmark Abstract Service Title Bill App

This completely free-to-use technology allows the user to input the purchase parameters for a residential deal, in any New York State town or city, and for any purchase price and mortgage amount.

The output will be the title bill for the transaction including title insurance premiums, recording fees and any applicable mortgage or mansion tax.

The example shown below outlines the costs in a New York City residential purchase for $2,000,000 with a mortgage of $1,500,000.

It’s easy and fast to register and free to use! The website for the app can be found here,

Any questions, ask us at, or give us a call at (646) 741-6101.

Michael Haltman, Hallmark Abstract Service CEO, Is Interviewed By Douglas Elliman’s Vice Chair Dottie Herman On The Eye On Real Estate Podcast! (Audio)

Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Mike Haltman enjoyed some great radio time with Dottie Herman, on her podcast Eye On Real Estate.

The podcast airs Saturdays from 10 AM – 12 Noon on AM97 The Answer.

The discussion covered topics ranging from title insurance to the combat veteran Heroes To Heroes Foundation where Michael serves as its Board Chair.

This past Saturday, February 18, 2023, Dottie had as her co-host Steven Ebert, a real estate Partner at Cassin & Cassin LLP.

Mike Haltman’s segment begins at 38 minutes 53 seconds, but the entire episode is worth a listen!

Title Insurance Versus Attorney Opinion Letters (AOL’s)

Don’t be penny-wise and dollar foolish when it comes to protecting what may be the largest financial commitment of your life!

The situation: ‘Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now accepting written Attorney Opinion Letters (AOLs) in lieu of a title insurance policy under limited circumstances as a result of Equitable Housing Finance Plans announced earlier by the FHFA earlier this year.’

Comparing title insurance and AOLs, one protects property buyers while the other kinda/sorta protects them in some instances!

Risks to Homebuyers

– Should a title issue arise on a property covered by an attorney opinion only, the buyer would need to prove negligence on the part of the attorney to pursue the claim with them.
– If not proven, a claimant would likely need to pay the legal costs involved to litigate the title matter, posing a financial burden and a significant risk.’

A report from the American Land Title Association (ALTA) spells out the issues and risks facing homebuyers who opt for the Attorney Opinion Letter or AOL.


  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now accepting written AOLs in lieu of a title insurance policy under limited circumstance as a result of Equitable Housing Finance Plans announced earlier by the FHFA earlier this year.
  • Since before the announcement, ALTA has engaged with the FHFA and government sponsored entities (GSEs) to help them understand the differences between title insurance and alternative products in the coverage and protection they provide. 
  • ALTA continues to work with the GSEs to ensure that access to sustainable homeownership opportunities is available for all Americans in a way that does not increase risk or undermine the property rights of homebuyers, particularly low- and moderate-income and first-time homebuyers.
  • ALTA believes it is misguided for lenders to offer title insurance alternatives that provide less coverage but introduce more risk to lenders and consumers.

Who’s at Risk

Alternative Products Increase Lender Risk

  • Historically, lenders have preferred the protection of a title insurance policy because it provides the best mix of strong protections and low cost. Lenders considering the use of AOLs or other alternatives must understand the risks they are taking on by not getting title insurance since they will be on the hook given Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s life of loan representations and warranties related to title.
  • One sizable risk is related to items not discoverable in a public records search like federal tax liens, mis-indexed items or HOA liens. An attorney opinion letter does not cover items not shown in a public records search.
  • Another important example of the difference in coverage is fraud or forgery of title documents. Title insurance provides coverage when a seller’s deed was forged or there was fraud with the previous owner’s will. An attorney opinion letter does not.
  • Unlike an AOL, title insurance provides lenders with a defense—including all attorneys’ fees and costs—in a lien priority dispute or other matter covered by the policy.
  • Lastly, unlike title insurance, AOLs might push more consumers into foreclosure since that is a condition to making valid claim under the service provider policy wrapper.

Risks to Homebuyers

  • Should a title issue arise on a property covered by an attorney opinion only, the buyer would need to prove negligence on the part of the attorney to pursue the claim with them.
  • If not proven, a claimant would likely need to pay the legal costs involved to litigate the title matter, posing a financial burden and a significant risk.

Information courtesy of ALTA here:


For more information about title insurance, read the article ‘Are New York Title Insurance Providers All The Same?’ here,

Hallmark Abstract Service…You Buy, We Protect!

Have questions? Reach out to Hallmark Abstract Service at (646) 741-6101 or send us an email at

2022 National Association of REALTORS® Survey of Homebuyers!

2022 National Association of REALTORS® Survey of Homebuyers!

For homebuyers, much of 2022 was a frustrating time of limited inventory and sky-high prices, where the sellers controlled much of the narrative.

The scenario changed later in the year, and although a lack of inventory still prevailed, pricing power moved more to the buyer as an almost doubling of mortgage rates reduced home affordability even further than it had already been.

This NAR survey examines:

– Characteristics of Home Buyers

– Characteristics of Homes Purchased

– The Home Search Process

– Home Buying and Real Estate Professionals

– Financing the Home Purchase

– Home Sellers and Their Selling Experience

– Home Selling and Real Estate Professionals

– For Sale by Owner (FSBO) Sellers

Read the results in more detail here:


If you’re buying commercial or residential real estate in New York there is some good news…

Remember that all title insurance is NOT the same, and it’s your right to choose the company you would like to work with!

Hallmark Abstract Service LLC…You Buy, We Protect!

Read about key differentiating factors among New York title insurance providers, in the article ‘Are New York Title Insurance Providers All The Same?’ here

Have questions? Reach out to Hallmark Abstract Service at (646) 741-6101 or send us an email at

Recession? History Says…

Recession: Are past results useful indicators of future performance?

Consider A Recessions Length When Compared to the ‘Real Rates’ of Bonds on the Day the Treasury Yield Curve Inverts…

The current scenario does not bode well for the U.S. economy!


– An inverted yield curve exists when longer-term interest rates are lower than near-term rates.

– Real Rates are the bond’s yield – the inflation rate)

‘Fed researchers found ‘the length and severity of a recession was *inversely* correlated to the REAL 10-Year US treasury yield at the time of the yield curve inversion. i.e. the lower the real 10-Year US Treasury yield at the time of the inversion, the worse the recession.

In our current case, the real rate of the 10-year treasury (yield minus inflation) was a MINUS 5% at the time the yield curve inverted. In the prior cases, it had never been negative.’

This would indicate the economy is facing a difficult road ahead! (Puru Saxena


That’s the bad news, but if you’re buying commercial or residential real estate in New York there is some good news…

Remember that all title insurance is NOT the same, and it’s your right to choose the company you would like to work with!

Hallmark Abstract Service LLC…You Buy, We Protect!

Read about key differentiating factors among New York title insurance providers, in the article ‘Are New York Title Insurance Providers All The Same?’ here

Have questions? Reach out to Hallmark Abstract Service at (646) 741-6101 or send us an email at

NYC Apartments: Criminal Background Checks Yes Or No? (Poll)

You Are Currently Renting An Apartment in a New York City Building…

The question is whether building management and others in the building have the right to be aware if another apartment in the building is going to be rented to someone with a criminal record?

The NYC ‘Fair Chance for Housing Act’ will be debated on December 8th before the City Council’s Committee on Civil Rights…

It appears to have the votes for passage, and would prevent New York City landlords from doing criminal background checks on prospective apartment renters.

But should landlords have the option to run these checks if they choose?

Bottom Line

Is outlawing criminal background checks a good and fair idea as a potential renter has the right to privacy (and a second chance if they served their time for a crime), or do other tenants in a building have the right to know if a convicted felon will be living next door?

Have an opinion? Leave it in the comments below…

Some previous comments…

  1. Let’s have The Fortune Society and its members weigh in here.

    I’m going out on a limb by saying some things that will not sit well with many. Throwing the book at people has never solved problems. Let’s consider an operation from a space of empathy.

    Years ago, I saw the play The Castle. The story of Casimiro “Cas” Torres was particularly heartwrenching. If you haven’t seen the play, check it out.

    Until we deal with the issues that feed problems of this kind, the legislature will be forced to decide on the more significant issue at any given time. They want lobbying money or quick results to make them look good for the next election. The affordable housing issue has become so larger that lawmakers are forced to act fast.

    Who will be responsible for housing all the people that have become victims of the prison industrial complex? How will we discern between the individual who took a plea at age 18 because proving their innocence would have kept them in jail for decades?

    What about the nurse who killed her abusive husband in self-defense? Today, DA Alvin Bragg is seeking a dismissal. What about the Central Park Five?

    Can we trust landlords to make these distinctions?
  2. I honestly don’t think they should outlaw them, however I’m not sure if it actually matters. I worked in property management for 5 years and have run countless background checks and in NYC you see all kinds of things. Usually the property manager would step in to discuss with your leasing manager and possibly request more clarity on the matter from the prospective tenant if it raises red flags. But I have never seen anyone denied because of it alone, usually felons have a hard time finding high enough paying jobs so they are not necessarily moving into Soho, Williamsburg or any other well to do neighborhood. I have heard of more denials for tenant landlord court or for having a program voucher (not section 8) which is what they really need to look at. Also how can current tenants know their neighbors business? It’s not broadcasted on WHO did what.
  3. Most landlords do not run criminal background checks. However, I do not think they should be prevented. Under the Fair Housing Act a landlord must consider a applicant with a criminal history on a case by case basis taking into consideration a number of factors. I believe if weighed fairly this is appropriate. I don’t believe that tenants have a right to know all their neighbors business.

How much does title insurance cost in New York City?

Article in Brick Underground

Hallmark Abstract Service CFO Linda Haltman spoke with Brick Underground Founder and CEO Teri Karush Rogers about the title insurance for a New York City real estate property purchase, and things that buyers should consider when selecting the title insurance company to work with.

While the property buyers real estate attorney will recommend a title company, it is the right of the purchaser, if they choose, to pick the one that they would like to use. And while many consider title insurance to be of the same quality regardless of who is used, the fact of the matter is that significant differences, including cost, can exist (Are New York Title Insurance Providers All The Same?).

The article also includes the input of Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas Partner Jeffrey Reich.

‘How much does title insurance cost in New York City?’ by Teri Karush Rogers

  • On a $1 million property with a mortgage, you can expect to pay 6 percent
  • You can save as much as $1,000 to $2,000 by negotiating extra charges

Question: How much does title insurance cost in NYC? And do I really need it?

The Answer: On a $1 million New York property with a mortgage, expect title insurance that protects you and your lender to cost around 6 percent, or about $6,000, our experts say. If you’re paying all cash, title insurance will be around 4 percent of the purchase price—and if you’re buying a co-op (versus a condo or house), you don’t need any at all.

When and why you need title insurance in New York

Title insurance protects you (and your lender, if you have a mortgage) against future third-party claims against the title to your property. These are claims against the legal ownership of your home that were missed during the initial title search when you bought your place. They might include tax liens or liens by contractors for unpaid or disputed debts. Or there could be a loan against the property of which you’re unaware.

“For example, if the county clerk recorded a mortgage under the wrong block and lot, it wouldn’t be discovered during the title search,” says Linda Haltman, co-founder of Hallmark Abstract Service, a title insurance agent in NYC and Long Island. 

In other cases, the seller doesn’t have the right to sell the property. That could be due to outright title fraud, an overlooked heir, or some combination of the two.

“For example, a parent dies and leaves the house to their four children, but three decide to sell and run away with the money. The fourth child has a claim for a quarter of what the house is worth at the time the claim is made,” Haltman says. 

Buying a co-op? You can skip title insurance altogether.

“Title insurance only covers real property, and a co-op is not real property—when you buy a co-op, you’re buying shares in a corporation,” Haltman says. Instead, “we do a co-op lien search which searches for all the liens against the co-op corporation and the original apartment,” at a cost of around $350.

Do you need title insurance if you’re paying cash?

You don’t have to buy title insurance if you’re paying cash, but most people do.

“It’s very rare that people don’t,” says Jeffrey Reich, a real estate attorney at Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. While “the incidences of loss such policies protect against are exceedingly rare,” you may want it if you refinance later or sell.

“Having a title report and policy at the time of purchase will remove some of the unknown or potential issues that can derail a future sale closing,” Reich says. “Title defects will be brought to light, dealt with and insured. Thereafter, if the title defect is raised by a future purchaser, the owner/seller can raise the issue with their title insurer and the title insurer will likely issue a coverage letter, which would resolve the issue and allow the closing to move forward.”

Additionally, you may decide to unlock some equity in your home one day and take out a mortgage. 

“The lender will require you to get title insurance and give you a reduced rate if you’ve had title in the past,” Reich says. 

How to save money on title insurance: Negotiate ‘junk’ fees

In New York State, title insurance rates must be approved by the Title Insurance Rate Service Association (TIRSA), which is licensed by the state’s Department of Financial Services

These rates don’t vary that much, but title companies that perform the title searches and do other work on behalf of the insurer may tack on a number of extra charges that can add up to as much as $1,000 to $2,000.

Haltman calls these “junk fees.” They may show up on a title company’s bill—usually presented at the closing table, when there’s little time to review or question them—as “made up charges like ‘search fee,’ ‘administrative fee,’ or FedEx.”

Then there’s outright padding.

“Let’s say it costs $895 to record a deed,” Haltman says. “I would put $895 on my bill, whereas another might say $1,200.”

She recommends that buyers ask their attorney to send a copy of the title bill before closing day, and compare it to one or two quotes from other title insurance companies, which can be easily obtained with a phone call or online. 

“If there are excess fees on there, ask your lawyer to negotiate them out,” Haltman says. 

Most title companies will agree rather than risk losing the deal, she says. That’s because “title companies keep about 80 to 85 percent of the premium. The other 20 percent is remitted to the insurance company,” Haltman says.

Do real estate attorneys get paid by title companies?

Real estate attorneys typically work with two or three title companies that they trust to get the job done smoothly, and they’ll recommend that buyers use one of them. Sometimes, real estate attorneys also pocket a big chunk of your title fees. 

“In NYC, a lot of attorneys have ‘affiliated relationships’ with title companies,” Haltman says. The attorney does “none of the title work, but the title companies will open separate companies for each attorney and give them a large split of their fee. It could be 50/50.” 

Some real estate lawyers actually own the title company they recommend to clients. 

“If yours does, he’s making $4,800 on title insurance on top of a $2,500 transaction fee” on your $1 million purchase, Haltman says. 

In either scenario, “The attorney is legally supposed to disclose [their relationship to the title company] to the buyer—but it’s typically done in a form that’s presented at the closing table,” Haltman says, so ask up front if your attorney has any financial ties with the title company.