Author Archives: 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.

New York DFS, Through Regulation, Is Significantly Changing The Way That The Title Insurance Industry Will Be Doing Business!

new york state photo

Photo by pasa47

New York State DFS Is Implementing Major Changes That Will Impact The Title Insurance Industry In New York, In A Big Way!

Regulations 206 and 208, soon to take effect, were said to be written in order to protect the residential real estate buying consumer in New York State! But protect them from what?

From de facto and effectively regressive taxation as some Long Island counties raise recording fees in an unreasonable fashion?

From property sellers somehow trying to pull a fast one? No, that’s not it…

According to a DFS Press Release dated October 17, 2017, protection from ‘UNSCRUPULOUS PRACTICES IN THE TITLE INSURANCE INDUSTRY’!

The DFS solution is to reduce title insurance premiums, significantly reduce the ability for title insurance companies to advertise or market themselves and change the way that title closers will be compensated. And there’s much more!

Imagine, however, what will still be permissible are political contributions.

The unintended consequence will likely be some number of title insurance businesses closing their doors along with all of the lost jobs.

In addition residential real estate buyers and mortgage refinancers may find closings delayed as title closers, many independent contractors, could potentially leave the business as their compensation is drastically cut.

Of course few will shed a tear for an industry that, while critical for the residential real estate buying public, is not very well understood.

But, while I can’t speak for anyone else in the title insurance business, must take a bit of offense at a blanket statement that paints all industry participants with the same broad brush.

As a reminder, here it is again…’UNSCRUPULOUS PRACTICES IN THE TITLE INSURANCE INDUSTRY’

Over the 10-years my firm has been in business we have made it a point to educate the consumer about the fact that ALL title insurance providers are not the same!

That said, are there some bad actors in the title insurance industry? Undoubtedly, in much the same way that there are bad apple attorney’s, doctors, plumbers…You get the idea.

But again, we and I’m sure other firms make it a point to try and hammer home the following points, namely…

  1. The consumer has the right to choose the title insurance provider,
  2. The consumer needs to check on the financial strength of the underwriter issuing the policy,
  3. The consumer needs to explore the claims experience of the title insurance provider as it varies between companies, and
  4. That the consumer needs to be aware of the fact that the non-title insurance premium fees can, and to this point, have varied widely between title insurance firms. We go on to advise that to make certain the consumer was not being charged too much, they should get a title bill from a second firm to use as comparison.

Unfortunately, returning to point #1 above, the fact-of-the-matter is that many consumers have nothing to do with title insurance until they pay for it at the closing.

The title insurance provider is often selected by the attorney or mortgage company and they, truth-be-told, are not the ones paying the bill.

In the past Hallmark Abstract Service has offered the consumer the following advice (‘In New York, Why Should You Care About Title Insurance?‘)…

…Question: What other purchase, whether insurance or otherwise, will you as a consumer take no active role in the selection process?

A new car, television, health insurance, life insurance or new set of golf clubs to name just a few will typically be purchased after some amount of consideration and thought given by the buyer.

So, in the case of what may be the largest financial transaction of someones life, why is the decision about the critical component of title insurance ceded to someone else?

That someone is typically the attorney (for a purchase) or mortgage broker (for a refinance) handling the transaction. This person, it is hoped, has the best interests of the client in mind. And in the vast majority of instances they most certainly do.

But consider this…In the world of title insurance there are a variety of underwriters with differing financial strength ratings, title insurance policy providers with claims experience that can and will vary from company to company and, finally, non- title insurance premium costs that can vary in the hundreds to even thousands of dollars across firms!

So what can the consumer do?

  1. If someone else is handling the title insurance arrangements, ask questions!
  2. a) Who is the underwriter and what are they rated?
  3. b) How many claims has the abstract company faced and what were the causes of the claims?
  4. c) And, are the non-title insurance premium fees fair?
  5. Are you being asked to pay more for the property survey than was charged by the surveyor? If so, why?
  6. Remember that in New York you have the right to choose your title insurance provider so if your attorney or mortgage provider insists on using their own, ask for a copy of the title bill and check it with another title company to make sure it is fair. If excess fee amounts are being charged, wouldn’t that cash be better off in the consumers pocket than in the pocket of the title company? If there is a significant difference between bills, find out why and if the explanation is not reasonable insist the fees be adjusted lower!*

Finally for a more complete explanation, read ‘New York Title Insurance: Always Compare Apples To Apples! (Chart)’!

New York State, through regulation, is taking the need and responsibility to ask these questions out of the consumers hands.

So while the new DFS Regulations 206 and 208 will get much press with sensational headlines from real estate publications along with other sources, understand that in the same way all attorney’s, doctor’s and plumbers are not made from the same ethical cloth, the same fact is true for title insurance providers!

DFS Regulations 206 and 208

DFS Regulations in their final form can be found at these links:

Regulation 206: http://www.dfs.ny.gov/insurance/r_finala/2017/rf_consolidated_txt.pdf

Regulation 208: http://www.dfs.ny.gov/insurance/r_finala/2017/rf208txt.pdf

Michael Haltman, President
Hallmark Abstract Service
mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com

NYC Real Estate Developers Are Infallible, That Is Until They’re Fallible!

No matter the endeavor there are times when simply playing the game is enough to ensure success…At times commercial and residential real estate ownership and development are no exception!

In other words when prices in a specific real estate market are steadily headed in one direction, up, there is no specific trick to making money. You buy or build and over time the investment will likely pay off. That, at least in their own minds, makes everyone an expert.

Unfortunately these straight-up markets are cyclical and, using the financial crisis beginning around 2006-2007 as an example, often making money or rather losing less of it in real estate became much trickier if not impossible!

As a non-real estate anecdote, I remember during my time working on a bond trading floor at one of the major Wall Street firms, watching traders actually kiss sell tickets after making a quick point ($10,000 per 1,000 bonds) on a trade. If you had asked these traders at the time, they would say that they could do no wrong.

Of course when markets became more volatile and less one-directional they came back down to earth and there would be many a sell ticket that did not receive the same type of affection.

The moral is that when you make money you’re not the smartest person in the room and when you lose money you’re not the dumbest.

Commercial Real Estate In New York City or Rising Tides Lift Most Boats

The commercial and residential real estate markets across the country have experienced an unprecedented period of price appreciation since the financial crisis, with some incredible numbers having been registered through closed transactions. Over the past year or so, however, in NYC there has been a palpable softening in real estate prices for both residential and commercial properties.

historic US commercial real estate price chart

Source: Green Street Advisors U.S. Commercial Property Price Index

Compounding the problem of softening markets for some building owners is that some of what had once been the creme de la creme of addresses, are often now facing competition from new construction that’s coming online.

An example of this might be Manhattan’s Hudson Yards going-up against buildings that were once considered a must-have address, like 666 Fifth Avenue.

In other words when an A+ building becomes A- or worse, somethings got to give. And that something will typically be price!

This brings us to an interesting NYC current events story about the desire by a commercial building co-owner to keep an address relevant through ground-up redevelopment when a more conservative rehab might be the more logical step and the desire of the other owner.

What makes this story even more interesting are the players involved. Vornado Realty Trust that’s against ground-up redevelopment and the Kushner Companies, run by Jared Kushner until moving to the White House, that’s desiring starting from scratch.

From an article at Bloomberg:

An ambitious plan by Jared Kushner’s family to recast its indebted Fifth Avenue office building as a luxury architectural trophy is collapsing, setting off a chain of events that may imperil the Kushners’ ownership of a property central to their real estate empire.

Their partner, Vornado Realty Trust, is telling brokers to plan for a much more mundane renovation that would leave the property as an office building, according to three people familiar with the matter. Vornado Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Roth was never enthusiastic about the Kushner plan although until now he hadn’t stood in its way.

Putting an end to the Kushner effort — to salvage their overpriced investment by turning it into a Midtown jewel with expensive condos, a hotel and five-floor mall — could have profound ramifications for the family. Vornado, which owns 49.5 percent of 666 Fifth Ave., is unlikely to invest further in the property without first being reassured of its future, said three people familiar with Roth’s thinking. That means returning to the negotiating table with lenders — a battle that could result in Kushner Cos.’ losing control of the building, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private deals…

Read the rest of the article at Bloomberg here.

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How well is your Non-Public Information, or NPI, being protected by your title insurance provider?

And, before you purchase a title insurance policy, do you know the answers to these three basic questions?

  • Who is your underwriter?
  • What is the claims experience of your title insurance provider?
  • Do you know whether the non-title insurance premium fees you are paying are fair and reasonable?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, please read…

Complimentary Registration Today For The October 19th BOOM B2B Expo & Executive Speaker Conference On Long Island

Business netorking

WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING ON OCTOBER 19TH BETWEEN 10AM AND 3PM? WHAT WILL YOUR COMPETITORS BE DOING?

WHAT: The BOOM B2B Expo and Executive Speaker Conference
WHEN and WHERE: Thursday, October 19th at the Long Island Hilton in Melville from 10AM-3PM

Register for free here: 
http://boombiznet.com/events-calendar/#!event/register/2017/10/19/boom-b2b-expo-executive-speaker-conference 

At The Link Above, Follow These Three Simple Steps That Take About 2 Minutes And You’ll Be Registered…
1) Click on Quantity of Attendees,

2) Once done, fill-in attendee information and then scroll down to the bottom of the page past the credit card information,

3) You will see a Discount Code section. Use mhaltman and hit apply. Registration fees will then be waived!

4) Executive Speaker Room #6 is going to be supporting Heroes To Heroes Foundation and attendees can sign-up for 2 sessions at no cost (
http://boombiznet.com/speakerrooms/expospeakerroom6/#!form/ExpoSpeakerRoom6Cart)!

If you have any questions about the Expo or the Heroes To Heroes Foundation please contact Hallmark Abstract Service President Mike Haltman who has the honor of serving as Board Chair of the Foundation:

Email Michael: mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com

Call Michael (516) 521-3499 (Mobile)

Are You An Activist Focused On The Real Estate Industry In New York? Specifically, Nassau County…

long island homes photo

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

If not, should you be?

The term activist when describing an individual, or activism when describing a group of activists focused on a specific issue, conjures up a variety of mental images!

And of course the intensity and ferocity of the images will typically vary depending on the scope of the issue and the emotions that surround it!

Given the senseless tragedy of the recent carnage in Las Vegas, activist thoughts may move towards the subject of guns and the 2nd Amendment with opinions and emotions running high on all sides of the issue.

But, for the purposes of this article, the question of activism has to do with proposals at a local governmental level that have the potential to disrupt the real estate industry, specifically in Nassau County, Long Island.

Unfortunately, however, local and what some may consider mundane politically-centered fiscal issues tend not to gain a great deal of traction with the public or sadly even with the people and industries it will directly affect!

Proposal Announced By Nassau County, New York For An Exorbitant Increase In Certain Real Estate Fees To Avoid The Raising Of Taxes!

 

As a title insurance provider our primary function and focus is to ensure that our clients have good, clean and clear title to the residential or commercial property that they are either purchasing or one that they already own and that is encumbered by a mortgage that they are refinancing (or one unencumbered on which a new mortgage is being placed).

A secondary and still critical function however, is to make sure that the ancillary, non-title insurance premium fees that we charge clients are reasonable and fair. And that’s exactly what we do!

But, what happens when a situation outside of our control arises that will saddle our clients with egregious fees it appears will be raised in order to plug a budget deficit squarely on the backs of the real estate industry? All in order to avoid the prospect of raising taxes.

What happens? We get involved! So what can you do to get involved? It’s simple!

Read the article below that explains the Nassau County proposal for fee increases and note the contact information for Nassau County legislators you can contact to express your unhappiness concerning them.

Nassau County, New York Is At It Again! New Fee Proposal On The Table To Gouge The Real Estate Industry…Or,

If you have any questions please contact Hallmark Abstract Service President Michael Haltman at mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com or at (516) 741-4723.

___________________________

How well is your Non-Public Information, or NPI, being protected by your title insurance provider?

And, before you purchase a title insurance policy, do you know the answers to these three basic questions?

  • Who is your underwriter?
  • What is the claims experience of your title insurance provider?
  • Do you know whether the non-title insurance premium fees you are paying are fair and reasonable?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, please read…

What Are Air Rights Worth in NYC’s Hudson Yards? How About $265MM?

hudson yards photo

Photo by MTAPhotos

Over the years the Hallmark Abstract Service blog has occasionally dabbled around the periphery of an extremely complex and somewhat misunderstood segment of New York City real estate…Air Rights! 

Transferable development rights, TDRs or air rights, allow for the transfer of unused development rights to another development site. The transfer of these air rights allows buildings to become taller and bigger than the city zoning code allows. (Source)

Simple enough sounding concept, but the reality is that air rights are an arcane and complex segment of the development landscape within New York City.

Tishman Speyer Hudson Yards Spiral Office Tower!

In its efforts to build a $3.2 billion 65-story tower, Tishman Speyer needed to go out into the marketplace and secure the air rights that would allow them to make this project happen.

And, secure them they did, at a cost of $265MM!

This is a summary, with the full article available at ConstructionDive here

  • Tishman Speyer has purchased an additional $157 million worth of air rights for its $3.2 billion, 65-story Spiral office tower at New York City’s Hudson Yards, giving the company the air rights it needs to begin development, according to The Real Deal.
  • This latest purchase from the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corporation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) gave the developer 669,000 square feet of space. Tishman Speyer has spent $265 million in all for more than 1 million square feet of air rights.
  • The Bjarke Ingels–designed tower will feature signature landscaped terraces winding up its exterior. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will be its anchor tenant, leasing 800,000 square feet.

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How well is your Non-Public Information, or NPI, being protected by your title insurance provider?

And, before you purchase a title insurance policy, do you know the answers to these three basic questions?

  • Who is your underwriter?
  • What is the claims experience of your title insurance provider?
  • Do you know whether the non-title insurance premium fees you are paying are fair and reasonable?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, please read…

Equifax Redux As Additional NPI Leaks Are Discovered!

equifax photo

Photo by Got Credit

In the midst of national weather disasters tragically now coupled with the mass murder in Las Vegas, the Equifax data breach story has been placed on the back-burner! But, is that where it belongs?

Applying For A Mortgage, Some Other Type of Credit Or Maybe Something As Basic As Searching For A Job?

For the tens of millions of Americans who have been affected by Equifax’s unmitigated failure to achieve any semblance of competence over one of the only tasks it was in business to do, protecting non-public information or NPI, the potential ramifications and available fixes for the American people impacted needs to be addressed.

And now, working to address personal information protection is even more critical in light of yesterdays report that ‘an additional 2.5 million Americans may have been affected by the massive security breach of the Equifax systems, bringing the total to 145.5 million people who had their personal information accessed or stolen.’ (Source: AP)

Personal Information Protection: Consider A Credit Freeze

Credit Freeze: ‘Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. That’s because most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t see your file, they may not extend the credit.‘ (Source)

Experianhttps://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze

Equifaxhttps://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

TransUnionhttps://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/order.jsp

Additional Steps Consumers Can Take To Protect Their Private Personal Information courtesy of Warren Goldberg at Mortgage Wealth Advisors!

Here are some things you can do to protect your personal information:

  • Despite Equifax publishing a website to verify whether you’ve been affected and their offer of credit monitoring, many cybersecurity experts have advised NOT to utilize Equifax’s website!
  • Check your credit reports via the free Annual Credit Report Request Service at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
  • Review regularly your information reported on credit reports. Investigate credit inquiries which do not look familiar.
  • Continuously monitor your financial accounts to identify suspicious activity. Since cyber criminals are patient, they may wait several months until they believe you’ve let your guard down, before using your data.
  • Be cautious of phishing attacks, where cyber criminals send you an email or even call you posing as one of your trusted financial institutions. These emails will ask you to provide sensitive and personal information under the guise of protecting you from the Equifax breach. NEVER provide information to anyone who has contacted you. Delete the email, or hang up. Then contact the financial institution directly.
  • Consider filing Fraud Alerts with all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). This will inform creditors to be extra cautious before approving new accounts. Creditors will be required to contact you directly before any credit is extended. Note that fraud alerts must be renewed every 90 days.
  • A stronger action would be filing Credit Freezes with the three credit bureaus. Keep in mind; this will prevent anyone from opening new credit accounts in your name – including YOU.
  • If you believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, learn more on how to protect yourself at IDTheftCenter.org, or call 888-400-5530.

Richard Smith: Leadership, Effective Management Or Something Else Altogether?

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, facing Congress today and incredibly (at least to this point) will still be receiving his pension, issued the following empty rhetoric to the American people concerning the incompetence that occurred on his watch:

“To each and every person affected by this breach, I am deeply sorry that this occurred. Whether your personal identifying information was compromised, or you have had to deal with the uncertainty of determining whether or not your personal data may have been compromised, I sincerely apologize. The company failed to prevent sensitive information from falling into the hands of wrongdoers.”

___________________________

How well is your NPI being protected by your title insurance provider?

And, before you purchase a title insurance policy, do you know the answers to these three basic questions?

  • Who is your underwriter?
  • What is the claims experience of your title insurance provider?
  • Do you know whether the non-title insurance premium fees you are paying are fair and reasonable?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, please read…

Blockchain Technology And The Title Insurance Industry

real estate and blockchain technology

Source: PropLogix

For those involved with the title insurance industry, the concept and potential impact of blockchain technology is likely a somewhat foreign one!

Foreign, although it has the potential to disrupt our industry in the same way that other technological advances creating companies like Uber and Lyft have disrupted others! 

An article at the website PropLogix goes into some additional detail…

4 Things Title Agents Should Know About Blockchain Technologyby PropLogix

We’re gearing up for the ALTA One event in Miami. One topic that has been on the minds of many people in our industry has been that of cyber security and reducing fraud. While title agents continue to educate their clients to prevent wire fraud scams, some experts in real estate and tech are predicting that Blockchain technology will revolutionize the buying and selling of property.

So what is blockchain technology?

If you’ve been hearing a lot about Bitcoin and not really sure what it means or how it works, you’re not alone. It’s a complicated concept. Rosamund Hutt with the World Economic Forum shares a quick definition, stating that blockchain removes the bank as the middleman and allows consumers and suppliers to connect directly.

“Using cryptography to keep exchanges secure, blockchain provides a decentralized database, or “digital ledger”, of transactions that everyone on the network can see. This network is essentially a chain of computers that must all approve an exchange before it can be verified and recorded.”

If you are new to the concept or not convinced of its usefulness, here are four things to consider as a real estate and title professional:

1. Although blockchain technology like Bitcoin is notorious for illegal purchases on the “dark web,” the technology can be utilized in multiple industries. 

Each transaction in a blockchain network is received in a “block” connected to the previous so anyone in the system with the proper authorization can trace back to the original within the chain. The system is self- controlling and requires no bank to verify the funds or information contained within the ledger. The information cannot be altered once it has been verified and made public. In order to forge information, you would have to convince 51% of the participants to endorse your forgery. Therefore, unlike paper documentation, it’s a lot harder for instances of mortgage fraud or forged deeds to occur.

Any sort of asset can be moved within a blockchain system from money and securities, to intellectual and real property. Ethereum is another blockchain system that is more than just virtual currency. Its protocols also include the ability to create “smart contracts.” This could be anything from a deed to a ledger containing a person’s financial history and credit rating.

2. Not all Blockchain systems are public and transparent. 

Public systems are truly transparent, whereas private systems are controlled by an entity with their own interests at play. A public blockchain like Bitcoin uses a lottery to encourage a “miner” to be the first to verify a block. In a private blockchain system like start-up ChormaWay, “miners” are vetted by private owners and do not benefit from the network effect. Many people argue that private blockchains are not really blockchains, but actually distributed ledger technology.

3. The technology promises to be more robust against security breaches and document forgery.

 Some experts estimate this will mean saving millions of dollars for mortgage lenders. However, there are some potential vulnerabilities. If a group of hackers were able to gain control of 51% of miners’ computers, they would be able to disrupt the recording of new blocks. This would, of course, be a massive attack many believe would be difficult to achieve.

4. The technology is already changing the real estate industry around the world.

Sweden’s land registry, Lantmateriet, has officially begun to implement a private blockchain network in the sale of land and property. In April, Ubitquity, which is the infrastructure provider for Bitcoin, helped the Brazilian government establish a public system for their land records bureaus.

In the United States, there has been no regulatory oversight or implementation of any blockchain system. In 2013, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a guidance discussing the application of the Bank Secrecy Act regulations to blockchain and individuals who use those systems. The CFPB hasn’t released any statements on the use of blockchain but it has issued warnings regarding the risks.

While we are moving further away from paper documents and fiat currencies, it will still be some time before blockchain technology will be implemented by mortgage and title professionals in the United States. Advancements to increase the data storage of the blocks, decrease the verification time, and regulations to mitigate risk will make systems like Bitcoin and Ethereum a valuable tool in real estate transaction of the future.

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Title Insurance: Do you know everything that you need to know about this critical component of your purchase or refinance?
  • Who is your underwriter?
  • What is the claims experience of your title insurance provider?
  • Do you know whether the non-title insurance premium fees you are paying are fair and reasonable?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, please read…

Nassau County, New York Is At It Again! New Fee Proposal On The Table To Gouge The Real Estate Industry…Or,

teat photo

Photo by DonkeyHotey

When is a governmental ‘fee’ nothing more than a regressive tax in disguise? Put another way, how can politicians pull a Flim Flam Florio to raise money while hoping that no one notices?

And, remember that these fees are the same whether one is buying a $200,000 property or one costing $10,000,000 or more. You do the math!

Are Our Politicians Simply Nuzzling At The Taxpayer Teat Until There’s Nothing Left To Take?

January 2015 Nassau County creates the Tax Map Verification Letter verifying Section, Block and Lot for $75. These letters must accompany all documents presented for recording.

Not one letter per file of course, but a separate $75 letter for all deeds, mortgages, satisfactions, assignments, consolidations, or any modification of the foregoing.

Egregious money grab, right? Wait, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

September 2015 and for the 2nd time ‘…Nassau is proposing to significantly raise fees, including for mortgage recording (which would double, to $300) and tax map verification (which would triple, to $225).‘

Big increase which could only mean one thing…the powers that be got a taste of the low hanging fruit and would likely be back for more!

On schedule and as of January 1, 2017, the fee for a Tax Map Verification Letter jumped to $355

Now it’s to be proposed on Monday September 25, 2017 that the Tax Map Verification Letter fee and land recording fee be raised by $100, bringing each to $455 and $400 respectively!

Have a problem with this? As a mortgage broker, real estate agent, real estate lawyer or even a lowly title company do you feel that this is unfair piling-on by politicians looking for a place that’s not called raising taxes to bring-in much needed money?

A place that’s much more convenient than the alternative of cutting waste and unnecessary spending?

If that’s the case, you’re disgusted and want to get involved, here’s contact information for Nassau County legislators that you may want to use:

Norma Gonsalves Presiding Officer ngonsalves@nassaucountyny.gov 516 -571-6213
Richard Nicolello Deputy rnicolello@nassaucountyny.gov 516-571-6209
Howard Kopel Alternate Deputy hkopel@nassaucountyny.gov 516 -571-6207
Kevan Abrahams Minority Leader kabrahams@nassaucountyny.gov 516-571-6201

Article was written by Hallmark Abstract Service President and Heroes To Heroes Foundation Board Chair Michael Haltman.

If you have any thoughts or questions for Michael he can be reached at mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com or (646) 741-6101.

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Are Governments Raising Revenue Through Regressive Taxes Disguised As Fees?

 

“Option A is not available. so let’s just kick the s**t out of Option B.” Sheryl Sandberg

contingency photo

Imagine you’re a football coach and the game plan you drew-up is failing miserably or, at a minimum, just not getting the job done (think New York Jets and Giants)…

Or maybe you’re the CEO of a business and, what you thought would be a phenomenal strategic plan, has for any number of reasons just not panned out (think Yellow Cabs or Blackberry).

And what if, sadly and tragically as was faced by Sheryl Sandberg and a multitude of others, the person who you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with suddenly and unexpectedly dies?

Hopefully in all three of these situations and so many more like them, when Option or Plan A is no longer available or viable, you or the powers that be will implement and work Option or Plan B for all that it’s worth!

Assuming of course that there is an Option or Plan B…

The Oft-Quoted Plan B (or C or D…)

Interestingly enough when I saw this Sandberg quote today, I was brought back to something that we preach at Hallmark Abstract Service.

It has to do with the topic of title insurance vis a vis the 2008 financial crisis, and will most often be brought-up to real estate attorney’s and mortgage loan originators.

What we say is that there is an absolute need for those who are involved in transactional residential and commercial real estate or mortgage financing to always have a title insurance provider Plan B, C or D!

Why? Because if the financial crisis of 2008 (the year Hallmark Abstract Service opened its doors) taught us anything, it’s that who and what is available to you today may, for any variety of reasons, not be available tomorrow.

Of course this doesn’t mean asking people to give-up longstanding relationships with trusted partners.

But what it does mean is that as a part of any contingency plan for unexpected circumstances, a company leader will know right away where to turn for a seamless transition in the event that a trusted partner is no longer available to help.

And while we will hopefully never again be faced with the pain and dislocation that 2008 brought to most of us, if for some reason it does happen Plan B will be at your fingertips!

And if you happen to need a Plan B, C or D for title insurance, Hallmark Abstract Service would love to speak with you.

In New York, Why Should You Care About Title Insurance?

Is Your New York State Provider Of Title Insurance Still Treating You Like A Newlywed!

In New York, Why Should You Care About Title Insurance?

insurance photo

Truth be told if you’re renting a single-family home, an apartment and/or an office for your business in a building owned by someone else, you have little reason to be concerned about the title insurance that covers them!

That is of course unless at some point there’s a claim that calls the ownership of that building into question and you’re asked to vacate.

But, if you are a buyer of residential or commercial property in New York State, the title insurance company chosen to provide the policy along with the underwriter being used to issue that policy is of primary importance!

Unfortunately however, the title insurance portion of their transaction is one of the last things on the minds of the buyers, as it will typically be their attorney who makes the selection.

The actual purchaser of the policy will simply be asked to write the check to the title company at the closing table and dutifully comply if they want the transaction to close.

Question: What other purchase, whether insurance or otherwise, will you as a consumer take no active role in the selection process?

A new car, television, health insurance, life insurance or new set of golf clubs to name just a few will typically be purchased after some amount of consideration and thought given by the buyer.

So, in the case of what may be the largest financial transaction of someones life, why is the decision about the critical component of title insurance ceded to someone else?

That someone is typically the attorney (for a purchase) or mortgage broker (for a refinance) handling the transaction. This person, it is hoped, has the best interests of the client in mind. And in the vast majority of instances they most certainly do.

But consider this…In the world of title insurance there are a variety of underwriters with differing financial strength ratings, title insurance policy providers with claims experience that can and will vary from company to company and, finally, non- title insurance premium costs that can vary in the hundreds to even thousands of dollars across firms!

So what can the consumer do?

  1. If someone else is handling the title insurance arrangements, ask questions!
    a) Who is the underwriter and what are they rated?
    b) How many claims has the abstract company faced and what were the causes of the claims?
    c) And, are the non-title insurance premium fees fair?
  2. Are you being asked to pay more for the property survey than was charged by the surveyor? If so, why?
  3. Remember that in New York you have the right to choose your title insurance provider so if your attorney or mortgage provider insists on using their own, ask for a copy of the title bill and check it with another title company to make sure it is fair. If excess fee amounts are being charged, wouldn’t that cash be better off in the consumers pocket than in the pocket of the title company? If there is a significant difference between bills, find out why and if the explanation is not reasonable insist the fees be adjusted lower!*

Finally for a more complete explanation, read ‘New York Title Insurance: Always Compare Apples To Apples! (Chart)’!

* Title insurance premiums will not vary among firms that are members of TIRSA.

Article was written by Hallmark Abstract Service President and Heroes To Heroes Foundation Board Chair Michael Haltman.

If you have any thoughts or questions for Michael he can be reached at mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com or (646) 741-6101.