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.

FHA Mortgages: Delinquencies Have Hit 17.5%!

Chart: WolfStreet.com

We are all aware of the significant and often tragic financial hardships that currently exists for a great many American households due to Covid-19, and the associated impact it has had on the U.S. economy!

For homeowners who currently have FHA mortgages, a report from American Enterprise Institute titled ‘10 metros most threatened by high numbers of FHA delinquencies (February 2021)‘ indicates that when forbearance is no longer an option for those who currently can’t pay their mortgage, the U.S. housing market could face an avalanche of motivated home sellers. These sellers could be current delinquent homeowners with no choice but to sell, or banks who have taken a property back from the owner.

An article at Wolf Street notes…

On the other side of the red-hot housing market, a historic delinquency problem has been fermenting since last spring, largely put on ice and on hold by forbearance programs, waiting to be dealt with. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) which insures nearly 8 million high-risk mortgages, reported that the delinquency rate of its mortgages rose to 17.5% in February, up from 17.0% in January, matching the all-time records of September and November last year…

…The delinquency rate exceeded 20% in 30 of the 169 largest MSAs, topping out in the metro of Nassau County-Suffolk Country, NY, at 24.8%. Among those 30 metros with 20%+ delinquency rates were 4 metros in Texas, 4 metros in Louisiana, 3 metros in New York, 3 metros in New Jersey, and 2 metros in Pennsylvania…

…in markets with a large concentration of delinquent FHA mortgages, this would unleash a flood of homes coming on the market – and it would instantly cure, and more than cure, the inventory shortage now being lamented, and when large enough, the sudden supply of homes for sale would send bigger ripple effects through the market…

How, when and how hard the proverbial s–t hits the fan will depend on different factors, among them any political appetite to bring forbearance programs to a close.

For now it’s a wait and see, although because FHA mortgages are ultimately backstopped by the taxpayers, the buck will stop with us!

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Whether yo are buying your new home in New York for cash, or obtaining some type of financing, remember that title Insurance IS NOT All The Same and It’s Your Right To Choose The Title Insurance Provider!

Read why that’s true here: https://lnkd.in/eAc4bwT.

If you have any questions contact Hallmark Abstract at info@hallmarkabstractllc.com or at (516) 741-4723

Hallmark Abstract Service LLC…You Buy, We Protect!

Podcasting 101: How to get the ball rolling

As a title insurance company, why would we start a podcast?

Podcasting is a great tool for presenting both the expertise and thought leadership of ourselves and our business, to an audience we feel would benefit from it and who we would like to meet.

But, for one reason or another, for the most part most choose not to start the podcasting ball rolling.

Maybe, it comes down to just not knowing how to get started!

April 6th, for 30-minutes live on LinkedIn, nationally renowned media and entertainment attorney Gordon Firemark will fill us in on the how-to rules of the road for becoming a podcaster.

From 6-6:30 PM EST, Gordon will speak about building your brand and business through podcasting with subjects including…

  • In our 30-minute discussion Gordon will share some of the key basics that ANY podcaster needs to be aware of in order to streamline the process and preserve precious time! After all, time is money!

  • We will discuss title selection and content selection for your podcast, critically important tips about ’teasing’ the podcast,

  • We will talk about legal aspects of podcasting that includes copyright, trademark, privacy, defamation and more,

  • What are some of the technology and tools necessary for the best sound and video? We will be talking about that too!

  • Finally, Gordon will also opine on the subject of attorney marketing and ethics rules vis a vis podcasting!

Register today here for this 30-minute LinkedIn Live event beginning at 6PM EST April 6th, and kickstart your journey into the world of podcasting.

If you have any questions please reach out to me at (516) 741-4723 or mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com.

Reserve your spot, and Register on LinkedIn Here

Death By Suicide: Help Heroes To Heroes Foundation Save Lives at Our July 12, 2021 Charity Golf Event!

(Note: Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Michael Haltman serves as Board Chair of the Heroes To Heroes Foundation. Read more about the organization and mission here, The Heroes To Heroes Foundation – Because 20 Veterans A Day Die By Suicide!)

The 2021 Heroes To Heroes Foundation Cliff Nolan Memorial Outing!

Tuesday, July 12, 2021

Sunningdale Country Club, Scarsdale, New York

Sponsor, Play and Save The Life of a Combat Veteran at Risk for Death By Suicide!

Register and/or Sponsor here: https://lnkd.in/eY4ZN3g

The Heroes To Heroes Foundation Mission Successfully Works To Reverse The Tragic Statistic: 20+ Military Veterans Die By Suicide, EVERY DAY!

The Heroes To Heroes Foundation mission touches…

– Military Combat Veterans
– Moral Injury
– Suicide Prevention/Mental Health
– Nondenominational
– Spiritual Connection
– Reconnection To Faith
– Team Journeys To Israel
– Close to 30 Teams sent, over 300 veterans saved and on the path to healing!

Register and/or Sponsor here: https://lnkd.in/eY4ZN3g

 

Title Insurance Claims Experience: The Performance of Your New York Title Insurance Policy Provider Really Does Matter! (Video)

Title insurance in New York: Just a commodity product, right?

If you asked you would likely be told that the title insurance policy, critical for protecting what may be the single greatest financial transaction a buyer has ever entered into, is nothing but a commodity product and will be exactly the same regardless of the company used to prepare and provide it.

We couldn’t disagree more and will provide reasons for why the term commodity product is not particularly accurate!

Write a Check To Company ABC

Typically, when a New York buyer of commercial or residential real estate or the refinancer of a mortgage arrives at the closing table, they will have been told to bring a check or asked to write a check for a large sum of money to some company they may or may not be familiar with.

More likely than not the name of the company will not ring a bell, although they had received a title bill from them many months ago! Introducing the title insurance provider, and this firm will be providing the assurance that the person(s) signing on the dotted line will be receiving good, clean and clear title to the property in question.

But while the deal participants will receive a title insurance policy when the deal closes, aspects of the policy can and very often do vary from provider to provider.

Your Trusted Advisor

At this point we want to point out that while the buyer or refinancer has the right to choose their title insurance provider, typically either the attorney representing them or the mortgage loan originator will be making the choice of company. These trusted advisors will recommend a title insurance provider that they have used in the past, one that has done a great job for their clients and a firm that they have the utmost faith in to do a great job. This is how it should be!

And at Hallmark Abstract Service we appreciate the fact that a well vetted title insurance provider is being recommended. But, that said, there are some aspects of the title insurance process that the buyer/refinancer should at the very least be aware of.

The Title Insurance Bill

In our short video last week (https://youtu.be/7QgNAMVaYss) we had discussed the title bill, and that fact that ancillary and ‘junk’ charges (the title insurance premium will be the same regardless of firm) can vary from firm to firm, potentially in the many hundreds of dollars!

Title Insurance Claims Experience

This week the short Hallmark Abstract Service video will discuss title insurance claims experience. In other words, how many policies that a given title insurance provider has issued, ended-up resulting in a valid title claim?

Please note in the prior paragraph the word valid. As anyone in business has likely experienced anyone can sue for anything, and very often people do. When it comes to title insurance, a title insurance provider relies on the fact that the information they receive from various sources is complete and accurate. If this is the case then a title insurance claim brought against the policy provider could very well be valid.

If the information received was not complete and accurate, any claim brought by the policy owner may not be valid against the policy provider, but the property owner would still be covered by the insurance underwriter.

Please watch the video below, and if you have any questions contact Hallmark Abstract Service by email at info@hallmarkabstractllc.com or phone at (516) 741-4723.

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IF YOU ARE BUYING RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN NEW YORK STATE REMEMBER…

NEW YORK TITLE INSURANCE IS NOT ALL THE SAME!

FIND OUT WHY THAT IS HERE.

HALLMARK ABSTRACT SERVICE LLC…YOU BUY, WE PROTECT!

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@HALLMARKABSTRACTLLC.COM OR (646) 741-6101 

VISIT OUR WEBSITE HERE, AND LEARN ABOUT THE HALLMARK ABSTRACT WAY OF DOING BUSINESS HERE!

 

Introducing The Hallmark Abstract Service Title Insurance Video Education Series!

For most of the 12+ years that Hallmark Abstract Service has been providing title insurance for New York State residential and commercial real estate transactions, we have been writing articles and using other means such as social media, to educate the consumer about what is often the unknown ‘commodity’ of title insurance!

We have placed ‘commodity’ in quotes because for some title insurance is considered to be just that. A commodity product or, in other words, the same whether you get it from Company A or Company B.

Our article, ‘New York Title Insurance IS NOT All The Same!‘, discusses this very issue and goes over what some of the significant differentiating factors are.

Hallmark Abstract Service Video Series

We are pleased to announce that we have started a video series at Hallmark Abstract Service to provide information in short snippets, with the idea of letting property buyers in New York know about some of the title insurance issues that they should be aware of.

Truth-be-told, very often the property purchasers attorney handles the title insurance, with the actual buyer knowing nothing about this critical product protecting their new property, until they are sitting at the closing table and are asked to write a check.

For the typical consumer this is not how the purchasing process typically goes. Typically, when a consumer is purchasing anything from sneakers, to ear buds to a new car, we research to make sure that we are receiving the quality we believe that we are paying for.

Title insurance in New York is no different, and this video series is designed to bring homebuyers and buyers of commercial property up-to-speed about the product!

Introducing Hallmark Abstract Service

Our first video, hosted by Hallmark Abstract CEO Mike Haltman, is a short introduction of the firm and its philosophy.

The real education will begin in the coming weeks…If you would like to be notified about a new video, let us know at info@hallmarkabstractllc.com.

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IF YOU ARE BUYING RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN NEW YORK STATE REMEMBER…

NEW YORK TITLE INSURANCE IS NOT ALL THE SAME AND YOUR HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE YOUR PROVIDER!

LEARN ABOUT SOME OF THE DIFFERENTIATING FACTORS HERE.

HALLMARK ABSTRACT SERVICE LLC…YOU BUY, WE PROTECT!

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@HALLMARKABSTRACTLLC.COM OR (646) 741-6101 

VISIT OUR WEBSITE HERE, AND LEARN ABOUT THE HALLMARK ABSTRACT WAY OF DOING BUSINESS HERE!

 

Cats Have No Place In A Legal Proceeding…A Legal Ethics Lesson! (Viral Video)

By now you, along with 10.3 million of your friends, have likely seen the unfortunate situation an attorney found himself in during a Zoom hearing. Present at said hearing was the judge and this poor attorneys adversary!

If for some reason you have not seen it, we share it below. But more importantly, this episode presents itself as an opportunity for a teaching moment in the area of legal ethics.

This moment has been provided by Karen E. Ruben, Counsel with the firm Thompson Hine. You will find her article concerning a primer on legal ethics below the video…

Of cats and competence: legal ethics lesson from the trenches‘ by Karen E. Rubin, Thompson Hine

By now, you’re probably one of the 3.7 million people who’ve seen the video of a virtual court hearing in Texas that went terribly wrong for the county attorney. (If not, here it is on YouTube.) As depicted for all to see, the hapless lawyer appears on-screen as a fluffy white cat, complete with moving kitty lips as he plaintively explains to the judge that it’s a filter, and “I’m here live — I’m not a cat.”

Ethics lessons from this excruciating situation? You’ve come to the right place!

Technological competence. We’ve pointed out many times that Model Rule 1.1 cmt. [8] calls on lawyers to keep abreast of changes in the law, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology. We’ve been Zooming for a year now. Don’t let this happen to you. Get help with any tech you aren’t comfortable with — before the hearing.

Professionalism. I was struck by the poker faces of the kitty-lawyer’s opposing counsel. They keep their composure throughout rather than dissolving in helpless laughter at the situation. (One comes close to losing it, but still manages to keep it together.) And the judge is extremely patient. His voice never rises as he tries to walk the lawyer through how to take off the filter that has turned him into a fluffy feline. In any court disaster it’s worth remembering — there but for the grace of God go you.

Cats and dogs. Last, if you have to have a Zoom filter on — make it a dog, for heaven’s sake.

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Title Insurance: Technological Competence and Professionalism!

IF YOU ARE BUYING RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN NEW YORK STATE REMEMBER…

NEW YORK TITLE INSURANCE IS NOT ALL THE SAME!

LEARN ABOUT WHY THAT IS HERE.

HALLMARK ABSTRACT SERVICE LLC…YOU BUY, WE PROTECT!

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@HALLMARKABSTRACTLLC.COM OR (646) 741-6101 

VISIT OUR WEBSITE HERE, AND LEARN ABOUT THE HALLMARK ABSTRACT WAY OF DOING BUSINESS HERE!

Law Firm (or any business) Podcasting…Tips For Getting Started!

Why Do Law Firms and Real Estate-related Companies Become Podcasters?

There are many critical and important reasons for the effort, although for some just hearing the phrase ‘we’re going to start a podcast’ can create a high degree of anxiety! Why is that? Because being on stage and the center of attention can, for many, be a terrifying thought.

But on top of that fact are the many unknowns presenting themselves when sitting down to strategize…

  • What is a podcast?
  • I’m not sure I can do it!
  • Will our podcast be visual or audio only?
  • What topics will we discuss?
  • Will guests be willing to join us and will people actually take the time to listen?
  • Who in the firm will be the host?
  • Is there enough ‘meat on the bone’ for a weekly production?
  • How much will a podcast cost to produce and what equipment do we need?
  • What/where will we use as our podcast set?

From experience we know at Hallmark Abstract Service that these questions and more can be enough to push the idea of a podcast to the sidelines. But that inertia needs to be overcome due to the positives that a podcast provides to both individuals and companies/law firms.

So, Why Become a Podcaster?

As with any marketing, promotion, advertising ( with the caveat of ATTORNEY ADVERTISING DISCLAIMER), one of the major reasons we engage in the activity is to convey to the marketplace a level of subject matter expertise (SME) that would enable the firm to help whether it’s a legal issue, title insurance issue or any other business issue.

One method Hallmark Abstract Service uses to convey this expertise is to write articles. In an article various topics and issues can be explained, along with using articles to differentiate and present the important differences that exist between title insurance companies in New York State. This is critical as we work to overcome the perception that title insurance is a purely commodity product with no difference existing between Firm A and Firm B.

This is definitely not the case (New York Title Insurance IS NOT All The Same!), as it’s not the case in the various sub-specialties of law whether a firm focuses on real estate, personal injury, employment, matrimonial, etc.!

Given this fact, a podcast allows for a firm’s subject matter expertise to shine, and it allows for other topics to be discussed that will provide value to clients, prospects and others who are simply curious and tune-in.

Recently Hallmark Abstract CEO Michael Haltman appeared on the Casandra Properties podcast (https://youtu.be/f5ja2DolnXg) talking title insurance, business and philanthropy. It was a great opportunity and great exposure for Hallmark Abstract, with Casandra Properties CEO James Prendamano doing a terrific job as host.

So what are some of the tools and methods needed to put-on and present a successful podcast?

Podcasting for Law Firms: Tools and Tips for Producing a Successful Show‘ by Guy Alvarez

As more and more people have access to smartphones, iPods, and other mobile devices, the opportunity for reaching out to connect quickly and effectively with others has never been greater. One of the most popular and powerful means of communication is, undoubtedly, podcasts.

Podcasts are no longer limited to the tech savvy. Creating one is easier than you might think, and they’re a great way to share helpful information and ideas, build meaningful relationships, and ultimately help your law firm grow. See: Legal Industry Podcasts Worth Listening To.

So you have useful information to share, an idea to spread, or a worthy endeavor to promote, but how does a person with little technical knowledge or experience begin? What are the best resources for a novice, and how do you use them? Here is a list of must-have podcasting tools and best practices to help your law firm you get a strong start in podcasting. Best of all, they are all free or inexpensive solutions.

Brainstorming Ideas 

When you are just getting started with your podcasts, Evernote is an effective way to brainstorm and organize ideas. As you jot down topics in your Evernote notebook, it can help you find related ideas from previous entries and keep all of your thoughts organized.

It is also possible to share your notebook with others, such as colleagues or podcast guests. This gives you the opportunity to edit and collaborate on topics together, ensuring that you will all be up to date and on the same page when the time comes to start recording.

Scheduling Guests

You have your content ideas, you have your podcast guests, and now you need to find a time that works for everyone. Doodle is the app for you. This is yet another easy-to-use (and free) app that simplifies scheduling and syncs automatically with all your devices.

It’s especially useful if your law firm’s podcast is going to involve more than just you and one guest. Doodle allows you to poll everyone involved and pinpoint a time that will work for everyone. It will even update other calendar apps automatically so everything is always in sync.

Additionally, if you have a HubSpot Sales Professional account, the meetings tool is part of HubSpot’s CRM and can sync to your calendar through either Office 365 or Google.

Recording the Show

When you schedule your guests, you’ll want to include information about the communication tool you’re using to do the interview. Two popular options for podcast interviews are Skype and Zoom. Check out: Recording a Skype Call for a Podcast: The Definitive Guide.

Using your earbuds to start is OK but as you get more episodes under your belt, audio quality – or the lack of it – stands out and becomes a concern. You’ll need to invest in a quality microphone. They can range widely in cost but you don’t need to break the bank. Top podcasting experts promote microphones that run in the hundreds of dollars but you can get a quality one for under $100, such as the widely recommended Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone.

Editing the Audio Recording 

This full featured digital audio app comes pre-downloaded (and free!) on all up to date Apple products (iOS 7 or higher). With GarageBand, you have the ability to create your own music or sound effects from an ample selection of instruments and samples. It’s a great tool for adding some professional touches to your finished audio.

While PC’s answer to GarageBand is not free, at just $9.99, Stagelight is well worth the investment considering what comes with it. You get a very straightforward and easy to use app that also supports VST (Virtual Studio Technology) and VSTi plugins. These plugins allow you to extend the functionality of the app easily. Again, this is a great tool for adding finishing touches to spice up your audio.

Audacity is another tool for audio editing and recording. It’s fully supported on both Mac and PC, and has features that are professional, yet still relatively user friendly. Since it’s free, it also gives you the chance to experiment and learn the ropes without spending any money up front.

A Reliable Hosting Platform

Be it PodomaticSoundcloudLibsyn, or any other, choosing the right hosting platform for your podcast is crucial. This will be your personal workspace to produce, edit, communicate, and share your recordings. There are a number of platforms out there to suit a wide range of needs. The platforms provide a unique URL for your podcast feed that you use to submit your show to iTunes and Stitcher.

You’ll find different options for bandwidth, storage, and even tech support availability. Prices can range from around $20 per month for basic plans to upwards of $200 for some of the most elaborate. Don’t be afraid to send an email and ask questions to be sure the hosting package you’re considering will work for you.

A Home for Your Law Firm’s Podcast

You’ll need a home for your law firm’s podcast that you can point people to – preferably your website or blog. You embed the podcast episode on a web page using a link provided by your podcast host and do a writeup. The writeup is commonly referred to as “shownotes.” Think of shownotes as a blog post. You can include a transcription of the entire podcast episode or a summary with information about the guest and links referenced in the interview.

It’s a good practice to do your podcast writeup before uploading to your hosting platform so you can include the text making your podcast more discoverable on iTunes, Stitcher, and other platforms. See:

Start Planning Your First Podcast

It may seem a little bit intimidating at first, but learning to put together your own podcasts for your law firm will pay off in the end. A podcast, quite literally, allows you to put a voice to your law firm’s brand. They have the potential to educate, inspire, inform, entertain, and reach people from all over the world.

Of course, these podcasting tools are just a few of the many that are out there and available to law firms, but they’ll give you a good base to work from. They should help you to get a quality podcast out to your audience quickly and with a minimal learning curve. From there, you’re only limited by your imagination.

If you need help getting started, contact us for help today. We offer podcast planning, production, and promotional services for law firms, lawyers and legal professionals.

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IF YOU ARE BUYING RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN NEW YORK STATE REMEMBER…

NEW YORK TITLE INSURANCE IS NOT ALL THE SAME!

LEARN ABOUT WHY THAT IS HERE.

HALLMARK ABSTRACT SERVICE LLC…YOU BUY, WE PROTECT!

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@HALLMARKABSTRACTLLC.COM OR (646) 741-6101 

VISIT OUR WEBSITE HERE, AND LEARN ABOUT THE HALLMARK ABSTRACT WAY OF DOING BUSINESS HERE!

Mortgage Tax Expansion: New York’s Commercial Real Estate Industry Is In The Crosshairs!

 

Cash Cow, Easy Money, Low-Hanging Fruit, Meal Ticket, Golden Goose…

These are just some of the words and phrases to describe how the real estate industry in New York State and New York City in particular is viewed by the powers-that-be in Albany and City Hall!

And of course it’s not just the developers and building owners that get leaned on for money, but often the buyers of real estate as well.

And in many of those cases the result can only be described as regressive taxation. A perfect example of this would be the Tax Map Verification Letter mandate in Nassau County that is nothing short of a money grab. Or, the hike in the transfer tax and mansion tax that basically impacted only New York City (read more here).

Taxes disguised as fees and straight-out taxes on the real estate sector can often be done with little backlash because the constituency is somewhat small with many of its members viewed as 1%’ers who can afford higher taxes and deserve to pay them. In reality, however, the majority of those who own rental properties are not the wealthy, but small landlords (read more here).

Despite the fact that massive sums of money will likely be arriving from Washington in the form of a bailout, new levies have been proposed for the commercial real estate industry in New York. Its’s a ‘proposal to expand the scope of New York’s tax of 2.8% on substantial mortgages recorded in New York City. That’s one of the highest mortgage tax rates in the United States.

Now some State legislators want to extend the same 2.8% tax to mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments, two structures that often provide additional capital for larger projects, especially new development…

The article below, ‘A New Tax For New York’s Commercial Real Estate Industry?’, written by Joshua Stein from the commercial real estate law firm Joshua Stein PLLC, provides a great overview of the issue and the story.

A New Tax For New York’s Commercial Real Estate Industry?

New York City and State have traditionally treated the real estate industry as a cash cow without end, in part because they think it’s a cash cow that can’t move. The State legislators may be about to do it again, thanks to a proposal to expand the scope of New York’s tax of 2.8% on substantial mortgages recorded in New York City. That’s one of the highest mortgage tax rates in the United States.

Now some State legislators want to extend the same 2.8% tax to mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments, two structures that often provide additional capital for larger projects, especially new development. This change would come on the heels of a series of legislative assaults since mid-2019 aimed at the real estate industry. And it would come at a time of dramatically declining rents and values, already disincentivizing investment and development.

The new tax, if passed, would make it even harder for the real estate industry to meet the State’s needs for housing and other forms of development. It would potentially consume 2.8% of the value of every mezzanine loan or preferred equity financing. That may sound like a small percentage. But it would amount to a much larger percentage of the equity investment, or the profit, in any deal. This sort of tax is often the largest transaction cost at any closing. And remember this tax would not be imposed on profits or sales proceeds or an increase in net worth or a successful deal, but instead only on the act of borrowing money that must be repaid.

The commercial real estate industry is already heavily taxed, starting with ordinary real estate taxes that often consume around a third of a commercial property owner’s gross revenue. The industry also pays regular income taxes like anyone else, ever-increasing water and sewer fees, transfer taxes and mortgage taxes that are among the highest in the United States, special New York City business taxes, commercial rent taxes (at least for some leases, and nominally paid by tenants), and endless filing fees, other fees, and fines. That doesn’t include the cost of complying with filing, disclosure, and reporting requirements as well as other governmentally imposed operational burdens that grow every year.

The City and State are certainly well on their way to another financial meltdown. Rather than impose a new tax on the real estate industry, though, the legislators ought to figure out how to make do with less (and perhaps also do less). They should recognize that the City and State already spend far more per capita than nearly any other comparable jurisdictions in the United States. But that’s an issue that goes far beyond the real estate industry.

The proposed new tax on mezzanine loans and preferred equity makes some effort to take into account existing law. That’s actually quite atypical once the Legislature gets started with its attacks on real estate. But the proposed tax doesn’t adequately recognize the ways mezzanine loans and preferred equity transactions get negotiated, structured, secured, and closed. Parts of the proposed tax are written using words and concepts that have nothing to do with the words and concepts actually used in commercial real estate transactions, another common trait of New York legislation that targets real estate.

The proposed legislation would jeopardize the confidentiality traditionally available for mezzanine loans and preferred equity, the same confidentiality that every other industry maintains for its transactions. The proposed legislation would require filing of UCC financing statements for preferred equity, a concept that makes no sense at all given the law of commercial transactions as it has existed for the last century or more.

If the proposed tax passes, the real estate industry will come up with ways to structure transactions so as to bypass the tax. The sloppiness of the legislation itself creates some opportunities. Premature identification and announcement of those opportunities would be unwise. They would bring to real estate transactions even more tax-driven complexity and risk of mistakes. Conceivably the industry might even come up with unsecured financing structures that rely on real estate value, but require nothing new to be recorded or filed and hence offer no opportunities for hungry tax collectors and legislators. With any luck, we won’t reach that point. Maybe the legislators will leave real estate alone for at least a while.

Joshua Stein, PLLC: The law firm of Joshua Stein PLLC handles commercial real estate financing, leases (ground and space), development, hotel transactions, and acquisitions. Our clients range from global banks to major developers to individuals acquiring LLC interests in small buildings or signing a lease for their first retail space. The firm has five attorneys, with one or two typically assigned to each matter.

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IF YOU ARE BUYING RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN NEW YORK STATE REMEMBER…

NEW YORK TITLE INSURANCE IS NOT ALL THE SAME!

FIND OUT WHY THAT IS HERE.

HALLMARK ABSTRACT SERVICE LLC…YOU BUY, WE PROTECT!

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@HALLMARKABSTRACTLLC.COM OR (646) 741-6101 

VISIT OUR WEBSITE HERE, AND LEARN ABOUT THE HALLMARK ABSTRACT WAY OF DOING BUSINESS HERE!

Real Estate, Federal Spending, Deficits and $1 Trillion!

We’re A Title Insurance Company! Why Is This About Federal Spending?

Because All Roads Lead To The Economy, And A Healthy Economy Is Led By The Real Estate Market!

Economic strength or weakness is a key factor that helps to dictate the condition of the real estate market. Federal, state and local taxes along with the level of mortgage rates are also key components.

That said, the last federal balanced budget was in 2002, and in 2020 the budget deficit was $3.1 trillion! This tradition of deficits, a fed funds rate currently hovering at 0% and what some believe to be a percolating inflation problem, means that economic and budgetary storm clouds could be somewhere on the horizon.

And, at that point, the piper of deficit spending will need to be paid by the American people.

Of course running deficits has become a bipartisan endeavor, and today in Washington it has become extremely easy to throw the number $1 trillion around in relation to spending legislation as if it’s insignificant. But, for the rest of us, it is difficult to fathom just how large a number $1 trillion actually is.

The following opinion piece from Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Mike Haltman (one that violates every rule of never speaking about politics in a business setting), will end with a description of this massive number.

Overview: As working people we know the importance of managing finances, because in business we face the responsibility for bottom-line results along with the scrutiny that comes with those results.

In government the bottom-line apparently means nothing, with the only thing that truly matters for members of both political parties being the next election.

That, is no way to run a country!

$1,000,000,000,000, aka $1 trillion! Just how big is this number (example below)?

‘We the People’ currently face a ‘reported’ U.S. debt of $27.9 trillion, with actual debt of much, much more.

When interest rates rise (and one day they will), the current debt, the debt that will be run-up by the Biden administration and the debt of future administrations, will consume the federal budget and force taxes on ALL Americans to rise sharply. That’s just for starters as all government services will also likely be impacted in a very negative way!

And while some of the spending today and during the prior administration was and is necessary and critical due to the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, some is not! Some spending has nothing to do with pandemic relief and instead is narrowly targeted helping few (aka pork barrel spending).

Unfortunately, many politicians on both sides of the aisle don’t really care if there is blatant wasteful spending, because acquiring votes and pandering to voters immediately is more critical for them than the idea of having to pay when the bill ultimately comes due. By then the thinking likely goes, they will be long gone from office!

It’s a problem crying for a solution but, sadly, if finding that solution is left to politicians (and it is) then we are doomed.

How big is 1 trillion and thus, the reason for a picture of a dinosaur?

‘One trillion seconds is slightly over 31,688 years. That would have been around 29,679 B.C., which is roughly 24,000 years before the earliest civilizations began to take shape.’

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If you are buying residential or commercial real estate in New York State remember…

New York Title Insurance IS NOT All The Same!

Find out why that is here.

Hallmark Abstract Service LLC…You Buy, We Protect!

Questions or Comments?

Please contact us at info@hallmarkabstractllc.com or (646) 741-6101 

Visit our website here, and learn about the Hallmark Abstract way of doing business here!

Join Hallmark Abstract Service on Social Media Using the Icons Below…

The Hallmark Abstract Service Newsletter, January 28, 2021

In this issue of the Hallmark Abstract Service Newsletter, the firm’s CEO Michael Haltman is interviewed by the CEO of Casandra Properties on the Casandra Properties podcast!

In a fast-moving discussion the topics move from real estate in New York, the title insurance a buyer needs to obtain, charity events of different types and the combat veterans 501(c)(3) Heroes To Heroes Foundation that Mike Haltman serves as Board Chair.

Enjoy…

A Face For Radio?

Tune in today to the Casandra Properties Inc. podcast, as CEO James Prendamano interviews Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Michael Haltman about a variety of subjects.

Title insurance in New York is one of course, but they will also discuss how Hallmark Abstract Service came to be, charity boxing, a mutual love for the military, James memories of his family member who stormed the beaches on D-Day, the Heroes To Heroes Foundation that Mike Haltman serves as Board Chair and much more.

You can watch the video along with all of the other Casandra Properties Podcast episodes on YouTube, using the button below.

New York State Has New Power!

Not In Washingtonalthough New York’s senior Senator Chuck Schumer is now the Majority Leader.

No, the ‘power’ is actually a ‘new and improved’ power of attorney coming in June 2021 that will replace the ‘current durable “short form” Power of Attorney considered clunky, cumbersome and difficult to execute without legal support.’

Stay tuned for updates as they become available, and read more about the how’s and why’s of this exciting development in the article ‘Coming to New York in June 2021: A New and Simplified Power of Attorney Form!’ using the button below.

You can help save the life of a military combat veteran at serious risk for death by suicide!

Are you aware that tragically, 20+ veterans die by suicide each and every day!

For the American heroes who come home from war suffering with hidden injuries, their lives in 2021 will be much the same as it was in 2020, 2019, and before…

With one glaring difference! The loneliness and solitude of Covid-19 has served to make a bad situation much worse.

But there is hope!

Thankfully, the Heroes To Heroes Foundation successfully saves combat veterans who are suffering with moral injury and at serious risk for death by suicide.

The Heroes To Heroes Foundation mission is based on spirituality and reconnection to faith, achieved through Team journeys to Israel.

Learn more about this incredible nondenominational charity that to-date has saved more than 300 of our American heroes. Simply use the button below to visit the website.

At this link you can learn about some of the ways that donations to HTH are utilized.

(Note: Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Mike Haltman serves as Board Chair for the organization)

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If you are buying residential or commercial real estate in New York State remember…

New York Title Insurance IS NOT All The Same and You Have the Right to Choose Your Provider!

Learn about some of the differences here.

Hallmark Abstract Service LLC…You Buy, We Protect!

Questions or Comments?

Please contact us at info@hallmarkabstractllc.com or (646) 741-6101 

Visit our website here, and learn about the Hallmark Abstract way of doing business here!

Join Hallmark Abstract Service on Social Media Using the Icons Below…

_________________________________

IF YOU ARE BUYING RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE IN NEW YORK STATE REMEMBER…

NEW YORK TITLE INSURANCE IS NOT ALL THE SAME AND YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE YOUR PROVIDER!

LEARN ABOUT SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES HERE.

HALLMARK ABSTRACT SERVICE LLC…YOU BUY, WE PROTECT!

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@HALLMARKABSTRACTLLC.COM OR (646) 741-6101

VISIT OUR WEBSITE HERE, AND LEARN ABOUT THE HALLMARK ABSTRACT WAY OF DOING BUSINESS HERE!