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.

May 17th On Long Island A Free Seminar: Two Experts Will Speak About Public Relations, Social Media, Marketing And Networking For Your Business!

On May 17th the BOOM Business Expo will be held at the Long Island Hilton located on Rt. 110 from 3PM-8PM!

There are 100 exhibitors expected and much, much more.

Admission is Free using the code information below.

Learn From The Best About Marketing And Growing Your Business!

From 6PM-7PM in Executive Speaker Room #6, public relations, social media, marketing and networking experts Bill Corbett and Valerie Lampe will be conducting a 1-hour seminar on growing and marketing both you and your business.

I know both of them well and it will most definitely be a great and extremely useful program.

In addition the charity I serve as Board Chair, Heroes To Heroes Foundation, will be the rooms philanthropic focus!

The name of their program is ‘Marketing Yourself and Your Business Like a Pro with Bill Corbett and Valerie Lampe’, and you can Register for the Trade Show and Seminar for Free following the simple instructions below…

If you have any questions, let me know.

How To Register


1) Before doing anything else, click on the ‘Enter Promotional Code‘ link that is at the top right of the page below ‘Select Tickets‘.

2) Enter the code BOOMPO18 and the ticket price will be set to $0.

The code is all letters other than the 18 at the end, and I believe caps matter.

3) The Executive Speaker Room to choose is Room #6 and the charity when asked is Heroes To Heroes Foundation.

Questions or Issues Registering? Let me know at or 516.741.4723

Mike Haltman, President Hallmark Abstract Service

Board Chair, Heroes To Heroes Foundation


Homebuyer Financing…Is The Best Rate Or A Clear To Close The Most Critical Aspect Of A Borrowers Loan?

apples to apples photo

Photo by Kirinohana

Shopping for the best price is something we all do whether for a car, a pair of shoes, a new home and, very likely, a mortgage for that new home!

For potential homebuyers the ultimate endgame is to find the property of their dreams and the financing that will allow them to actually make the purchase.

Mortgage lenders, like basically every other profession, are not all the same and in fact the one that you choose to use can make all of the difference between a good experience and a runaround that ultimately may lead to another mortgage originator needing to be found.

And if that becomes the case where months have gone by and your mortgage broker tells you that he or she can’t get the deal done, time will typically be of the essence in terms of the purchase contract the buyer has signed.

So what is it that brings me to think about this topic today? It was an article speaking to the fact that when borrowers shop their mortgage around, some amount of savings is possible:

…Borrowers are likely to save an average of $1,500 over the life of a $250,000 loan if they compare rate quotes between lenders according to Freddie Mac’s latest Insight report for April. If they compare more than two quotes, their likelihood of saving more rises, the report indicated.

The report found that 80 percent of borrowers who obtained one additional rate quote while shopping for a mortgage could save between $966 and $2,086 over the life of their loan. If they received five rate quotes, the expected savings increased to $2,914, with 80 percent of those borrowers saving between $2,089 and $3,904…‘ (Source)

So Is Rate Ultimately Going To Be The Key Component In The Decision-Making Process When You Choose Your Mortgage Professional, The Track Record Of The Mortgage Professional Or A Little Bit Of Both?

Well truth-be-told if you are looking at a 1% or 100 basis point difference between lenders then one of them is going to be way out of the market and likely should be avoided.

One lender may merely be posting a low rate rate unattainable for the majority of borrowers that serves as a hook to get people to call or, the other has a rate that is too high representing a lender more interested in their own pocket than the borrowers.

Is one lender online only and therefore won’t necessarily serve as a strong advocate in the process of underwriting your loan?

Or is there an 1/8 % or 1/4% difference in rates from two lenders with good reputations that also have similar fees that go into your costs?

Is one a 1/4% lower in rate but is going to nickel and dime you with fees?

When ‘pulling the trigger’ on an offer for a house there are many decisions including choosing the mortgage lender to use at a time of maximum stress.

So, therefore, the mortgage lender/broker is a decision that should be made at the beginning of the home buying process when the homebuyer is going to get pre-approved for some amount of mortgage that they can afford.

The Three R’s Of Mortgage Origination!

As it is with so many expenditures we make in life it is critical to make an apples to apples comparison between two prices. Buying a car comes to mind in that regard but, so too does obtaining a mortgage!

The Three R’s

  1. Rate: Make sure it is reasonable and in the vicinity of where it should be for a given loan term (i.e. 15 or 30 year mortgage), downpayment amount, borrower credit quality, etc.,
  2. Reputation: Make sure the lender has a good reputation as one with fair underwriting that gets deals closed in a timely fashion,
  3. Referral: Maybe the most important of the three, speak to people you know that have gone through the process having had a good experience. Then interview some who come highly recommended as strong advocates for the potential borrower, are good communicators and most of all who have a reputation for getting loans closed in a timely manner and at the terms that initially discussed and promised.

There is of course other criteria that go into the decision of choosing a lender, but as a quick overview of the process the Three R’s may provide a good beginning!

Michael Haltman, President
Hallmark Abstract Service
Phone: (646) 741-6101

May 23rd In New York City Acclaimed Actor Tony Lo Bianco, Performing The Little Flower, IS NYC Mayor Fiorello La Guardia!

Heroes To Heroes Blue and Tony Lo Bianco

May 23rd New York City Charity Event: Heroes To Heroes Blue Presents Tony Lo Bianco In His One-Man Performance Of ‘The Little Flower’ About Mayor Fiorello La Guardia!

What are people saying* about Tony’s past performances?

Bill de Blasio: Tony Lo Bianco had me at hello!

Jimmy Fallon: I was transported back in time. Tony IS Mayor Fiorello Laguardia!

Joe Piscopo: If I could only see one performance this year, The Little Flower is it!

Heroes To Heroes Blue teams up with award-winning writer, director, producer and actor Tony Lo Bianco to host an exclusive performance of The Little Flower to benefit the nations police at-risk for suicide. This renowned one-man show is set in the 1945 City Hall office of Fiorello H. La Guardia, during his final day as three-term mayor of New York City.

Lo Bianco is an award-winning stage, film and television actor best known for his roles in the cult classics The Honeymoon Killers, God Told Me To, and The French Connectionwith Gene Hackman. Fans will also recall his performances in Bloodbrothers with Richard Gere, Heat with Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone’s Nixon with Anthony Hopkins, and The Juror with Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. Lo Bianco’s most recent films include 2011’s Kill the Irishman alongside Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken, and 2013’s Send No Flowers with Sean Young and Gianni Russo.

Buy Early Bird Priced Tickets Here:

The Heroes To Heroes Mission

Heroes To Heroes and Heroes To Heroes Blues successfully help these American heroes at-risk for suicide due to depression, PTSD and moral injury heal through a program based in spirituality. This is achieved by sending groups of 12-14 on journey’s to Israel where they find the strength to reconnect with the faith lost due to what has been seen and experienced on the battlefield or on our nations streets!

(Note: Michael Haltman serves as Board Chair of Heroes To Heroes Foundation)

Wine Reception at 6PM, Show at 7:30 and Q&A with Tony after! A limited number of seats are still available at early bird pricing…


Buy Early Bird Priced Tickets Here:

*These quotes are what we believe these gentlemen would have said.

Actual quotes from the likes of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Mario Cuomo can be found at the website here:

Questions? Just ask!

Mike Haltman, HTH Board Chair,

Through a non-denominational program based in spirituality that’s achieved in conjunction with journey’s to Israel (the birthplace of many of the worlds major religions), HTH and HTH Blue sends groups of 12-14 veterans or our nations police there. We successfully helps both male and female vets (police) at-risk for suicide (or who have made an attempt) suffering with PTSD, moral injury and or TBI by helping them reconnect with the faith they have lost due to the horrors they have seen and experienced. 

This reconnection is achieved through the spiritual destinations visited over the course of 10-days that include being baptized in the Jordan River, visiting Yad Vashem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and much more. In addition the veterans travel with IDF soldiers suffering in many of the same ways and the discussions that take place between these peer groups is a key part of the process. Truth-be-told, veterans and police speaking with other veterans and police is often the only way for deep-seated issues to be revealed and dealt with. 

Of the 200 vets who have come through the program to-date all are with us, at various stages of beginning once again to live their lives. In addition approximately 85 cents of every dollar donated goes towards achieving our mission. The only cost to the veteran is getting to New York for the flight to Israel, and in 2018 the plan is to send 6 teams at a cost of approximately $10,000 per veteran. The organizations Founder is Judy Schaffer who quit her ‘day job’ to dedicate her life to this mission that means so much to her. 

Buy Early Bird Priced Tickets Here:

These links will provide a brief overview of the organization:  

Short video of a Heroes To Heroes program ‘graduate’ telling his story on New York’s WPIX11: 

A short video overview of Heroes To Heroes here: 

Founder Judy Schaffer’s story of how Heroes To Heroes came to be here:

Talking Heads, Politicians, Economists and Fund Managers Tout Tax Cuts, Increased Consumer Spending And U.S. Economic Growth Of 3%-4%!

empty pockets photo

Photo by danielmoyle

But, What If All Of These ‘Experts’ Are Wrong?

Many point to the fact that 3%-4% U.S. (or even better) GDP growth may be just around the corner. Some wholeheartedly believe it while others may be somewhat skeptical. For them, however, having it occur would be beneficial to their clients and ultimately them.

But at the same time consider this quote from Yale economist Robert Shiller and expand it to include some, if not all, of the professions in the title of this article:

Since the global financial crisis and recession of 2007-2009, criticism of the economics profession has intensified. The failure of all but a few professional economists to forecast the episode – the aftereffects of which still linger – has led many to question whether the economics profession contributes anything significant to society.‘ (Source)

And while perhaps that economic growth may be hiding right around the next corner, consider the following and wonder what will happen if for some reason it’s not…

  • Massive tax cuts,
  • Consumers that may or may not be utilizing extra disposable income from said tax cuts on goods and services and instead may be saving or paying down debt,
  • The U.S, facing huge federal borrowing needs in what may be a rising interest rate environment and,
  • Potential trade war with China,
  • An exploding federal budget deficit that will likely become even larger…

If said economic growth does not occur as expected, the U.S. will face the potential of becoming just another one of those countries around the world with Debt To GDP that will bring on even higher borrowing costs due to the risk-premium demanded by borrowers.

As it stands now the interest on the federal debt consumes 7.4% of the governments spending in the 2018 budget and is forecast to continue to rise! (Source)

This from a country that, when I was in business school, had debt that was considered to be the risk-free rate for anyone out there who remembers the Capital Asset Pricing Model – CAPM.

Historical Debt To GDP: United States and Greece (Charts) (Source)

Michael Haltman, President
Hallmark Abstract Service
Phone: (646) 741-6101

In New York State The Title Insurance Industry Is Public Enemy #1 Or, Words Matter!

fbi most wanted photo

Photo by davitydave

Well maybe not #1, but some in Albany seem to feel that the title insurance industry in New York is solely comprised of the proverbial snake oil salesman who will do and say anything to get business!

For the New York State Department of Financial Services, the operative word in the prior sentence is ‘do‘ as they seem believe that for every title insurance provider in the New York, the way that business is earned is through ‘inducements’ and the expectation of a quid pro quo for said inducement.

Of course for many title insurance companies in New York, the operative word in the prior sentence is ‘earned‘ because it’s through performance and quality of the work product that clients return with future deals.

I apologize now for many readers will view this article as beating a dead horse. This, as I have opined here in the past that there is a major difference between the normal business development activities that take place in every industry such as a breakfast or lunch with a prospect, and buying business through extravagant gift-giving that implies an expectation, or quid pro quo, for the next deal(s).

In other words, ‘…the New York title insurance industry cannot be painted using one broad brush…’!

So what is that brings me to write about this today? An article in The Real Deal that talks about a NYS Senator, Susan Serino, who introduced a bill to reverse the title insurance regulations imposed by the NYSDFS. The article goes into the supposed conflict of interest surrounding her actions due to the fact that her husband was paid $5,000 to $20,000 in 2016 by a title insurance company.

The article also does not speak to the range of business development activities no longer allowed by DFS regulation such as buying a cup of coffee or a lunch for a potential new client while discussing how that title insurance firm approaches protecting the policy buyers best interests.

Instead, the article refers to the new regulation as a ‘ban on gifts’!

Words Matter

In journalism, whether written or spoken, the turn of the phrase can alter how anything is perceived by the reader or watcher. Anyone watching or reading about politics over the past decade or so knows exactly what I mean.

For the purposes of this article, however, what is the reader of The Real Deal article to construe from the phrase ‘ban on gifts’?

Cars, vacations, lap dance at strip clubs (something that has been written about many times), Cartier watches? To be perfectly honest I, along with the majority of small companies that comprise the New York State title insurance industry, have no idea because we do not engage in such activities.

We get business the old-fashioned way that is by earning it through performance, and then keeping it by making sure that our performance level does not waver!

Attempts By Some In Albany To Reverse Some Of NYSDFS Regulation 208

When it comes to claims of conflict of interest by certain legislators in Albany I have no doubt that in some cases it exists. Politicians are, after all, politicians. We often see funny statements and then votes coming out of our elected leaders whether on the state or federal level.

We also sometimes see lifelong public servants who somehow become wealthy while earning modest incomes from their elected work.

All of that said isn’t it possible, even remotely possible, that in Albany our state legislators sought (seek) to reverse some of the more extreme aspects of the NYSDFS regulations because the regs. are patently unfair to the 95-99% of the small title insurance businesses across New York who are merely trying to compete in an extremely competitive market?

And, by compete, I mean taking a prospect out for coffee or lunch!

And for all of the painting of every title insurance company with one broad brush, remember that since Hallmark Abstract Service opened its doors in 2008 we have preached the following to our ultimate client, the buyer of a commercial or residential property or the refinancer of a mortgage:

From ‘Albany Contends That New York Title Insurance Providers Are ‘Unscrupulous’ (No Moral Principles)‘:

  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.

Thoughts, questions or comments? Please let me know.

Michael Haltman, President
Hallmark Abstract Service, (646) 741-6101



News You Need To Know: Homebuyers Are MIA, Real Estate and Blockchain, Financial Crisis 10-Years After, The NYS Budget Negotiations and much more!

Newspaper photo

Articles From News Sources You May Not Currently Read…

With limited time and so many sources for news and information to choose from, many of us tend to focus on one or two sources.

These articles from outlets you may not typically use provide some excellent and interesting stories!

Thoughts or questions contact Hallmark Abstract Service President Mike Haltman at or (646) 741-6101

They Need Our Help, And They Need It Now!




New York charity golf outing

Hallmark Abstract Service President Mike Haltman serves as Board Chair of this non-denominational combat veterans 501(c)(3) that does phenomenal and critical work helping our American heroes at-risk for suicide or who have made one or more attempts.

Briefly, through a spirituality-based program achieved in conjunction with journey’s to Israel for teams of 12-14 veterans, they find the strength to reconnect with the faith lost due to the horrors of war, regardless of the conflict.

To-date, ALL of the 200 veterans who have come through the Heroes To Heroes program are with us and in various stages of beginning to live their lives again!


  • Golf June 18th at the historic and beautiful Saint Andrews Golf Club just north of New York City,
  • Early-bird pricing for golf is still available, but it ends very soon,
  • Business development and an incredible networking opportunity on June 18th as you spend the day with 130+ business owners, C-Suite executives, attorney’s, CPA’s and more,
  • For our sponsors, your business or practice will be vigorously marketed online and through all of our other promotional activities for the next 86-days,
  • Sponsorships are very affordable and are available ranging from $500 to $10,000,
  • Join these companies already on-board as sponsors! Izod, AmTrust, Fidelity National Title Group, The Westchester Bank, KAP Planning and Luman Tucker Law Firm and more!

Charity Golf Outing Registration Page:

Heroes To Heroes Foundation – Who We Are

These are links to two short videos along with the Founder Judy Schaffer’s story of how Heroes To Heroes came to be.

A Heroes To Heroes program ‘graduate’ tells his story here (short WPIX11 video):

A video overview of Heroes To Heroes can be found here (short as well):

Founder Judy Schaffer’s story of how Heroes To Heroes came to be, can be found here:

Questions? Please contact me at or (646) 741-6101.


Michael Haltman, President

Hallmark Abstract Service LLC

Timeless Information: Crisis Management, Relationship Building, Growing Sales and more!

news photo

Photo by Davmi Pics

Every day we are bombarded with news and information through our email inbox, meetings or seminars and possibly from interesting websites or some type of online presentation. Weeding through this overload of data for those stories that may be useful for your business, employees or your personal development can sometimes be tricky and challenging.

There are some links to subjects we hope may fit the bill…

  1. 2018: A Tough Year for First-Time Buyers

  2. Where Does the Higher Spending in the Omnibus Go?

  3. 13 Crisis Communicators On Mark Zuckerberg’s Apology Tour

  4. The Looming Mortgage Liquidity Crisis

  5. The Four Causes of Poor Sales Results

  6. How to Build Meaningful Relationships

  7. ‘Network up’ to connect with business idols and catapult your success

In Business Nothing Lasts Forever But Change, While Unsettling, Can Often Be A Good Thing!

Zorn's of Bethpage

Opening the Business section of Long Island’s Newsday this morning imagine my shock to read the following headline:

REPLACING 1940 FOOD HOME‘ with a photo of Zorn’s Poultry Farm in the background!

As someone who picks-up food from Zorn’s of Bethpage when I’m in the neighborhood, whenever we have guests at the house or for our Thanksgiving turkey, this came as quite a shock to my system.

It was only after reading the somewhat smaller print below that I realized Zorn’s wasn’t going anywhere, but was merely building a new and likely larger structure elsewhere on the property to replace the iconic one that sits there now. And, the old facility will be in operation until the new one is completed. Phew!

For Zorn’s the time had simply come for change. And while losing their ‘home’ after 78-years is likely not an easy thing for them to do, for any number of reasons it was obviously necessary.

Change Is Hard – Change Can Be Good – Inertia Can Be Easy But Not Always So Good

This made me think about business in general and the fact that for most of us change can be extremely difficult no matter how necessary it might be.

In the New York title insurance business we know this reality only too well!

As many of the readers here know from my previous articles, the business development aspect of the title insurance business in New York may have been changed, depending on various circumstances, forever (New York State Title Insurance Industry: ‘I’m Mad As Hell And I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore’!)!

Among many of the things that this change entails based on the New York Department of Financial Services Regulations 206 and 208, a title insurance provider in New York or its salespeople cannot legally do as much as buy a cup of coffee for a current client or prospect. The potential penalty? Loss of license that would basically shutter a business.

Of course, given that the title insurance industry is very much based on relationships, some clients and prospects may have gotten used to some of the ‘perks’ title insurance companies may have lavished on them which could have been much more than a cup of coffee. But for now, however, those days are over!

What Has Hallmark Abstract Service Always Offered To Its Clients?

So what does a company like Hallmark Abstract Service provide to its clients, and what might entice someone to give HAS the opportunity to EARN their trust? We hope that the items in this list and any others I may have left out are what our clients are looking for in their title insurance provider…

  1. The top underwriters for our clients purchase or refinance transactions,
  2. An impeccable record in terms of title claims,
  3. Laser-focus on protecting the best interests of the purchasers and mortgage refinancers that our company represents. If there is an issue that we think may compromise those best interests, we aggressively pursue a resolution. However, in those rare instances when an issue cannot be resolved, we do not put earning a title insurance premium above protecting our clients,
  4. In any transaction Hallmark Abstract Service works to take as much off of the plate for the attorney’s we work with as we possibly can, freeing them up to work on their own business development,
  5. Fast turnaround times for title reports that allow issues to be pinpointed, ensuring that there is smooth sailing to a closing at least in terms of the title insurance,
  6. Clients receive a dedicated person at Hallmark Abstract who will be their go-to if an issue or question ever arrises. And, there is always a smile in their voice,
  7. Until the implementation of NYSDFS Regulations 206 and 208 the firm always had among the lowest non-title insurance premium fees in the industry. Now, with ‘junk fees’ that are regulated and normalized, we still do not nickel and dime our clients or an attorney’s client by putting what are considered every allowable new charge that exists,
  8. Finally and as an aside, having opened Hallmark Abstract Service in 2008 at the depths of the financial crisis when deal flow had sharply declined and underwriters were hesitant to bring new companies onboard, the fact that HAS has grown and thrived I believe is testament to the quality of our work product and the level of service we provide!

If you have any questions about either the food at Zorn’s or the way in which Hallmark Abstract Service can be of service, please contact me at the email address or phone number below.

Michael Haltman, President
Hallmark Abstract Service, (646) 741-6101

Must-Read Articles From Across The World Of Business And Leadership!

business news photo

Remember, although it’s hard to believe, there is more to the world of business, management and leadership than the specific and narrow niche of New York title insurance that HAS operates in!

And because that’s the case, these are a variety of article from across the internet that readers of this blog may find interesting and hopefully useful…

CalPERS retirees are suddenly worried about their pensions. What happened?‘ – Retirement Benefits for Life? Retirees don’t necessarily believe that’s the case anymore and, does CalPERS serve as a proxy for the rest of the nations public pension systems? ‘…80 percent of pensioners felt their retirement money was “safe.” Only 65 percent of current employees expressed similar confidence…’ 

As Brooklyn Towers Soar, a Sinking Feeling for Developers‘ – Timing is everything! ‘…Uncertainty hangs over the roughly 28,400 rental units expected to be built in Brooklyn over the next several years — about a thousand more than all the units built in the past decade, according to Nancy Packes Data Services, a real estate consultancy. Faced with falling prices, developers are offering concessions like a month or more of free rent, discounted broker fees and even free parking for a record share of apartments. While there is still high demand for housing in the borough, New York’s most populous, a rising vacancy rate for the most expensive units undercuts the tremendous growth seen over the past decade….’

Big Four no more? Fidelity is buying rival Stewart for $1.2B‘ – Consolidation in the title insurance underwriter arena! ‘…If approved, Fidelity will emerge as the nation’s largest title company several times over. Before the merger, it reported $7.2 billion in revenue and controlled 33 percent of the national market, according to industry estimates…’

Success and Your Personal Leadership‘ – ‘If you look to see the differences between people who are succeeding and those who are struggling, you will notice that those who are succeeding have a strong sense of personal leadership. Those who are more successful lead themselves…’ Learn how here!

How High is Too High for Mortgage Rates?‘ – Question: ‘…Considering this historical context – is the housing market today as sensitive to mortgage rate increases as it was 40 years ago? How would a significant increase in the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rate impact the housing market today…

Michael Haltman, President
Hallmark Abstract Service
Board Chair, Heroes To Heroes Foundation, (646) 741-6101