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.

Data Breach! New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Drops The Hammer On First American Title Insurance Co.!

An excellent article appeared this week in the Eye on Privacy blog at the law firm Sheppard, Mullin, concerning an event in the title insurance industry that highlights a gross violation of the New York cybersecurity rules that became effective in March 2017! 

The event occurred in 2018 when a data breach was announced by First American Title Insurance Co., disclosing that over 850 million customer records containing NPI, or non-public information, were exposed.

The upshot is that all New York title insurance companies, responsible for protecting NPI, should take note and whatever steps are necessary to insure that their technology infrastructure is up-to snuff!

What the First Enforcement Action under NYDFS Cybersecurity Reg Means to Companies By 

Late this summer the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced its first enforcement action since the cybersecurity rules went into effect in March 2017. The action was brought against First American Title Insurance Co. as a result of a 2018 data breach exposing 850 million customer records containing sensitive personal information.

NYDFS charged First American with violating six provisions of the Cybersecurity Regulation, arguing that, among other violations, First American:

  • failed to utilize risk assessments, security reviews, and its own cybersecurity policies when investigating the vulnerability and sensitive data associated with the vulnerability;
  • misclassified the vulnerability as a “low” severity, and subsequently failed to investigate under the criteria set forth in its cybersecurity policies;
  • did not conduct a reasonable investigation into the vulnerability even after its detection in December 2018, and instead only reviewed 10 of the millions of exposed documents; and
  • failed to follow the advice of its own in-house cybersecurity team to further investigate and remedy the vulnerability.

The statement of charges highlight the NYDFS’s cybersecurity concerns. Namely that a company: (i) encrypt documents containing non-public information (NPI); (ii) limit user access to NPI through access controls, and (iii) provide regular cybersecurity awareness training, as required by the regulations.  The NYDFS is seeking civil monetary penalties and an order to remedy the alleged violations, and a hearing is set for October 26.

The NYDFS is not alone in its pursuit to hold companies accountable for what it perceives are failures to implement adequate cybersecurity measures and adequately respond to data incidents.  The New York Attorney General’s office has similarly recently pursued enforcement actions against companies the AG’s office believes have failed to adequately respond to data incidents and address cybersecurity, with the settlement of at least one such enforcement action requiring augmentation of cybersecurity practices, detailed incident response procedures, and the payment of fines.

Putting it Into Practice: The enforcement action highlights the importance that should be placed on properly assessing and categorizing the severity of risks associated with cybersecurity vulnerabilities and taking swift and necessary action to respond to such risks. It also serves as a reminder of the expectation that companies have, test, and internal policies and procedures for incident response. Lastly, employees responsible for addressing remediation items identified in the aftermath of a security incident should be armed with appropriate resources and background to effectuate change.  Without measured, proactive attention to cybersecurity and incident response, companies could face enforcement actions and fines and penalties following the disclosure of a data breach. 

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Sheppard Mullin is a full service Global 100 firm handling corporate and technology matters, high stakes litigation and complex financial transactions. From our 15 offices in North America, Europe and Asia, we offer global solutions to our clients around the world, providing seamless representation in multiple jurisdictions.

 

Hallmark Abstract Service…You Buy, We Protect!

info@hallmarkabstractllc.com (646) 741-6101

Buying A $10MM Home In New York? Don’t Read This!

Title Insurance in New York

Just kidding, because ALL homebuyers in New York should be aware of some very important factors when it comes to the title insurance that they will purchasing for their new home!

Number 1 is that title insurance is not a commodity product and, in fact, significant differences do exist between providers.

Number 2 is that you have the RIGHT to choose the title insurance provider that you would like to use.

Number 3 is that, of course, title insurance is not free with the premium cost rising as the cost of the home rises. That amount will be the same regardless of the title insurance provider that you use.

But…

…many of the other fees on the title bill you receive will vary widely between firms! The difference can be in the many hundreds of dollars, money better in the pocket of the homebuyer than in the pocket of the title insurance provider!

Curious what the title insurance premium and other title insurance closing costs might be for a home? Register and use the free Hallmark Abstract Service App for any city/town, purchase price and mortgage amount for a New York State home! Use the link below…

Hallmark Abstract Service App

So How Is Hallmark Abstract Service Different From Other Title Companies? Consider these three factors:

  • First and foremost, what is the title claims experience of the title insurance company being used?
  • Are the fees being charged by the title insurance provider on the title insurance bill fair?
  • Finally, what insurance company is being used as the underwriter of your title insurance 

Read more about each below…

  • First and foremost, what is the title claims experience of the title insurance company being used?

While this question is seldom asked, it is extremely important. Has this company in the past overlooked any issues surrounding a property that should have been taken care of before the closing that may not have been? And did these omissions result in a title claim?

Ask, because one of the more significant purposes of the title insurance company is to ensure that you the buyer, when you close on your residential purchase, are receiving good, clean and clear ownership of that property!

Hallmark Abstract Service, over our 12+ years in business, has NEVER had a valid title insurance claim!

  • Are the fees being charged by the title insurance provider on the title insurance bill fair?

After making sure that the title insurance company being used has a laser-focus on protecting you, the buyer, it’s important to make sure that the fees that they’re charging are fair.

Your attorney will likely provide a title insurance bill from the title insurance provider, that will include many of the costs that you will face at the closing table. This includes the title insurance premium(s), document recording fees, mortgage tax if using financing along with many other fees (any potential taxes due will not be known until close to the closing date).

While many of these costs will be the same regardless of the title insurance company being used (i.e. title insurance premium, mortgage tax, etc.), others fees can and do vary widely by firm, sometimes by as much as $500-$1,000.

Hallmark Abstract Service charges industry low ‘other fees’ and can typically save the homebuyer many hundreds of dollars!

Remember, in New York you have the RIGHT to choose your title insurance provider.

    • Finally, what insurance company is being used as the underwriter of your title insurance policy? 

When you buy insurance, regardless of the type, it’s critical that if a claim is put in that the underwriter will have the financial ability to pay! Remember that the claims-paying ability of companies are not created equal! This is certainly the case with title insurance underwriters as was discovered after the 2008 financial crisis. Make sure that only one of the top firms is being used to protect your real estate investment.

Do you have questions?

Call Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Mike Haltman at (646) 741-6101 or email him at mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com

Hallmark Abstract Service…You Buy, We Protect!

info@hallmarkabstractllc.com (646) 741-6101

Mayday! Coronavirus-induced Wrench Thrown Into New York Real Estate Transactions!

Keeping our eye on the prize

The article begins below.

Are you a homebuyer or home seller? The free online App at the link below will provide you with…

• Title Insurance Bill with much of a clients title-related closing costs for any purchase price, any mortgage amount and in any New York State city or town (sample output below)!
• Loan Estimate,
• Closing Disclosure,
• Seller Net Sheet,
• Seller’s Multiple Offers,
• Buyer Estimate,
• Monthly Affordability,
• Rent vs. Buy Analysis.

Visit https://hallmarkabstractllc.ti… to learn more.

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Story Summary: Keeping our eye on the prize…Getting commercial and residential real estate transactions to the closing table!

The Covid-19 pandemic brought to the forefront some of the potential roadblocks that can, under extraordinary circumstances, throw serious issues into the normal process that brings a New York State real estate transaction from contract to closing.

From the beginning of the pandemic-induced shutdowns, Hallmark Abstract Service has strived to be on the cutting edge of formulating ways to circumvent those roadblocks and get transactions to the closing table, while at the same time maintaining our laser focus on protecting the interests of the commercial or residential property buyer we represent.

Unfortunately some issues have persisted such as lack of access to records in offices that were closed or that now offer very limited access. In jurisdictions where records exist only in hard copy, not online, this can pose a major problem not only for moving the transaction forward, but for our clients who are accustomed to a much higher level of service and speed. And, rightfully so!

Moving forward, achieving online access for all records needs to be a focus!

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Covid-19 has caused severe dislocation and hardship throughout the United States, and the New York real estate market is no exception!

Whether it’s the landscape of New York City in terms of office space, retail and even the apartment rental market, or the rise in prices in suburban markets, changes have been swift and in many cases severe.

And the truth is that we really don’t yet know what the longterm, post-Covid-19, environment is going to bring.

Unfortunately, the unintended consequences associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, has brought the quote below to life for many businesses…

‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.’

Warren Buffett

Replace five minutes with the word pandemic, and you start to recognize some of the issues surrounding what Covid-19 has meant for the process of closing a real estate transaction in New York.

But, at the same time, another famous quote also rings absolutely true in our business…

We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse. ―Rudyard Kipling

Very, very true!

Throughout the past 6 or 7 months Hallmark Abstract Service has been on the leading edge of establishing alternative processes for getting the necessary documents notarized, signed and recorded. Very early on we established detailed methods for notarization that would pass muster with underwriters, attorneys as well as the jurisdictions where the documents were to be recorded.

Coronavirus Be Damned, In Real Estate The Show Must Go On!

In New York Virtual Notarizations Lead To Virtual Closings in the Age of Coronavirus!

Closing A New York State Real Estate Transaction in the Age of Coronavirus!

All of the players in a real estate transaction including the buyer, seller, mortgage provider, buyer’s attorney and seller’s attorney are all operating with their eyes focused on one prize, closing the deal!

All of these parties to the transaction deserve to have the people who are critical in closing the deal, operating at the tops of their game.

Hallmark Abstract Service, as the title insurance provider, plays a key role in getting to the endgame and, we are typically brought in when the contract is signed.

Since we opened our doors in 2008 we have been proud of the fact that our turnaround time from receiving the order to getting the title report into the hands of the players mentioned above, has been rapid and seamless!

But enter coronavirus with its social distancing, face masks, quarantine and business closures becoming the norm, and the real estate market was thrown into flux along with every other industry.

Governor Cuomo quickly issued an EO that allowed for virtual notarizations, although many mortgage lenders were not, and remain, unaccepting with the process.

While closings were still taking place through the creativity of those involved, access to the offices where the necessary documents are stored and are needed in order to prepare a title insurance report, was for the most part unavailable for quite some time and then available only on an extremely limited basis.

Slowly these offices opened, but not with the same speed across the board.

Critically this lack of immediate access has affected the speed of turnaround times, that have slowed particularly in some jurisdictions such as Suffolk County or the Town of Hempstead.

The workarounds that exist are being used, but they do not solve all of the issues resulting in great frustration by the parties to a real estate transaction. This frustration is completely understandable and reasonable, as our clients are not being allowed to get to the closing table in the timeframe that they would like.

Moving forward the pandemic and associated restrictions will hopefully come to an end sooner rather than later, and all of our businesses will get back to normal!

While that may or may not be what happens, what this pandemic has brought to the surface is that businesses need to be brought into the 21st century so that if another situation were to arise resulting in a quarantine of some kind, the show can go on unabated!

If you have any thoughts or questions please feel free to contact me.

Michael Haltman, CEO
Hallmark Abstract Service
(646) 741-6101
mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com

CLOSING ON YOUR HOME REMOTELY IN A PANDEMIC, Michele Cea, Esq. Guest Author

As a bonus to the readers of the Hallmark Abstract Service blog, we will periodically feature industry experts as guest authors. In this role they provide an inside look at topics surrounding the New York residential and commercial real estate industry with information that is invaluable!

If anyone would ever like to contribute, articles need not be long (250+ words) and simply be real estate-related in some capacity.

CLOSING ON YOUR HOME REMOTELY IN A PANDEMIC, Michele Cea, Esq., Cea Legal P.C.

In the age of COVID and non-essentials business closings, millions of us now are relegated to working from home, forced to social distance, and find creative ways to get things done in a non-traditional way. Closing on your new home in a pandemic is no exception. Hence, the concept of “Remote Closings” has boomed.

Typically, in-person round table closings consist of attorneys for both buyer and seller, a notary, buyers and sellers, managing agent, and the buying and selling brokers. That can be up to 10 people all crammed in a conference room. This is not going to happen in the mist of the pandemic.

Here are some guidelines and suggestions we recommend. Following this advice will ensure a much smoother, less stressful closing process in this developing age of remote closing.

Things to Do to Facilitate A Smooth Remote Closing  

Giving power of attorney in advance can smooth out any kinks in the closing process and reduce the number of signatures for closing docs.

Use Docusign or some other electronic signature platform is an efficient and safe way to transmit all documents in reliable fashion.  The benefits to this are: it is easy to review documents in advance and ask questions, it saves time, its economical since there’s less people involved in paperwork exchanges, everyone gets an electronic copy, no commuting, scheduling conflicts, or traffic delays.

Use a notary video conference to verify your identity if acceptable. But one caveat is, remote notarization in NY is allowed but most banks and title will not accept this, so you may have no choice but to meet with a notary in-person.

Pay by electronic bank transfer. The parties will include the seller, bank, coop apartment corporation, managing agents, brokers and attorneys. Make sure to verify all wire transfer information.

Discuss how you are going to do the walkthrough. Will it be a virtual walkthrough where the seller shows all the elements of the home are functional? Or arrange for the homeowner to be out and arrange for access to keys in a physical location to practice safe social distancing?

Get all documents and information to the title company in advance of the remote closing day.

Create a roadmap or diagram depicting what each participant’s role will be, and have a check list of things to do. This should include which documents to sign, how it will get signed, notarized, delivered to escrow, how the money will exchange hands, as well as key turnover.

Conclusion

With these helpful hints in the new era of remote closings, following these steps should create a less stressful, smoother closing. Co-op closings will have a much more complicated scenario. So don’t hesitate to discuss other creative options unique to your situation, with your attorney.

Michele Cea – 

Mr. Cea founded his own practice focused on representing foreign nationals and companies operating in the United States. He has extensive experience with international corporate matters, real estate transactions and non-immigrant visa petitions, such as extraordinary ability and investor visas.

Mr. Cea is licensed to practice in New York (2013) and in Italy (2012). Mr. Cea is fluent in Italian and conversational in Spanish. Mr. Cea is a member of the New York City Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association.

New York Residential Real Estate Professionals: Differentiation Through Technology (On Your Phone and Online)!

Real estate technology

Real estate technology that provides high level information to New York homebuyers and real estate professionals sooner, rather than later, in a transaction!

Professionals include attorneys handling a real estate transaction, real estate agents and mortgage originators.

Hallmark Abstract Service management is constantly focused on developing tools for real estate professionals (also great for homebuyers), that we hope will allow for differentiation from their competition!

Today, I am extremely happy to present technology we developed that allows, On Demand and for free, the creation of a title bill/closing costs for any property, at any purchase price and with any mortgage amount, across New York State. (https://hallmarkabstractllc.titlecapture.com/login).

The potential value of this technology in the New York residential real estate market is huge, and it is available either on your computer or on your phone!

We envision this Title Bill being made available at Open Houses by real estate agents, to be created by attorneys and used for a preliminary conversation with a homebuyer, or created by a mortgage loan originator to provide information to an applicant for a mortgage on their very first call!

We believe, and I would venture to guess you do as well, that Knowledge is Power and while not every client or prospect will want to see this information, won’t it be great to have it at your fingertips.

This App (online as well) is free to Register for and free to use (https://hallmarkabstractllc.titlecapture.com/login).

And in addition to creating Title Bills, the App also does the following…

Loan Estimate,

Closing Disclosure,

Seller Net Sheet,

Seller’s Multiple Offers,

Buyer Estimate,

Monthly Affordability,

Rent vs. Buy Analysis

Finally, one other significant benefit for a homebuyer or mortgage applicant who possesses our output, is that the non-title insurance premium fees being quoted are Hallmark Abstract’s.

Because our charges are among the lowest in the industry, for whatever title insurance provider is ultimately utilized, our bill will provide the buyer with ammunition to go to that company and ask to have the fees reduced, if they are too high.

To close, there is little downside to exploring whether this technology can help you become better at what you do, based solely on the fact that you will have information at your disposal before any deal is even struck, that others in your profession do not have!

https://hallmarkabstractllc.titlecapture.com/login

Once again, Knowledge is Power!

Mike Haltman, CEO
Hallmark Abstract Service
(646) 741-6101
mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com

Related Article

For New York Homebuyers, Demystifying A Large Part Of The The Closing Table Experience!

For New York Homebuyers, Demystifying A Large Part Of The The Closing Table Experience!

Register For The Free Hallmark Abstract Service App at the Link Below and Calculate Closing Costs, and Much More, Before You Even Put a Bid On Your New York Dream Home! 

New York Title Insurance Bill On Demand, Online or On Your Phone (click here to Register)

The Residential Real Estate Closing Table!

The day has arrived and, for the buyers, their dream of homeownership is about to come true!

During the process they will write checks (or have pre-written the checks) that will typically be made payable in the name of the title insurance company providing this critical protection.

Protection for what may be the largest financial commitment of the homebuyers life!

Two Questions

  1. What is the background of the title insurance company and,
  2. Are the title insurance charges appearing on the title bill fair?

Great questions although many homebuyers, early in the process, don’t necessarily ask them as they leave much of these decisions to their trusted advisor in the process, the attorney.

And, this is as it should be because the buyers attorney has the expertise and experience in residential real estate matters, and is working to protect the buyers best interests in what is a large and often complicated transaction!

But when it comes to choosing the title insurance provider, the residential property buyer has the RIGHT to choose the title insurance company that they would like to use. Or, at the very least, to do some homework concerning this very important protection!

The reality is that all title insurance companies are not the same, much like companies across all business types are not the same. But if your deal is going to close, a title insurance policy will be in place, particularly if a lender is involved.

The question is, however, how strong and reliable is the work that was done by that title insurance provider deciphering all of the information, and resolving satisfactorily  for the buyer any outstanding issues for that policy behind the scenes?

What Are Some of the Difference Between Title Insurance Companies?

  • First and foremost, what is the title claims experience of the title insurance company being used?

While this question is seldom asked, it is extremely important. Has this company in the past overlooked any issues surrounding a property that should have been taken care of before the closing that may not have been? And did these omissions result in a title claim?

Ask, because one of the more significant purposes of the title insurance company is to ensure that you the buyer, when you close on your residential purchase, are receiving good, clean and clear ownership of that property!

  • Are the fees being charged by the title insurance provider on the title insurance bill fair?

After making sure that the title insurance company being used has a laser-focus on protecting you, the buyer, it’s important to make sure that the fees that they’re charging are fair.

Your attorney will provide a title insurance bill from the title insurance provider that will include many of the costs that you will face at the closing table, including the title insurance premium(s), document recording fees, mortgage tax if using financing along with many other fees (any potential taxes due will not be known until close to the closing date).

While many of these costs will be the same regardless of the title insurance company being used (i.e. title insurance premium, mortgage tax, etc.), others fees can and do vary widely by firm, sometimes by as much as $500-$1,000.

If you have a title insurance bill in hand or if you are first starting out in the homebuying process, Hallmark Abstract Service has developed an app (click the link below) that will allow you to calculate what the costs for a New York residential purchase with or without a mortgage should be. As consumers we check the prices for everything that we buy, why not title insurance as well? And if your attorney is already using another title insurance company, the results from the app at the link below will allow you to go back to ask that some of the fees be reduced

Title Insurance Bill On Demand, Online or On Your Phone (click here to Register)

  • Finally, what insurance company is being used as the underwriter of your title insurance policy? When you buy insurance, regardless of the type, it’s critical that if a claim is put in that the underwriter will have the financial ability to pay! Remember that the claims-paying ability of companies are not created equal! This is certainly the case with title insurance underwriters as was discovered after the 2008 financial crisis. Make sure that only one of the top firms is being used to protect your real estate investment!

The information concerning title insurance contained in this article will hopefully create a desire to learn more about title insurance, a critical product not often discussed but when done right crucial for any homebuyers peace of mind!

If there are any comments or questions please reach out at the contact information that is provided below.

Michael Haltman, CEO
Hallmark Abstract Service
info@hallmarkabstractllc.com
(646) 741-6101

The Hallmark Abstract Service Title Bill App Is Free, Live, And The Reviews Have Been Phenomenal!

For New York Homebuyers and Real Estate Professionals (Attorney, RE Agent, Mortgage Broker), Knowledge is Power and Information is King!

Hallmark Abstract Service Can Now Provide You With That Knowledge With The HAS Title Bill App (example below)!

The HAS App is Designed to give attorneys, real estate agents, mortgage brokers and homebuyers in New York key information about the closing costs that they or their clients will face at the closing table for their transaction, before the negotiations with a seller even begin!

In addition the HAS App can provide Loan Estimate Quotes, Seller Net Sheet, Buyer Estimates and even a Rent vs. Buy Analysis!

The Hallmark Abstract Service App (click here, Register button in the grey area)

Free To Download, Free To Use, Priceless Information Provided For Clients!

For professionals working with homebuyers, the HAS App allows them very early on in a transaction, the ability to provide information that the majority of other professionals cannot!

In addition the HAS App can create a Loan Estimate Quote, Seller Net Sheet, Buyer Estimates and even Rent Vs. Buy Analysis!

Scenario: A real estate agent is asked by a potential home buyer during an Open House for a $750,000 home in Nassau County, New York, what expenses to expect.

In addition to the typical expenses, the real estate agent in about 30-seconds using the HAS App, prior to the Open House even beginning, can provide a handout similar to the one below (output varies depending on the city, mortgage amount, etc.).

Scenario: An attorney speaking with a client considering a bid on the same priced house, can also present them with information concerning what to expect, more than most other attorneys without the HAS App!

Value-Adds are where referrals begin!

Title Insurance and Closing Costs Information, On Demand!

In addition, by creating a title bill with the HAS App, the results will include Hallmark Abstract’s industry low ancillary and ‘junk’ fees, potentially saving the homebuyer many hundreds of dollars versus other title insurance providers.

And for those unfamiliar with Hallmark Abstract Service:

  • Hallmark Abstract provides title insurance through the top and best capitalized underwriters,

  • Has an incredibly impressive track record concerning title claims, and

  • Has some of the lowest ancillary and ‘junk’ fees in the industry potentially saving our clients up to $1,000 on their closing when compared to competitors!

Check out the HAS App, and please give us feedback on the value-add you believe it can help you to provide to clients!

Michael Haltman, CEO
Hallmark Abstract Service

New York Homebuyer, Attorney or Real Estate Agent? Calculate Title Insurance Costs, On Demand, With The Hallmark Abstract Service App!

Get an on demand title insurance quote

Calculate  New York Title Insurance Costs at the Very Beginning of a Transaction, Using The ‘GET A QUOTE’ App in the Lower Right-hand Corner of the Hallmark Abstract Service Website

You can also install our app on your phone to access a title insurance quote anywhere, and in realtime (contact info@hallmarkabstractllc.com for details).

In A New York State Real Estate Transaction, Knowledge Is Power whether You Are the Purchaser, Real Estate Agent, Mortgage Loan Originator or Attorney Representing the Buyer!

For Homebuyers: At the very beginning of a transaction, know what you title insurance costs are going to be by generating a quote using the realtime app in the lower right-hand corner of the Hallmark Abstract Service website! Or, install our app on your phone to get a quote anytime you need to get an idea concerning closing costs (contact info@hallmarkabstractllc.com for details).

If your attorney is using another title insurance provider and the title bill you have received is more costly than Hallmark Abstract’s, our title bill information will provide leverage to get your costs reduced.

And remember that purchasers of real estate in New York do have the right to choose their title insurance provider.

For Real Estate Agents: You can provide even more value-added to your clients real estate purchasing experience, by letting them know at the beginning of the transaction, or at an Open House using the app on your phone, more exact details about the closing costs they can expect.

For Mortgage Loan Originators: For your clients refinance their New York State mortgage, you can let them know what title insurance costs they should expect at the closing table.

For A Buyers Attorney: While you’re speaking with your client, provide them with a rundown of the title insurance expenses they will be paying at the closing table (excluding taxes due).

The output on the app will be almost identical to the data on the title report that Hallmark Abstract Service will ultimately prepare when the contract for purchase is signed or a refinance of a mortgage is ordered.

The Title Insurance Piece of the Real Estate Transaction

For many homebuyers or purchasers of commercial real estate in New York, the first time they may hear about the title insurance premium, other fees on the title bill and even the name of the title insurance provider, will be at the closing table!

For so many reasons this historical practice is wrong! Particularly considering that the title insurance provider is a key cog in protecting what may likely be the largest financial transaction the buyer will make in their lives.

The reasons to learn about your title insurance provider are many, one of them being that the cost of the title insurance (other than the actual premium that will be the same across title insurance providers) will vary widely among firms. And, the difference can be significant, up to $1,000 or more!

Why Knowing Your Title Insurance Provider Matters!

1) Saving Money – While the title insurance premium will be the same regardless of the company being used, the title bill that includes ancillary and ‘junk’ fees will vary from firm-to-firm. This can result in closing costs being paid by the buyer that are $1,000 or more higher than at a firm like Hallmark Abstract Service!

2) The Underwriter – Make sure that the underwriter being used is well capitalized and one of the top companies in the industry. A firm like Fidelity, First American, Old Republic or AmTrust that you know will stand behind you no matter what!

3) Claims Experience – Regardless of the title company that you use, a title insurance policy will be issued at the closing. But that said, you want to make sure that the title company being used has experienced few, and hopefully zero, title claims in the past.

4) Affiliated Arrangements – You should inquire as to whether the title insurance provider has affiliated business arrangements with any of the other participants in your deal. Such an arrangement creates a conflict of interest that you as the buyer should try to avoid!

5) What Company To Use: Remember that while your attorney or mortgage loan originator will likely recommend a company, you have the right to choose the title company that is providing the title insurance for your transaction!

Let’s Say You’re Buying a home with a $1,000,000 Purchase Price and Will Be Financing It With an $800,000 mortgage. The Home is Located in Woodbury, New York

By entering these details in the app located in the lower-right hand corner of the Hallmark Abstract Service website, you will receive the following results:

Logo
Transaction Type Sales Price Loan Amount
Purchase with Financing $ 1,000,000.00 $ 800,000.00
Property Location
Woodbury, NY, USA
Title Charges Buyer Seller
Owner’s Title Insurance $ 4,281.00
Lender’s Title Insurance $ 884.00
Municipals $ 400.00
Certificate of Occupancy (plus County Cost) $ 50.00
Tax Search $ 50.00
Escrow Service Charge $ 50.00
Survey Inspection $ 125.00
Title Closer Pickup $ 250.00
Deed/Transfer Doc Prep $ 200.00
Recording Fee ($25 per document) $ 50.00
Endorsement: Waiver of Arbitration $ 50.00
Endorsement: Residential $ 50.00
Endorsement: Environmental $ 50.00
Recording & Transfer Buyer Seller
Deed Recording Fee (estimate) $ 845.00
Mortgage Recording Fee (estimate) $ 805.00
Release Recording Fee (estimate) $ 710.50
State Transfer Tax $ 4,000.00
Mortgage Tax $ 6,370.00
Mortgage Tax (Lender’s Portion) [$2,000.00]
Mansion Tax $ 10,000.00
Total $ 24,060.00 $ 5,160.50

NOTE

This quote does not include any real estate taxes that may be due by either the buyer or the seller.

We thank you for the opportunity to help you successfully complete this transaction and we encourage you to call with any questions.
no-reply@titlecapture.comYours,
The Hallmark Abstract Service LLC Team
101 Sunnyside Blvd., Suite 103
Plainview, NY 11803
(P): (516) 741-4723
(E): mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com
DISCLAIMER: Calculator is provided for illustrative purposes only. The title agency or TitleCapture make no guarantee or other assurance concerning the accuracy or completeness of information produced by the calculator or the applicability of the data input to your particular situation. Calculator and the data and information produced by it are provided “AS IS” without representation or warranty from of any kind. User assumes the risk that data and/or calculation errors may occur. To ensure that all figures and calculations are correct and relevant to your situation, we encourage you to contact an escrow officer to discuss your specific title insurance needs and to verify all costs and fees prior to closing. Powered by TitleCapture.com
 If you have any questions or would like to speak, please contact Hallmark Abstract Service at…

 

Email: info@hallmarkabstractllc.com

 

Phone: (646) 741-6101

 

 

 

 

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First American Title Facing Civil Charges Filed By New York Regulators for a Massive Data Security Breach!

Absolute Cybersecurity Protection is an Imperative for Title Insurance Companies in New York! 

In 2017 the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) implemented 23 NYCRR 500 designed to make sure that firms in certain industries have cybersecurity protocols in place to securely protect the NPI, or non-public information, of their clients.

To summarize the parameters, Section 500.00 mandates that ‘It is critical for all regulated institutions that have not yet done so to move swiftly and urgently to adopt a cybersecurity program and for all regulated entities to be subject to minimum standards with respect to their programs. The number of cyber events has been steadily increasing and estimates of potential risk to our financial services industry are stark. Adoption of the program outlined in these regulations is a priority for New York State.’

Title companies are among the businesses categories subject to the regulations, and Hallmark Abstract Service is in compliance, and has made data security of our clients a priority since the company began business in 2008. The requirements include…

  • Identify all cybersecurity threats, both internal and external.
  • Employ defense infrastructure to protect against those threats.
  • Use a system to detect cybersecurity events.
  • Respond to all detected cybersecurity events.
  • Work to recover from each cybersecurity event.
  • Fulfill various requirements for regulatory reporting.

First American Title Insurance Co. Faces Charges in NYfrom BankInfoSecurity.com and written by Prajeet Nair

Company Could Be Fined $1,000 for Each Violation of State Cybersecurity Law

The New York State Department of Financial Services has filed civil charges against First American Title Insurance Co., a subsidiary of First American Mortgage Corp. that’s been accused of exposing hundreds of millions of documents that contained customers’ mortgage and personal data.

The charges, announced Wednesday, are the first to be brought under the department’s Cybersecurity Regulation, which went into effect in March 2017. The regulation requires banks and other financial services firms to maintain certain cybersecurity standards, including conducting risk assessments and having the ability to notify regulators and consumers in a timely manner following a security incident.

In the charges filed this week, state officials accuse First American Title Insurance Co. of not only exposing customer data, but also failing to conduct a proper investigation into the cause of the exposure, which was discovered during an internal penetration test in December 2018 (see: First American Mortgage Faces NY Regulator Inquiry, Lawsuit)...’

Read the entire article by clicking on the article title above.

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Hallmark Abstract Service is pleased to announce our new underwriter, Chicago Title!

New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Proposal Update

Can U.S. Interest Rates Ever Be Allowed To Rise, I Ask Again Three Years Later?

USdebtclock.org

Spoiler Alert: The simple answer is that of course they can in the event of runaway inflation and/or an overheated economy, but in light of $26 trillion in federal debt that will soon rise by at least $1 trillion through additional stimulus (not to mention budget deficits for the foreseeable future), the question is whether the Fed will continue to do whatever it can to keep them low in order to try and keep the United States somewhat solvent?

Currently interest payments constitute about an 8% share of the federal budget, but imagine how that number would balloon were rates to rise even 1%.

As the owner of a title insurance company dependent on a vibrant real estate market, the hope would be that the 10-year treasury yield and by extension mortgage rates, will continue to present an attractive environment for buyers.

With 30-year mortgage rates now with an astounding 2% handle, financing levels are certainly attractive although qualifying may have become more difficult.

This question about interest rates was originally asked by me in an article here July 24, 2017 when the 10-year treasury was 2.25% and the unemployment rate was 4.3%. An argument at the time could certainly have been made to begin normalizing rates 7 or so years after the financial crisis crushed the economy.

But interest rates were not destined to rise, unemployment fell even lower, inflation remained tame and the economy exhibited what was termed as ‘strength’ despite the deficits we were running as a country.

Then Came Coronavirus!

When coronavirus, or Covid-19, officially entered global vernacular and the economy was effectively shut down, the 10-year treasury fell from about 1.60% (during what was termed as a period of economic expansion) to its current .60%.

The federal debt rose from an eye-popping and unsustainable level of approximately $23.2 trillion at the beginning of February 2020 to the current level of approximately $26.5 trillion with more trillions to come as the Congress mulls more stimulus!

So, can 10-year treasury rates ever normalize to a level of even 4% without blowing-up what is already a bloated and teetering on-the-edge federal budget?

This is a look back to ‘Can Interest Rates Ever Rise’ and I would love to get your thoughts…

Can Interest Rates Ever Rise written July 24, 2017 by Hallmark Abstract Service CEO Mike Haltman

While interest rates have risen from depths that saw the 10-year treasury yielding 1.36% on 7/3/16, to 2.25% today, given Fed plans to tighten and pledge to shrink its balance sheet should rates be even higher?

The Fed will typically engage in the monetary policy of tightening and lift the Fed Funds rate when the two key components of its mandate, full employment and inflation at its target rate, indicate that it’s warranted to do so.

One could most definitely make the argument that with an unemployment rate of 4.3%, lowest since the 4.4% in October 2006, that employment is in good shape. And while some metrics within the employment report might suggest otherwise, this is a number that the Fed would likely consider as evidence for strong consideration of a tightening stance.

As far as the Fed’s 2% target inflation rate, whether these numbers fit the mandate is slightly less clear as the chart below shows:

No alt text provided for this image

But, Can The Federal Reserve Ever Really Normalize Interest Rates?

Are current treasury yield levels appropriate, or are they telling us that the ‘strength’ in the economy may not be lasting, that employment may weaken and/or that inflation may be tepid for some time to come?

Perhaps, but could there be another factor at play that may also keep the Fed from tightening to the point that interest rates become historically normalized?

In other words, if ‘normalized’ yields for the 10-years treasury were somewhere between 4% and 6% from 1990 through the financial crisis, can the Fed reasonably ever bring them back to that level?

Or, will the term normalized interest rates come to mean something much different from what Americans have been used to?

After all, if the economy is reported to be doing so well, can’t the average American tolerate an increase from current levels?

And can the federal government reasonably manage the increased debt service that would be incurred from higher rates, given the country’s massive and ever-growing outstanding debt?

No alt text provided for this image

Consider this statistic and the answer to the prior question may in fact be no!

In December 2016 the Federal Reserve raised its target for the fed funds rate by .25% to a target of 1.0% – 1.25% and, according to a TransUnion analysis, 63 million Americans holding adjustable-rate consumer debt were affected. These consumers will pay less each month when interest rates decline and pay more as they rise.

This hike that translated into an average increase in payments of $18, ‘created a challenge for 1 million consumers who were delinquent in their mortgage payment by the end of March…

Historical Fed Funds Rate

No alt text provided for this image

…TransUnion cautioned consumers and lenders, saying while this study showed only 1 million consumers were impacted in the first quarter, it did not examine long-term impacts of a rate hike. For example, many consumers could be dipping into their savings accounts to meet the new obligations, and could eventually exhaust that source of funds.’ (Source)

So therefore, if a .25% hike and an $18 increase posed a hardship for 1,000,000 consumers, how much more of an increase can consumers tolerate?

I suppose we shall see!

Mike Haltman
CEO, Hallmark Abstract Service
mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com, (646) 741-6101