Issue No. 165 | April 1, 2020

Look For NEW Events Posted Since The Last Issue!
Title underwriters won't be hit as hard by the coronavirus as other insurers, but related economic changes will challenge them, Fitch Ratings said, in assigning a negative outlook to the sector.

With the continuing spread of COVID-19, many clerk and recorder’s offices have announced closures. Some offices are closed to the public, while still allowing mail-in and e-filing, and others are closed for all filings.

The City of Philadelphia has stopped accepting in-person deed transfers for an indefinite period of time due to the spread of COVID-19.

Pursuant to Governor Reynolds’s March 22, 2020 Proclamation, a statewide suspension has been imposed on the commencement of, or prosecution of ongoing, foreclosure and forfeiture proceedings on residential, commercial, and agricultural real estate located in Iowa.

In an effort to allow real estate transactions to continue, an effort has been made by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to implement remote online notarization (RON).

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Demotech, Inc., the first to review and rate Title underwriters countrywide (1992), has concluded that the nation's Title underwriters are financially healthy and possess the means to address time gaps in Title insurance coverage associated with the closing or limited hours of county recorder offices from coast to coast, Alaska and Hawaii.

The coronavirus outbreak is testing the resilience of the iBuyer model during slowing and unsettling times for the real estate market. Zillow, Redfin, Realogy and Opendoor are suspending their home purchase programs amid mounting concerns among buyers and sellers about contracting COVID-19 through the real estate process.

MD | In the wake of the state’s state of emergency declaration, the Maryland DOI requests that title insurers scheduled for on-site reviews may request the audit be re-scheduled for health and safety reasons. 

The 880 page CARES Act was crafted during four contentious days of emergency Senate meetings. The financial world is still unpacking all of the aid packages aimed to help the country find its footing again after the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 response.

With IRS News Release IR-2020-58, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.

This year’s spring home-buying market looks drastically different than what was originally predicted. The early forecasts for a hot purchase market were instead met with never-before-seen refinance levels, as COVID-19 changed the course of the real estate market.

Investors moved away from the program after rule changes in November, which increased the minimum investment threshold, and developers also cooled on it after lawmakers banned a popular practice which allowed developers to build projects in tony areas rather than the low-income areas the program was designed to target.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the New York State Department of Financial Services (“Department”) extended the deadline for filing the Certification of Compliance pursuant to 23 NYCRR 500 (“Cybersecurity Regulation”) from April 15, 2020 to June 1, 2020.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed into law Assembly Bill 293 to allow for electronic notarizations in the state. The law requires a special registration for notaries that wish to perform electronic notarizations. It also requires vendors that provide equipment for electronic notarizations to register with the Department of Financial Institutions. The law goes into effect May 1, 2020.

Second-home getaways often are used only during specific times of the year. For example, a riverfront cabin may go months – sometimes even years – without any occupants, while other popular escapes in popular locations are jammed-packed every weekend with city folks fleeing the craziness of downtown.

The Court shrugged off what it referred to as “rigid mechanical, arbitrary rules of construction” and examined the words of the deed itself, concluding that the assignment unambiguously conveyed to Piranha an override in production under the entire lease.

Despite being a relatively new challenge for the US real estate sector, the COVID-19 crisis is already making buyers jittery.

However, given the current national and local restrictions, such as shelter-in-place orders and social distancing measures, most transactions, if not all, will require use of one or more “remote channels” from origination to closing; for example, lenders may need to turn to email, mail, or an electronic signature platform to deliver and obtain signatures on documents, and make use of remote online notarization to close a transaction.

We all have to admit it. It is a scary time. It is an uncertain time. It is a time unlike anything most of us can remember.

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis issued a statement March 12 on the passage of House Bill 1189 relating to genetic information for insurance purposes. The legislation, which now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis, expands existing prohibitions on the use of genetic information for insurance purposes to include life, long-term care, and disability insurance.

The world is digitising at breakneck speed. We are ever more connected on a daily basis and share increasing amounts of data on ourselves as we go about our lives. When we looked at proptech megatrends in my last column, data privacy was rightly pinpointed as a primary concern for each trend examined.

A backlog of real estate transactions in Durham may finally break loose next week as officials hope to restore vital functions to the Register of Deeds office which have been incapacitated since a malware attack in early March.

Cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies has found a surge in coronavirus-themed malware and malicious software that is targeting the growing number of people working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A special thanks to everyone who participated this year, we greatly appreciate it. The report will be available as a free download thanks to our sponsor, Adeptive.

Title Agents Go Nationwide
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In 1832, New York City suffered a cholera epidemic so brutal that people fled in droves. At a time when the city’s population stood at around 250,000, over 3,500 died — the equivalent of our losing over 100,000 New Yorkers today.

The melancholy spectacle of public spaces minus the public has become — along with the bare supermarket shelf and the mask-wearing pedestrian — one of the defining visual calling cards of the coronavirus crisis.

Let’s face it; the insurance industry is standing on the brink of a talent gap. An increasingly competitive job market and negative perceptions of our industry mean that hiring managers often face an uphill battle recruiting new talent.

Archie Bongiovanni illustrates a humorous series of bar and line graphs about life in coronavirus quarantine.

Marianne Mathieu, NTP
Vice President/National Agency Accounts
Fidelity National Financial
(347) 987-0677