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Change to Wire Transfer Procedures

Effective immediately we are changing our protocol for furnishing wire transfer instructions. We are confident that our new process will improve the safety and security of our client’s funds.

We are discontinuing the practice of including wire instructions with our title insurance commitments.

Clients of yours that require wire instructions should be instructed to contact us directly. We will send them an encrypted email containing the instructions. If your client’s email platform supports Transport Layer Security (TLS), the email will be delivered securely and your client will be able to read it as a normal email. Clients with email platforms that do not support TLS will automatically be given a link to our secure website to download the instructions via an https secured communication. There is no requirement to create an account or login or provide any personal information.

If you have been in the habit of routinely forwarding our email wire instructions to your clients we ask that you discontinue that practice unless you are able to send them in a secure encrypted manner. That will allow us both to avoid any unpleasant circumstances should your email become compromised.

We are now encrypting all emails containing non-public personal information.

I encourage you to let our team know should you or your clients experience any problems in receiving or retrieving encrypted emails. Many information technology implementations experience a few glitches before seamless functionality is achieved. We appreciate your patience while we apply this safer level of communication.

John Bethell
November 19, 2014

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Takeaways from the 2014 Third Quarter numbers:

Life without refinances is tough. Mortgage lending is down considerably from previous years. (chart pages 7, 11 & 12) It’s all missing refinance business as the purchase market is fairly steady. Earlier in the year refinancing was only 15% of our new title orders, the lowest rate that I can remember. During the third quarter refinance orders comprised 25% of our new orders. The increasing trend is continuing thanks to recently lower interest rates.

The upper end of the purchase market is doing better. Sales disclosures for owner occupied homes under $200,000 are holding steady and the number between $200,000 and $500,000 is up considerably over recent years. (chart page 14) Sales disclosures of non-owner occupied properties continue to be soft. (Chart page 15)

New Foreclosures continue to decline: New filings for foreclosures are at their lowest point since I began tracking them in 2007. (chart page 16) Sheriff’s Deeds are more recently declining but not yet reflecting the decline in new filings. This is mostly a timing situation as the foreclosure process is considerably lengthened from prior to 2009.

The date to remember is August 1, 2015. That’s when the CFPB changes to the closing process are set to become mandatory. That’s nine months from now. If you’ve not talked with your mortgage origination and processing software vendor about the changes, do not hesitate any longer. These are much bigger changes than what we went through in 2009 with the last RESPA rewrite. There is a number of process and notice related decisions that we will probably have to make together.

Earlier this year John Bethell Title upgraded its closing production software and network infrastructure in anticipation of the changes. We feel quite confident with our vendor and hope to see how the new forms look in our system early next year. In addition to being able to prepare the forms, our system will offer a number of opportunities to share closing data with you in a secure format that will improve the closing and disclosure processes.

Let us know when you’re ready to discuss the changes.

~John Bethell

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Our Referral Promise

We are grateful for the opportunity to work with you and your client. We promise that our team will create a closing experience for you and your client that is outstanding. Your opportunity to gain a referral will be enhanced by the closing experience that you and your clients receive at John Bethell Title. If you don’t agree let us know and we will do whatever we can to make things right.

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Feedback Survey

Obtaining feedback about your client’s and your experience with John Bethell Title during the transaction is an important part of our Feedback Loop. In addition to calling Realtors and Lenders on a regular basis, we also created an online Customer Survey for our website. If you or your clients would like to tell us about the experience with us, we’d love to hear from you. The survey is just a few questions and shouldn’t take more than five minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey.

The Feedback Loop is just one of our processes that helps us make certain that we’re doing the best possible job for you.

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I am almost always surprised when I compile our quarterly statistical reports. This quarter is no exception. I already knew that the overall sale market in Monroe County is down around 8% to 10% from 2013 according to the number of recorded deeds that we post to our data base. (page 16) After compiling data from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance Sales Disclosure Data base for the first half of 2014 I now know why. The charts on pages 14 and 15 show the number of sales disclosures by quarter for sales designated as the buyer’s primary residence (page 14) and those that are not designated in that manner (page 15).

Sales of properties that the buyers intend to live are up slightly over 2013─about 2%. Close to my own expectations for the overall market when I projected 2014 for our company. However, properties not so designated, which are almost exclusively sales of investment, commercial and some vacant land properties are down a surprising 22%!

We’ve all heard noise from various sources about the increasingly difficult mortgage qualification process. It looks to me that in Monroe County that might only be affecting investors and not home buyers. The number of foreclosures (page 19) continues to be moderate, so their effect is unchanged. It could also be that price increases as the market recovers is reducing the number of good deals for investors.

I included a chart from our annual report that shows recorded deeds by year since 2004 (page 17). I continue to wonder what a “normal” market will look like. The peak of this chart is the 2004-2007 era─also known at the age of irresponsible lending and borrowing. Sub-prime lending clearly inflated property sales in Monroe County, just as it did almost everywhere else. Sales in 2008 and 2009 were juiced by federal homebuyer tax credits. Things bottomed out in 2010 and 2011, before starting to recover.

I had thought that somewhere around 2400 to 2500 sales transactions would be where normal lies. Now I’m not so sure. Deed recording in the second half of this year will have to be up over eight percent over 2013 just to have equal full year comparisons. With stricter financing rules, less homebuilding and the economy not adding a lot of jobs, 2200 sales might be our new normal. Quite a far cry from the subprime golden era, don’t you think?

~John Bethell

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Click Here to Access the Report

Feedback Survey

Obtaining feedback about your client’s and your experience with John Bethell Title during the transaction is an important part of our Feedback Loop. In addition to calling Realtors and Lenders on a regular basis, we also created an online Customer Survey for our website. If you or your clients would like to tell us about the experience with us, we’d love to hear from you. The survey is just a few questions and shouldn’t take more than five minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey.

The Feedback Loop is just one of our processes that helps us make certain that we’re doing the best possible job for you.

read more

Click Here to Access the Report

Feedback Survey

Obtaining feedback about your client’s and your experience with John Bethell Title during the transaction is an important part of our Feedback Loop. In addition to calling Realtors and Lenders on a regular basis, we also created an online Customer Survey for our website. If you or your clients would like to tell us about the experience with us, we’d love to hear from you. The survey is just a few questions and shouldn’t take more than five minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey.

The Feedback Loop is just one of our processes that helps us make certain that we’re doing the best possible job for you.

read more

Click Here to Access the Report

Secure Upload

Here at John Bethell Title, we are constantly working to improve our customer service and provide the best experience for you. In an effort to do this, we’ve increased our online security across the John Bethell Title website. We’ve taken measures to further secure all of our online forms using Force SSL, which allows a secure connection between the client and the server. Essentially, it’s a super secure way to transmit private documents over the internet. This is just another way we’re working to provide The Premier Title and Closing Experience!

Online Home Purchase Ordering Tool | Online Refinance Ordering Tool

Contact-Upload Form

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Compliance Risk & Consumer Protection

The passage of the Dodd-Frank Act by Congress in 2010 ushered in consumer protection as an additional level of regulatory focus for banks, credit unions and other providers of consumer financial services, including title companies. Prior to Dodd-Frank, the safety and soundness of financial institutions was the primary focus of regulators. Dodd-Frank put consumer protection on equal footing and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to act as judge, jury and executioner.

Bulletin 2012-03 issued by the CFPB on April 13, 2012 (ironically, a Friday) reminded its supervised institutions that they were responsible for the acts of independent third party service providers used by the bank to provide services to the bank’s customers. The FDIC, Federal Reserve, OCC and the NCUA each have provided similar guidance, both before and after the CFPB bulletin. Additionally they have provided instructions regarding risk assessment, due diligence and monitoring of those third party relationships.

A consistent theme in all of this regulatory communication is that the protection of a consumer’s personal, non-public information (PPI) by third party service providers should be near the top of a financial institution’s due diligence. Title companies come into possession of a bank customer’s PPI in the ordinary course of closing real estate transactions.

In the context of this regulatory focus and in the wake of regular breaches of large sophisticated consumer data bases–most recently Target and Neiman Marcus–John Bethell Title recently upgraded its IT network infrastructure in order to assure our clients that the information entrusted to us is maintained in a secure environment. Our servers are now housed in a sophisticated data center that is annually certified to SSAE16, ISAW3402 and AT-101 standards and accessed via an encrypted private network. Additional enhancements will be implemented throughout 2014.

Protecting PPI is just one part of the consumer protection regulatory burden. Other areas of third party provider risk with title companies include trust account management, on-line banking practices, pricing and consumer complaint tracking and resolution mechanisms.

If you or your compliance team would like to discuss the effects of consumer protection regulations on your title and closing service provider relatiohships, I’d be happy to meet with you. Just let me know.

~John Bethell

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We will be closed for business Monday February 17th while we transition to exciting new title and closing production software. We will reopen Tuesday February 18th.

On February 18th our wire instructions will change! New wire instructions will be sent to you Wednesday February 12th. Look for them in your email.

We are grateful for your patience while we make these changes to better serve you and your clients.

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