Posts Tagged ‘real estate’

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Alliant National Helps Close Record $182 Million Commercial Transaction

The transaction is the largest in Alliant National history and demonstrates the underwriter’s commitment to partnering with its agents in the commercial sector.  

With its growing national presence across 30 states and the District of Columbia, Alliant National is a well-known residential underwriter. However, it is also a force to be reckoned with in the commercial real estate field. It recently insured a $182 million refinance transaction with Chambers County Abstract of Anahuac, Texas. The transaction was a record breaker for both Alliant National and Chambers County Abstract.  

“We were in absolute disbelief,” said Chambers County Abstract examiner Darla Chandler Lastovica, commenting on the size of the transaction. “We didn’t believe it was real until it was all said and done.” Lastovica helped lead the title work on the property.

“Alliant National has insured many commercial properties throughout its history,” said KC West, Senior Vice President and Southwest Regional Manager at Alliant National. “However, we’ve never tackled a property of this size and scope before. While it was a major lift, it was exciting to work on insuring such a large tract of land and to work closely with our partners at Chambers County Abstract.”

The transaction covering the sprawling 550 acre-property in Baytown, Texas, was completed on behalf of Ohio-based JSW Steel. The company is gearing up to renovate its pipe and plate steel mill facility on the site. Chambers County Abstract has a long relationship with JSW Steel, having produced title reports for the company’s law firm since 2014.

This particular transaction dates back to 2019, when JSW Steel opened a $10 million file with Chambers County Abstract. After title was opened, the order sat idle for more than a year until one of JSW’s lawyers informed the office that the transaction had ballooned in size to $182 million.

Aside from its sheer size, the transaction was enormously challenging in other ways. First, it had a complex legal description that included myriad tracts and easements. Second, the description changed over the years, making it a substantial effort to determine what pertained to the property. Despite having completed prior title work, it took considerable effort to review legal descriptions and surveys, verify legal instruments and match these to the various tracts.

Chambers County Abstract, however, is a seasoned player in the commercial real estate market, having worked on many commercial properties, including expansive, multi-tract properties. Having a company well-versed in the process is helpful considering the additional challenges commercial properties can pose over residential. For instance, even single tract commercial transactions can contain more instruments, loans, and longer documents than residential transactions. Multi-tract properties are exponentially more complicated, featuring lengthy legal descriptions, multiple tracts to search and volumes of legal instruments to record.  Organizing all these components is “a work of art in its own right,” Lastovica said.

Integral to the success of any given commercial transaction is the role of the underwriter, which must make the final decisions as to whether the property can be insured. As Chambers County Abstract’s underwriter, Alliant National acts as a financial backstop if a title claim or issue were to arise. The relationship between title underwriter and title agent is crucial. Both parties must effectively work together to prevent financial loss. While important to every transaction, title insurance serves a unique role in a commercial context. There can often be multiple liens against commercial properties, so having proper insurance in place is critical to the lender getting an expected lien priority.

Alliant National’s guiding principal is to partner with agents and never compete. In its work with Chambers County Abstract, one can see the powerful and profitable logic in such an approach – for both residential and commercial properties.

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Title Agents: Help for Your Real Estate Colleagues

Right now, even the most seasoned experts find themselves unsure when we’ll be able to return to some semblance of normal. To add to that, it’s projected that it could be months or even years before we’re able to return to business as usual across the board. Now that most states have found themselves in over a month of their shelter-in-place orders, real estate experts have started compiling tips to try and help their fellow agents navigate these uncertain times.

A group of marketers came together for Forbes to offer twenty tips on how to seize the day until our day-to-day gets familiar again. Included in the tips are bits of advice like how to avoid being too aggressive while buyers find their footing, and to offer virtual product training to your agents.

Allie Beth Allman, Realtor to former President George W. Bush, spoke about the importance of not panicking and learning to adapt during an uncertain market. Allman also discusses the importance of remaining calm and not acting reactively here.

Meanwhile, New York broker Eric Benaim offers tips on winning business and staying positive while we find ourselves in a downturn. After starting his firm in 2008, Benaim has experience in working through economic anxiety. You can check out Alliant National’s COVID-19 Resource Page for more information on how you can keep your closings safe and your business moving forward during these tumultuous times. We also recently hosted a national webinar with many more tips on how to stay engaged with your Realtor clients.

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Creative Home Showings & Other COVID-19 Re-engineering

Video solutions throughout the buying process may become the new normal.

With every industry finding itself in triage mode amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult finding ways to keep our collective heads above water. Though the home buying process typically starts online for most consumers, real estate is still one of the most hands-on, face-to-face markets out there. While it has been reclassified as essential, agents still have a responsibility to themselves and our clients to remove as many touches as possible as we collectively navigate the crisis.

This has resulted in agents across the country getting creative in the way they show homes. Small steps like ensuring all interior doors are open and scheduling time slots for viewings rather than allowing for an open house can help mitigate potential exposure in a big way.

It’s also important to remember that while this pandemic isn’t forever, the way it shapes our industry might be.  Sara Walsh, an agent from Ohio, suspects that things like FaceTime tours and other video solutions throughout the buying process may become the new normal for clients who either can’t or don’t wish to come to live viewings.

You can check out Alliant National’s COVID-19 Resource Page for more information on how you can keep your closings safe and your business moving forward during these tumultuous times.

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Self-fulfilling prophecy?

One expert says fear of a recession could lead to one.

Increasing anxieties over a recession could be the cause of the next recession, according to Analyticom President Dan Geller, developer of the theory of money anxiety.

Geller’s theory explains that an increase in money anxiety can lower consumer confidence and cause a recession by reducing consumer consumption by just 5%. Since consumer consumption makes up about 70% of gross domestic product, a 5% reduction in spending equals 3.5% of GDP, which is greater than the projected GDP for 2019.

In July 2019, the Money Anxiety Index was flat at 44, the same as June, but slightly higher than May’s 42.7 points. While these figures are relatively low and don’t point to an immediate recession, Geller explained that the constant hype about a recession could increase the level of money anxiety.

“An example of how recession hype can increase peoples’ perceived anxiety and reduce their confidence in the economy can be seen in the preliminary August figures of the Michigan Survey of Consumer Sentiment,” Geller explained. “The August index decreased 6.4% from the previous month indicating that the level of consumer confidence in the economy dropped in the first couple weeks of August.”

“Since the Michigan index is based on what people think about the economy, in the form of a questionnaire, it is highly likely that the recent recession hype influenced the respondents’ confidence about the economy,” he explained.

Nearly half of experts surveyed by Zillow back in 2018 said they expect the next recession to begin sometime in 2020, according to the company’s Home Price Expectations Survey, a quarterly survey of more than 100 real estate experts and economists.

Since then, the talk surrounding recession has only increased as more and more experts begin to predict a recession by late 2019 or early 2020.

There were several dire warnings this week about the economic dangers posed by President Donald Trump’s ramped-up trade war with China.

“On a scale of 1-10, it’s an 11,” Cowen Managing Director Chris Krueger said in a note to investors, describing the economic ramifications of the trade war. 

In July, Zillow’s panel of more than 100 housing experts and economists said the next recession is expected to hit in 2020. A few even said it may begin later in 2019, while another substantial portion predict that a recession will occur in 2021. But unlike last time, the housing market won’t be the cause.

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The Best Call of the Day: Optimizing Opportunity at the Closing Table

Showcase your firm’s strengths at the closing table.

Many title agents spend money and time on marketing and sales efforts to increase directable business. While most campaigns are effective, and certainly essential, one of the best opportunities to showcase your firm’s strengths is at the closing table.

A well thought-out and unique closing table strategy will result in increased referral business, and will cost half of traditional marketing plans. A well thought-out closing table strategy looks like this:

  1. Target referral sources who attend closings at your office.
  2. Showcase your firm’s customer service and competency.
  3. Follow up with collateral materials and a call to action.

As real estate professionals, we value a well-planned and executed marketing campaign, directed at realtors, loan officers and future clients.  Typically, this includes direct mail, targeted email, web presence, social media and office visits.

All of these methods have varying degrees of cost, both in dollars and time. Everyone would agree that they are essential to building and maintaining a business.

The closing table, however, is a hotbed of opportunity that is, unfortunately, often ignored. A number of factors that make this situation unique include:

  1. All parties can be scheduled and will attend;
  2. Traditional referral sources are there;
  3. As a closing agent, you control the pace, flow, and agenda of the time you spend together.

As the closing approaches, since your office will schedule, you will be aware of who will be attending. With that information, you can tailor your approach to fit the needs of each. Your approach should be a systematic and repeatable part of your processes.

The buyer’s agent is most likely your referral source. You should acknowledge their competence and professionalism, in the presence of their clients, the buyers, and be sure to thank them with a small, parting gift, in full view of the seller’s agent.

The seller’s agent is your primary target. An informational packet should be prepared with contact information, pricing and an order form. Also, testimonials are always helpful if they can be obtained. It can be useful to acknowledge them in the presence of the parties, and thank them for their help in facilitating the closing. Be sure to obtain a business card and information on their office which could be helpful in future marketing opportunities. Finally, it is always appropriate to ask for their future business in person.

The mortgage broker, if present, and not familiar to you, should have their own take-away packet, containing similar information to the seller’s agent, as well as a document outlining their firm’s experience in handling various types of loans other than residential. An acknowledgement of their professionalism and assistance in putting together the transaction is essential. 

Sellers should be given a branded packet with all their documents, containing all you contact information and some swag such as pens, highlighters or pads. Do not overlook this important contact. They are a potential future client. At some point later in the year, they will be looking for copies of various documents which they have lost. Their ability to contact you and obtain these documents will cement your relationship, and make it more likely they will call on you for their real estate needs in the future.

Finally, remember that you, as the closing agent, are on stage. Whatever you project at this closing, will make or break your ability to obtain future business from the parties. You should be affable, available, and project quiet confidence. This is important at what can be the most stressful experience in a consumer’s lifetime.

At the closing table, by targeting referral sources, showcasing your abilities, and having collateral materials prepared ahead of time, you will be able to take advantage of a unique and valuable marketing opportunity.

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