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New: Homebuyer videos section

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Sometimes it’s easier to understand a subject with visuals. Title insurance and the real estate closing process in general are just two examples. 

With that in mind, take a moment to tour our new Homebuyer Videos section. Real estate agents: Use this section as a resource for your homebuyers. And homebuyers: Use this section to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes leading up to closing.

Here at Federal Title, we believe it’s important to inform homebuyers, many of whom are purchasing a home for the first time. The more our homebuyers know in advance, the better prepared and the more comfortable they are when it comes time to sit down at the closing table.


Unfortunately, title insurance is tough to illustrate in pictures (hence our text-heavy blog).

Thankfully though, we’ve got friends at local company called Say it Visually, who’ve helped us explain the steps between ratified sales contract and signed HUD-1 settlement statement in terms as simple as stick figures.

We have plans to create a series of videos about various aspects of the closing process. We’ll post each video in the newly created Homebuyer Videos section.

As it turns out, these videos take some times to make, and so production is inching along slowly. All right, we only have two videos so far…

These days more and more web users are turning to online videos to learn everything from how to change a bicycle tire to, well, how to buy a house. But did you know Federal Title was the first in the title industry to produce videos for homebuyers explaining title insurance and closing costs?

Other title companies jumped on the bandwagon shortly after, and now even the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development is creating videos to help homebuyers understand the real estate closing process.

We know most homebuyers will do an online search before contacting a real estate agent. The wisest homebuyers will also research the title company that handles their settlement.

It’s our hope that by educating prospective homebuyers, using tools such as our Homebuyer Videos section, we they will be better equipped to make informed decisions throughout the homebuying and closing process.

Categories: closing costs, HUD

HUD releases helpful homebuyer videos

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Remember the kid in school that tried to copy off of everyone else?  As an adult, I don’t find it as annoying – in fact, I view it as a testament to what we do here at Federal Title.  

Federal Title was the first in the title industry to produce videos for homebuyers explaining the closing process and closing costs.  Soon after we released these videos, a few other competitors jumped in the video market.  

Now, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) jumped in by releasing three instructional videos for prospective homebuyers. HUD’s videos mainly focus on the homebuying process and shopping for a mortgage.  

The videos are each about 11 minutes long and narrated by Teresa Payne of HUD and might be the best cure for insomnia I’ve seen in a while. However, the videos are full of very useful information and if a prospective homebuyer would watch each of these videos, we would probably have a lot less questions at the closing table.  

All in all, the videos are a justifiable expense of taxpayer dollars and may just result in fewer regulations by HUD in the future – now that consumers are better-armed with information.  The videos can be found on HUD’s YouTube channel.

Categories: closing costs, HUD

Title company fees matter

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Most reputable title companies now maintain robust websites with a disclosure of their title charges/fees, making it simple for prospective homebuyers to compare title company fees and select their title company.

According to a recent analysis, less than 10 percent of homebuyers and refinancing homeowners chose to select their own title company – despite the fact that it was their legal right to choose a title company.  Instead, the overwhelming majority of those homebuyers and refinancing homeowners deferred to their real estate agent or mortgage lender to choose the title company on their behalf.

Why?

Because most homebuyers do not realize the potential cost-savings associated with selecting their own title company.  They do not realize that a simple online search for comparing costs among local title companies could save a thousand dollars or more.

In fact, many real estate agents and mortgage lenders are not aware of this simple fact.  It is incorrectly assumed that all title company charges are equal.

My “Best Friends” advice is as follows:

  • Choose a title company yourself – don’t leave the task to others.
  • Choose a title company that clearly discloses their title fees and title insurance rates on their website.
  • Choose a title company that is independent – not a title company affiliated and sharing profits with your real estate agent’s brokerage or your mortgage lender’s company.
  • Choose a title company that has been in business for at least 10 years.
  • Choose a title company that conducts closings by licensed real estate attorneys – not notaries or settlement agents.
  • Choose a title company with positive user reviews. Check out Yelp, ActiveRain.com or Google for starters.

Follow my “Best Friends” and you will end up at the closing table of a reputable title company AND pay less.

Our new title insurance video on YouTube

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Closing attorney readies for a new chapter with a familiar beginning

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Closing attorney Jackie Kurz finds her greatest satisfaction at the settlement table as the ink dries and she sees the smiling faces of homebuyers and sellers, all eager to begin a new chapter of their lives, knowing she played a part in making it all happen.

“Having a hand in creating that happiness is very rewarding,” the Pennsylvania native said.

Kurz starts a new chapter of her own this week as she returns to Federal Title & Escrow Company. After more than two years, and two states, she is ready to pick up right where she left off, creating a settlement experience for each client that is seamless and painless.

A practicing attorney for the past eight years, Kurz focuses primarily on real estate matters. She received her Juris Doctorate from the Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University and is a member of the Pennsylvania and D.C. bar associations.

Her experience and expertise make Kurz an invaluable resource for consumers, who may have questions about the closing process. Additionally Kurz blends nicely with Federal Title’s business culture, said Todd Ewing, Federal Title founder & president.

“We are all very excited for Jackie’s return ‘home,'” Ewing said. “She has a firm grasp of the underwriting legal requirements and her demeanor at the closing table is non-intrusive yet deliberate in those rare instances of conflict between parties.”

The self-professed “foodie” and Army wife looks forward to revisiting favorite local restaurants and getting acquainted with new ones that have opened since she last lived here.

Kurz worked for Federal Title from July 2005 until April 2008 when she relocated with her husband to military bases in Georgia and later Kentucky. After 20 years of active duty service, her husband is slated to retire, allowing the pair to settle down in one place for a while.

Kurz is the second attorney to return to Federal Title in the last 12 months, following Catherine Schmitt who returned in November 2009 after military service and a stint at Monarch Title, Inc.

“Federal Title has honestly been one of the best places I have ever worked, and I look forward to picking up where I left off – doing everything I can to assist homebuyers, sellers and borrowers who are refinancing,” Kurz said.

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Federal Title’s closing costs below national average

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

A recent survey from Bankrate.com showed homebuyers in Maryland and the District of Columbia pay closings costs that are below the national average. That was good news on its own.

When I began digging through the details of the survey, I discovered this chart that breaks down closing costs for each state and separates origination fees from title & closing fees. That’s when I learned (or confirmed, rather) homebuyers who select Federal Title for their closings pay well below average across the board.

For starters, closing costs across the nation averaged $3,741, according to Bankrate.com. The research was based on a $200,000 loan and a 20 percent down payment.

The survey shows that the average homebuyer in Maryland pays $1,921 in title & closing fees. A homebuyer who settles the same real estate transaction through Federal Title pays $1,465.

And in D.C. the survey shows the average homebuyer pays $2,322 in title & closing fees. If the homebuyer had settled that property address with us, he would have paid $1,905 for the same title services.

Homebuyers in Virginia should be most excited of all: Closing costs average $2,355 across the state — exceeding the national average — but when Federal Title is on the case, closing costs come in at $1,509.

While these numbers are great, it’s not the only factor to consider when choosing a title company. Beyond our competitive prices, at Federal Title we’ve built a reputation of exemplary customer service. We’ve bought and sold houses of our own, so we know how it feels to be a homebuyer or seller, to expect quality service for your dollar.

With this in mind we are working to improve our technology to make the closing process even more seamless and painless. This will free up time for our humans to tend to each client, which can only improve the title services we provide.

Seasoned Settlement Attorney Returns to FTE

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Nikki Smith
Main line: 202-362-1500
Direct line: 202-274-1517
E-mail: nikki@federaltitle.com
Website: www.federaltitle.com

DC TITLE COMPANY WELCOMES SEASONED SETTLEMENT ATTORNEY TO ITS TEAM OF CLOSING EXPERTS
Retired Marine brings steadfast work ethic and 20 years of title experience to Federal Title’s closing table

Washington, D.C. – Pens around Catherine E. Schmitt‘s office have a way of disappearing. That’s the running joke around the office anyway, because this retired Marine and newest member of Federal Title & Escrow Company‘s team of closing attorneys can do a lot more with a pen than push paper.

Catherine Schmitt, formerly the managing attorney for Monarch Title – Georgetown and Bethesda – rejoins the ranks of Federal Title’s talented staff after a five-year hiatus. She brings with her 20 years of title experience and a steadfast work ethic sharpened by her service with the U.S. Marine Corps. She says the most rewarding aspect of her work is the time she spends developing relationships with her clients.

“I am a loyal customer of Catherine”, says Tom Buerger of Re/Max Allegiance. “She is always there for me – whether it is as an expediter for a quick settlement, as a counselor to allay the fears of my first-time homebuyers or as a resource to solve potential issues before they become a problem that will delay settlement. She is my attorney-on-call.”

Schmitt’s clients vary from new homebuyers to seasoned investors, but one thing her clients have in common is they understand the settlement process.

“Buying and refinancing a home are big decisions,” says Schmitt. “The settlement process is an opportunity to educate clients. It’s a time for them to ask questions, so they can feel comfortable and informed.”

Schmitt earned two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland and has her Juris Doctorate from Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa, the same institution that produced Federal Title’s founder and president, Todd Ewing.

“Catherine works hard and is dedicated to her clients.” Ewing says. “She is a model of customer service, and I am very excited to welcome her back to our team.”

Homebuyers seeking advice from Schmitt about title insurance or the settlement process need only venture up Wisconsin Avenue to Federal Title’s Friendship Heights office.

Reach Catherine E. Schmitt at 202-362-1500 or e-mail her at catherine@federaltitle.com.

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About Federal Title & Escrow Company:
In an industry contaminated by affiliated business arrangements, kickbacks and other referral incentives, the Internet returns the power to the people. Federal Title recognizes consumer-driven market pressures, as exemplified by the new RESPA rule, and seeks to offer home buyers substantial closing cost savings and a streamlined settlement process.

Federal Title has a reputation of being technically innovative and always at the forefront of the latest real estate trends. Years ago the company made a bold move by eschewing all Affiliated Business Arrangements and established its REAL Credit Program, which saves home buyers up to $2,000 on closing costs.

Now Playing: Closing Costs Explained Visually

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