I have been amazed but not surprised at how you have all rallied and adapted to serving your customers – from drive-thru parking lot closings to closings through windows on a customer’s patio. This industry and you, in particular, continue to step up to keep things rolling along.
As we have battled together courthouse closings, shelter in place orders, social distancing, and so much more, I have never been as proud to be part of this industry as I am today. Many of you battled through the 2008 crisis with us and knew how difficult that was. This is dramatically different. The housing market was stable and booming in the first quarter of this year just about everywhere. This pandemic has dragged the economy down, unlike in 2008, where there was a fundamental flaw in the financial sector. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 is clearly different in each market. We see re-openings in many areas, while others still have a way to go.
We have obviously seen an impact on the purchase market. As I reflect, I am reminded that before COVID-19, there was a housing inventory shortage, and demand was high. During COVID-19, as we have seen many sellers not list and take houses off the market, it will only increase demand when COVID-19 precautions start to lift. We have seen a real upswing in refinancing activity nationally and locally, and more and more local banks and credit unions come back into the refi market.
From my chair as President of the American Land Title Association, I have been able to work with the staff on tracing and pushing Federal and State legislation to allow remote closings in as many places as possible. It’s funny how we have all gotten a little better at using tech in our daily business lives. There are some great resources on the ALTA web site under Coronavirus. You do not need to be a member to access.
The work, each of you, are doing is so important. We have always known that what you do is essential, and now everyone else knows as well. In the face of this virus, you have driven past signs telling you to stay home, serviced your customer in the face of news stories that put the fear in all of us, and have done so because it is what you do. You have my admiration, gratitude, and respect. As you figure out how to complete that refinance for the customer, do not forget that in doing so, you are allowing them in many cases to reduce costs and, on average, save over $300 a month in outgoings. This is incredible. You are your own stimulus program!!!
On the local side, it has become clear to everyone that the role of you, the title agent is a crucial ingredient to the real estate process. I cannot even imagine the comfort you must give the customer as you complete their transaction with everything else going on around them. Many of you have family and friends impacted by this virus, or family and friends fighting on the front medical lines. Please let them know we are thinking of them all.
I know it’s tough out there, but certainly, what I see is that we are tougher, and we will get through this together. It’s an honor to work with you all, and I hope to be able to see you face-to-face soon.
President & CEO, Westcor Land Title Insurance Company