Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to our agents, lenders, partners and clients. I have some new ideas for this blog for the coming year -- which will include more consistency with our updates -- but that will not likely kick off until the new year.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Derek Massey

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baltimore "Red Line" Transit Proposal to kick off

From today's

Mayor Sheila Dixon and Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. plan to announce tomorrow that they support construction of an east-west light rail line that
involves a mix of surface and underground tracks - an alternative that has won the support of Baltimore business leaders.

Full article here.

Says a "fan" on the project's Facebook page, "A real city needs a real transit system."

In addition to this being an eco-friendly solution to the glut of cars going in and out of the city daily, Baltimore is aggressively using social media to get the message across. In addition to the above-mentioned Facebook page, there is a website, flickr account and a Twitter page.

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services
11350 McCormick Road Executive Plaza III, Suite 200
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
(800) 530-9372
Fax (800) 710-9918

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One CE Class this week

Sorry for the inconsistent blog posting lately. And by inconsistent, we mean non-existent. Holidays and vacations have clearly interfered...something we vow to correct in 2009!

In any event, we have one CE class this week:

When: Thursday, December 11th at 10:00 AM
What: Title Insurance
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 545 A E. Market St., Leesburg, VA
Credit Hours: 3
Instructor: Harry Yazbek

Please contact Harry Yazbek via email or on Twitter.

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services
11350 McCormick Road Executive Plaza III, Suite 200
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
(800) 530-9372
Fax (800) 710-9918

Monday, November 24, 2008

Downtown Dollar or Le$$ Days in Baltimore

Looking for something to do with friends and family without emptying your wallet? Baltimore's Downtown Partnership has announced its annual Dollar (or Less) Days December 6th and 7th. Click here for details and participating attractions.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Changes to Short Sale Processing Unit

We are happy to announce a change in our Short Sale Processing Unit's handling of short sale transactions. Effective Monday November 24, 2008, the current fee of $195 plus $100 upon closing will no longer be charged to process your Short Sale transaction, provided we are the designated settlement agent for buyers and sellers.

We will cease processing transactions where we only represent sellers and buyers settle with another settlement company. This will permit us to better serve you by allowing us to dedicate our resources where they are truly needed.

We will be provide future updates outlining the tasks associated with processing a short sale but very little has changed in terms of the mechanical side of processing. This change will not affect any files that are in progress nor any files we open between now and the end of this week.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Harry Yazbek or Penny Ross.

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services
11350 McCormick Road Executive Plaza III, Suite 200
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
(800) 530-9372
Fax (800) 710-9918

MASS Welcomes Jennifer Daymude

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services is happy to announce that Jennifer Daymude joined our company as a Title Service Representative starting today. Jennifer will cover real estate and lender offices in Alexandria, Springfield and Arlington, Virginia.

Jennifer started in the title industry in 1998 working for a local attorney and handled various tasks associated with the settlement process. Jennifer has since worked for reputable settlement companies acquiring precious experience and developing relationships.

Jennifer’s enthusiastic attitude, excellent customer service skills, along with her technical knowledge have allowed her to stand out as a well respected person in this industry. Jennifer has extensive experience in REO processing and closing, Short Sale processing and closing, as well as “conventional” transactions.

Jennifer is committed to providing excellent customer service and is extremely excited about this opportunity with our company. Jennifer’s contact information including email address and cell phone will be distributed as soon as they are set-up.

Please help me welcome Jennifer Daymude to our team!

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services
11350 McCormick Road Executive Plaza III, Suite 200
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
(800) 530-9372
Fax (800) 710-9918

CE Training Schedule for Week of November 17

Below is the schedule for this week (November 17th through 21st) for Continuing Education classes for real estate agents in Maryland, DC and Virginia.

When: Tuesday, November 18th at 10:00 AM
What: Maryland Ethics
Where: Century 21, The Real Estate Centre, Gaithersburg, MD
How many credit hours: 3
Contact: Attorney Scott Mozingo

When: Tuesday, November 18th at 10:00 AM
What: Real Property Rights / Public Records
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 1071 Rte. 3 N, Suite 101, Gambrills, MD
How many credit hours: 3
Contact: Attorney Kathleen Dartez

When: Thursday, November 20th at 10:00 AM
What: The Settlement Process
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 545 A E. Market St., Leesburg, VA
How many credit hours: 2
Contact: Harry Yazbek

Should you want additional training scheduled in your area, please do not hesitate to contact Harry Yazbek (DC and Northern Virginia), Dan Coleman (Maryland, including Greater Baltimore) or Derek Massey.

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services
11350 McCormick Road Executive Plaza III, Suite 200
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
(800) 530-9372
Fax (800) 710-9918

Saturday, November 15, 2008

You be the Judge! Is this RESPA compliant?

Regardless of the type of market you are in, all loan officers, real estate agents and settlement agents need to be mindful of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), particularly with respect to Section 8 regarding kickbacks. Take the following quiz, and match with the answers below.

YOU BE THE JUDGE! Is this RESPA Compliant? (Answers below)

1. Lender keeps all business cards from every new application and uses them to send email newsletter of real estate issues to real estate agents?

2. Lender puts a business card from every real estate agent who sends a deal into Fishbowl for Fancy Dinner for 10?

3. Attorney has Fishbowl at Mortgage Lenders regional convention exhibit to win Big Bertha?

4. Lender visits friendly real estate Agent at open house; brings along coffee and Danish for two?

5. Lender provides catered luncheon for all agents in office every Friday?

6. Attorney brings in cold cuts and soda to real estate agents while conducting "Lunch and learn" about Condominium law?

7. Attorney pays real estate agent for Conference room rental in RE agent's office to conduct closings?

8. Lender pays Originator $100 for every 'pre-title order' she completes at time of pre-qualification?

9. Attorney pays all Lender's costs for "Staff Appreciation" party, but does not attend?

10. Real estate agent, Lender and Attorney use same ad to promote "local business' partnership?

Should you have any questions about RESPA, please do not hesitate to call or email one of our seven attorneys. If we do not know the answer right away, we'll be happy to research and get right back to you!

Attorneys: Derek Massey, Kathleen Dartez, Lee Snyder, Carol Ann Wildesen, Eric Oberer, Scott Mozingo and Elisa Kerr.

Answers: (1) Y (2) N (3) Y (4) Y (5) N (6) Y (7) Y (8) N (9) N (10) Y

NOTE: While the scenarios and the answers may be gray and represent a fuzzy rather than fine line between abiding by and violating RESPA, these are the answers as best defined by HUD today.

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services

11350 McCormick Road Executive Plaza III, Suite 200

Hunt Valley, MD 21031

(800) 530-9372

Fax (800) 710-9918

RESPA quiz source: Mortgage Bankers Association of Maine

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Local Company, National Scope

All real estate is local...unless you need a service in another county or state. As an agent or loan officer, you know your local title folks. You see them in your office, on the soccer fields, or at church. You know the local customs, and if you need more detail on a particularly tricky transaction, you know exactly who to call.

At Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services, we get the local thing... Ask a national title company what a Maryland ground rent redemption is and they will get halfway through their underwriting manual before they give up. They may not know you need to record in Virginia before disbursing funds. Deed of Trust? Is that a handshake agreement where no documents need to be signed because the parties trust each other? We can answer those questions without looking them up.

As "local" as we are, we are more. As a Title Resource Group (TRG) company, we are one of 25+ title and escrow companies disbursed across the U.S. If we don't have a direct operation, we have an affiliated company or law firm that can handle the transaction.

Have a Maryland, Northern Virginia or DC closing? Give us a call? Need help somewhere else? Give us a call, or click here for a map of all of our companies.

Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services
11350 McCormick Road Executive Plaza III, Suite 200
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
(800) 530-9372
Fax (800) 710-9918

Friday, November 7, 2008

CE Classes for the Week of November 10th

Below is the schedule for next week (November 10th through 14th) for Continuing Education classes for real estate agents in Maryland, DC and Virginia.

When: Tuesday, November 11th at 10:00 AM
What: Maryland Ethics
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 10244 River Road, Potomac, MD
How many credit hours: 3
Harry Yazbek

When: Wednesday, November 12th at 1:00 PM
What: Virginia Ethics
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 3401 Commission Ct. Ste 101, Lake Ridge, VA
How many credit hours: 3
Scott Mozingo

When: Thursday, November 13th at 11:00 AM
What: Contracts to Closing
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 1606 17th St, NW, Washington, DC
How many credit hours: 2
Harry Yazbek

Should you want additional training scheduled in your area, please do not hesitate to contact Harry Yazbek, Dan Coleman or Derek Massey.

As another reminder, we currently have an opening for a Title Service Representative (TSR) to cover several real estate offices in Northern Virginia. We offer a competitive salary and incentive plan, and a top-notch team environment. The posting for the job can be find here, but also feel free to email Harry or Derek.

Friday, October 31, 2008

CE Schedule for Week of November 3rd

Happy Halloween!

Representing buyers and sellers can be a scary proposition.... Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services can help keep the ghosts and goblins away by training you -- the real estate agent -- on an array of important and timely real estate topics. Here is the class schedule for this upcoming week (November 3rd through 7th):

When: Tuesday, November 4th at 10:00 AM
What: Maryland Ethics
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 1071 Route 3, Suite 101, Gambrills, MD
How many credit hours: 3
Harry Yazbek

When: Wednesday, November 5th at 10:00 AM
What: Maryland Ethics (including Illegal Flipping & Predatory Lending)
Where: Anne Arundel County Association of REALTORS, Inc., 555 Benfield Road, Severna Park, MD
How many credit hours: 3
Harry Yazbek

When: Thursday, November 6th at 10:00 AM
What: Commercial Roundtable
Where: D.S. Thaler & Associates, 7115 Ambassador Road, Baltimore, MD 21244
How many credit hours: None (informational roundtable)
Lee Snyder

Should you want additional training scheduled in your area, please do not hesitate to contact Harry Yazbek, Dan Coleman or Derek Massey.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Realogy Proposes Short-Term Government Buy-Down

Realogy Proposes Short-Term Government Buy-Down In Mortgage Rates To Stimulate Housing Market And Accelerate Broader Economic Recovery
Realogy calls for rates of 4.5% or lower on 30-year fixed rate mortgages

PARSIPPANY, N.J. 10-29-2008

Realogy Corporation, a global provider of real estate and relocation services, today announced that the Company has approached the U.S. Department of Treasury with a practical solution to help stimulate the housing market and lead to a broader economic recovery. The Company also conducted separate national surveys with its real estate franchisees and U.S. homeowners, the results of which underscore the rationale behind its proposal.

"There are millions of credit-worthy people ready to jump back into the housing market, but they need to be motivated," said Realogy President and CEO Richard A. Smith. "In our view, the incentive of substantially lower mortgage rates would directly stimulate the housing market -- both in sales volume and price -- and thus accelerate the overall U.S. economic recovery."

Realogy's proposal calls for a short-term government buy-down of mortgage rates to at least 4.5%, or lower, for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (down from current rates of approximately 6.04%(1)). This homebuyer incentive would apply to the purchase of all new and/or existing homes sold up to $1 million in price. There are a number of ways in which the government ultimately could decide to structure and fund this program, which could be addressed as part of the stimulus packages currently being discussed in Washington. Realogy is working with a number of other organizations to carry this message forward and encourage greater dialogue around solutions aimed at boosting the economy through a direct stimulus to the housing market.

With approximately 16,000 franchised or company-owned real estate brokerage offices around the world, Realogy has a unique perspective on home buyer behavior. The Company has seen a recurring theme in virtually all 50 states --- namely, there are substantial numbers of credit-worthy buyers waiting for lower rates and stability in home prices.

"We think the pent-up consumer demand for housing, if encouraged, is more than sufficient to stabilize housing," continued Smith. "In our view, substantially lower mortgage rates will stimulate both existing and new home sales, reduce home inventory levels, stabilize home prices and, ultimately, help the overall economy. When home sales increase, housing-related consumer purchasing follows, and we would expect this to help lead our economy to a recovery. We feel strongly mortgage rates must be lowered to stimulate a recovery."

Residential Broker Survey -- Mortgage Rate Drop to 4.5% Would Stimulate Sales:
As recently as October 15th, Realogy conducted a national survey about mortgage rates with responses from approximately 1,500 broker/owners representing 2,300 independently owned and operated residential brokerage companies affiliated with the CENTURY 21(R), Coldwell Banker(R), ERA(R), Sotheby's International Realty(R) brands.
Here are the key findings from the Realogy broker survey:

-- 95% of brokers said they would expect an increase in home sales if 30-year conforming fixed-rate mortgages were available at 4.5% rates today.

-- Most notably, 54% of all responding brokers said the impact of a 4.5% mortgage rate would significantly increase home sales in their markets.

-- Of the brokers who answered that rates would increase, nearly half (46%) indicated that they would anticipate unit sales levels to increase between 10% to 25% if 4.5% mortgage rates were available today.

The majority of brokers also agreed that substantially lower mortgage rates would have a strong stabilizing impact on average home sales prices.

-- 51% of brokers felt home prices would increase somewhat and 38% felt home prices would stay the same.

-- Of the brokers who felt prices would increase or significantly increase due to 4.5% mortgage rates, 22% felt the home price increases would be in the 3% to 5% range and 13% felt it would be in the 5% to 7.5% range.

"Our franchisees are small- to mid-sized business owners who have a strong understanding of what actions would help home sales and prices in their communities, and it's clear to them that dropping mortgage rates to 4.5%, or lower, would have an immediate impact in helping to stabilize the housing markets throughout this country," said Smith.

Consumer Survey -- Americans still place a high value on homeownership; But the state of the U.S. economy has potential home buyers on the sidelines:
During the week of Oct. 24, Realogy used Ipsos Public Affairs, a global survey-based market research company, to conduct a national homeownership survey resulting in responses from more than 1,000 current homeowners(2). The key findings from this consumer survey are as follows:

-- Even in today's challenging economic environment, nine out of 10 survey respondents (91%) believe that owning a home is still the best long-term investment they can make with their money.

-- At the same time, 27% of U.S. homeowners surveyed said the current U.S. economic environment was causing them to put their plans on hold for the purchase of a new or existing home. This response level was consistent across the four U.S. geographic regions.

Forward-Looking Statements:
Certain statements in this press release constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Realogy Corporation ("Realogy") to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Various factors that could cause actual future results and other future events to differ materially from those estimated by management include, but are not limited to: continuing adverse developments in the residential real estate markets; a continuing drop in consumer confidence; adverse developments in general business, economic and political conditions, including the impact of a recession or a prolonged period of slow growth in the U.S. economy; and changes in short-term or long-term interest rates or mortgage-lending practices. Consideration should be given to the areas of risk described above, as well as those risks set forth under the headings "Forward-Looking Statements" and "Risk Factors" in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007 and our Form 10-Qs for the quarters ended March 31, 2008 and June 30, 2008, and in our other periodic reports filed from time to time, in connection with considering any forward-looking statements that may be made by us and our businesses generally.
About Realogy Corporation

Realogy Corporation, a global provider of real estate and relocation services, has a diversified business model that includes real estate franchising, brokerage, relocation and title services. Realogy's world-renowned brands and business units include Better Homes and Gardens(R) Real Estate, CENTURY 21(R), Coldwell Banker(R), Coldwell Banker Commercial(R), The Corcoran Group(R), ERA(R), Sotheby's International Realty(R), NRT LLC, Cartus and Title Resource Group. Collectively, Realogy's franchise systems have approximately 16,000 offices and 300,000 sales associates doing business in 92 countries around the world. Headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., Realogy ( has approximately 13,000 employees worldwide. Realogy is owned by affiliates of Apollo Management, L.P., a leading private equity and capital markets investor.

(1) 30-year fixed rate mortgage averages of 6.04% with 0.6 points, Freddie Mac Primary Market Mortgage Survey, Oct. 23, 2008

(2) These are some of the findings of a poll conducted October23-25, 2008 by Ipsos Public Affairs. For the survey, a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1,023 homeowners adults across the United States were interviewed by Ipsos. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population in the U.S. been polled. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

SOURCE: Realogy Corporation Media:
Realogy Corporation
Mark Panus, 973-407-7215

NOTE: Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Title Resource Group, which is in turn a wholly-owned subsidiary of Realogy Corp.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Good News for a Change

A quick summary of some positives in the world of finance and real estate today:

- is reporting that Bargain Hunters Help Shrink Housing Glut. Many believe that once supply shrinks and multiple offers become the norm, prices will start increasing again and the "bottom" will have come and gone. Northern Virginia is specifically mentioned in this article.

- A Fairfield, OH gas station was selling gas at $1.99 a gallon yesterday.

- Overseas markets closed strong and up yesterday. US Stock market should open strong.

- The weather is so dreary in the Mid-Atlantic region, it is sure to be a productive day (how's that for turning a negative into a positive!)

The "market" is what each agent, loan officer, title rep -- or any professional -- has in front of him or her. Each morning the sun will come up (OK, except for today), and new opportunities will present themselves. Who dares take advantage?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week of October 27th: CE Training Schedule

As many of you know, Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services provides CE training for real estate agents. Below is a list of classes offered this week, including date, time, class name and location. Beginning with this entry, we will provide you with this information every Monday (or Friday if we're feeling ambitious!):

When: Monday, October 27 at 10:00 AM
What: Md Ethics
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 1850 Dual Highway, Hagerstown, MD
How many credit hours: 3

When: Tuesday, October 28 at 10:30 AM
What: Short Sale Strategies
Where: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 5028 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC
How many credit hours: 3

When: Wednesday, October 29 at 10:00 AM
What: Short Sale Strategies
Where: ERA Pro Realty, 438 North Frederick Avenue, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, MD
How many credit hours: 3

Seating may be limited, so please contact Harry Yazbek to assure your spot!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dirty Deeds

In a market like this, virtually every person and company is looking to save a buck or two. In a real estate transaction, that can mean combing through the lines of a HUD-1 Settlement Statement with a ruler and pen in an attempt to get costs down. One line item where the pen may land is on owner's title insurance. So the theory goes, "They already did a title search, why am I paying for this policy?"

Good move?

Not so much. Below is a list of faulty deeds that could affect ownership of property, many of which would not be disclosed by even the most thorough title search, and all of which would likely be covered by an owner's title insurance policy:

  • Forged Deeds, Deeds of Trust, Mortgages, Satisfactions or Releases.
  • Deed by person who is insane or mentally incompetent.
  • Deed by minor (may be disavowed).
  • Deed from corporation, unauthorized under corporate bylaws or given under falsified corporate resolution.
  • Deed from partnership, unauthorized under partnership agreement.
  • Deed from purported trustee, unauthorized under trust agreement.
  • Deed to or from a “corporation” before incorporation, or after loss of corporate charter.
  • Deed from a legal nonentity (styled, for example, as church, charity or club).
  • Deed by person in a foreign country, vulnerable to challenge as incompetent, unauthorized or defective under foreign laws.
  • Claims resulting from use of “alias” or fictitious names by a predecessor in title.
  • Deed challenged as being given under fraud, undue influence or duress.
  • Deed following nonjudicial foreclosure, where required procedures were not followed.
  • Deed affecting land in judicial proceedings (bankruptcy, receivership, probate, conservatorship, dissolution of marriage).
  • Deed following judicial proceedings, subject to appeal or further court order.
  • Deed following judicial proceedings, where all necessary parties were not joined.
  • Lack of jurisdiction over persons or property in judicial proceedings.
  • Deed signed by mistake (grantor did not know what was signed).
  • Deed executed under falsified power of attorney.
  • Deed executed under expired power of attorney (death, disability or insanity of principal).
  • Deed apparently valid, but actually delivered after death of grantor or grantee, or without consent of grantor.
  • Deed affecting property purported to be separate property of grantor, which is in fact community or jointly owned property.
  • Undisclosed divorce of one who conveys as sole heir of a deceased former spouse.

If you are a buyer, do you want to take this risk? If an agent, do you want to allow your buyer to close without an owner's policy? Or, worse, recommend against one? An owner's title insurance policy requires a one-time premium payment which is in most cases a very small percentage of overall closing costs. Little cost, big peace of mind.

[Source: List of faulty deeds provided by First American Title Insurance Company, of which Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services is an issuing agent.]

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Title Tips: Taking a Listing

While a title or settlement company's primary role in the real estate transaction is to conduct the physical settlement, much goes into the documentation leading up to the closing. Below is a list of items a listing agent should keep in mind when taking a listing to ensure that the title company has the proper information and can prepare correct and accurate closing documents -- thus ensuring a smooth closing:

Tips for Taking a Listing
  1. Before meeting with the clients, check the State Department of Assessments and Taxation website (or equivalent source in your state) to see who is listed as the current owner. In Maryland, the SDAT site is Are the parties signing your listing agreement the same as those listed as the current owner?
  2. Ask the sellers if they have a copy of the Deed. Is the property fee simple or is it leasehold? If the property does have a ground rent, is the ground rent owner known?
  3. Are any of the sellers deceased? If so, a copy of the death certificate will need to be provided to the title company. If necessary, has an estate been opened, a personal representative appointed?
  4. Is the property owned by a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a trust? Does the person signing your listing agreement have the authority as recited in the operating agreement for the LLC or under the trust agreement?
  5. Is a Power of Attorney going to be used in the transaction? The sellers must be made aware that the Original Power of Attorney must be recorded in the land records, so they will have to give it to the settlement agent at closing.
  6. Are the sellers divorced? The title company will need to see a copy of the separation agreement to comply with the division of proceeds as recited in the agreement.
  7. Are the sellers residents of the state in which the property sits?
  8. Are the sellers U.S. citizens or permanent residents?
  9. Are the sellers 60 days or more in default on any mortgage that they have on the property?
While this is not an all-inclusive list, it should provide a listing agent with some insight into what a title company requires to get to that all important closing date!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

See you at the VAR Conference!

We will be attending the Virginia Assocation of REALTOR's Convention & Expo 2008 from September 25 through September 28 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. Please look for our booth, which will be as fun as it is informational. For more details or to schedule a time to meet with someone from our team, email Harry Yazbek, Regional Vice President, at

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thank you for visiting our blog. To say this is under construction is an understatement. We are excavating...just breaking ground. But stay tuned, because once up and running we will keep all of our agents, lenders, buyers and sellers updated with information.