Pending Home Sales Index Up in January, Reaching 20-Month High

By: Mark Lieberman, Five Star Institute Economist     Reprinted from

The pending home sales index (PHSI) rose in January to 97.0 from a downwardly revised 95.1 in December. At 97.0, the index is at its highest level since April 2011, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.

The index rose for the third time in the last four months and the January reading was 8 percent above January 2011 levels, but 26.5 percent below the April 2005 peak. The index began in January 2005.

Pending home sales are counted when sales contracts are signed and are viewed as a leading indicator of existing home sales; recent reports suggest that home re-sales should be a bit stronger over the next couple of months, but at a level that is still fairly subdued.

The PHSI has been trending upward, albeit modestly for most of the past two years. Despite the 20-month high, the index is relatively subdued. At the same time, a substantial number of sales contracts are failing to meet underwriting standards and/or other loan criterion as sales contract cancellations remain elevated.

Although a hopeful trend, home sales still appear to be searching for their fundamentally determined level – a level that is likely to be relatively subdued.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 7.6 percent to 78.2 in January and is 9.8 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index declined 3.8 percent to 88.1 but is 10.8 percent higher than January 2011. Pending home sales in the South increased 7.7 percent to an index of 109.1 in January and are 10.5 percent above a year ago. In the West, the index fell 4.4 percent in January to 101.9, but is 0.7 percent above January 2011.

The PHSI is based on data from Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and large brokers.

According to the NAR, the index provides advance information on future home-sales activity and offers more solid information on changes in the direction of the market than any of the indicators currently available. Generally, pending home sales become existing-home sales one-to-two months later suggesting it can be used to predict both mortgage demand and sales activity.

While the volume of mortgage purchase applications edged down in January, suggesting sluggish activity, the purchase index collapsed in February.

Realtors are reporting more contract cancellations, which would cause the pending home sales index (based on initial signings) to overstate existing home sales (based on contract closings).

According to the NAR, 33 percent of existing contracts were cancelled in January – unchanged from December but up from only 9 percent in January 2011. The rise in cancellations reflected declining mortgage applications and failures in loan underwriting from appraisals coming in below the negotiated price.

Short Sales Bring 24% Greater Returns than Foreclosures

By: Krista Franks Brock,

The real estate professionals at Massachusetts-based McGeough Lamacchia Realty have been proponents of short sales for quite some time, insisting that everyone comes out ahead when a short sale is achieved as opposed to a foreclosure. Now they’re sharing the facts that back up their claim.

On average a home sold through short sale brings a 24 percent greater return than a foreclosed property, according to recent findings from McGeough Lamacchia Realty.

“This means the banks are losing an average of $43,000 for every foreclosure sale compared to what they would have made in a short sale,” said a blog post on the company’s website.

The firm reviewed prices for short sale and foreclosure sale properties in 2010 and 2011 in Boston, Phoenix, Tuscon, Southern California, and Southwest Florida.

While banks often offer incentives to homeowners who pursue a short sale, “more needs to be done to promote short sales,” McGeough Lamacchia said.

Specifically, the firm points out that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not offering the cash incentives for short sales that are now standard through the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to do more to promote short sales and make it easier for distressed homeowners to do a short sale and avoid foreclosure,” McGeough Lamacchia said in their blog post.

Hillsborough Title – Your Official GTAR Satellite Store!

The Store is OPEN! Come on in!

We KNOW Realtors are very busy people! At Hillsborough Title, our primary goal is to make your life easier and less stressful! One way we are doing this is by serving as your Official GTAR Satellite Store!  We keep a fully stocked area in four of our offices filled with signs and riders! So, instead of going all the way to GTAR you can just pop into one our offices, pick up what you need, and you’re done.

Currently four of our Hillsborough Title offices are serving as Official GTAR Satellite Stores:

Brandon – 350 E. Bloomingdale Ave, Brandon 33511 (813) 655-4000

New Tampa – 2306 Ashley Oaks Circle Suite 102, Wesley Chapel, 33544 (813) 750-1001

Plant City – 1605 S. Alexander Street Suite 102, Plant City 33563 – (813) 754-4440

South Shore – 833 Cypress Village Blvd., Sun City Center, 33573 (813) 634-8866

At Hillsborough Title, we are your partner and will work closely with you to ensure that a property transaction goes smoothly from start to finish. And, it all begins with the signs! So, come on in today! Our store is OPEN and we are ready to serve you!


Hillsborough Title Prepares for Major Growth and Expansion

Aaron M. Davis, President

 Hillsborough Title Company is gearing up for 2012 by expanding their staff and office facilities. The company added eight new employees to the ‘family’ this month! Please join us in welcoming:


Teri Marshall – Processor, Plant City
Jeanne Jacobs – Closer, Brandon
Julie Spinale – Processor/Closer, South Tampa
Michelle Chumbley – Closer, South Tampa
Emily Cook – Entry Processor, South Tampa
Danielle Windham – Processor, New Tampa
Abbie Lewin – Marketing Representative, Tampa Bay Title, St. Pete
Kevin Kirkfield – Network Administrator, Hometown Title Network, Brandon

In other news, Hillsborough Title Company has leased new office space in Carrollwood at 16586 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., North Tampa and will be opening a seventh branch office in Tampa Bay. Due to growth in Eastern Hillsborough County, the Plant City branch has added 1,000 more square feet.

Hometown Title Network, a post-closing production facilty, has also been unveiled. Hometown Title Network, located at 358 E. Bloomingdale Avenue in the Bloomingdale Executive Park, will provide services to title companies, including document storage, scanning services, archiving capabilities, courier services, post closing services and other functions pertinent to ongoing title company operations.

“We are excited about all the changes and new additions we are experiencing at Hillsborough Title,” said Aaron Davis, President. “2011 was a year of growth and expansion for us, and in 2012 we expect to continue on this path in order to offer and provide our clients with the best title services in the state.”

Alday-Donalson Title

Imagine if you will, a 16 year old boy working in a title company. First off, lets date it- its 1992. The operation side of a title agency is, and has always been, predominantly female. So here I am, and “runner” for the company. My mom Gail is the owner of Hillsborough Title at that time, we only had one office located in Plant City. We have staff of about 12-14 back then. Technology isn’t on the cutting edge in title in those days, so it took more people power to get he job done. Al Gore hasn’t invented the internet just yet, so to get loan packages, checks, recordings to the lenders, to the banks, and to the courthouses, it required use of a courier. That’s me. Runner boy Aaron. The only male in title. Cruising the highways and streets of Tampa Bay….in a 1992 FORD FESTIVA. Man, that may have been the hottest thing on 4 wheels. A semi would almost blow me off the road.

Here is a pic for those who don’t know what a Ford Festiva is….a CHIC MAGNET.

So driving to the banks, real estate offices, lenders, Hillsborough County Courthouse and the Polk County Courthouse, I would see the signs….ALDAY DONALSON TITLE…these guys were everywhere! So looking out for inspiration in the female dominated title world- I found who I wanted to become…Tommy Alday and Ron Donalson, Alday Donalson Title… the “guys” in title, the names on the sign- they were my mentors from afar, and had never once met. Georgia boys, family run business, with shops on every corner. But more so than that, it was “US”, a big mom and pop, local people, local owners, a business that supported its staff, its clients, and its employees. In a world full of “corporates”, Alday Donalson Title is who I modeled much of my company after.

Today, Hillsborough Title carries forward that rich tradition of a family run title agency, bringing together the beliefs and values, personal touch, and access to ownership of an Alday-Donalson Title. We’ve combined the rich tradition of top notch service with the technology, spirit and vision that has made Hillsborough Title the leader in the title insurance industry today.

Faith, Family, Friends…and Hillsborough Title a pretty close 4th… that’s the order in which we live our lives here at Hillsborough Title.

We appreciate each and every one of you who have helped us along the way, and who have made us who we are today. That’s reminded to us in the mission statement of Hillsborough Title:

Our goal is to provide the highest level of service and professionalism to our customers and clients. We wish to achieve long lasting relationships through our customers and EARN your business everyday.