Monday, February 21, 2011

FNC Index: December Home Prices Hit Record Low for 2010

Despite recent upbeat data on new and existing home sales, U.S. home prices continued to decline in December due in part to increased sales of foreclosed properties, according to the FNC Residential Price IndexTM (RPI).

Driven in part by rising sales of distressed properties and higher foreclosure-sales discounts, home prices declined for the seventh straight month in December and suffered their largest one-month drop during the year. As markets approach new lows, the 2010 year-end home prices are now down more than 3.4% from January.

Of 30 major metropolitan markets tracked, 23 MSAs experienced price declines in December that averaged about 2.2%. Home prices in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando and Phoenix continue to drop rapidly year-over-year at rates in the double digits. Meanwhile, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco markets have been among the best performing markets during the year, rising 5.1%, 7.8%, and 8.1%, respectively, from a year ago. The three California markets continue to enjoy strong year-over-year growth despite the absence of a tax credit in the second half of the year – a stark contrast to many faltering recoveries among markets where the median price decline stood at about -2.9%.

The deteriorating trends in home prices arise, in part, from increased sales of foreclosed properties. As a percentage of total home sales (both new and existing homes), sales of distressed properties have increased steadily in recent months, rising from 23.5% in the second quarter of 2010 to 25.5% and 26.8% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. This increase occurred despite a temporary halt of foreclosures by several major lenders concerned with potential legal implications of claims regarding insufficient due diligence. In the meantime, the foreclosure sales discount increased from about 36.5% in the second quarter to 39.2% and 40.8% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

More foreclosure sales are expected since various lenders announced in December that they would resume the process. Accordingly, the FNC RPI anticipates further downward pressure on home prices in the coming months. There is an upside: this trend will reduce the surplus of distressed properties and eventually bring the supply to levels in line with weak housing demand, paving ways for a more sustainable housing recovery later.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

October Research sold to business consultant

October Research Corporation, Cleveland, publisher of The Title Report, The Legal Description, Valuation Review and RESPA News, has been acquired by Robert M. Stutz II, AVA, ASA, CM&AA, a business valuation consultant from Columbus, Ohio. Chris Casa, who co-founded the company with his father, Joseph Casa, in 1999, has been named CEO of the company.

“My family has been involved with various aspects of the real estate industry for decades, and I am excited to be part of an organization that has been at the forefront of providing critically important information to an industry that is part of the bedrock of our nation and economy,” Stutz said. “My goal is to continue to provide these important information and education services to the industries we serve, as well as to explore new delivery models that will help our customers thrive in the years ahead.”

Stutz is the former director of consulting at GBQ Consulting LLC. His career has been dedicated to the valuation of private and public businesses. He has been involved in numerous valuation projects involving estate and gift tax, ESOP, goodwill impairment, purchase price allocation and fairness opinions. He is a frequent speaker on valuation topics and is a designated instructor for the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts’ (NACVA) training course on valuation discounts and premiums and the market approach.

“Rob not only brings his knowledge of the real estate markets to our company, but also his vast experience in analyzing and understanding the basic fundamentals that drive a company’s growth,” Chris Casa said. “We are excited to work with Rob to continue the tradition that my father established. More importantly, we welcome Rob’s energy, knowing his leadership and guidance will fuel our growth in the coming years.”

In naming Chris Casa CEO of October Research, Stutz highlighted the mission of the company as well as Chris’s knowledge of the industry, and the long-established relationships he has nurtured in the industry.

“October Research is a unique publishing entity that has carved out an important niche in the mortgage and settlement services market, leveraging original content and market research to provide effective and robust multi-media channels for its client base,” Stutz said. “Chris and his staff bring to this process a deep, granular understanding of the people, companies and processes within the real estate industry. I am pleased that Chris has agreed to join me in this venture and look forward to working with him and his talented staff to deepen and broaden our reach within the industry.”

The sale was finalized on Feb. 11. The company will operate under the name, October Research.

I worked for Joe Casa for a year and was very sad to learn of his passing. I am pleased that his legacy will live on and wish the company and its new owner well.

TSS Software Corporation announces two promotions to leadership roles

TSS Software Corporation, Annapolis, a national provider of real estate title and settlement solutions, announced today the promotion of Toni Carroll to National Sales Director and Erika Rollins to Marketing Director.

Toni Carroll
In the role of National Sales Director, Carroll will lead sales efforts to expand TSS’s national presence. A 16-year veteran of the company, Toni brings extensive title industry knowledge and software sales experience to her new purview. Toni will also continue to have direct contact with TSS customers.

In addition, Erika Rollins has accepted the position of Marketing Director. This move is reflective of the company’s commitment to grow market share and increase offerings for TSS customers. Prior to joining TSS in early 2010 as Marketing Coordinator, Erika spent more than eight years in the communications and creative marketing fields. She holds a Master’s Degree from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Erika Rollins
“One of the top priorities at TSS is to expand current employee roles and encourage development of industry talent.” said Barbara Miller, president and chief operating officer at TSS. “These promotions are a result of Carrolls’ and Rollins’ significant contributions to the company and their ability to think strategically with respect to marketing and sales.”

For more information on career opportunities at TSS Software Corporation, visit

TSS Software Corporation is an independent provider of software and services for the real estate title and settlement industry, with more than 18,000 users nationwide.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Resource Title National Grows National Commercial Presence

Cleveland-based Resource Title National Agency Inc. (“Resource Title National”), has appointed Keith Barker as Vice President, National Commercial Division.

Barker, a sales veteran of over 13 years, joins the commercial division’s national sales team. He will focus on territory growth as well as the development and servicing of traditional commercial and investment transactions. He will be based in Washington D.C., where Resource Title National is expanding its East Coast and Mid-Atlantic presence as part of its strategic expansion in the national commercial market.

“Keith will be yet another proven resource for our growing national commercial division,” said Leslie Rennell, Owner and CEO of Resource Title National. “He bolsters the experience and depth of knowledge we are pleased to make available to our clients and partners in the commercial sector.”

Barker comes to Resource Title after six years with a major national general contractor where he served as Senior Manager, Business Development. A graduate of Towson University in Maryland, Barker resides with his wife and young son in the suburbs of Washington DC.

Resource Title National Agency, Inc. is an independent, woman-owned title agency providing comprehensive title and escrow services to law firms, corporations, REITs, Realtors, real estate brokers, developers, mortgage lenders and home builders. Based in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, Resource Title National Agency provides a full complement of real estate settlement services products and services to customers.