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American Title Guaranty and their underwriters provide stability, integrity, experience and personal service that home buyers and sellers should insist on.

Protect yourself against the loss due to title defects. Insist on title insurance policies from American Title Guaranty, Inc.

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Fed Decides Against Interest Rate Hike

5-1-15Despite rumblings that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) would increase interest rates at its monetary policy meeting today, the committee instead reaffirmed its current rates, stating that the 0 to .25 percent rate would remain in place.

According to the FOMC’s statement, this decision was made to “support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability” and largely factored in energy prices, household spending and incomes, unemployment rates, inflation and other economic influencers.

Despite opting to continue with its current interest rates, the FOMC’s statement did recognize that increases in the future are possible.

“In determining how long to maintain this target range [0 to .25 percent], the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation,” the statement read. “The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term.”

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Simplifying Mortgage Disclosure Forms

APRIL 10, 2015
4-15-15Mortgage terms will be simpler for home buyers to read and understand come Aug. 1. Borrowers will receive one disclosure, the Loan Estimate, detailing the terms and projected closing costs shortly after application, and another, the Closing Disclosure, just before signing off.

The new forms, mandated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will likely seem to consumers a relatively minor, if welcome, change. But for the lending industry, and all the other parties involved with mortgage transactions, preparing for the switch is a massive undertaking.

The new forms are part of a nearly 1,900-page rule created by the bureau to fulfill its obligation under the Dodd-Frank Act to integrate and simplify the four different mortgage disclosures currently required under the Truth in Lending and Real Estate Settlement Procedures acts. Commonly referred to as the TILA-RESPA rule, it became final back in November 2013. With the Aug. 1 effective date looming, the lending industry is still scrambling to comply.

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CFPB releases ‘Know Before You Owe’ shopping toolkit

Brena Swanson
March 31, 2015 12:51PM

4-2-15In light of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s“Know Before You Owe” mortgage rule coming in affect in August, the CFPB released a new toolkit to guide consumers through the process of shopping for a mortgage and buying a home.

“The new mortgage disclosure forms coming in August will help consumers comparison shop for mortgages and avoid surprises at the closing table. We are releasing this toolkit well in advance of the effective date to help the mortgage industry come into compliance with the new rules,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

The toolkit, which can be found here, provides a step-by-step guide to help consumers understand the nature and costs of real estate settlement services, define what affordable means to them and find their best mortgage.

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Pending home sales jump 3.1% in February, Realtors say


Pending home sales rose more than expected in February, a trade group said, a sign the housing market may be in for a spring rebound.

Signed contracts for previously owned homes climbed 3.1% from January to the highest level since June 2013, the National Assn. of Realtors reported Monday.

The February increase is a positive sign ahead of the typically busy spring selling season. Pending sales reflect signed contracts, and they usually become final within one or two months.

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Feb. new-home sales soar to 7-year high

Doug Carroll, USA TODAY4:24 p.m. EDT March 24, 2015

3-26-15New-home sales soared almost 8% in February as a snowy winter month failed to deter buyers as expected.

Sales of single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000, up 7.8% from January, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That dwarfed economists’ median forecast for a 470,000 annual rate and a small monthly decline, according to Action Economics’ survey before the report.

Instead, January’s sales rate also was revised up to 500,000 from 481,000 previously reported.

February’s rate was the highest since February 2008. The last time new-home sales had back-to-back months with rates at or topping 500,000 was in April-May 2008, according to Census Bureau data from Haver Analytics.

Preliminary figures released Tuesday show February sales rates compared with January’s surged 152% in the Northeast, fell 13% in the Midwest, rose 10% in the South and fell 6% in the West. The South and West account for the bulk of the national total.

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Stay or go? The aging homeowner’s dilemma


3-16-15We had a big decision to make. The shrubs in front had become overgrown and ratty-looking. Several trees were now too close to the house. We worried that they might fall on the roof in the next hurricane. Because of the shade, the backyard garden was getting less than three hours of sun on a good day. The arborist’s pricey estimate to fix these issues gave us reason to question whether we would be staying in this house long enough to justify the expense. This is a common dilemma for seniors who live in older homes.

Like many seniors, my wife, Judy, and I are constantly reviewing our options for the future: Should we stay here or sell the property and go to a smaller, newer place?

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Fannie Mae Releases February 2015 National Housing Survey

Author: Samantha Guzman in Daily Dose, Data, Featured March 9, 2015

3-10-15Consumers were more optimistic toward the economy than they’ve been at any point in the last five years, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2015 National Housing Survey released Monday.

The percentage of respondents who said they believe the economy is on the right track increased by 3 percentage points since January’s survey up to 47 percent, an all-time high since the survey began nearly five years ago. The rise in consumer optimism is largely attributed to recent employment gains, which totaled nearly 300,000 for February and averaged 266,000 per month in the last 12 months, according to themost recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In that same BLS report, the nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent, its lowest level in nearly seven years.

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Lenders begin easing requirements to get a mortgage


A closely watched index that tracks mortgage credit availability — lender requirements on credit scores, down payments and other key loan terms — has some good news for potential home buyers: Things are finally loosening up.

After years of progressively tighter rules on borrower eligibility in the wake of the housing bust, banks and mortgage companies have begun modestly easing their requirements and even expanding the types of mortgages they offer. The Mortgage Bankers Assn.’s latest credit availability index reported improvements in all four of its loan categories during January. The improvements mainly reflect positive lender responses to government efforts to ease regulations and improve affordability in the housing market — all of which means an improved environment for mortgage shoppers

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Low down payments make a comeback

CNNMoney (New York) February 17, 2015: 8:28 AM ET

“It’s one of the things that’s inhibiting first-time homebuyers,” said Rob Chrane, president of Down Payment Resource. “There are a lot more people who can qualify for a home that don’t realize that they can.”

FHA cuts insurance costs

The Federal Housing Administration has long backed loans for borrowers with lower credit scores and with down payments as low as 3.5%, but until this year it also required hefty insurance payments.

FHA monthly insurance premiums dropped dramatically at the beginning of 2015. The change, from 1.35% to only 0.85%, will make FHA loans a better choice for some borrowers after years of prohibitively high premiums, said Anthony Hsieh, chief executive officer of loanDepot, one of the largest FHA lenders in the country.

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Home Loan Programs Let Buyers Put Less Down

FEB. 6, 2015
By Tara Siegel Bernard

2-10-15One of the biggest hurdles to buying a home is accumulating the pile of cash for a down payment. By some estimates, it could take two decades to come up with a respectable 10 percent.With the introduction of several new programs, prospective home buyers with little money to put down now have more options to consider. But they will need to sort through the many rules and fine print to find the most cost-effective loan, and they may ultimately come to the realization that it actually pays to wait and save a bit more.
Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently introduced similar programs aimed at middle-income borrowers that permit down payments as low as 3 percent. And the Federal Housing Administration, which insures loans and generally requires down payments of at least 3.5 percent, recently lowered one of its fees, making the program a bit more competitive with the two new options.

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