Title insurance premiums surging during COVID-19


The title insurance industry saw a surge in premium volume in the second quarter of 2020, according to the American Land Title Association’s latest Market Share Analysis.

It’s no secret that lending volume is up in 2020. In fact, the latest Fannie Mae forecast says mortgage lending will hit an all-time high of $3.9 trillion this year, largely due to record volumes of refinancings.

“We continue to believe that a low-rate environment will support refinance demand over the forecast horizon,” Fannie Mae said in the forecast. “At the current interest rate of 2.86%, we estimate that nearly 69% of outstanding first-lien loan balances have at least a half-percentage point incentive to refinance.”

But title insurance premiums are also surging as a result. The title insurance industry generated $4.18 billion in title insurance premiums during the second quarter of 2020, ALTA’s report showed. This is up 8% from the same period last year.

“Despite the pandemic, low interest rates in the second quarter of 2020 has been positive and productive for the land title insurance industry,” ALTA CEO Diane Tomb said. “Title insurance premium volume is dependent on mortgage origination volume, and 45 states showed that second-quarter premiums written increased 8% compared with the second quarter of 2019.”

“Although we are not experiencing the near-historic origination volume we saw in the first quarter, the majority of the country is still trending upward,” Tomb said.

Overall, total operating income for the industry was up 8.2% and operating expenses were up 8.4%, but loss and loss adjustment expenses were down 27%, the ALTA report shows.

“We expect residential housing market and refinances—buoyed by low mortgage rates—to remain strong throughout the year,” Tomb said. “The question left outstanding is how the commercial market will rebound. Depending on how the commercial market performs during the rest of the year, 2020 could prove to be one of the strongest years on record.”



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So you want to eClose a mortgage in Florida?


eClose Florida

If you were closing on a mortgage in Florida, it wouldn’t matter if it was 1950 or 2019 — the closing process was exactly the same, according to Title ClearingHouse of Jacksonville President Valerie Saunders. Then, 2020 changed everything.

“I got into this business over 20 years ago, and it really had not changed for the last 20 years until remote online notarization and hybrid closings came around,” Saunders said.

eClosings are all the rage as stay-at-home orders and fears of the pandemic are keeping Americans in their homes and avoiding any unnecessary travel.

But for those wanting an eClosing – that is easier said than done. One of the greatest obstacles is the acceptance of remote online notarization (RON), both at the regulatory and business level. While growing in popularity, RON is still a slow process and only recently became accepted by many states because of the pandemic.

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HousingWire Magazine: August 2020 – HousingWire


August 2020: The Reveal

August 2020 is already one of our most exciting issues of the year because in it, we feature the winners of one of my favorite awards: The Women of Influence. This year, our issue launch is even more special as this marks the official redesign of HousingWire Magazine. 

When we first set off to redesign the issue, we had one rule: rethink everything. If there was a way to make something better for the reader experience, we did it, and nothing was above examination. If something could be improved, we did it. So we went to work. Our Graphic Designer Emily Carpenter cleaned up the look, refreshed fonts and even customized the HousingWire logo across the front. Any time we stopped to wonder, “Are we taking this too far? Is it too different?” we went back to our first and only rule: rethink everything. 

The end result? You can judge for yourself. Our goal was to bring you a premium product design that matches the premium content we bring you each month. We also included new sections like our Inside Agent section on page 20, which features a real estate agent and their luxury listing. 

As always, we featured our Women of Influence starting on page 34. In celebration of their achievements, we also gave this section some special dazzle, so flip through them and get to know the women who continue to drive our industry forward through their strength and influence.



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Here are HousingWire’s 2020 Women of Influence


2020 Women of Influence

The 2020 Women of Influence winners represent 100 of the most influential women in leadership in the housing industry. From tech advancements to mentoring to their engagement in nonprofits, these women are showing true leadership inside and out of the housing industry. They are using their positions to bring others along their path and propel the next generation of women into leadership. 

During this time especially, many women spearheaded efforts to move employees to remote offices, provide help to the community around them and even set up training to help their teams as more digital workflows were implemented. Women rose through the challenges to provide leadership and influence the world around them. 

HW+ members get a sneak peak of the 2020 Women of Influence winners, which will be announced with their full profiles on August 3.

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Startup profile: Homie disrupts “stagnant industry”


Taken from the July issue of HousingWire Magazine, Homie is making changes on what it calls a “stagnant industry.” The company is looking to provide a one-stop-shop experience and simplify the way homes are bought and sold.

Earlier this year Homie, which launched in 2015 in Utah and expanded into Arizona in 2018, announced it was set to move into three new states after the company raised $23 million in new funding.

The company has been in growth mode for several years now. It started as a flat-fee real estate company, before expanding into mortgage lending in 2017. Homie now also offers title insurance and homeowners insurance.

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Plaza breaks with AIME over Casa’s “misogynistic behavior”


Plaza Home Mortgage announced it is suspending its sponsorship of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts over “harassment and misogynistic behavior” by Chairman Anthony Casa.

Over the July 4 holiday, Casa sent a video to Quicken Loans Vice President Austin Niemiec in which he made comments of a sexual nature about Niemiec’s wife. These videos were then circulated by Casa to prominent mortgage industry executives, including Paramount Residential Mortgage Group Chief Lending Officer Kevin Peranio and Mount Diablo Lending Broker/Owner Ramon Walker. Niemiec’s wife, Theresa Niemiec, filed a lawsuit against Casa for defamation. Click here to see the lawsuit complaint in full.

Now, Plaza is suspending its relationship with the association, saying that while it still supports AIME’s mission and its members, it cannot sponsor the organization under its current leadership.

“As a result of the indefensible behavior of AIME’s chairman, Plaza Home Mortgage has decided to suspend its sponsorship with AIME,” a company spokesperson told HousingWire. “This decision reflects our company’s core values; our respect for our associates, clients and the mortgage community and the need for greater civility in our society. Harassment and misogynistic behavior cannot and will not be tolerated by our company in any form.

“Although Plaza fully supports the mission of AIME and its members, we cannot sponsor the organization under its current leadership structure,” the spokesperson continued. “Plaza continues to be dedicated to the goals of empowering brokers and supporting them with the service and choices they deserve.”

Flagstar Bank and Caliber Home Loans both also announced this week that they are suspending their relationships with AIME due to Casa’s comments.



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Kevin Peranio denies involvement in Casa’s lewd comments


Paramount Residential Mortgage Group issued a statement Monday condemning the lewd video messages produced and distributed by Association of Independent Mortgage Experts Chairman Anthony Casa several weeks ago that resulted in a defamation lawsuit, while defending a response video made by its Chief Lending Officer, Kevin Peranio, which is noted in the lawsuit.

Over the July 4 holiday, Casa sent a video to Quicken Loans Vice President Austin Niemiec in which he made comments of a sexual nature about Niemiec’s wife. These videos were then circulated by Casa to prominent mortgage industry executives, including Peranio and Mount Diablo Lending Broker/Owner Ramon Walker. Niemiec’s wife, Theresa Niemiec, filed a lawsuit against Casa for defamation. Click here to see the lawsuit complaint in full.

After receiving Casa’s videos, Peranio and Walker made response videos and sent them back to Casa, who forwarded them to Austin Niemiec.

The lawsuit states: “Both Peranio and Walker recorded video clips of each of them viewing and reacting to Casa’s defamatory video clips and text messages in a disparaging, derisive and ridiculing manner. Casa then sent the defamatory reaction video clips of Peranio and Walker to Mr. Niemiec and others in a deliverate effort to ‘crowd shame’ Mrs. Niemiec.”

In Peranio’s video, he films himself watching Casa’s video clip and, according to the lawsuit, “laughs so hard he spits out his drink.”

However, PRMG said Peranio’s response in the video was one of shock.

“PRMG and its owners, officers and leadership do not condone, support or tolerate any form of misogyny, sexism or bullying,” a company spokesperson told HousingWire. “Video messages from Anthony Casa of AIME, in which PRMG is a sponsor, were disseminated among certain individuals of which PRMG’s Chief Lending Officer, Kevin Peranio was one. Mr. Peranio was in disbelief that Mr. Casa would make the public comment he did and made his own video comment as a response to display his shock.”

“As PRMG’s Founder and CEO and speaking on behalf of my partners and entire organization, I was disturbed by the contents of the complaint filed against Mr. Casa,” PRMG continued in its statement. “None of this is acceptable behavior. The statements and videos made by Anthony Casa about the spouse of an industry executive are unprofessional, inappropriate and unacceptable.

“PRMG and Kevin Peranio stand with the victim in this case, Mrs. Niemiec, as no woman should be subjected to such behavior in or out of the workplace. It is sad to see that this type of behavior continues in our industry and society. PRMG is committed to doing our part, both internally and externally, to help eliminate gender inequality and harassment.”

HousingWire asked PRMG if it plans to continue supporting AIME in light of recent events, but had not received a response as of press time.

“PRMG has and will continue to remain actively involved in diversity and inclusion focused organizations including PRMG’s very own Women’s Advisory Counsel, NAHREP, NAREB, NAMMBA, AREAA and support their efforts as we have always done,” the company stated. “PRMG as an organization will continue to monitor this set of circumstances and evaluate with careful consideration the most appropriate path forward.”

Flagstar Bank and Caliber Home Loans both announced this week that they are suspending their relationships with AIME due to Casa’s comments.



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Flagstar cuts ties with AIME over Anthony Casa’s comments


Flagstar Bank told HousingWire Monday that it is cutting ties with the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts over the lewd and sexist comments made by its chairman, Anthony Casa.

“We want to respond to the recent statements highlighted in the news by the chairman of AIME,” a spokesperson for Flagstar said. “While we strongly support the broker community and the vision and purpose of AIME, we do not in any way support the recent public words and behavior of its chairman.”

Over the July 4 holiday, Casa sent a video to Quicken Loans Vice President Austin Niemiec in which he made comments of a sexual nature about Niemiec’s wife. These videos were then circulated by Casa to prominent mortgage industry executives. Niemiec’s wife, Theresa Niemiec, filed a lawsuit against Casa for defamation.

Many wholesale lenders known for their support of AIME such as United Wholesale Mortgage and AFR Wholesale condemned Casa’s remarks, but say they will continue to support the association. Caliber Home Loans condemned Casa’s remarks but was silent on its future support of the association.

Flagstar, however, announced it is suspending all ties with AIME.

“As a company, Flagstar Bank is committed to treating its employees with respect and creating an environment that is free of the kind of harassment, abusive language and personal attacks made by the chairman of AIME,” a spokesperson said. “We expect no less of our business partners. That is why we are taking the step of suspending all relationships with the organization at this time. Again, this action does not reflect on AIME as an organization.”

After HousingWire published an article on the lawsuit filed against Casa, he responded with a new video on LinkedIn issuing a full apology.



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Quicken Loans executive’s wife sues Anthony Casa


Theresa Niemiec, wife of Quicken Loans Executive Vice President Austin Niemiec, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Anthony Casa, CEO of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts, for comments he made about her in a video message that he filmed and sent to her husband and others in the mortgage industry.

The civil complaint, seen by HousingWire, alleges: “On July 2, 2020, while at a social gathering with many people in the vicinity, Casa filmed and then widely distributed and published per se defamatory video clips and drafted and sent per se defamatory text messages directed to Mr. Niemiec wherein Casa disparaged and demeaned Mrs. Niemiec.”

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Casa mentioned sexual acts supposedly performed by Mrs. Niemiec and portrays her as “promiscuous and having a lack of chastity and faithfulness.”

The complaint alleges that Casa sent the defamatory video clips and text messages to a number of people in addition to Austin Niemiec. One source told HousingWire that the video was uploaded to YouTube at some point then removed, although HousingWire was not able to see the video on YouTube.

The lawsuit also states that Theresa Niemiec asked for a retraction of the inflammatory statements on July 6, and instead Casa sent an “antagonistic, threatening, mocking and sarcastic” text message to Austin Niemiec on July 7, as well as demeaning follow-up messages. 

In the lawsuit, Theresa Niemiec seeks the following reparations:

  • The immediate publication of a full retraction by Casa to each of the recipients of the defamatory statements by Casa personally publishing a video to each of the recipients wherein he personally makes clear that the each of the defamatory statements was false, untrue and fabricated and issuing a full apology to Theresa Niemiec and her husband without sarcasm or ridicule;
  • Immediately furnishing a list identifying the name and contact information of each recipient of the defamatory statements;
  • An order of judgment in favor of Theresa Niemiec and against Casa as follows:
    • A. Special Damages in an amount in excess of $25,000
    • B. Exemplary damages in an amount in excess of $25,000;
    • C. Interest, costs and attorney fees; and
    • D. Such other and further relief as is appropriate.

Theresa Niemiec’s attorney, Jeffrey Morganroth, told HousingWire: “Mrs. Niemiec filed the lawsuit against Mr. Casa because the conduct spelled out in the complaint is outrageous, disturbing and disgusting. Under no circumstances should the tortuous and unlawful behavior described in the complaint be accepted. To make and circulate malicious, demeaning, misogynistic and wholly untrue statements by videos and text messages about the wife of a leader in your marketplace when you are supposed to be the head of a trade association is inexcusable. 

“Further, when that behavior is pointed out, and demanded to be retracted, to double down with even more hostile, threatening, demeaning and disparaging statements, as described in the complaint, shows a serious lack of character and judgment,” Morganroth said.

When contacted by HousingWire, Casa issued this statement:

“Two and a half years ago, when we created this association, we did it to combat the unfair practices of big banks and to give a voice to the small brokers across the United States. Those brokers have been bullied for years and they needed someone to stand strong and be their voice. It is not news to anyone that I have taken a very combative approach and I did that because we needed to bring attention to what was going on against banks that have a lot more money and resources than we do.

“However, during a heated conversation via text message, I sent some private communications that I understand were inappropriate and hurtful to select parties who previously engaged with me in an equally unprofessional manner.

“I do regret sending these messages and apologize to those hurt by my actions,” Casa continued. “I will own that I let my emotions get the best of me. One of the toughest challenges of leadership is admitting mistakes but more importantly learning and growing from them. What makes me sad is that what I said does not reflect my values and I will address that directly with my team and ensure that all of our members know that my statements do not reflect the values of this association.”



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Startup profile: iBuy – HousingWire


The startup profile looks at one startup from the housing industry and showcases the innovation it brings. The profile answers key information about the company and determines its potential level of disruption.

iBuy is poised to disrupt how Americans buy their home, creating what it calls a “true iBuyer experience.”

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