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Showing posts from November 10, 2008

the TITLE INSURANCE pool gets a bit smaller

There are five major title insurance "families" in the United States. Together, they account for roughly 93% of all title insurance here. Last week, two of the five announced a merger. Subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals, Fidelity National Financial and Land America will combine forces, becoming the nation's largest title insurance provider. If so, they will control nearly half of the overall market.

This is not really so much of a merger as it is an acquisition: One of Fidelity's subsidiaries, Chicago Title, is going to bail out Land America with a $30 million in stand-by secured credit to provide liquidity and to help Land America's subsidiaries Commonwealth Title and Lawyers Title pay down other debts.

Conventional wisdom, and historical indications suggest that the title insurance industry is usually a hugely profitable one. In 2003, according to ALTA, the industry paid out about $662 million in claims, about 4.3% percent of the $15.7 billion take…

The Sterling Condos - a follow up

The Sterling residences are just up the street, across the river from my office. I wrote about them some time ago and the high rate of foreclosures there, owing in large part to the developer's creative marketing efforts that fed the greed of many condo investor/speculators.

Here's a pretty grim example of the train wreck that we are all witnessing. The owners of this unit are having trouble selling it at a 40% discount to what it sold for four years ago!

Yikes.