COVID Rises – But Mortgages Applications Rise, Too

The world continues to adjust to COVID-19, and the real estate market continues to march on.

With the record-low interest rates that have continued, potential homebuyers have jumped at their opportunity to purchase homes.

Although purchase mortgage volume dropped 3% during the week of June 15th, it was still 18% higher than a year prior.

Joel Kan, Mortgage Bankers Association’s Chief Economist, explains, “One factor that may potentially crimp growth in the months ahead is that the release of pent-up demand from earlier this spring is clashing with the right supply of new and existing homes on the market. Additional housing inventory is needed to give buyers more options and to keep home prices from rising too fast.”

2020 has certainly changed many outlooks for the predicted year in real estate, but experts are keeping a close eye on mortgage prices and housing demands.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Agent Guidance Amidst COVID-19

As we try and figure out how to maintain our business while COVID continues on, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself as well as your loved ones during this strange time.

Moving forward, how can you keep your real estate business up and running when COVID is still very much a prominent part of everyone’s daily lives – and with states opening and closing their phases?

Utilize Social Media to Build Relationships

The good news: social distancing is incredibly easy through social media! Focus on one social media platform at a time (create a schedule – check out our past article, here) and attract new clients and maintain a relationship with your past clients.

One example of utilizing your social media page for business would be to highlight resources that buyers or sellers can use (like builders, lenders, etc.) and have them reach out to you for more!

Rethink Your Listings

Your buyers might not be able to (or might not want to) go visit homes in person – so that means you have to think in terms of the buyer. What do buyers want to look at when they are physically in the home they’re interested in?

Take pictures of views from windows, of closet and pantry spaces, and include photos of the entire exterior (driveway, siding, etc.). This will all help them gather a better idea about what the home looks like and offers.

Virtual Meetings & Tours

Instead of putting all of your meetings with potential or current clients on hold, meet with them over GoToMeeting, Skype, or Zoom! Check out our previous article on how to prepare for these kinds of meetings, here.

Another very important tip: remember to enjoy your self-care and your family during these weird times!

Want more real estate tips? Check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

Helping Our Communities

With COVID-19 bringing uncertain times for many, Alliance Title & Escrow, under the parent company of Futura Title & Escrow Corp., made sizeable donations to various local charities in the communities they live and work in. Futura Title’s brands donated a total of $67,400 (equivalent to $100 per company employee) to various charities across the Pacific Northwest. 

Alliance Title’s branches donated to the charities that were close to their hearts and who continuously aid in their communities.

With all of the branches throughout Idaho donating to their charities, Alliance Title was able to contribute a grand total of $26,400!

Alliance Title strives to continuously aid in the communities we live and work in. We are greatly inspired by all of the wonderful and generous community members who have stepped up and helped others during this difficult time – and we want to encourage the same.

Charities donated to by Alliance Title branch:

  • Blackfoot – Bingham Crisis Center
  • Boise – Women’s & Children’s Alliance
  • Clarkston – Twin County United Way – Health Division
  • Coeur d’Alene – Newby-ginnings of Idaho
  • Corporate – Idaho Food Bank & Veteran’s Hospital
  • CTS – Idaho Food Bank
  • Driggs – Seniors West of the Tetons
  • Emmett – Emmett Valley Friendship Coalition
  • Idaho Falls – Habitat for Humanity & Community Food Basket
  • Kalispell – Funding Families with Type 1 Diabetes
  • Lewiston – The Gina Quesenberry Foundation
  • Mountain Home – Three Island Senior Citizens Center, Inc.
  • Nampa – Canyon County Meals on Wheels
  • Pocatello – Idaho Food Bank
  • Rexburg – Case Appointed Special Advocates for Children
  • Rigby – Rigby Senior Citizens Center
  • Salmon – Lemhi After School Promise
  • Sandpoint – Bonner Community Food Bank
  • Soda Springs – Idaho Food Bank
  • Twin Falls – Light of Hope Food Pantry

COVID-19: Remote Online Notarization Bill in Congress

With many agents wondering how they can successfully and swiftly close their transactions in the middle of COVID-19, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has sent a letter to congress urging lawmakers to include policy in coronavirus response legislation that would pave the way for remote notarizations.

This would help move transactions towards a 100% digital platform nationwide.

The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020, also known as the SECURE Notarization Act, was introduced last Wednesday by a bipartisan coalition of senators.

Currently, only 23 states have remote online notarization policies – which permit a notary and a signer in different physical locations to safely execute electronic documents. However, some borrowers in these states are still unable to complete the transaction without an in-person notary.

The SECURE Notarization Act would create a safe, multifactor authentication that uses tamper-evident and two-way, real-time audiovisual technology to enable the signer and notary to see and hear each other simultaneously.

NAR Vice President, Vince Malta, explains, “As the nation and world grapple with some of the most difficult and uncertain circumstances of their lives, NAR continues working with the federal government to secure policy and promote public safety and protect this critical driver of our nation’s economy.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Alliance Title COVID 19 Signing Procedures

*update 7.21.2020*
Ada County has been moved back to Phase 3 due to COVID-19. Our signing procedures are current and listed below.

We remain committed to providing a consistent level of service while supporting the health and safety of our customers and employees. 

For our clients:

If you answer “yes” to any of the 3 questions below, then the signing appointment will need to be postponed until appropriate quarantine timeframes have been met, or another means of signing is established.

  1. Have you or household family members returned from international travel within the last 14 days or from an area identified as a “hot spot” within the USA? Check out the hot spots here.
  2. Have you or household family members had close contact with or cared for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
  3. Have you or household family members experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days (fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, difficulty breathing)?

If you answer “no” to all 3 questions, then we can proceed with a signing appointment. To comply with safety recommendations, along with any state requirements relating to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, we must enforce social distancing policies for all signing appointments, until further notice.

In-Branch Signing Procedures (by appointment only):

Please take a moment to review our COVID-19 ‘by appointment only’ In-Branch Signing Procedures, which will allow us to continue to provide closings in a safe manner for our staff and clients while being in compliance with current social distancing requirements. 

Preparing for your appointment:

  1. Bring a photocopy or email photo of the front and back of your identification card
  2. A new pen will be provided for you.
  3. Have a cell phone with you and make sure your Escrow Officer knows the number.
  4. Only those individuals required to sign documents will be allowed at the appointment.

Signing-appointment procedure:

  1. When you arrive, remain in your vehicle and call us to check in.  The check in phone number will be provided prior to arrival.
  2. When your signing area is sanitized and available, we will call or text you and meet you at the door to verify your identity

You will be directed to a signing area where you will find the following:
Documents to be signed,
Flash drive/envelope containing copies of documents for your records,
An unused pen.

Someone from our Escrow staff will be available to answer questions about the documents while maintaining CDC-recommended social distancing procedures.

Other Potential Options for Signing Appointments:

If you answer “no” to all 3 questions related to COVID-19 listed above and are in a position to proceed with a signing appointment but are not comfortable coming into our branch to sign, please reach out to the branch to discuss other potential signing options.  Please note: options will vary based on location.

Remote Online Notary (RON)

We are able to offer Remote Online Notary for certain types of transactions.  Inquire with your branch to see if using a Remote Online Notary is an option available for your signing. 

Mobile Notary

Please talk with your escrow officer to check availability and options for mobile notaries in your area.

We value your business and endeavor to provide exceptional customer service.  During this time we will be balancing service with efficiency and limited contact.  We appreciate your grace as we navigate through this difficult time.  Thank you for placing your trust in us.

Responding to COVID-19: Our Updates

To our Valued Clients,


We are continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation and taking guidance from the CDC and local authorities to respond to the rapidly changing situation. To ensure we are doing all we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our employees, clients, and communities healthy, we have taken proactive steps to continue to provide services to our clients either by working remotely or from within our offices.

For our clients
Guidelines consider title and escrow services to be an essential business service, so we will continue to be open; however, our offices are now operating on a by appointment only basis and are closed to the public until further notice.

If necessary to schedule an in-person signing appointment, we ask that you consider the following questions.  If you are able to answer “yes” to any of these questions, please contact your escrow officer to explore potential options for signing, or possible postponement.  

  1. Have you or household family members returned from international travel within the last 14 days or from an area identified as a “hot spot” within the USA?
  2. Have you or household family members had close contact with or cared for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
  3. Have you or household family members experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days (fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, difficulty breathing)?

Safety First Protocols: Social Distancing
When coming to our office for an in-person signing appointment, we ask that you limit attendance at closings to those individuals who are required to sign. Please note that the signing appointment will have social distancing safety first protocols in place. Please discuss these protocols with your local branch in preparation for your signing. 

Sharing advice to stay healthy
We are reminding everyone to follow guidance from public health authorities. If you’re sick, stay home and away from others.  Wash your hands frequently, and cover your cough or sneeze. For more information, visit the CDC or World Health Organization websites.

Our clients and community continue to be at the center of everything we do.  Please reach out to your Alliance Title branch with any questions.


​Thank you & stay safe,
Your Alliance Title & Escrow Team

Our COVID-19 Preparedness Update

A letter from our CEO:

Our employees and customers should know that we are actively monitoring the rapidly evolving situation with the Coronavirus. We will continue to implement plans to protect the health of all of our employees and customers.

In addition to strict cleaning and hygiene protocols, we are limiting travel and participation in large group activities until further notice. We are also monitoring regulatory and health agencies to be sure that we have the most up-to-date information and encouraging the use of online and telephone communications when possible.

If it becomes necessary to close any of our offices to protect the health and safety of all, we have contingency plans in place to maintain continuity of our operations. As always, we will have all hands on deck to serve our customers during this difficult time.

We have no known cases or exposures to the Coronavirus at this time. We are monitoring the situation closely, and we will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Please be aware that it is likely that cyber criminals will attempt to benefit from this crisis to exploit any vulnerability that they may detect. So, be especially vigilant in preventing them from making you a wire-fraud victim.

Please feel free to contact me or your local branch if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Larry Matney
CEO

Let’s Keep Our Communities Safe:

COVID-19 Signs and Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

In addition, for the safety of customers and staff, we are asking all customers and vendors to please refrain from in-person visits unless absolutely necessary. If visiting in person is necessary, please stay in the appropriate area (lobby or closing room) as communicated by the local office.

Practice Social Distancing with our Online Tools:

Place an Order
Lender Closing Cost Calculator
Settlement Guide
Agent Intel
Profilez On Demand
EMTransfer

Reach out to your local branch for more information on remote online closings, e-closings, and other information here.

For more information on how to protect yourself and what to do if you have symptoms, please visit the CDC website.