Fidelity Lawyers Title Agency: News and Articles

Recent blog posts

Posted by on in Uncategorized

December was a strong month for home sales in Dayton as the market picks up rolling into 2015.

The area saw 988 single-family and condominium homes sold, which is up 8 percent from December of the previous year, according to the Dayton Area Board of Realtors. The average and median home prices also grew 5.7 percent and 3.7 percent respectively.

Most of the months of 2014 saw a decrease in sales because of low inventory, but steady increases in sale prices. The uptick in December points to confidence coming back thanks to a year of rising home values, which allows more residents to put their homes on the market and search for bigger homes.

Wendi Sheets, CEO and team leader of Keller WIlliams Advantage Real Estate, said she is confident about the market in 2015.

"Before people were testing the market," she said. "They're able to get the price they want, and so more consumers will be putting their house on the market."

The average sale price in December was $135,039, and the median sale price was $112,057.


Original Article written by:  Olivia Barrow, Dayton Business Journal, January 23, 2015

Link to original Article:


Mortgage rates showed little movement once again this week, continuing to hover near yearly lows, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.


The 30-year fixed-rate average bumped up to 4.14 percent with an average 0.7 point. It hit its yearly low of 4.12 percent a week ago and was 4.4 percent a year ago.

For nearly two months now, the 30-year fixed-rate average has floated around 4.13 percent, ticking up or down a basis point or two but never straying far.

The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.27 percent with an average 0.6 point, its highest level since June 19. It was 3.23 percent a week ago and 3.43 percent a year ago.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages wandered downward. The five-year ARM average slid to 2.98 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.01 a week ago and 3.19 percent a year ago.

After jumping above 3 percent last week, the five-year ARM returned below that level for the six time in the past seven weeks.

The one-year ARM average dropped to 2.35 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.38 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates were little changed amid a week of light economic reports,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“Of the few releases, ISM non-manufacturing index rose to 58.7 in July from 56 a month earlier. Also, factory orders were up 1.1 percent in June. The two reports signal steady economic growth in the third quarter of the year.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications grew slightly last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index, a measure of total loan application volume, increased 1.6 percent. The refinance index rose 4 percent, while the purchase index fell 1 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 55 percent of all applications.


Link to Original Article:


Written by:  Kathy Orton,


As the spring home-buying season commences, good news comes on the mortgage front. Mortgage rates dropped this past week, according to Freddie Mac. The group report a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.34 percent in the week ending April 10, down from 4.41 percent last week. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 3.43 percent.

Lower mortgage rates play a role in home sales, which are an indicator of economic strength.

Dayton-area home sales have been steadily climbing for more than two years, except for February, when the frosty weather led to a 7 percent year-over-year decline.

“Mortgage rates eased a bit following the decline in 10-year Treasury yields,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac. “Also, the economy added 192,000 jobs in March, which was below the market consensus forecast but followed an upward revision of 22,000 jobs in February. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent.”


Link to Original Article:




Posted by on in Uncategorized

Changes to Homestead Exemption Laws


Homestead exemption was originally introduced in 1970 as a reduction in property taxes for lower income senior citizens.  Then, in 2007, the program was changed to include all homeowners 65 and older or permanently and totally disabled, without an income requirement.  Now, the State of Ohio is returning to the original practice, and will now be applying means/income testing to determine the eligibility of homeowners for homestead exemption.

Starting with the 2014 tax year, applicants for homestead exemption will be subject to an income/means test to determine their eligibility.  However, existing homestead exemption recipients will continue to receive property tax credit without being subject to such testing.

According to the Montgomery County Auditor, for a homeowner to qualify for the program, they must:

  • Own and occupy the home as their primary place of residence as of January 1 of the year for which they apply; and
  • Be 65 years of age, or turn 65, by December 31 of the year for which they apply; or Be totally and permanently disabled as of January 1 of the year for which they apply, as certified by a licensed physician or psychologist; or Be the surviving spouse of a person who was receiving the homestead exemption at the time of death and where the surviving spouse was at least 59 years old on the date of death.
  • Have a total income (for both the applicant and the applicant's spouse) that does not exceed the amount set by the law, which is adjusted annually for inflation.  "Total income" is defined as the adjusted gross income for Ohio income tax purposes.  The current maximum allowed is $30,500 for the 2014 application period.

Montgomery County also notes that the grandfather status is "portable", meaning that homeowners who received a homestead exemption credit for the 2013 tax year will not be subject to income/means testing even if they move to another Ohio residence.


Source of Information:  Montgomery County Auditor Office  

By Robert Riedl, CPA, CFP, AWMA

Learn more about Robert on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

New Mortgage Rules Scheduled to Take Effect in January

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued new mortgage rules that are scheduled to take effect on January 10, 2014.


In 2008, the rise in home foreclosures was viewed by many as the result of sub-standard mortgage lending practices. Subsequently, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, which created the CFPB and set forth a number of financial industry regulations aimed at protecting consumers, including some pertaining to mortgage lending. In January 2013, the CFPB issued mortgage rules that implement the mortgage provisions set forth by Congress under the act.

Highlights of the new mortgage rules

The new rules broaden coverage of existing ability-to-repay rules, which require a lender to make a reasonable, good faith determination that a consumer has the ability to repay a loan. The rules extend coverage of the ability-to-repay rules to the majority of closed-end transactions secured by a dwelling (with certain exceptions). In addition, the rules set forth specific procedures a lender must follow when determining a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, including the consideration and verification of certain consumer information (e.g., income, employment status) and the calculation of the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment. The rules also center on what are referred to as Qualified Mortgages. According to the Dodd-Frank Act, lenders that issue Qualified Mortgages will receive a presumption of compliance with ability-to-repay rules, thereby reducing their risk of challenge from a borrower for failing to satisfy ability-to-repay requirements. The rules specify various requirements that a loan must meet in order for it to be considered a Qualified Mortgage, including:

  • Limits on risky loan features (e.g., negative amortization or interest-only loans)
  • Cap on a lender’s points and fees (3% of the loan amount)
  • Certain underwriting requirements (e.g., 43% monthly debt-to-income ratio loan limit)

What do the new rules mean for consumers?

The new mortgage rules were mainly put into place as a way to end irresponsible mortgage lending and ensure that borrowers will only be able to obtain a mortgage loan that they can afford to pay back.

Proponents view the rules as welcome industry safeguards that simply mirror responsible mortgage lending practices that are already in place. However, some mortgage-industry experts fear that the new rules may end up making obtaining a mortgage loan more difficult than it has been in the past–especially for borrowers who have a high debt-to-income ratio. Borrowers may also find themselves burdened with the task of providing lenders with additional documentation that they may not have had to in the past. For more information on the new mortgage rules, you can visit the CFPB website at




The information presented by Endowment Wealth Management, Inc. is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances and should not be taken as a firm recommendation. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice. If you have any questions please call our offices at 920-785-6010.


Link to Original Article:

Oct. 18 (Dayton Daily News (OH)) -- The new restrictions on the Homestead Tax Exemption that begin in 2014 for any homeowner who has not turned 65 are unfair and will be a burden on senior citizens of the future, said two local Democrats in a news conference today.

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith said the homestead program, which exempts the first $25,000 or property value from taxation, is popular in the county.

"We currently have 48,000 property owners in Montgomery County taking advantage of this program," Keith said at a Thursday afternoon press conference at the county Democratic headquarters on Wilkerson Street in Dayton. "That's roughly 30 percent of the owner-occupied properties in Montgomery County."

"Unfortunately for many Ohioans, Gov. Kasich recently signed the state budget bill that eliminates the Homestead Tax Exemption for many in the future in order to pay for handouts of up to $6,000 for the most wealthy and well-connected among us."

The exemption rules that will go into effect in 2014 will not change for anyone who has turned 65 and is enrolled in the program by the end of the year, said Gary Gudmondson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Taxation.

For those who turn 65 after Jan. 1, however, household income must be below $30,500 to be eligible, Gudmondson said. A previous means test, that was tiered based on income was eliminated in 2007. The new means test was added to return to the "originally approved system" according to the Department of Taxation's website.

Keith and Dayton City Commission candidate Jeffrey Mims called on legislators to pass bills introduced in the Ohio House and Senate that would reinstate the exemption for all senior citizens.

"We've seen income tax cuts at the state level," Keith said. "We've seen cuts to the local government fund. We're funding those income tax cuts on the backs of property owners, on the backs of senior citizens and on the back of local government, and it needs to stop."

But Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols emphasized that everyone who gets the exemption now will continue to get it, and in the future "only those who truly need it will get it."

"What we did with the Homestead Tax Exemption was so we could cut taxes across the state for virtually every small business and every Ohioan to the tune of $3 billion over three years," Nichols said.

By comparison, he said, the Homestead tax amounted to $36 million over three years.

"We cut $3 billion in taxes," Nichols said. "That is a shot of adrenaline into the state to get people working, to create jobs, and to get the economy back on track."


By Ken McCall

Dayton Daily News

Staff Writer

Link to Original Article:

The government shutdown is here. Whether it’s not being able to get a new Social Security card or visit a national park, Americans will immediately feel the effects. But there’s one bright spot of the economy that stands to be affected as well: housing.

One of the biggest questions regarding the shutdown and how it will affect housing has revolved around the mortgage market, specifically prospective buyers’ access to new home loans. After all, more than 90% of all loan activity is underwritten, insured, or owned by the government and its affiliated entities.

Initially at least, the mortgage market is likely to be only minimally impacted. New loans will continue to push through most government agency pipelines. What will change is how long the process takes, as many agencies expect to experience delays.

Mortgages purchased and securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be unaffected because their operations are paid for by fees charged to lenders. And the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to guarantee mortgages for Americans that have served in the military since these loans are funded by user fees as well.

But if the government shutdown of 1995-1996 is any indicator, the process will take longer than usual. “Loan Guaranty certificates of eligibility and certificates of reasonable value were delayed,” the VA warned in its September 25th contingency plan.

Where there has been mounting concern is the Federal Housing Administration, which currently endorses about 15% of the entire single-family mortgage market. Several media outlets recently reported that the FHA would be unable to endorse any single-family loans and that no staff would be available underwrite and approve new loans.

That prospect would be somewhat worrisome – if it were actually true. The FHA’s Office of Single Family Housing will indeed remain open for business, albeit with a smaller staff. “FHA will be able to endorse single family loans during the shutdown. A limited number of FHA staff will be available to underwrite and approve new loans,” thereport now states. In other words, other lenders’ loans will continue to be insured and some in-house lending will continue to take place at a reduced rate.

The reason for that mix-up: the initial draft of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s contingency plan mistakenly stated that single-family loan operations would cease. The report was amended over the weekend.

The FHA’s single-family loan operations are funded through multi-year appropriations, meaning their budget is not tied to the government’s standoff over funding for the new fiscal year that starts in October. On the other hand, what will be more affected is the agency’s Multifamily Housing Office, which is funded through yearly appropriations.

“Because we are able to endorse loans, we don’t expect the impact on the housing market to be significant, as long as the shutdown is brief,” continues the HUD report. “If the shutdown lasts and our commitment authority runs out, we do expect that potential homeowners will be impacted, as well as home sellers and the entire housing market.”

One government lender that will indeed suspend its home loan activity, however, is the Department of Agriculture. The USDA says that no new housing loans or guarantees will be issued through its Rural Development programs in a shutdown. The department also warns that such a scenario could cause “a setback in construction start-up,” and if the shutdown lasts for an extended period, “a substantial reduction in housing available in rural areas relative to population.”

“The government doesn’t generally approve loans, they basically just insure them,” says Don Frommeyer, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and a vice president at Amtrust Mortgage Funding. “For the most part you aren’t going to see much of a hit in the mortgage market unless it goes for a long period of time.”

If it does stretch on, he adds, the worry will be what mortgage rates do in a market shrouded in fiscal uncertainty and how that will affect the home buying, especially in light of recent rate spikes.


Original Article Link:

By: Morgan Brennan, 10/01/2013 @ 7:00am

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Dayton landed on a list of the top 25 residential real estate investment markets.

The city ranked No. 22 on the list, compiled by OwnAmerica using an algorithm that examines demand, price, net yield and economic development trends in the city.

Dayton’s appearance on the list solidifies it as a strong city to invest in for long-term returns with low risk.

The study gave the best rankings to cities whose performance was most sustainable and predictable in the last few decades for drawing buyers to the market, home price appreciation, strong rent yield, and ability to capture opportunities in economic development.

Other Ohio cities also made the list including Cincinnati at No. 7 and Cleveland, which squeaked on at No. 25.

Charleston, W.Va. ranked No. 1 on the list.

Click here for the full list.


Article Link:

By:  Olivia Barrow, Staff Reporter, Dayton Business Journal

Sept. 10, 2013

Original Article By Cory Hopkins | Zillow – Thu, Aug 8, 2013 1:42 PM EDT

More than 100 real estate and economic experts predict home values will end 2013 up 6.7 percent from the end of 2012, as the housing market recovery continues to widen and accelerate, according to the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. A majority of the panel also said that while rising mortgage rates don’t pose a threat if they stay within the 4 to 5 percent range, they could derail the recovery if they reach 6 percent or higher.

The survey of 106 economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists was sponsored by leading real estate information marketplace Zillow, Inc. and is conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC. Panelists said they expected median U.S. home values to rise to $167,490 by the end of this year, up from $156,900 at the end of 2012 and $161,100 currently. Based on current expectations for home value appreciation over the next five years, the panelists on average predicted that U.S. home values could approach new record highs by the end of 2017, coming very close to the previous peak level of $194,600 set in May 2007.

The expectations for a 6.7 percent year-over-year increase in home values was up significantly from expectations of a 5.4 percent bump predicted the last time the survey was conducted.

Panelists expect annual home value appreciation rates this year to end on a strong note, before slowing considerably from 2014 through 2017. Panelists said they expected appreciation rates to slow to roughly 4.4 percent in 2014, on average, unchanged from the previous survey. This rate is expected to slow further to 3.6 percent, 3.5 percent and 3.4 percent in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. Cumulatively, survey respondents predicted home values to rise 23.7 percent through 2017, on average, up from 22.3 percent in the last survey.

“Short-term expectations for home value appreciation through the end of this year are consistent with a nationwide housing market recovery that is both strengthening and widening, but still coping with high levels of negative equity, high demand and low inventory. Combined, these factors will continue putting upward pressure on home values for the next few months,” said Zillow Senior Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “But the days are numbered for these kinds of market dynamics, as investors begin to pull out of some markets, mortgage interest rates rise and more inventory becomes available. Over the next few years, these trends will help the market stabilize and will bring home value appreciation more in line with historic norms. As long as mortgage interest rates don’t rise too far and too fast, most markets should be able to absorb these changing dynamics while still remaining healthy.”

Panelists were also asked if recent increases in mortgage rates presented a significant threat to the ongoing housing market recovery. Among those expressing an opinion, 88 percent said no. Those panelists who responded “no” or “not sure” were then asked what minimummortgage interest rate (on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage) would pose a significant threat to the housing recovery. Among these respondents, 61 percent said interest rates would have to rise to at least 6 percent to create a significant threat.

For full survey results and graphics, please visit Zillow Real Estate Research

By Associated Press


Average rates on U.S. fixed mortgages declined this week as concern waned in the financial markets over the Federal Reserve’s possible slowing of its bond purchases this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average on the 30-year loan slipped to 4.37 percent. That’s down from 4.51 percent last week but is still near the highest level in nearly two years.

Just two months ago the rate was 3.35 percent, barely above the record low of 3.31 percent. Rates had surged in recent weeks amid concern over the Fed’s bond purchases, which have kept interest rates low.

The average on the 15-year mortgage fell to 3.41 percent from 3.53 percent last week.

Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week the Fed will continue to stimulate the economy, even after it begins to slow the bond purchases.

Even with the recent gains, mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. Low rates have helped fuel a housing recovery that is helping to drive economic growth this year.

Greater demand, along with a tight supply of homes for sale, has pushed up home prices. It also has led to more home construction, which has created more jobs.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was 0.7 point this week, down from 0.8 point last week. The fee for a 15-year loan also slipped to 0.7 point from 0.8 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable mortgage fell to 3.17 percent from 3.26 percent. The fee eased to 0.6 point from 0.7.




Friday, July 19, 2013



Posted by on in Uncategorized

An index that measures pending home sales in Ohio rose in May for the 25th consecutive month, a state realtors association said.

Ohio’s May Pending Home Sales Index of 145.6, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 20.1 percent from the May 2012 index score of 121.2, the Ohio Association of Realtors said Thursday.

“With each passing month, we’re continuing to make steady, significant progress in rebuilding a solid foundation for stable, growing housing marketplace in Ohio,” said association President Thomas J. Williams in a statement. “It’s evident that buyers are not only confident that homeownership is a wise, long-term investment, but are eager to take advantage of the ideal conditions that exist in today’s marketplace with favorable pricing and low interest rates.”

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2008, which marked the end of five consecutive record years for existing home sales and the onset of the recession. Activity levels in 2008 are reflective of a historically healthy, balanced market.

The May 2013 pending sales index of 145.6 marks a 45.6 percent increase from the benchmark May 2008 index of 100. Additionally, the current results also best the PHSI marks posted during the month in Ohio in 2009 (89.0), 2010 (70.4) and in 2011 (101.8).

A pending sale or a sale “under agreement” is when the buyer and seller agree on terms of the sale of a home and have a signed purchase and sale agreement, but have yet to close and be recorded as such.


Dayton Daily News 6/27/2013

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Homeowners who turn 65 at any point in 2013 are eligible for the Homestead Exemption program and have until Monday, June 3rd to sign up with the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office.  Applications are available in the Auditor’s office, on the web at or by calling the 225-4341 Homestead Hotline number.

“All eligible senior homeowners should sign up for this valuable tax break,” said Auditor Karl Keith, “Even though the expanded Homestead program has been in place since 2007, we still find homeowners that have not applied. Last year, Montgomery County and City of Dayton recipients saved an average of about $620 on their annual property tax bill as result of the Homestead Exemption.”

The Homestead exemption program provides property tax relief to homeowners age 65 and older and the permanently disabled. There are no income requirements, but newly eligible recipients (those turning 65 any time in 2013) must sign up with the Auditor’s office. Homeowners already enrolled in the program do not need to reapply.

Qualified applicants who missed last year’s deadline may also sign up and receive a reduction on last year’s taxes, as well as this year’s. 

Potential new applicants should call the Auditor’s Homestead Hotline at 225-4341 or log on to to obtain an enrollment form or for more information.