I have been hearing all week long that something was afoot at North American Title Company, that a big announcement was coming Friday, and that there has been a lot of personnel movement as of late.

Well, comes word that North American is merging some of its operations with a Silicon Valley-based start-up that was created to disrupt and streamline the $15 billion title insurance industry with technology. It’s called fintech: computer programs and other technology supporting or enabling banking and financial services, and it’s one of the fastest-growing investment areas for venture capitalists.

The company is States Title, and the CEO is Max Simkoff. The two-year-old company’s motto:  “We believe real estate should be simpler, safer, and cheaper to buy, to sell, and to own.”

As we know, buyers use title insurance when buying and financing the purchase of a home. I have often wondered exactly what Title companies do, hence our own Lydia Blair has been educating us the last few months. (And then there are isolated, rare Title Company nightmares.) Basically, title agents scour public records to ensure that buyers (and lenders) avoid liens and ownership disputes on properties, and guarantee full ownership of a property.

But by using technology to scour public records, tech title companies could charge buyers less, which could also eliminate the use of title agents: industry experts say that could result in a 25 percent savings for consumers on title premiums.

Title companies are also highly regulated. So it was a pretty big deal when States Title, a California-based start-up, was approved by regulators this August. States was the first tech-focused title company to be approved in the Golden State. California’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, believes “new technology and more competition would help lower costs for consumers”.

“Title-insurance transactions are often labor intensive and suffer from delays,” Jones said in a statement. “States Title uses a digital platform which is data-driven and automates the process.”

(Speaking of disruption, just wait ’til blockchain hits the title biz.)

According to The Real Deal, the title industry has historically been dominated by four companies: Fidelity National, First American, Old Republic, and Stewart Information Services Corporation. Fidelity bought Stewart for $1.2 billion in early 2018. But Disruptors are creeping in:

But tech has started to play a larger role in the industry. The startup company Spruce recently raised $15.6 million, and Daniel Price’s OneTitle launched in 2014. OneTitle focuses on issuing policies, while Spruce focuses on acting as title agents. Price previously told TRD that he thinks title insurance “is at a major inflection point. This is an industry that has seen perilously little innovation for more than a century.”

North American, which was founded in Dallas, was acquired by national homebuilder Lennar Corporation last year and is a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Jump for the official release: (more…)

Your Houston News:Zach Haverkamp

 

Developers and members of the Katy Chamber of Commerce turn dirt at the site of the Falls of Green Meadow at the Green Meadow Golf Course. (Photo: Zach Haverkamp/YourHoustonNews.com)

I stumbled across this interesting bit of news that a new development just west of Houston in Katy will put 440 new tract homes on top of a 242-acre golf course.

Sacrilege? Considering the dearth of available land in the tony suburb, perhaps not.

Dubbed the “Falls of Green Meadow” — an ersatz homage to Green Meadow Golf Course — this development will be the latest master-planned community after a bevy of master-planned communities in Katy. The project is headed by Tom Fitzpatrick of Friendswood Development Co.

From the news story:

Home builders Lennar Homes and Meritage Homes will be the homebuilders for the neighborhood, and Village Builders will also begin home construction in the summer of 2014.

Fitzpatrick estimates that the first model homes will be ready for viewing around the beginning of this August, and the community’s final phase of construction should be concluded by 2014 or 2015.

Due to the attractiveness of the Katy area, he predicts the new neighborhood’s homes should be quick sellers.

“In the real estate business, Katy ISD is kind of like gold, that’s where everybody wants to be. As a developer who’s been around since 1962 – this is our 51 year [anniversary] – we’re constantly looking for new opportunities, and some of these hopefully will be in the Katy area.”

Green Meadows Golf Course first opened in 1965, when the property was converted from pastureland to a 36-hole golf course. It closed in 2008.

I wonder if the homes will come with bermuda grass lawns mowed like fairways … What do you think? Are there any golf courses Dallas suburbs should sacrifice in the name of new housing?

Your Houston News:Zach Haverkamp

 

Developers and members of the Katy Chamber of Commerce turn dirt at the site of the Falls of Green Meadow at the Green Meadow Golf Course. (Photo: Zach Haverkamp/YourHoustonNews.com)

I stumbled across this interesting bit of news that a new development just west of Houston in Katy will put 440 new tract homes on top of a 242-acre golf course.

Sacrilege? Considering the dearth of available land in the tony suburb, perhaps not.

Dubbed the “Falls of Green Meadow” — an ersatz homage to Green Meadow Golf Course — this development will be the latest master-planned community after a bevy of master-planned communities in Katy. The project is headed by Tom Fitzpatrick of Friendswood Development Co.

From the news story:

Home builders Lennar Homes and Meritage Homes will be the homebuilders for the neighborhood, and Village Builders will also begin home construction in the summer of 2014.

Fitzpatrick estimates that the first model homes will be ready for viewing around the beginning of this August, and the community’s final phase of construction should be concluded by 2014 or 2015.

Due to the attractiveness of the Katy area, he predicts the new neighborhood’s homes should be quick sellers.

“In the real estate business, Katy ISD is kind of like gold, that’s where everybody wants to be. As a developer who’s been around since 1962 – this is our 51 year [anniversary] – we’re constantly looking for new opportunities, and some of these hopefully will be in the Katy area.”

Green Meadows Golf Course first opened in 1965, when the property was converted from pastureland to a 36-hole golf course. It closed in 2008.

I wonder if the homes will come with bermuda grass lawns mowed like fairways … What do you think? Are there any golf courses Dallas suburbs should sacrifice in the name of new housing?