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Title insurance premiums down in 2Q and H110 compared to a year ago

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Title insurance premiums nationwide decreased during the second quarter of 2010 compared to a year ago, a sign that demand for first-time home mortgages is depleting and refinance transactions are soaring. According to a market share analysis done by the American Land Title Association (ALTA), premiums decreased 8.5% year-over-year to a total of $2.3 billion. The total of title insurance premiums for the first half of 2010 is also down relative to 2009, down 2.9% at $4.4 billion. HousingWire recently reported that first-time homebuyers were weighing the costs of home ownership as heavier than the benefits. ALTA CEO Kurt Pfotenhauer said that he believes it's a matter of financial ability. “The latest market share analysis reflects an on-going recession in the housing market, with further downward pressure on home prices,” said Pfotenhauer. "While an abundance of affordable homes and low interest rates make the market attractive, people need jobs to obtain credit and purchase homes." Title insurance is a policy that protects a borrower against any mistakes, fraudulent activity, rick or defect of a mortgage upon origination. Title insurance premium totals are congruent with the volume of loan origination transactions. Lenders also generate their own policies to protect their interest in a mortgage transaction. The insurance premium is based on the actual amount of the loan. Title insurance premiums can also be purchased during a refinance, although the premium is exponentially smaller. Borrowers going through a refinance are not required to purchase title insurance because the original insurance carries over with them through the lifetime of the mortgage. Therefore, even when the volume of refinances increases, the total volume of premiums nationwide will falter. Only Colorado, Illinois, Texas, New York and the District of Columbia saw year-over-year increases in title insurance premiums. The states that generated the most title insurance premium during Q210 were California ($350.7 million, down 13.6% from Q209), Texas ($266.1 million, up 0.1%), Florida ($169.9 million, down 2.2%), New York ($150.8 million, up 2.4%) and Pennsylvania ($97.1 million, down 19.2%). American Land title Association is a national trade association representing title insurance companies, title agents and attorneys. ALTA members search, review and insure land titles to protect home buyers and mortgage lenders who invest in real estate. The firm expects to release results from third quarter analysis around Dec. 1. Write to Christine Ricciardi.

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