Real EstateTitle

Title insurance industry volume rises 3.6% in Q1

As refinance volume decreases and homebuying activities cool, independent firms look to increase their market share

Despite rising interest rates, higher home prices and a drop in refinance volume, the American Land Title Association recorded $5.89 billion in title insurance premium volume during the first quarter of 2022, compared to $5.68 billion a year prior, according to the trade group’s Market Share Analysis, published Friday.

The title insurance industry had a record year in 2021, generating $26.2 billion in premiums, which ALTA attributed to historic mortgage origination activity and the substantial increase in home values.

“A strong purchase market and continued home appreciation helped offset ongoing contraction in refinance volume to help drive the 3.6% premium volume increase compared to the first quarter of 2021,” Diane Tomb, ALTA’s CEO, said in a statement.

The five states with the largest title premium volumes were Texas ($896.2 million), Florida ($696.6 million), California ($531.0 million), New York ($362.7 million) and Pennsylvania ($246.8 million). The same five states held the top spots at the end of 2021.

Texas, Florida and New York all saw year-over-year increases in title premium volume of 30.6%, 22.3% and 15.9%, respectively. On the other hand, California and Pennsylvania both saw yearly decreases in title premium volumes at 17.4% and 9.3%, respectively.

Total operating income for the industry was up 3.6% year over year to $508.1 million during the first quarter of 2022, while operating expense were up 40% year over year. Loss and loss adjustment expense recorded an annual increase of 13.8%. Overall, title underwriters paid of $132.7 million in claims for the quarter, up from $107.1 million a year prior.

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Top underwriters by market share for the quarter included First American Title insurance Co., with 21.5%; Old Republic National Title Insurance Co., with 15.2%; Fidelity National Title Insurance, with 14.0%; Chicago Title Insurance Co., with 13.4%; and Stewart Title Guaranty Co., with 8.9%.

However, it should be noted that Chicago Title is part of Fidelity. And with almost 27.4% of the market, it was largest company by share of premiums written during Q1 2022.

Also at the close of 2021, First American’s market share was 20.5%, while Old Republic’s was 14.8% and Stewart’s was 8.9%. Stewart — which continued its acquisition spree into early 2022 —has been looking to reclaim some of the title premium it lost in recent years. As recently as 2019, Stewart’s market share was 10.62%.

Rounding out the top 10 for 2021 were, Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. with 5.3% of the market, good for sixth place. WFG National Title Insurance Co. had 2.7% of the market share, Title Resources Guaranty Co. had 2.3% Doma Title Insurance Co., held 1.7%, and First National Title Insurance Co., had 1.1%.

Although the “Big Four” still command the overwhelming majority of the market with a combined market share of 73%, their collective grip could be slipping. In 2019, independent title underwriters such as Westcor, WFG and others, had a combined market share just shy of 15%, which has risen to 27% during the first quarter of 2022.

As interest rates have risen to their highest level in over a decade in recent weeks, causing homebuying activity to slow and refinance volumes to continue to decrease, the outlook for Q2 2022 does not look to be as strong as Q1.

“The surge in interest rates will impact housing affordability as prospective monthly payments on a typical new mortgage will climb dramatically,” Tomb said. “While the overall expense to purchase a home has increased significantly the past few years, the cost of title insurance coverage has decreased 7% since 2004. The title industry will continue to innovate and develop products that best serve and protect its customers.”

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