The title insurance industry collected $2.3 billion of premiums in the second quarter, down 8.5% from a year ago, according to new figures released by the American Land Title Association (ALTA).

ALTA's Market Share Analysis report shows only four states (Texas, New York, Illinois, Colorado) and Washington D.C. reported an increase in title premiums for the second quarter, compared to the same period a year ago.  

California, which generates the most title insurance premiums of any state, reported that business fell 13.6% to $350.7 million from a year ago.

"The latest market share analysis reflects an on-going recession in the housing market, with further downward pressure on home prices," said ALTA chief executive Kurt Pfotenhauer.

 It appears the third quarter will be a tough one for title firms with an anticipated sharp decline in home sales predicted.

 Title insurers charge higher premiums for home purchase transactions than on refinancings. Fannie Mae economists are forecasting that refinancings will account for 63% of mortgage originations in the third quarter,  compared to 54% in 2Q.  

 ALTA has 3,769 member companies with offices throughout the U.S.

 "Title companies in each market will continue to produce policies that provide assurance to homeowners that have clear ownership to their property and they will be insured against any mistake, fraud, risk or defect, whether it is known or unknown," Pfotenhauer said.

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