by Paul Flemming
Local summary numbers for 1998 make it difficult to determine whether it was better to be in banking or real estate. Both industries had a good year according to the year-end figures.
Statistics from the Greene County Recorder of Deeds and the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors indicate sales of homes and legal instruments recorded associated with those transactions were both up in 1998.
Greene County Recorder Linda Montgomery said 1998 was a record year in her office, with 69,428 real estate-related recordings. Those instruments include warranty deeds, deeds of trust, releases and assignments.
In 1993 the previous record was set with about 54,000 real estate-related recordings.
Montgomery said the increase was due for the most part to bank mergers and low interest rates.
There were 21,046 deeds of trust recorded in 1998, up more than 28 percent from 1997's 15,064 deeds of trust. Deeds of trust can be for mortgages on new home sales, refinancing of existing home mortgages or home-equity loans.
Bob Clinkenbeard, operations manager for Fidelity Title Agency of Springfield, said much of the increase in deeds of trust was from refinanced mortgages, driven by low interest rates. His company compiled a listing of individual lenders' activity from public recorded deeds of trust information.
In 1998, according to the compilation, Great Southern Bank recorded 1,381 loans for a total of $193.24 million. That number put Great Southern No. 1 among Springfield lenders, representing about 10.35 percent of the deeds of trust dollar total.
In total, Fidelity Title's report showed more than $1.87 billion in loans recorded through deeds of trust last year. In 1997, Fidelity's figures showed $1.66 billion in loans recorded through deeds of trust.
Great Southern was followed by Guaranty Federal Savings Bank with 1,217 deeds of trust for $123.12 million recorded; Empire Bank with 1,098 deeds of trust for $105.37 million recorded; Commerce Bank with 898 deeds of trust for $102.18 million recorded; NationsBank with 1,417 deeds of trust for $95.72 million recorded; and Carl I. Brown & Company with 978 deeds of trust for $86.25 million.
Clinkenbeard said the figures are impossible to separate for the new home sales market exclusively. But the numbers do represent increased lending activity on homes, whether as first mortgages, second mortgages or home equity loans, because of low interest rates.
Assignments in which the lender on a deed of trust is changed were up more than 42 percent. Montgomery said almost all of the increase was attributable to bank mergers and acquisitions. When banks change ownership, she said, instruments are changed to reflect the new owner of the mortgages. Last year 7,571 assignments were recorded, compared to 4,374 recorded in 1997.
Warranty deeds, which Montgomery said represent change of ownership on property, were up 12.5 percent to 9,993 filings, compared to 8,728 warranty deeds recorded in 1997.
Statistics compiled by the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors Multilist Service showed 4,852 residential units sold in 1998, up 13.3 percent from the previous year.
Those residences sold in 1998 exceed all the previous years in the 1990s and are comparable to 1996 highs when 4,809 units were sold.
And the average price of homes sold rose in 1998, as well. The figures, which exclude those listings where the sold value was withheld, show an average value of $101,249 in 1998. That's up from the average sold value of $95,918 in 1997.
Springfield MLS listings reflect sales in its area, which includes Greene, Christian and Webster counties.
The outlook for 1999 is for more of the same.
Montgomery said in January the Recorder of Deeds Office has kept pace with the record 1998. She said on average, her office records about 200 instruments a day. In January she said between 280 and 300 documents were recorded, on average, per day.
"I've heard predictions interest rates will stay low the rest of this year," Montgomery said. "So we expect this will continue."
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.