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Business Spotlight: Beyond the Closing

As real estate transactions surge, Hogan Land Title ramps up its work behind the scenes

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Over the last two years, the real estate market has been fast moving, and Hogan Land Title Co. is right in the thick of it.

Kim Hogan Chaffin, president of the family-owned business, says since the company was founded by her father, Jack Hogan, in 1964, it has had to run with the ebb and flow of the industry.

When a residential or commercial property is financed, bought or sold, Hogan Land Title searches the property, remedies any ownership issues if necessary and possible, and then gets a title commitment. Then it’s able to close on the transaction by providing title insurance policies.

History and process
Hogan started out in 1953 working for Thieme-Abstract Co. At the time, real estate transactions were handled by extending an abstract of title to a current date and having it inspected by an attorney.

“He had a great set of interests that included the history of real estate,” Chaffin says of her dad. “He wasn’t an attorney, but he studied real estate law.”

Even though Hogan got into the game by sweeping floors and doing deliveries, he progressed to management and ended up buying the company in 1964, rebranding it as Hogan Land Title Co.

In the mid-1980s the industry changed, going from abstracts to having lenders rely on title insurance. Hogan adapted to change by actually taking part in the writing and selling of some of the beginning software used in the production of title insurance.

“He was a renaissance man of sorts,” Chaffin says.

Today, Chaffin says the steps of processing a title starts with research.

“It’s our job, when you have a buyer or a lender, to search a property, determine if there are any issues that would get in the way of a closing and reveal those in a title report or a title commitment,” she says.

If there are problems found with a piece of property that Hogan Land Title is going to close on, Chaffin says it’s the company’s job to help find a solution.

The company has three closing offices in Springfield, one in Branson and one in Branson West.

When it comes to the research part of the business, Hogan Land Title maintains its own title plant in the Sunshine Street office, with detailed information on Greene County and Christian County properties ranging back to the mid-1830s. This includes thousands of hand-recorded documents – well before digitized records.

“It has the record of all instruments that have been recorded in the recorder’s office or the circuit clerk’s office that affects each piece of property,” she says.

Growth curve
Since its inception, Chaffin says the company has worked to find consistency in the level of services they offer to the client, no matter the rate of the real estate industry. However, she says this year has been unprecedented in the amount of business.

Hogan Land Title handled 38% more title closings in January-May this year, compared with the same period last year. In 2020, title closing rates were up 21% from 2019, Chaffin says. Company officials declined to disclose revenue or the number of titles processed in 2020.

Springfield First Community Bank is one of the lenders that frequently works with Hogan Land Title. Monte McNew, president and CEO of the bank, says he didn’t expect the trend from the lending side of the industry with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you had asked me a year ago to tell you what I expected the lending market to do, I would’ve expected that we would be in trouble,” he says. “But it’s actually been one of the most profitable years for companies in the industry.”

Michelle Cantrell, who runs The Michelle Cantrell Real Estate Group at Murney Associates Realtors, says over half the homes her team sells go through Hogan Land Title.

“We sell about 500 homes a year, and we expect it to double this year,” she says.

In addition to title insurance, Hogan Land Title offers in-house legal counsel and 1031 tax exchanges.

Chaffin says the company doubled the number of 1031 exchanges handled year-over-year. A 1031 allows taxpayers to defer recognition of capital gains and relevant tax liability on the exchange of certain types of property.

Still, the majority of business comes from title insurance, Chaffin says.

“That’s where title premiums are paid, and that’s where most of our income comes from,” she says. “That’s what we are. We are a title insurance company.”

Chaffin  runs the family business alongside her brother Bud Hogan, and her husband, Keith Chaffin, who serve as co-vice presidents.

“We’ve been through these changes before where it’s either boom or bust,” she says. “If anything, the pandemic taught us that we don’t know what’s next. We have to have an eye toward the future, but we also need to continue to provide quality service.”

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