Title premium volume continued to trend downward during the second quarter of 2023 as high mortgage rates and low housing inventory continued to plague the real estate industry.
During the second quarter, the title industry generated $3.91 billion in title insurance premiums, down from $6.21 billion from a year ago, according to the American Land Title Association’s Market Share Analysis, released Monday.
Overall, title premium volume is down 40% year-over-year in the first half of 2023.
“While title premium volume decreased 37% during the latest quarter, title insurance professionals continue to manage their businesses through the challenging market and remain focused on facilitating real estate transactions and protecting property rights,” Diane Tomb, ALTA’s CEO, said in a statement.
Despite the drop in premium volume, the trade group said the industry remains in a strong financial position, with total assets coming at $11.6 billion, while the statutory surplus was at $5.2 billion and statutory reserves were $5.9 billion.
In addition to lower premium volume, the industry has also paid of $331.8 million in claims during the first half of the year, up from $277.2 million a year ago.
The five states with the largest title premium volumes during the first quarter of the year were Texas ($594.236 million), Florida ($511.227 million), California ($358.767million), New York ($216.403 million), and Pennsylvania ($145.440 million). The same five states held the top spots in Q1 2022.
All five states recorded year-over-year decreases in title premiums in Q2 2023, with New York recording the largest yearly drop at 43.8%, and Florida recording the smallest annual drop at 33.6%.
Top underwriters for the quarter by market share included First American Title insurance Co. with 22.3%; Old Republic National Title Insurance Co. with 14.8%; Fidelity National Title Insurance with 14.1%; Chicago Title Insurance Co. with 13.7%; and Stewart Title Guaranty Co. with 8.4%.
However, it should be noted that Chicago Title is part of Fidelity. With 27.8% of the market, it was again the largest company by share of premiums written during the second quarter of 2023.
In the first quarter of 2023, First American’s market share was 23.0%, while Old Republic’s was 15.5%, Fidelity’s was 25.1% and Stewart’s was 9.6%. Stewart has been looking to reclaim some of the title premium it lost in recent years. The firm’s market share was 10.62% as recently as 2019.
Rounding out the top 10 for Q2 2023 were Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. with 3.6% of the market, putting it in sixth place. Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. had 3.5%, Title Resources Guaranty Co. had 3.2%, WFG National Title Insurance Co. had 2.5% of the market share, and Doma Title had 2.0%.
Although the “Big Four” still command the overwhelming majority of the market with a combined market share of 73.2%, their collective grip is not what it once was. In 2019, independent title underwriters such as Westcor, WFG, and others had a combined market share just shy of 15%, which increased to 26.7% in Q2 2023.