Title companies: Residential market to remain stable in 2018


Two of the top title companies in West Michigan agree on one thing: The residential market will remain stable.

Lighthouse Group, 877 E. 16th St. in Holland, employs 72 title officers across 13 locations. The company offers a broad range of title services, including insurance and settlement closing, as well as benefits and business, personal and life insurance.

In 2016, Lighthouse Group had over $9 million in revenue, up from $7 million in 2015.

Bob Wuerfel, title agency president, said 87 percent of his customers are residential clients, while the remaining 13 percent are commercial.

He said when he spoke to his customers and underwriters for their 2018 budget, they concluded the housing market would be steady because home prices have had an annual steady growth of between 5 and 7 percent.

That steady growth also has carried over into the first nine months of 2017, according to Wuerfel.

“The economic environment in West Michigan remains favorable for housing and mortgage markets,” Wuerfel said. “For several years, we have had a moderate economic growth of about 2 percent a year, solid job gains and low mortgage interest rates, and it appears these conditions will continue in 2018.

“One area that (will) be hampered by the growth in 2018 is mortgage refinancing, as the third quarter saw a decline by nearly 20 percent over the prior year.”

Sun Title Agency, 1410 Plainfield Ave. NE, has more than 80 title officers and hundreds of clients. President Tom Cronkright II said Sun Title provides title insurance in real estate, residential, commercial and construction closing services.

In 2016, the agency had $7.9 million in revenues, up from $7.1 million in 2015. However, in 2014, Cronkright said the company’s revenue was just $4.8 million.

“We have been growing a pretty steady 20 percent to 30 percent per year,” Cronkright said. “Our commercial (market) has grown exponentially over the last few years.”

Cronkright said the agency will have another strong year in 2018.

“I think there will be a lot of commercial activity and maybe less residential construction built in the city core, but we are seeing more in the outlying areas,” Cronkright said. “(Overall), I think residential construction will remain very, very strong.”

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