A Web-based title insurance company that recently opened for business in Pennsylvania claims to have cut rates by 35 percent compared to other title companies.
Timothy Dwyer said he launched Entitle Direct partially because of widespread abuses in the title insurance industry.
Dwyer, president and CEO, said the traditional title insurance system "inherently keeps homeowners in the dark, requires them to sign contracts and checks for things they do not understand, at prices they do not choose."
"We've changed the system where an 80 percent commission on title insurance issued through agents became the norm," Dwyer said.
He said Entitle Direct is the only title insurance company that markets and sells directly to consumers. Dwyer said he hopes real estate agents will embrace the company's strategy, which allows new home buyers or those refinancing to cut agents' commissions.
Customers are instructed to upload information through the Web site, www.entitledirect.com, beginning with a purchase and sale agreement or mortgage commitment. An Entitle Direct closing specialist in Pittsburgh does title searches and looks for liens against properties, and the company sends a local agent to represent home buyers at closing, Dwyer said.
A checklist is set up to walk customers through the closing process. The site can be partially accessed by a home buyer's real estate agent and lender to review documents.
The Pennsylvania Department of Banking approved Entitle Direct's rates in August. Pennsylvania is the first state in which the company has launched operations.
Dwyer said that throughout the closing process, Entitle Direct provides an updated draft of the HUD-1 settlement statement through its Web site. This provides consumers with information regarding the fees and costs that they will need to pay at closing.
According to the Web site, a person buying a home in Manheim Township for $250,000 will pay $1,152 compared to $1,769 for other title insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania.
• The Fun-est Toy Store Ever! is moving to a new home in Ephrata in time for the busy Christmas shopping season.
Owner Melissa Palermo-Spero said the current location at the corner of South State and Main streets closed Oct. 19. It will reopen Nov. 1 at 24 E. Main St. in the former Sprecher Building.
Palermo-Spero said the business grew out of the store it opened April 1, 2006. The Sprecher Building housed Sprecher Hardware store for about 80 years, where the second floor served as a toy store, Palermo-Spero said.
"Customers would ask to take a ride on the original 1911 elevator to see the toys," she said. "It was a magical place that anyone who grew up in Ephrata can tell you about."
The Fun-est Toy Store Ever will grow from 1,200 square feet to 18,000 square feet. It will feature a 4,000-square-foot sales floor.
• Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling has leased new and larger office and warehouse space in Greenfield Corp. Center, 1817 Colonial Village Lane.
Owner Steve Rotay said the building is approximately 30,000 square feet and three times the size of Rotay's existing office location in Lititz. The move is expected in December.
Ruth Devenney, associate broker of High Associates Ltd. handled the transaction for High, and Dan Berger and Bethanie Mackley of NAI Commercial Partners Inc. represented Paul Davis Restoration.
• Mount Joy Country Homes, 501 Union School Road, Mount Joy, announced it is now an affiliate of Messiah Village. This affiliation will provide resources needed for MJCH to expand the 39-cottage retirement community.
Plans are under way to expand MJCH's 8-acre retirement community to a 34-acre community with 114 cottages, a community center, assisted living for 20 residents and commercial space. The first phase of this expansion project is scheduled to begin next year with the addition of 24 new cottages.