Title company misused escrow funds, state says
While you're waiting for January home sale stats to appear today, here are two very different stories to read that both have something to say about the housing market:
First, Crofton-based Beltway Title and Abstract Inc. has had its licensed suspended by the state after auditors discovered that more than $1 million in escrowed funds intended for real estate transaction costs had been misappropriated, the Maryland Insurance Administration said Wednesday. The money, pulled out over a period of seven months, was spent on business expenses, the state said.
Here's the insurance administration's license-suspension order.
Second, the new Census 2010 numbers show population growth -- and decline -- across the state. According to the count, Baltimore has 30,000 fewer residents than it did a decade ago. As one colleague pointed out, that works out to a loss of eight people per day. ("I hope people aren't leaving because of me - I have so many arms to embrace you!" quipped @manwomanstatue, the self-proclaimed "most hated public art in Charm City.")
The city has successfully challenged census estimates before: The 2003 figures were revised upward by nearly 15,000, for instance. But the decennial census is a count rather than an annual estimate.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement that the 30,000-person loss was the city's smallest since the decade of the 1950s. (Baltimore's population peaked in 1950 at about 950,000 before dropping by nearly 11,000 by 1960.)
Still, the newest loss figure is striking for a decade that brought an inflow of housing-bubble newcomers and ended at a time when moving -- if you had to sell your home first -- was no easy proposition. (Still isn't, but it's a new decade now.)