January 3, 2008
First American Title Co. Closing Castro Branch (565 Castro Street)
According to a plugged-in tipster, First American Title Co. is closing their branch at 565 Castro Street. The unofficial reason: “market conditions.”
First Published: January 3, 2008 2:10 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
All the title companies are hurting, not just local escrow offices. I work in a business related to title insurance, and I can tell you the quality of the Xmas fruit baskets was definitely down.
Nothing to do with a branch closing, but the appraisal unit of First American was named in the suit (with WAMU) by the NYS Atty. General.
Posted by: Guest at January 3, 2008 5:09 PM
I noticed today that the title company at 8th and Fulton has also closed. I am not sure how long it has been gone as I am not in the neighborhood much anymore.
Posted by: Tweety at January 3, 2008 5:14 PM
Wow what a scoop
Posted by: McBravio at January 3, 2008 7:51 PM
This real estate bubble thing is collapsing faster than a cheap tent in a dust storm.
Posted by: tipster at January 3, 2008 8:54 PM
Nothing to see here. Large title companies always start closing their offices when the market is picking up steam. Right fluj?
Posted by: nonanon at January 3, 2008 9:14 PM
While I'm not wishing ill on anyone in the real estate biz, and I feel they all tend to be better than average neighbors, I do feel that the past few years has resulted in way too many brokerage, title, and mortgage offices in prime retail areas like the Castro. I think we could stand to lose a few of these storefronts and have them replaced with retail establishments that aren't just nicely maintained offices that foot traffic passes by on their way to somewhere else.
I never understood why these places (especially title companies) need to pay the rents demanded by high traffic retail shopping areas. Seems like they would be more sensibly located in a strip mall next to the Starbucks and an Asian "pearl tea" store. What percentage of real estate agent clients actually come from walking thru the front door in an expensive glass front retail office? I thought it was only the young newbie agents desperate for clients that were forced to do unproductive storefront duty? Can the professionals here help me understand this?
So... no hard feelings First American (I even used your office to close a transaction of mine), but I'm happy to see you off the block and am looking forward to something much more interesting in that big glass storefront than file cabinets and inboxes full of triplicate forms and paperwork.
Posted by: Kurt Brown at January 3, 2008 9:34 PM
Prime retail areas is the key phase here. In upscale shopping areas like the Castro rents are such that only very trendy or desirable vendors are going to be able to make it. This results in a constant churn of older businesses making way for the new or newly popular. This does indicate that Title companies are being knocked off their fancy perch, but it doesn't reveal how far they have to fall or where they will eventually land.
Posted by: Mole Man at January 4, 2008 5:32 AM
as long as nobody challenges the status quo of 1000.00 paper pushing fees for title companies, even on refi's, don't shed too many tears for them. they are still swimming in cash.
Posted by: james at January 4, 2008 7:42 AM
Look at the one-year charts for stock symbols FAF and FNF. Not good.
Posted by: Guest at January 4, 2008 8:02 AM
Kurt Brown? from PP in SJ?
Posted by: Pianist at January 4, 2008 8:18 AM
Great point Kurt. Also in the Castro, I was very sad to see the old Ebers Electronics space become a huge Coldwell Banker office, for instance. But at least a real estate office can post listings in their front windows. Title companies are retail street death, imho, and definitely belong in less conspicuous locations. Does anyone actually "shop" for title insurance?
Just did a transaction with Chicago Title, btw, and they are also in the same nabe, but on a somewhat forgotten stretch of Market between Church and Octavia. With parking even. Much more sensible.
Posted by: curmudgeon at January 4, 2008 9:30 AM
With you on the Coldwell office on Market, Curmudge. They did some nice remodel and it's certainly better than an abandoned store with bars on the windows, but it's one more little death nail on that block. And yes, I can't say I was convinced to use First American by their window display as I strolled by. :)
PS Hey Pianist, yes that's me -- ex Condo Parking Czar. Are you CY by any chance?
Posted by: Kurt Brown at January 4, 2008 1:10 PM
Hey Kurt -
No, I'm another pianist, one that worked in the office...T (as in C & T). But I did start the piano club with CY, JJ, JK, AS and others.
Good to hear you're thriving in the City.
p.s. didn't you have side-by-side parking? lucky you if you did!
Posted by: Pianist at January 4, 2008 4:27 PM
OK, I'll stop the private conversation with this note to spare our other readers (my apologies!), but so good to hear from you T! I'm very happy in SF, but get down to SJ quite a bit cause I still have a pretty big posse down there. And while I sold my place up here just before the crisis hit (exploiting a helpful "heads up" from a talkative appraiser), and am very happy renting, I'm still a real estate geek at heart so you'll see me post here every quarter or so.
Say hi to C for me!
And J and I had tandem parking. Even being the parking czar couldn't get me that perk :)
Posted by: Kurt Brown at January 4, 2008 5:14 PM