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The Express Lane To Bankruptcy
by Robert Franco | 2007/11/28 |

Express Title closed their doors for good on September 14 and recently filed for bankruptcy. Just two years ago, Express was generating $65 million in revenue, but that dropped to $20 million between 2005 and 2006. What happened? They lost Chase as a client. The company attempted to continue operating with their other clients, but the subprime lending crisis and the declining housing market made that impossible.

We used to do a lot of work for Express Title's Columbus, Ohio office. I always liked working with them. They had a very knowledgeable staff and there was a terrific attorney in the office that was always a pleasure to deal with. They understood title and seemed to care about the quality of their searches. We really hadn't done much for them over the past couple of years. Looking back, that was apparently the time that they lost the Chase account. I guess I am lucky that I am not writing off much debt as a result of their bankruptcy - less than $300.

It is scary to realize that this can happen. At one time Express was one of our largest customers. It just goes to show you that no company is immune to today's real estate market. There was a time when if a really good client got behind with their account, we would have just shrugged it off and said "Ah, they're good for it. They will catch up next month." Now, you have to be more cautious. Today, even our best customers get cut off if we don't receive payment within 45 days.

I hope that the abstractors who were still working for Express aren't hurt too bad by the bankruptcy. Sadly, this won't be the last company to go under and clients filing bankruptcy is unfortunately one of the risks of owning a business. Now that the risk is becoming more serious it makes abstracting a less attractive profession. To avoid the express lane to bankruptcy, it is imperative to keep a close eye on all of your clients' accounts and don't let any one client become such a large percentage of your receivables that their closure would drag you down with them. That is not always easy to do for any small business, and in today's market it may be especially tough for independent abstractors.

Robert A. Franco

Source of Title Blog ::


Categories: Abstractors, Billing Issues

531 words | 2435 views | 5 comments | log in or register to post a comment

Robert said: no company is immune t...
Robert said: no company is immune to today's real estate market.

This is so true. Every title company should look closely at the demise of Express Title. Even with their massive accounts they couldn’t fight this downturn. This helps to illustrate the importance of having a diverse group of clients. Many people think that having multiple clients is enough to safeguard their business in case they lose a major client or in the event of a market down-turn. However, it’s not enough to have a lot of clients; it’s the mix of clients that matters the most.

It also shows that sometimes it’s better to be a small operation. Smaller companies tend to have greater flexibility. I don’t think we will see many title vendors the size of Express reemerge anytime soon..
by Shane Kane - | 2007/11/28 | log in or register to post a reply

In addition to a mix of clients it ...
In addition to a mix of clients it is best to have a mix of the services offered to clients. 
by Kevin W. Ahern | 2007/11/28 | log in or register to post a reply

I have known Richard Fuchs for a go...
I have known Richard Fuchs for a good many years. He was always a very decent man. When times were good he treated his employees quite well, and always paid his abstractors. I am sure that the demise of his business is very upsetting to him. We all know that there are some disreputable people and companies out there that take advantage of their industry partners, just so they can make lots of money. But there are others that have tried to run their business honestly and responsibly. Some of these people are failing also.

What is going on in our industry right now is hurting everyone. I agree with you Robert, that there are going to be more companies filing bankruptcy. I just hope that I won't be one of them.
by Wanda Steudel | 2007/11/28 | log in or register to post a reply

Well said, Wanda....
Well said, Wanda. 
by Diane Cipa | 2007/12/01 | log in or register to post a reply

I worked at Express from 2004 to th...
I worked at Express from 2004 to the day they closed. The way Mr. Fuchs has treated the employees, abstractors and notaires leaves a bitter taste in mouths all the state of Ohio. We cannot get our 401k money. Notaries will never see the thousands of dollars they are owed. He did not inform the employees himself.. he was in Florida. His legal counsel did it over the phone. I was always told he was a good guy so put his tail between his legs and let someone else do it is foul. It was a great place to work for a long time. The National Service Center destroyed him. They lost Chase and Countrywide in one fell swoop. They did not like to take on brokers and small mortgage firms, they wanted the big fish in the pond. Had they done so, they may still be around. He knew this was coming and lied to his employees who were loyal to him through it all. People who had worked there from the very first day he started Express, with no other job history, are still unemployed. It's very sad. I'm blessed to have found a new title company to call home.  
by Stephanie Matthews | 2007/12/20 | log in or register to post a reply
Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco



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