Signature's Blog

I want to provide some background concerning a question that we receive from customers regarding turn time for a New Jersey Franchise Tax Search, which identifies if a domestic or foreign corporation transacting business in New Jersey has actually paid its franchise taxes. Uncovering this information is important as unpaid franchise taxes constitute a lien on all of the corporation's property for a period of ten years, which is computed from the first day of the year in which the tax is due and payable. However, the lien is imposed on the first day of the year following the year in which the tax is due. Therefore, the accuracy and timeliness of this information is important to those involved in the business transaction.

If you are a customer of New Jersey Franchise Tax Searches, you may have experienced a turn time anywhere from one week to ten weeks. This turn time is not isolated to Signature.

Franchise tax data is supplied to us by the Division of Taxation at the State of New Jersey.  Once an order is placed with us, we perform some preliminary research to obtain information that we supply to the State with our request, in order to help facilitate getting the franchise tax data for our customer.

Once we request the data from the State, the State assigns the request to a tax auditor. The auditor must do more research in order to determine if any franchise taxes are outstanding. The timing of this part of the process can vary depending on work volume and priorities.

While our request is pending with the State, we keep an eye on the status and make inquiries if necessary. Sometimes a customer may question the data furnished by the State, or we may notice furnished information that could possibly be incorrect. We work with both the customer and the State and will refer our client to the Division of Taxation if needed.

While patience can be key, we do our best to make the Franchise Tax Search process as fast as possible for our customers. Do you have any questions about Franchise Tax Searches? We’d be happy to discuss them with you.

The information provided is for informative purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a legal opinion. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Mark McAteer

New Jersey Corporate Services Supervisor


Was your business up and running during our recent snow storm?  Your customers may have had expectations it was, especially if you are doing business outside your local area.

Remember, your weather isn’t necessarily your customer’s weather.  A customer’s office located where there is no weather issue may not know or care if it is snowing in your office’s area. They just want to get work done.

Thanks to today’s technology being open for business during even the worst storms is possible.  We can conduct business from basically anywhere using our laptops, tablets and smartphones.  We can meet virtually in meetings as if we were in the same room reviewing documents and presentations together.

During the recent snow event, Signature’s physical office was closed but our remote office was open for business as usual.   We were able to provide the majority of our products and services to our customers, including County Search Services even where county record rooms were closed.  How you ask? By using our DTS Title Plants, that’s how.  Signature offers this tool to its customers as well giving them the opportunity to complete County Searches using their own computers, at their own convenience.  It doesn’t matter if the record rooms are closed; DTS is always open, even weekends, holidays and weather events when the courts are closed.  DTS allows you to complete County Searches yourself, virtually anytime, anywhere.

Even though we were open for business during the recent storm, we continue to improve our ability to service our clients in this world of ever-changing technology.   We realize our collective businesses need to keep up with the changing tide to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers.

Were you able to conduct business during the snow storm?  What steps have you taken and/or are planning to take to service your clients?

The information provided is for informative purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a legal opinion. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Fred Burnett

Vice President, Operations


What is the outlook for the housing industry in 2017? No one can gaze into a crystal ball and predict how the next several months will play out. But many in the housing industry have commented on possibilities for 2017. What are some experts saying about the upcoming year and the residential housing market?

Joel Kan, ‎Associate Vice President, Industry Surveys and Forecasts, Mortgage Bankers Association
“We expect the 30 year mortgage rate will hit 4.7 percent by the end of 2017, reach 5 percent by the second half of 2018 and increase further to 5.5 percent by the end of 2019. With a large segment of borrowers having taken advantage of sub-4 percent rates in recent years, refinance volume will decrease even though rates in the 5 percent range are still very low by historical standards … Home purchase volume will be supported by a robust job market, a younger generation slowly moving toward homeownership age, and as increased housing transactions will facilitate more move-up buying.” 1

Nela Richardson, Chief Economist, Redfin
“Strong buyer interest, better access to credit and a modest increase in the number of homes for sale will allow home sales to grow, but not as much as in 2016 … Redfin expects median home sale prices to increase 5.3 percent year over year ... Existing homes sales are forecasted to increase 2.8 percent in 2017 … We expect mortgage interest rates to increase, but to no higher than 4.3 percent on the 30-year fixed rate … We believe price increases will hold steady despite slowing sales growth, because homebuyer demand is stronger now than it was at the same time last year, and because we foresee a small uptick in homes for sale.” 2

Rodrigo Sermeño, Kiplinger’s
“Inventory is likely to remain low … but it could increase by year-end … Limited inventory, particularly for lower-priced homes, has made it harder for entry-level buyers to enter the market. The rise in mortgage rates and prices is likely to prompt more homeowners to put their homes on the market, which would lead to an increase in overall inventory later in 2017 … New-home sales will likely decline in the next couple of months because of higher mortgage rates.” 3

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research, National Association of Realtors
“Changes to Dodd-Frank financial regulation will occur in some form … There could be a move away from stringent mortgage underwriting to more normal lending … Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may not survive. This would be most unfortunate … We should view supporting Fannie and Freddie in the same way as we view supporting FDIC deposit government guarantee at banks - to help smooth the financial market.” 4

Real estate is very much a local business and national forecasts don’t take into account local market dynamics. How do you see your area of operation performing in 2017? What do you think will be the major trends in the housing industry this year? Do you expect your business to decrease, stay the same or increase?

The information provided is for informative purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a legal opinion. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Patrick Roe                                                                                                  

General Manager


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Signature Information Solutions LLC is not a consumer reporting agency as such term is defined in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq. ("FCRA"). Signature Information Solutions LLC reports do not constitute consumer reports as such term is defined in the FCRA, and accordingly these reports may not be used to determine eligibility for credit, employment, tenant screening or for any other purpose provided for in the FCRA.