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Best Practices

ALTA Best Practices Toolkit: Have You Started Implementing Policies and Procedures?

December 31, 2013

While the majority of title professionals across the country already follow ALTA’s “Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices,” a good number of those agents have not formalized and documented their practices.

With lender’s needing concrete evidence that the title and escrow providers understand and follow certain guidelines, ALTA is gathering templates to help members document existing procedures.

In the meantime, it is essential title professionals assess their operations now in order to understand what areas, if any, need addressed regarding implementation of the “Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices.” To help members begin the process, ALTA will compile helpful information every Thursday on the TitleNews Best Practices Toolkit. Additionally, ALTA is creating checklists to help you gauge where your company stands in meeting components of the Best Practices. The checklists are meant to be an internal document and should be used as a tool to help organize your efforts to meet the Best Practices.

For some agents, most of the pillars of the voluntary Best Practices are not new to them but they realize that their current practices need to be updated and improved. And many agents recognize that they need to go further in areas such as disaster planning and implementing protections against outside forces that may attempt to breach the agent’s security. Potential solutions to these areas and others will be presented during ALTA’s Business Strategies Conference in March.

The world has changed and agents now realize they must modify hiring practices. Title companies need to complete credit and background checks on prospective employees that will handle consumer funds.

Insurance policies that protect against the acts of owners and employees are becoming more readily available and affordable around the country. ALTA will seek out provider information to share with the members.

For years, underwriters have confirmed the existence of the agent’s appropriate licensing. Now, they recognize that compliance must be communicated to the lending community. Underwriters are working on a method of communicating the information to interested lenders.

Products have developed over the past number of years that assist the agent and escrow community in protecting escrow funds. Banks and third-party providers have systems such as centralized disbursements, positive pay and wire confirmations, that when utilized, add a layer of protection. ALTA will continue to educate its members in this area and provide resources for consideration.

The need to record documents as quickly as possible has been recognized by the title industry for more than 100 years. With the growth of e-recording in many jurisdictions, the industry is able to record more quickly than ever before. ALTA members have been working with recorders around the country to implement these new procedures.

Members are encouraged to communicate with customers their progress in adopting the seven pillars of the Best Practices, which were developed to showcase the procedures title professionals follow to maintain the integrity of every closing. Elements of those standards have long existed within most title offices. It’s vital the industry explains the important role it plays as the independent third-party in the real estate transaction.



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