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 ALTA 2011 Year In Review
December 29, 2011
This past year proved to only be an appetizer to changes on the horizon in the marketplace. GSE reform, creation of a new settlement statement, regulators’ proposed 20 percent down payment requirement for Qualified Residential Mortgages and NAIC reporting requirements are all issues we will contend with in 2012. Even with all these changes on the horizon, the association had many successes in 2011 and anticipates more accomplishments in 2012. Read on for a recap of ALTA’s successes in 2011.
 20 Things NOT to do in Social Media for Real Estate
December 29, 2011
Social media is all the rage and has become an active component of many title company marketing strategies. But as we embark on a new year, shouldn’t you know what not to do?
NAIC Names 2012 Consumer Liaison Representatives
December 29, 2011
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) named 28 consumer liaison representatives for 2012.
Fraud, Consumers, CFPB Major Topics of 2012 Business Strategies
December 29, 2011
The way the industry operates is facing a tremendous sea change. From the handling of funds to the closing table, title professionals must keep abreast of how these changes will impact operations. With the CFPB promoting more transparency to the mortgage process and developing a new mortgage disclosure, another new HUD-1 will eventually be created. Also, regulators are focused on addressing defalcations and creating solutions to protect money held in escrow.
Three of Four Major Investor Groups Increased Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Investments During Q3
December 29, 2011
The level of commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding was essentially unchanged in the third quarter of 2011, as three of the four major investor groups increased their holdings, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
 ALTA TIPAC Contributors
December 29, 2011
So far this year, TIPAC has raised more than $319,000 from more than 600 contributors, as ALTA once again surpassed its goal of raising $300,000. Take a look at those who have already contributed. If you have any questions about TIPAC please contact Steve Gottheim at steve@alta.org.
 Deadline for NAIC Mandatory Reporting of Property Type and Rate Draws Concern
December 27, 2011
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which governs annual statement reporting requirements for the title insurance industry, will require the property type and rate on all reported title policies. Read on to find out what ALTA is requesting from the NAIC.
ALTA Names Director of Government Affairs
December 27, 2011
Jessica McEwen will be responsible for lobbying at the federal level, managing ALTA’s Title Insurance Political Action Committee (PAC) and assisting in cultivating the association’s grassroots program.
Stewart Title Announces New Charitable Program
December 27, 2011
The company has partnered with HelpingaHero.org to help wounded veterans attain sustainable home ownership.
 ALTA Makes Successful Push to Prevent Wall Street from Stealing Main Street’s Home Equity
December 27, 2011
In 2009, only a handful of states had legislation banning or restricting the use of private transfer fees. Today, due to coordinated efforts of ALTA and state land title associations, there are 37 states that now ban or restrict PTFs, with several more expected to address the issue during the next legislative session.
 Down Payment Gift-Giving Rules
December 27, 2011
While giving down payment as a gift during the holiday season has increased, those who receive such gifts need to make sure they follow IRS and banks’ gift-giving rules.
 Congress Extends Flood Insurance until May 31, 2012
December 27, 2011
On Dec. 17, 2011, Congress extended National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) authority through May 31, 2012. This latest extension was a part of H.R. 2055, the so-called megabus conference report combining the remaining nine appropriations bills to fund the federal government for FY2012.
Annual Convention Photos Now Available
December 27, 2011
Check out slideshows from all the activities during ALTA's 2011 Annual Convention, which was held in historic Charleston, S.C. Reprints are available from the informative sessions, receptions and exhibit hall.
 Southern Title Placed Into Receivership
December 22, 2011
Three months after suspending the issuance of new policies due to financial difficulties, Southern Title Insurance Corp. was placed into receivership Dec. 20 in an effort to rehabilitate the company.
Existing-Home Sales Overestimated by 14.3 Percent from 2007-2010, NAR Reports
December 22, 2011
The National Association of Realtors on Wednesday released benchmark revisions to historic existing-home sales with downward adjustments to sales and inventory data since 2007.
CFPB Begins Taking Whistleblower Tips
December 22, 2011
The CFPB announced several ways that whistleblowers can alert the Bureau to potential violations of federal consumer financial laws.
 Stewart Title Sticky Note Helps Restore Christmas Spirit
December 22, 2011
A Billings real estate broker lost $300 while shopping on Black Friday, but a Stewart Title sticky note helped in tracking down the money’s owner.
 Indiana Title Company Makes Acquisition
December 22, 2011
Evansville, Ind.-based Bosse Title Corp. recently completed the purchase of Evansville Titles, the largest agency in southwestern Indiana.
Americans Are Ready and Willing to Buy, But Seller Sentiment Remains Extremely Negative
December 22, 2011
Prospective homebuyers believe now is a good time to buy, given today’s low home prices and low mortgage interest rates, but potential sellers are nearly unanimous in reporting that it is not a good time to sell a home, citing difficulty in finding buyers at desired sales prices, according to a study released by the Mortgage Bankers Association.
WFG National Title Appoints New York State Counsel
December 22, 2011
Michael Kelly will help grow the insurer’s New York agent base as well as providing underwriting support for the agency operation in the Empire State.
Urgent Electrical Repairs will Impact ALTA’s Phones, Website
December 20, 2011
The management company of the building where ALTA’s office is located has scheduled an urgent electrical repair this evening, meaning ALTA’s website and phones will be unavailable from 6 p.m. ET today through 7:30 a.m. ET Wednesday (Dec. 21).
10 Most-Searched Real Estate Markets Online
December 20, 2011
Chicago held onto the No. 1 spot once again for most searched real estate market in November, according to Realtor.com.
Housing Starts Bounce Back In November
December 20, 2011
Production of new single-family homes and apartments rose 9.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units in November, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department.
 FHA Anti-Flipping Rule Waiver Expires Dec. 31
December 20, 2011
In January, the FHA extended the waiver in an effort to continue stabilizing home values and improve conditions in communities experiencing high foreclosure activity.
 National Flood Insurance Program Now Faces New Deadline
December 20, 2011
With the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) set to expire Dec. 16, an extension of the program through this week was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama over the weekend.
 Long-Term Flood Insurance Extension Included in Controversial Payroll Tax Cut Bill
December 15, 2011
The U.S. House voted to reform and extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years as part of a bill that also would extend the expiring tax cuts, including cuts to the payroll tax.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Matches All-Time Record Low at 3.94 Percent
December 15, 2011
Average fixed mortgage rates remained at or near their all-time lows, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
 NAIC to Analyze Risk-Based Capital for Title Insurers
December 15, 2011
The National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s Capital Adequacy (E) Task Force is developing a subgroup to identify major risks for title insurance and if it makes sense to develop a risk-based capital formula for title insurers.
Discount Registration Offer for ALTA Conventions Ends Dec. 31
December 15, 2011
Register today for all three of ALTA's 2012 major meetings and save 25 percent - a total savings of $444 off the combined registration fees. Even if you can't attend all three, the registration is transferable to another person in your office. Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity as this offer expires Dec. 31.
Louisiana Land Title Association Names Title Person of the Year
December 15, 2011
Stephen Sklamba, vice president and Louisiana underwriting counsel for WFG National Title’s Louisiana agency group, was awarded the Louisiana Land Title Association’s “Title Person of the Year Award.”
NextAce Co-Founder Rejoins Company
December 15, 2011
Mike Armstrong, who co-founded NextAce with CEO Don Cantral in 2003, was named vice president of sales and will lead all sales efforts, manage client acquisitions, and expand customer and vendor relationships.
 Market Movers: Glance at Top Gainers and Losers in Loans Closed
December 15, 2011
Only one state repeated its status on the top gainers list as the season moved into early winter, according to the latest Market Movers survey from eLynx.
Survey Seeks Viewpoints on Public Records White Paper
December 13, 2011
The Property Records Industry Association is seeking input on its white paper titled "Access to and Sale in Bulk of Land Records."
Stewart Names New Operations Head for Mid-Atlantic states
December 13, 2011
Morgan Gilligan will be responsible for handling Stewart's new business, managing existing business and marketing efforts for the region.
 The Docket: California Suit Addresses Lien Priority in Race State
December 13, 2011
In some counties, title insurers send documents for recording to the county recorder’s office before business starts to be certain of an 8 a.m. recording time. Read on for analysis of a California lawsuit addressing the “first in time, first in right system of lien priorities.”
TitleVest Announces Strategic Partnership with Real Estate Board of New York
December 13, 2011
TitleVest will provide its digital library of condominium and cooperative offering plans and amendments in New York to members of the Real Estate Board of New York.
Software Provider Offers New Foreclosure Processing Service
December 13, 2011
CentRealTech Inc. announced a new division to provide services associated with processing foreclosure related title insurance products.
 Congress Nears Six-Month Flood Insurance Extension
December 13, 2011
A bill identical to legislation passed in the Senate that would temporarily extend the National Flood Insurance Program(NFIP) was introduced in the U.S. House.
 House to Markup GSE Reform Bill
December 13, 2011
The House Financial Services Committee will hold a markup Wednesday on a bill proposed Scott Garrett (R-NJ) that would reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
 Title Industry Operating Income Up 1.7 Percent
December 8, 2011
Operating Income for the industry for the first nine months of 2011 increased 1.7 percent compared to the first nine months of 2010, according to ALTA’s market share and financial statement compilations.
 Cordray Nomination to Head CFPB Fails in Senate
December 8, 2011
Senate Republicans today (Dec. 8) blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Richard Cordray to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
 First American Settles Claims Suit With Bank of America, Fiserv
December 8, 2011
First American Financial settled a lawsuit with Bank of America and Fiserv Solutions for allegedly failing to pay or failed to timely respond to certain claims made on title insurance policies issued in connection with home equity loans or lines of credit that are now in default.
 Consumer Concerns Stabilize in November as Home Price Expectations Improve
December 8, 2011
According to results from Fannie Mae's November National Housing Survey, home price expectations moved from negative to positive territory for the first time in six months, with respondents expecting home prices to increase by 0.2 percent over the next year.
Mortgage Rates Stay Low Helping to Keep Housing Affordability High
December 8, 2011
Average fixed mortgage rates remain largely unchanged and near their record lows helping to keep housing affordability high for those borrowers who are in the market, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Stewart Appoints New Executive Team
December 8, 2011
The company said the new structure increases focus, speeds decision making and provides greater alignment between operational areas and key customer segments.
System to Identify Recording Jurisdictions Under 30-Day Comment Period
December 8, 2011
Once widely adopted, PRIA believes this new system will reduce the errors in calculating recording fees that are specific to jurisdictions and in assuring that documents are returned to the correct county for recording.
Data Examines Average Down Payments
December 8, 2011
New Jersey leads the nation with the highest average down payment, while Midwest states rank at the bottom of the list, according to LendingTree.
 Audio of First Am v. Edwards U.S. Supreme Court RESPA Case Available
December 6, 2011
The case will determine who has the right to sue for damages under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
MBA Completes Management Transition of MISMO
December 6, 2011
Transition of management of the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization, Inc. to the Mortgage Bankers Association from MERSCORP has been completed.
Stewart Adds Exec to National Business Team
December 6, 2011
Thomas Gray was named vice president, national business development and will be responsible for expanding Stewart's national and multinational commercial business both in the greater Chicago area and across the United States.
Federal Agencies Form Task Force to Combat Mortgage Modification Scams
December 6, 2011
The joint task force comprised of the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a consumer fraud alert to protect homeowners from HAMP-related mortgage modification scams.
Stewart National Title Names Commercial Underwriting Counsel in D.C.
December 6, 2011
Gary Cortellessa joined the company as vice president and commercial underwriting counsel and will be responsible for enhancing underwriting services and expanding Stewart’s national and multinational commercial business.
 ALTA CPL Forms Published as Final
December 6, 2011
Closing Protection Letter forms for single and multiple transactions that were approved by the ALTA Board on Oct. 13 have passed through the comment period and are effective today with a few technical changes, while several other forms were referred back to committee.
 ALTA Reports Title Premiums Dip 4.6 percent
December 1, 2011
According to ALTA’s preliminary 2011 Third-Quarter Market Share Analysis, title insurance premiums written during the third quarter of 2011 declined 4.6 percent compared to the third quarter of 2010.
 ALTA Member Exclusive Benefit: Title Insurance Education Articles
December 1, 2011
Members of ALTA have exclusive access to several articles covering a variety of title insurance topics, which can be used to send to local media outlets or to educate consumers, legislators or regulators about the benefits of title insurance.
ServiceLink Announces New President
December 1, 2011
ServiceLink, a Fidelity National Financial company that provides end-to-end origination and default solutions, announced the appointment of Chris Azur as president.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Settles in at 4 Percent
December 1, 2011
Average fixed mortgage rates changed little and remained near their historic lows helping to keep homebuyer affordability high, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Markety Survey.
RedVision Announces Director of Sales for Mid-Atlantic Region
December 1, 2011
David Dwyer will be responsible for account expansion, new sales and client relations to the title agent and underwriter segment of RedVision’s regional team in Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.
Southern California Chapter of PREP Holds First Meeting
December 1, 2011
The agenda included a discussion about PREP and its purpose, along with several industry panels. Read on to see if there is a PREP chapter in your area.
 U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in RESPA Case
November 29, 2011
The case, First American Financial Corporation v. Edwards, involves a basic question of constitutional law addressing who has standing to bring a lawsuit under RESPA.
 Access to Public Land Records: The Battle Continues
November 29, 2011
Members of ALTA’s Real Property Records Committee reviewed several new laws and proposed bills that raise the cost of and restrict access of public land records. Read on for sampling of the legislation and consequences for the industry.
Demotech Says Title Underwriters Ready to Support Real Estate Recovery
November 29, 2011
The analysis firm reported that the underwriters’ policyholder surplus increased 2.9 percent to $3 billion from Dec. 31, 2010.
 Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Maximum Loan Limits Set for 2012
November 29, 2011
Maximum conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2012 will generally remain at existing levels as the result of new calculations from the Federal Housing Finance Agency
TSS Software Continues Growth With Management Promotions, New Hire
November 29, 2011
TSS Software Corp., a national provider of real estate title and settlement solutions, announced the promotion of three staff members alongside a new addition to its business development team.
Urban Lending Solutions Names President
November 29, 2011
Urban Lending Solutions, a provider of residential and commercial mortgage products and services, announced that Michael Forgas has been promoted to president.
Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Seeks Title Insurance Analyst
November 29, 2011
The position, which is only open to Colorado residents, exists to perform technical informal examinations, investigations and other analysis of title insurance entities.
November 2011 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook
November 22, 2011
The report shows originations are projected to see a boost from the extension and enhancement of the Home Affordable Refinance Program and the extremely low fixed-rate mortgage rates that currently prevail in the market.
 ALTA Convinces Freddie Mac to Modify Short Sale Affidavit
November 22, 2011
Through the combined efforts of ALTA, its engaged members and the National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac announced changes to its servicer guide clarifying its requirement that mortgage servicers force closing and escrow agents to sign arm's length affidavits when conducting a short sale.
ALTA Member Company Named Among Top Workplaces in Michigan
November 22, 2011
An ALTA member company was among several companies in Detroit awarded the Detroit Free Press “Top Workplaces in Michigan.”
Software Developer Adds to Strategic Planning Team
November 22, 2011
Terri Hanson was named vice, strategic planning, for Adeptive Software, a developer of the title, escrow, settlement and real estate software ResWare.
WFG National Title Grows Default Services Group
November 22, 2011
Ashely Anderson was named operations manager and will be responsible for the daily oversight of the growth, development and maintenance of the group’s production and processing functions.
Housing Affordability Hovers Near Record Levels for 10th Consecutive Quarter
November 17, 2011
A near-record 72.9 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the third quarter of the year were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,200, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
 Michigan Supreme Court Rules in Favor of ALTA-Supported MERS Case
November 17, 2011
ALTA believes the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision will help bring clarity to the validity of foreclosures that occurred in the name of MERS over the past two years.
 Another Extension of Flood Program Imminent
November 17, 2011
While ALTA continues to urge Congress to pass legislation that would provide long-term certainty to the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure access to affordable flood insurance and end disruptions in closings when lapses occur, the House and Senate are expected to pass another continuing resolution that will keep both the federal government and the NFIP running until Dec. 16.
 Title Company Sues Bank After Cyber Attack Results in $200K Loss
November 17, 2011
A Virginia-based title company filed a lawsuit against a bank over three unauthorized wires that resulted in a loss of more than $200,000 from its escrow account.
Stewart Title’s Florida Underwriting Counsel Honored by FLTA
November 17, 2011
The Florida Land Title Association recognized Barry Scholnik for his service and support to the association by awarding him the Raymond O. Denham award.
30-Year Mortgage Averages at or Below 4 Percent for Third Consecutive Week
November 17, 2011
Average fixed mortgage rates changed little and remained at or near 4 percent for the past three weeks amid positive economic and consumer confidence data.
Investors Title Company Announces Third Quarter 2011 Results
November 17, 2011
Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Investors Title Co. reported its net income increased 68.4 percent to $2.4 million, compared with $1.4 million for the prior year period, according to the company’s third-quarter 2011 earnings report.
 Title and Settlement Agents Must Remember to Comply with OFAC Regulations
November 15, 2011
Closings can be delayed when parties to the transaction are flagged by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
More Than 95 Percent of Refinancing Borrowers Choose Fixed-Rate Mortgages
November 15, 2011
The trend toward shorter loan terms is at the highest share since 2003, according to Freddie Mac.
 Survey: Title, Lending Industries Developing Strategies for RESPA Regs
November 15, 2011
The title and lending industries have begun to develop effective strategies for handling new regulations – finding ways to deploy technology to cut costs, and meeting Good Faith Estimates and HUD-1 requirements for mortgage closings, according to a survey released by Ernst Publishing.
MISMO’s Title Workgroup to Meet During January 2012 Trimester Meeting
November 15, 2011
MISMO’s Title Workgroup will meet all day on Jan. 26 to work on implementation guides for Title Request/Response, eRemittance and eAgentValidation. Read on for more information about the meeting.
Stewart Title Aims to Provide On-Demand Access to Real Estate Info
November 15, 2011
Stewart Title says it is now offering constand access to transaction information to Realtors, lenders and consumers that streamline the closing process and elevate customer service.
ServiceLink Names General Counsel, Adds Exec to Default Team
November 15, 2011
ServiceLink named Donald Blanchard as general counsel and David Holt as senior vice president default strategy and execution.
 Market Movers: Glance at Top Gainers and Losers in Loans Closed
November 15, 2011
The transition from summer to fall was a good one for the states of Hawaii and Illinois, both of which repeated their August to September status as top gainers, according to the latest Market Movers survey from eLynx.
 NAIC Focuses on Improving Title Industry Oversight
November 10, 2011
While escrow theft and regulating solvency of both title agents and underwriters were two main issues discussed during the NAIC’s 2011 Fall National Meeting Nov. 3-6 in National Harbor, Md., these issues will remain a priority of the NAIC’s Title Insurance (C) Task Force in 2012.
 ALTA Urges Congress to Restore Conforming Loan Limits Through 2013
November 10, 2011
With Congress still debating to set new limits on federally insured loans, ALTA joined 10 other trade associations to call on House and Senate conferees to restore higher conforming loan limits through the end of 2013.
 The Docket: Wisconsin Court Restores Certain Landowner Rights to Abandoned Rights-of-Way
November 10, 2011
Researching properties involving rail lines are fact intensive because several factors must be considered, including when the railroad was created, under which federal act the railroad obtained title to the rail line and when the line was abandoned. Read on and learn more about what the court said about abandoned rail lines.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Averages 3.99 Percent
November 10, 2011
Average mortgage rates changing little from the previous week amid a mix of economic data reports as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99 percent, dropping below 4 percent for the second time this year, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
ALTA Member Company Employee Honored for Tennis Skills With National Award
November 10, 2011
Binki Thalheimer, who works for Yavapai Title Agency in Arizona, was recently named the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) women's player of the year in the 55-and-over category.
Improving Markets Index Expands to 30 Metros in November
November 8, 2011
The number of improving housing markets continued to expand for a third consecutive month in November, rising from 23 to 30 on the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index.
ClosingCorp, October Research Develop Strategic Relationship
November 8, 2011
ClosingCorp will offer its SmartGFE Calculator to industry professionals via the October Research's online October Store.
 ALTA Members Give Title 101 Presentation to NAIC Regulators
November 8, 2011
Ten ALTA members recently gave a Title 101 webinar presentation to more than 100 members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to help regulators have a better understanding of the various complex steps involved prior to issuing a title insurance policy. Click here to listen to a recorded introduction to the webinar from Bruce Ramge, chairman of the NAIC Title Insurance Task Force, explaining that title insurance is a very different product from other lines of insurance.
WFG National Title Names Bapodra to Lead TitleNet
November 8, 2011
Ravi Bapodra was named vice president and managing director of TitleNet, a division of WFG National Title providing title, closing and settlement services comprised of a national network of independent providers using a centralized technology platform.
New Platform Provides Access to Industry Vendors
November 8, 2011
Some of the title industry’s most notable brands have partnered up with Abstract Solution to service independent title agents of all sizes.
 Senate Bill Would Require Lenders to Consider Home Energy Costs in Underwriting Process
November 3, 2011
A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would require lenders to consider a home’s energy costs, along with the traditional principal, interest, taxes and insurance calculations, in the standard mortgage underwriting process.
 House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Housing Finance Reform Legislation
November 3, 2011
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises held a hearing today to discuss draft legislation to reform the housing finance system sponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (R-NJ).
Stewart Appoints New CEO, Chairman of the Board
November 3, 2011
The Board of Directors of Stewart Information Services Corp. announced that Matt Morris has been elected chief executive officer, while Edward Douglas Hodo was elected chairman of the board.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Averages 4 Percent
November 3, 2011
Average mortgage rates declining sharply as investors rushed to U.S. Treasury bonds amid concerns over the European debt market.
Former ALTA President Joins Stewart Title
November 3, 2011
Mike Pryor, who served as ALTA’s president during the 2008-2009 year, was named division president for Stewart Title of Arkansas.
Colorado-Based Title Company Wins Five-Year HUD Contract
November 3, 2011
Williams Title Guaranty and Escrow Agency was awarded a five-year contract to serve as a designated closing agent for HUD.
Want to Speak at ALTA’s Agents & Abstracters Forums?
November 3, 2011
ALTA is currently accepting educational session proposals for its five regional Agents & Abstracters Forums.
 ALTA Approves Updated Statement Regarding Cost of Public Records
November 1, 2011
The American Land Title Association’s Board of Governors approved an enhanced position statement regarding the cost of public records during its Annual Convention held Oct. 12-15 in Charleston, S.C.
 Survey Finds Five Homebuying Myths
November 1, 2011
While prospective homebuyer seem fairly knowledgeable about the homebuying process, a survey reveals several areas where there’s still confusion.
 VA Announces Funding Fee Refund Procedures
November 1, 2011
Last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs updated the funding fee requirements for VA-guaranteed loans. The VA released a circular announcing that the Funding Fee Payment System has been updated to calculate the funding fee changes for loans closed on or after Oct. 1, 2011.
Former FDIC Chair to Address State Regulators
November 1, 2011
Sheila Bair, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, will deliver the keynote address to members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners during the Opening Session of its Fall National Meeting in National Harbor, Md.
Regional Underwriter Announces Promotions, Additions
November 1, 2011
Missouri-based Agents National Title Insurance Co. announced two promotions and a new addition to its staff.
PRIA Elects Officers and Directors
November 1, 2011
Kelly Romeo, ALTA’s vice president, was re-elected to the board of directors for the second year of a two-year term
 ALTA Member Benefit Tools
November 1, 2011
Among the items are several articles that cover a variety of title insurance topics, which ALTA members can send to local newspapers.
 HUD Suspends Allied Home Mortgage
November 1, 2011
According to HUD, FHA and Ginnie Mae are imposing these actions because Allied originated loans from un-approved branch offices in violation of FHA requirements and then concealed these violations by submitting knowingly false information.
 First American Title Segment Reports Q3 Profit
October 27, 2011
Commercial business, a strong rebound in its international division and a significant increase in refinance orders opened during the third quarter helped drive earnings, the company reported.
 Old Republic's Title Division Posts Positive Results in Third Quarter
October 27, 2011
The company reported continued growth in premiums and fees benefited mostly from market share gains emanating from title industry dislocations and consolidation during the past three years.
 Stewart Earnings Improve in Latest Quarter
October 27, 2011
The company attributed the positive quarter to year-over-year growth within its direct title operations and significant improvement in the performance of its independent agency operation.
 California Amends Mortgage Loan Originator Licensing Requirements
October 27, 2011
Among the amended provisions, the statute clarifies that the automatic bar to licensure for individuals with a felony conviction in the past seven years, does not apply in the event such a felony is expunged or pardoned.
Wisconsin Title Agent wins iPad for Best Video at ALTA Annual Convention
October 27, 2011
ALTA staff selected Craig Haskins of Knight-Barry Title Group in Wisconsin as the winner of its “Tell Us Your Story” video contest and received an iPad for his effort.
North American Title Names Texas Regional Counsel
October 27, 2011
As a key member of the NATIC team, Ginny Abiassi will be responsible for underwriting real estate transactions for NATIC’s independent agents in Texas and Alabama.
Fixed Mortgage Rates Change Little
October 27, 2011
Average fixed mortgage rates changed little for the second consecutive week amid mixed consumer confidence and housing data, according to Freddie Mac.
 FIO Director Says Agency Cannot Be a Full-Blown Regulator
October 27, 2011
The director of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity that his office is not and should not be a full-blown insurance regulator.
 FHFA Confirms Title Insurance Remains Part of HARP Program
October 25, 2011
Following the announcement of the revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program, a handful of media reports indicated that title insurance and closing costs are among the fees that will be reduced or eliminated in the HARP program. ALTA has been assured by the agency responsible for HARP, that this is not the case.
 ALTA Members Reminded FIRPTA Applies to Short Sales
October 25, 2011
With short sales continuing to comprise a significant portion of all transactions, ALTA members should remember that the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act withholding requirement applies to these deals as well.
 Federal Insurance Office Seeks Comments on How to Modernize, Improve Insurance Regulation
October 25, 2011
Some areas the Federal Insurance Office is seeking comments include consumer protection for insurance products and practices, including gaps in state regulation; the degree in national uniformity of state insurance regulation; the regulation of insurance companies and affiliates on a consolidated basis; and the costs and benefits of potential federal regulation of insurance across various lines of insurance.
 ALTA Successfully Pushes Senate to Pass Amendment Restoring Higher Conforming Loan Limit
October 25, 2011
Action taken by ALTA members helped push the Senate to pass an amendment last week that would restore higher limits on the size of government-backed home loans.
NAIC Title Insurance Task Force to Meet during Fall Meeting
October 25, 2011
ALTA staff will be in attendance as the Task Force consider several items including a motion to adopt reports of the Title Statistical Plan (C) Working Group, the Title Annual Statement Instructions (C) Working Group, and the Title Insurance Market Conduct and Mortgage Fraud (C) Working Group.
reQuire Adds to Executive Team
October 25, 2011
John Contreras was named vice president of business development and is responsible for new projects, joint ventures, acquisitions, and selling the reQuire line of products and services to lenders and title agents nationally.
Consulting Firm Adds Director of Sales and Marketing
October 25, 2011
Steve Carlin joins Mid-Atlantic Title Consultants LLC and National Title Consultants.
 Navy SEAL Shares How to Achieve Success Through Flawless Execution
October 20, 2011
U.S. Navy SEAL Mark “McGoo” McGinnis kept attendees on the edge of their seats during a packed closing general session of ALTA's Annual Convention, detailing the intense training it takes to become a SEAL, and sharing how to apply the same principles in everyday business situations to build a culture of success. Click here to listen to a portion of his presentation.
 ALTA Board Approves New Forms During Annual Convention
October 20, 2011
The ALTA Board approved recommendations to revise two Closing Protection Letters, revise six endorsements, and adopt six new endorsements during a meeting Oct. 13 at the 2011 Annual Convention in Charleston, S.C.
 ALTA Asks Members to Contact Congress about Supporting Loan Limit Bill
October 20, 2011
A bipartisan amendment is being offered in the Senate to restore the expired limit for two years to ensure that middle class homebuyers in high price areas have access to mortgage credit to buy and sell homes, and protect against more severe price declines. Read on to take action and contact your senator.
 The Docket: N.Y. Court Addresses Policy Coverage Involving Fraudulent Transaction
October 20, 2011
This order is important because it discusses in some detail, two potentially concurrent causes of the failure of the insured lender’s mortgage lien, one covered, and one not, in the context of the ALTA 2006 Policy Form. Read on for other ramifications.
 Fidelity’s Title Group Posts Solid Third Quarter
October 20, 2011
While Fidelity National Financial reported earnings fell 11 percent during the third quarter, the company’s title group completed a strong three months.
CFPB Issues Examination Guidelines
October 20, 2011
This is a guide to how the CFPB will supervise and examine consumer financial service providers under its jurisdiction for compliance with Federal consumer financial law.
First American Portal Provides Users With Order Status Info
October 20, 2011
A primary benefit of the new portal is its ability to send notifications to its users via email or text message when key tasks in the closing process are completed.
Fixed Mortgage Rates Hold Steady
October 20, 2011
Average mortgage rates remained relatively unchanged for the week amid mixed economic and consumer sentiment reports, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Market Movers: Glance at Top Gainers and Losers in Loans Closed
October 20, 2011
The end of summer witnessed a dramatic change in the number of home closings for both the top gainers as well as the top losers, according to the latest statistics from real estate technology service provider eLynx.
 New ALTA President Urges Industry to Explain Value so 'Grandma Can Understand'
October 18, 2011
Newly elected ALTA President Chris Abbinante shared his vision for the industry during the closing general session of ALTA's Annual Convention, calling for more transparency and professionalism, while urging the industry to explain its value in a way that “grandmother can understand.” Click here to listen to a portion of Chris Abbinante’s induction speech.
ALTA Announces 2011-12 Board and Executive Committees
October 18, 2011
ALTA is pleased to present its 2011-12 ALTA Board of Governors, as well as the Abstracters and Title Insurance Agents Executive Committee, and the Title Insurance Underwriters Executive Committee.
 VA Updates Funding Fee
October 18, 2011
The circular sets forth the funding fee amounts for loans closed from Oct. 6, 2011 through Nov. 17, 2011, as well as the funding fee amounts that will be effective for loans closed on or after Nov. 18, 2011.
States With Highest and Lowest Homeownership Rates
October 18, 2011
According to the data, homeownership rates were high in thinly populated states and those with low home prices, while homeownership was low in states with expensive homes and large cities.
Home Builder Confidence Rises Four Points in October
October 18, 2011
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose four points to 18 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for October.
ClosingCorp Enhances SmartGFE Calculator, Adds Transfer Tax Feature
October 18, 2011
ClosingCorp said the calculator’s ability to provide transfer tax allocations between buyer and seller, based on local custom, practice or statute, makes it easier for title companies to provide lenders information regarding which party is responsible for payment.
Illinois County Considers Eliminating Recorder of Deeds
October 18, 2011
John Fritchey, a commissioner in Cook County, Ill., is seeking a referendum on the November 2012 ballot to merge the recorder of deeds office with the county clerk, which he says would save the county $1 million a year.
 State of the Industry: Experts Provide Market Snapshot
October 14, 2011
Title insurance, real estate, mortgage and RESPA experts shared their insight on a variety of issues impacting business and how recent legislative and regulatory changes and further alterations will influence the marketplace during a general session at ALTA’s Annual Convention in Charleston, S.C.
 Title Industry ‘On the Edge of Glory’
October 14, 2011
Taking the stage with an image of the Rocky Statue behind her and the Lady Gaga song “On the Edge,” pumping through the speakers, Anne Anastasi delivered a moving speech during the ALTA Annual Convention in Charleston, S.C.
 Annual Convention Attendees Learn Tools to Become Effective Storytellers
October 14, 2011
While the title insurance industry has long grappled with how to effectively explain the benefits of title insurance, expert speaker Sue Hershkowitz-Coore offered strategies to help the industry improve its message and connect with consumers on an emotional level.
Chicago Title Bolsters Executive Team
October 14, 2011
Chicago Title Company announced that Rick Fortunato has joined its team as senior vice president, major accounts.
New Title Settlement Software Unveiled at Annual Convention
October 14, 2011
According to the company, ATS Secured is a standalone, secure platform that allows title agents to electronically disburse and reconcile HUD files, saving all participants in the HUD process considerable time, money and resources.
PRIA Holding Striving for eRecording eXcellence Summit
October 14, 2011
This one-day meeting will focus on the development of a strategic plan to increase the number of eRecording counties and document submitters along with building industry awareness about data integrity in an XML transaction.
 New York Becomes 37th State to Restrict Dangerous Private Transfer Fees
October 14, 2011
The president of the New York State Land Title Association said the bill is an important step in enhancing consumer protections, ensuring the safe and efficient transfer of property.
Industry Urged to Speak Up About Forthcoming Laws, Regulations
October 14, 2011
Justin Ailes, ALTA’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs, will participate on a webinar to give title industry professionals the information they need to influence lawmakers and regulatory overseers in the legislative and rulemaking process.
Electrical Shutdown May Impact ALTA Phone, Access to Website
October 14, 2011
Every three years, the District of Columbia requires a test of the electrical system of the building where ALTA’s office is located. To perform the test, electrical power will be turned off after close of business on Friday, Oct. 14.
 ALTA Positioned for Success, CEO Tells Convention Attendees
October 13, 2011
Following the singing of the National Anthem, ALTA CEO Michelle Korsmo opened the 2011 Annual Convention in historic Charleston, S.C. by telling more than 570 attendees the association is well positioned to meet the challenges of today and excel in the future, and will remain focused promoting professionalism in the industry and explain the important role the industry plays in the real estate transaction.
 Economist Says Industry Only Halfway through Down Cycle
October 13, 2011
Addressing more than 570 attendees at ALTA’s Annual Convention in Charleston, S.C., Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan said the industry is still five years away from returning to normal market conditions.
 ALTA Announces Membership Surpasses 4,000 to Set New Record
October 13, 2011
ALTA boasts a diverse membership base, with the majority of its members being small-sized title agents that rely on the benefits provided by ALTA to succeed in the marketplace.
 U.S. Supreme Court to Hear RESPA Case Over Unearned Fees
October 13, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether federal law bars mortgage lenders from charging "unearned fees" at closings if they aren't part of a kickback or fee-sharing arrangement.
eLynx and First American Title Partnership Brings Transparency to the Closing Process
October 13, 2011
The integration validates the identity of settlement agents and their standing with title underwriters before closing documents or funds are released.
RedVision Names Director of Strategic Sales
October 13, 2011
Possessing more than 20 years of mortgage settlement services business experience, David Stokes’ primary focus will be on account expansion and new sales in the mortgage lender and servicers segment of RedVision’s strategic sales division.
 2011 Annual Convention Preview
October 11, 2011
This year’s ALTA Annual Convention in Charleston, S.C., will provide insight into the current and future state of the housing and mortgage markets, while providing educational opportunities and business strategies needed to compete in the uncertain market in 2012 and beyond.
A.M. Best Releases Report on Title Insurance Industry
October 11, 2011
Despite uncertain macroeconomic and housing market conditions, A.M. Best Co. maintains its stable rating outlook for the title sector with the view that the majority of ratings will not change over the near-to-medium term.
First American Unveils New Web Portal for Title Agents
October 11, 2011
According to the company, AgentNet 2 is designed to increase efficiency and streamline workflow by offering new features such as data input tools, shared visibility of invoices and statements, payment activity summary and detail, remittance options and research capabilities.
Stewart Lender Services Offers Foreclosure Review Services
October 11, 2011
The company said it will assist mortgage servicers in evaluating risk exposure and help determine if foreclosure processes have been in step with state and local foreclosure requirements.
 Federal Lawsuit Accuses Lenders of Charging Attorney, Settlement Fees on VA Loans
October 11, 2011
A lawsuit filed in 2006 and unsealed last week in an Atlanta federal court claims several large banks and mortgage companies defrauded veterans by charging illegal fees on Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Number of Improving Housing Markets Nearly Doubles in October
October 11, 2011
Pockets of improvement are emerging in local housing markets across the country, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
 ALTA Comments on Benefits of Providing Homeownership Incentives
October 6, 2011
Both ALTA and the National Association of Home Builders believe the mortgage interest deduction is a cornerstone of housing policy that provides benefits for all homebuyers.
 Mississippi S.C. Considers New UPL Requirements
October 6, 2011
The proposal filed by the Mississippi Bar would define what constitutes the practice of law and spell out exceptions that do not constitute unauthorized practice of law by non-attorneys.
30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Falls Below 4 Percent
October 6, 2011
The average rate for the conventional 30-year fixed mortgage dropped below 4 percent for the first time in history amid increasing global economic concerns, Freddie Mac reported, while the 15-year fixed also fell to the lowest level on record for the sixth consecutive week.
Home Prices Decline 4.4 Percent Over Past Year
October 6, 2011
This follows a decline of 4.8 percent in July 2011 compared to July 2010, according to CoreLogic.
 New York Debuts New Department of Financial Services
October 6, 2011
The department will have five main divisions including insurance, banking, financial frauds and consumer protection; real estate finance and capital markets.
TSS launches Enterprise Edition of TitleExpress Geared Toward Large Agencies
October 6, 2011
Utilizing Microsoft SQL database technology, TSS said users will benefit from advanced search functionality and custom management reporting capabilities among several other enhancements.
WFG National Title Expands Presence in New York, New Jersey
October 6, 2011
WFG National Title Insurance Co. added Manny Losquadro to grow and support its customer base in New York and New Jersey.
There's Still Time to Register for the Annual Convention
October 6, 2011
ALTA's 2011 Annual Convention kicks off in a week, but you still have a chance to join us in historic Charleston, S.C. and be part of the title industry event of the year. Keep in mind that one-day passes are available.
 ALTA Urges Minnesota S.C. to Reverse Decision Awarding Damages Exceeding Policy Limit
October 4, 2011
The American Land Title Association and Minnesota Land Title Association filed an amicus brief with the Minnesota Supreme Court asking it to reverse a decision by the Court of Appeals that awarded damages exceeding the policy limit.
 False Statements, Debt Elimination Among Leading Mortgage Fraud Scams
October 4, 2011
While misrepresentations of income, occupancy, or debts and assets, followed by debt elimination scams and scams involving the fraudulent use of social security numbers, topped the types of suspicious activity during the second quarter, FinCEN noted problems with funds disbursement through several settlement companies and title agencies.
 HUD Clarifies MIP Charges for Certain Loans
October 4, 2011
The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a mortgagee letter to provide clarification on Annual Mortgage Insurance Premiums for loans with forward amortization terms of 15 years or less and an LTV of 78 percent or less at origination.
 Bank Failure in Texas Pushes Total to 74 in 2011
October 4, 2011
The first reported bank failure this year in Texas has pushed the total number of FDIC-insured institutions to close to 74 this year.
Title Services Provider Names National Underwriting Counsel
October 4, 2011
Janice Carpi, an experienced title insurance underwriting counsel with over 30 years in the industry, is known for her extensive body of work in both domestic and international real estate transactions.
ALTA Member Named President of Business Networking Organization Chapter
October 4, 2011
Jennifer Ferri, owner and operator of Fort Myers, Fla.-based Title Junction, has been selected as president for the Cape Crusaders chapter of BNI in Cape Coral.
FNF Announces Third-Quarter 2011 Earnings Release
October 4, 2011
Fidelity National Financial Inc. will release third-quarter 2011 earnings after the close of regular market trading on Oct. 19. A conference call will follow at 10 a.m. ET, Oct. 20.
Property Records Industry Association Presents Founders Award
October 4, 2011
The Property Records Industry Association presented the Carl R. Ernst Founders Award to Bettie Johnson, recorder of deeds for Boone Co., Mo.
 How Does Your Operation Measure Up?
September 29, 2011
Available now exclusively to members, ALTA’s latest Abstracter and Title Agent Operations Survey measures operating statistics and curative actions and can help you compare to national averages. Read on to learn more about the survey results and how to download a copy.
Warn Your Customers about False Loan Audits
September 29, 2011
Hundreds of organizations have cropped up over the last two years offering forensic loan audits, a scam targeting struggling home owners looking for a loan modification to save their home from foreclosure.
 2011 New Home Sales Projected to be Lowest on Record
September 29, 2011
With economists predicting this will be the worst year on record for new home sales, title agents must continue to refine operations and remain vigilant in keeping and generating business. Check out the lineup of sessions ALTA has planned at this year's Annual Convention to help you remain competitive.
Fixed-Rate Mortgages Lowest on Record
September 29, 2011
Coming on the heels of the Federal Reserve's recent announcements, the conventional 30- and 15-year fixed rates averaged all-time record lows for the week ending Sept. 29.
Stewart Releases Property Profiles iPhone App
September 29, 2011
Stewart Title said the three versions of its Property Profiles iPhone application help real estate professionals provide customers with convenient and valuable property data.
ALTA Member Named to Real Estate Law Society Advisory Board
September 29, 2011
David A. Townsend, president and chief executive officer of Agents National Title Insurance Co., has been named to the inaugural Real Estate Law Society Advisory Board at the University of Missouri School of Law.
 ALTA Files Brief with Michigan Supreme Court in MERS Case
September 27, 2011
The American Land Title Association filed an amicus brief requesting the Michigan Supreme Court reverse a decision by the state’s court of appeals in order to bring clarity to the validity of foreclosures that occurred in the name of MERS over the past two years.
 ALTA TIPAC Contributors
September 27, 2011
So far this year, TIPAC has raised more than $266,000 from 483 contributors, as it pushes toward its goal of $300,000. Take a look at those who have already contributed. If you have any questions about TIPAC please contact Steve Gottheim at steve@alta.org.
 National Flood Insurance Program Extended Through Nov. 18
September 27, 2011
The National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire Sept. 30, received a temporary extension Monday as the Senate approved legislation keeping the program running through Nov. 18.
 FDIC Files Complaint Against Title Companies for Role in Alleged Fraud
September 27, 2011
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has filed a complaint in New York seeking to recover $1.2 million from participants that resulted in the $92 million mortgage fraud perpetrated against Washington Mutual Bank, according to a federal complaint.
RedVision Expands Leadership Team with Top Industry Executive
September 27, 2011
The provider of title report production and real property research solutions hired Lee Howlett as executive vice president and managing director of national solutions and strategic accounts.
eRecording Counties Top 700 Mark
September 27, 2011
According to the Property Records Industry Association, it took from the late 1990s until August 2006 to reach the 200 eRecording counties mark. That number has now more than tripled in the ensuing five years.
WFG National Title Maintains Top Financial Stability Rating
September 27, 2011
For the second consecutive year, WFG National Title Insurance Co. maintained its Financial Stability Rating of A' (A Prime), Unsurpassed, from Demotech Inc.
Management of MISMO to Transfer Back to MBA
September 27, 2011
The Mortgage Bankers Association will take back management responsibilities of the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization on Dec. 1, 2011.
 Market Movers: Glance at Top Gainers and Losers in Loans Closed
September 22, 2011
The midsummer period (July to August, 2011) welcomed gains in loans closed across the nation, according to the latest statistics from real estate technology service provider eLynx.
 Oral Arguments Scheduled in U.S. Supreme Court RESPA Case
September 22, 2011
ALTA filed an amicus brief informing the court that allowing no-injury class actions would have a negative impact on the title insurance industry.
Fixed-Rate Mortgages Hold Steady, Remain Near Record Lows
September 22, 2011
Fixed-rate mortgages changed little amid sluggish economic, mixed housing data and ongoing concerns over the European debt markets, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Majesty Title Services Wins Small Business of the Year Awards
September 22, 2011
Majesty Title Services LLC received the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce 2011 Small Business of the Year Award for companies with five to 20 employees.
PRIA to Address MERS, GIS During Annual Convention
September 22, 2011
General sessions at the Property Records Industry Association’s Annual Conference in San Antonio will discuss efficiencies of overlaying GIS and land records systems and a much anticipated discussion on MERS.
 OCC Details New Foreclosure Complaint Process
September 22, 2011
During a presentation at this week’s American Banker Regulatory Symposium, Acting Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) John Walsh discussed a new complaint review process for homeowners who believe that they were the victims of an improper foreclosure.
 Agent Defalcation Forces Regional Underwriter to Suspend Issuance of New Policies
September 20, 2011
Directors and officers of Virginia-based Southern Title Insurance Co. indicated the underwriter is solvent and has adequate surplus to pay all current and future claims, but suspended issuance of new title policies after it discovered a substantial defalcation by a former agent in Texas.
 ALTA Comments on Efforts to Reduce Foreclosure Backlog
September 20, 2011
The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development held a hearing today titled “New Ideas to Address the Glut of Foreclosed Properties.”
 Congress Considers Short-Term Extension for Flood Insurance Program
September 20, 2011
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is set to expire on Sept. 30, may get a temporary extension to provide Congress with additional time to reconcile competing bills in the House and Senate.
 N.J. Governor Signs Bulk Sales Legislation
September 20, 2011
The legislation reduces unnecessary bureaucracy on the individual sale of homes and seasonal rentals by providing an exemption from New Jersey’s bulk sales notification process.
TSS Software adds GreenFolders to its Software Platform
September 20, 2011
This integration provides TSS customers access to the GreenFolders office management system, allowing staff to share files, documents, tasks and client communications.
WFG National Title Expands Default Services Division
September 20, 2011
Brandy Sams joined WFG National Title Insurance Co. as the director of its default services division.
Pennsylvania County Expands Electronic Recording Options
September 20, 2011
PropertyInfo has partnered with Berks County, Pa., to offer additional electronic recording services for legal documents via eSecureFile to the county’s submitters.
Stewart Title Agency Services Group Makes Addition to Board of Advisors
September 20, 2011
Karen Johner, president of North Dakota Guaranty & Title Co., has been appointed to the Stewart Title Guaranty Company agency services group Board of Advisors.
 ALTA’s RESPA Task Force Addresses Latest Mortgage Disclosure Prototype
September 15, 2011
The Task Force shared several concerns regarding the latest disclosure prototype released by the CFPB, including the omission of a separate listing for "Owner's Title Insurance." Read on for more.
Fixed-Rate Mortgages Continue To Find New Record Lows
September 15, 2011
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.09 percent, a new all-time low, while the e 15-year fixed, a popular refinancing option, also reached a new record low for the week averaging 3.30 percent.
 Info to Share: NAIC Launches Home Inventory App for Android
September 15, 2011
The smartphone app allows users to create a home inventory to make sure their possessions are fully documented and protected.
 HUD Warns Mortgagees for Failing to Report Mortgage Record Changes
September 15, 2011
FHA-approved holders and servicers that fail to report Mortgage Record Changes for mortgage sales, transfers and terminations of mortgage insurance may be subject to referral to the Mortgagee Review Board for administrative actions.
RedVision Hires Texas Managing Director
September 15, 2011
Steve Hightower will be responsible for guiding RedVision's Texas production and sales team into rapidly expanding markets.
Data Trace Initiates Recording Notification Service to Homeowners in Riverside County, Calif.
September 15, 2011
Through the program, homeowners are automatically issued a courtesy notice by the Riverside County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder’s office after a deed or similar instrument affecting property ownership is recorded.
Idaho Title Company Makes Acquisition
September 15, 2011
TitleOne has expanded its reach into the eastern half of the state with the acquisition of Idaho Title and Trust.
 The Docket: MERS Cases Highlight Need for Agents to Work with Counsel, Underwriter
September 13, 2011
The Kansas Court of Appeals and a bankruptcy court offered differing views and decisions on MERS cases involving the same parties. Read on to learn why its important for title agents to stay abreast of court decisions at the regional and national level.
 Proposed Bill Would Create Title Insurance System in Philippines
September 13, 2011
The bill seeks to amend the Philippine insurance code to to include a land title insurance system to protect “the insured against title defects, forgery, falsification, double-titling and similar unlawful acts that affect title to, or the use of real property.”
Several State Land Title Associations Meet This Week
September 13, 2011
Nine state land title associations will hold their annual conventions in September, with the Land Title Association of Colorado, Dixie Land Title Association, North Carolina Land Title Association and Maryland Land Title Association all beginning this week.
Wisconsin-Based Title Company Makes Acquisition
September 13, 2011
Knight Barry Title Group has acquired Lakeside Title of Kenosha, Wis., which marks the company's 19th office.
NextAce Tool Gives Instant Access To Property Ownership and Debt Reports
September 13, 2011
The provider of automated real property information announced the availability of SearchQ, which gives instant retrieval of property ownership and debt information from its newly updated website.
 HUD Issues Mortgage Letter on FHA Loan Limits
September 8, 2011
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced changes to the loan amounts for FHA-insured loans effective Oct. 1, 2011 through the end of the year. However, if legislation is enacted to extend the current FHA-insured loan limits, which expire on Sept. 30, HUD said it will publish a Mortgagee Letter defining the most recent loan limits for both FHA-insured forward mortgages and HECMs.
 New Jersey Authorizes Major Lenders to Resume Foreclosures
September 8, 2011
A judge gave the green light to Wells Fargo, Citibank, OneWest, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to resume foreclosures, while no order has been issued yet for GMAC.
 Fannie Mae Amends Foreclosure Process and Fees in Hawaii
September 8, 2011
Due to potential title insurance issues, Fannie Mae said it may be required to eliminate certain recent acquisitions that resulted from non-judicial foreclosures.
 FDIC Initiates Investor Match Program
September 8, 2011
The FDIC said the goal of the Investor Match Program is to expand opportunities for participation by smaller investors and asset managers, including minority and women-owned firms, in FDIC structured sales transactions.
Mortgage Rates Attain New All-Time Record Lows Again
September 8, 2011
Mortgage rates, fixed and adjustable, once again hit all-time record lows amid market and employment concerns and economic uncertainty, according to Freddie Mac.
HomeServices of America Announces Launch of National Title & Closing Network
September 8, 2011
The network provides a single point-of-contact for all title and closing services nationwide but with transactions handled by local providers.
Stewart Title Guaranty Names New Agency Services Manager for Illinois
September 8, 2011
As vice president, Illinois agency services manager, Michael Fonder will handle all independent title agency operations in Illinois.
Room Discount for Annual Convention Expires Next Week
September 8, 2011
The deadline to reserve a room at a special discount rate ALTA has secured for the 2011 Annual Convention ends Sept. 13. Room rates will go up substantially beginning September 14. Click here to reserve your hotel room at Charleston Place, site of this year's Annual Convention.
 ALTA Addresses Freddie Mac Short Sale Addendum Issues
September 6, 2011
As a result of the uptick in short sale issues, Freddie Mac now requires all of the parties involved to sign an affidavit attesting that it is a true arms-length transaction. This, however, is putting increased liability on settlement agents. Read on to find out how ALTA is attempting to resolve the issue.
2011-12 Nominations for ALTA Board and Executive Committees
September 6, 2011
ALTA's Nominating Committee is pleased to present the list of nominations for the 2011-12 ALTA Board of Governors, as well as the Abstracters and Title Insurance Agents Executive Committee, and the Title Insurance Underwriters Executive Committee.
PREP Newsletter: Make Sure You Get a Seat at the Table
September 6, 2011
The lead session at the PRIA annual conference will discuss the state of the property records industry as participants from the title industry, lenders and recorders will offer their perspective.
First American Recognized As Fit-Friendly Company
September 6, 2011
The company offers multiple health and wellness programs designed to improve employee health and productivity and decrease healthcare costs.
 Title Industry Survey Measures Operating Statistics, Curative Efforts
September 6, 2011
The survey, which will be available Sept. 27, evaluates the current status and operations of the industry at the agent and abstracter level, while also collecting data on the industry's curative and loss mitigation efforts and the current state of regulatory affairs regarding state and national statistical calls.
 ALTA Files Amicus Brief in RESPA Case before U.S. Supreme Court
September 1, 2011
With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to determine who has the right to sue for damages under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, ALTA shared its views on the subject with the Court. Read on to learn why this case could significantly impact longstanding business arrangements, such as shared ownership entities and exclusive agency agreements.
Mortgage Rates Remain at or Near Historic Lows
September 1, 2011
According to the latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed held steady, while the 5-year ARM set a new all-time record low having fallen for the eighth consecutive week.
First American Partners with Operation Hope to Provide Youth Programs
September 1, 2011
Volunteers from First American Financial and Operation HOPE recently presented workshops covering financial education, leadership and smartphone application development.
 CFPB Adopts Policy to Promote Transparency in Rulemaking Process
September 1, 2011
To promote openness and transparency to its rulemaking process, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has adopted a policy governing ex parte presentations.
National Mobile Notary Company Launches
August 31, 2011
The owner of the Florida-based Reality Notaries specializes in serving title companies, lenders and attorneys.
 Career Level Influences LinkedIn Usage
August 30, 2011
LinkedIn has traditionally been viewed as a social networking site just for those who are looking for new jobs, but a new survey finds that people are using it for much more. Are you among the more than 1,600 members of ALTA's LinkedIn group?
 Smart Phone Deposit Apps Open Door to Potential Fraud
August 30, 2011
Title and settlement agents must beware of a new scam where customers deposit a check using a smart phone deposit application and then return asking for a wire.
 CFPB Issues Interim Final Rules Describing Investigatory and Enforcement Procedures
August 30, 2011
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued four interim final rules in July setting out procedures governing how the agency will investigate and prosecute claims.
Title Insurance Premiums Written Increases in 21 States and D.C. during Second Quarter of 2011
August 30, 2011
According to ALTA’s preliminary 2011 Second-Quarter Market Share Analysis, the states generating the most title insurance premiums during the second quarter of 2011 were California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. Read on for more details.
Illinois-Based Prairie Title Names New President, Expands Footprint
August 30, 2011
Illinois-based Prairie Title, Inc. announced that it has named William Andrews as its new president and brought on additional staff, while opening a new office in New Lenox, Ill.
WFG National Title Deepens Underwriting Support for Mid-Atlantic Agents
August 30, 2011
Ed Trope will serve as state underwriting counsel for Virginia and Maryland.
NAIC Cancels Summer National Meeting due to Hurricane Irene
August 30, 2011
ALTA had prepared to work with regulators during the meeting on efforts to promote better information for consumers to use when shopping for title insurance.
 ALTA Participates on Webinar Discussing Efforts to Ban Dangerous Private Transfer Fees
August 25, 2011
Steve Gottheim, ALTA’s legislative and regulatory counsel, participated on a webinar to discuss private transfer fees, efforts to ban this dangerous scheme at the state and federal level, and why its important for title agents to understand how they impact title.
 Several ALTA Member Title Companies, Industry Vendors Listed on Inc. 5000 List
August 25, 2011
Inc. magazine's annual list of the nation's 5000 fastest-growing private companies includes several ALTA member title companies and businesses that provide services to the title insurance industry.
Market Movers: Glance at Top Gainers and Losers in Loans Closed
August 25, 2011
Early summer saw significant gains in closings for several states including Kansas and Tennessee, according to eLynx, while six states experienced a double-digit drop in the percentage of loans closed from June to July.
Learn What it Takes to be a Navy Seal
August 25, 2011
Register now for ALTA's 2011 Annual Convention, being held Oct. 12-15 in Charleston, S.C., for your chance to hear former Navy SEAL Mark "McGoo" McGinnis provide a moving and intense keynote sharing how Navy SEALs train, plan and flawlessly execute missions all over the globe. In addition to being on the edge of your seat with his stories, you'll leave knowing how to apply those same tools to any business situation, anytime, anywhere.
Mortgage Rates Follow Bond Yields Higher for the Week
August 25, 2011
Mortgage rates moved higher from the previous week's record lows as Treasury bond yields moved higher and other housing data showed improvement.
TSS Software Releases Integrated GFE Quote Solution
August 25, 2011
The tool provides customers with instant online GFE Quotes using calculations, according to TSS.
Southern Title Announces Several Additions, Promotions
August 25, 2011
Southern Title Insurance Corp. recently announced several promotions and additions, including the hiring of new agency managers in Georgia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Help Us Select the Location for the 2012 Business Strategies Conference
August 25, 2011
If costs are the same, would you prefer to go to Louisville, Ky., or Mobile, Ala., for the 2012 Business Strategies Conference in March? Please take a few moments to make your selection and offer any comments.
 The Docket: Virginia Supreme Court Ruling Impacts Waterfront Property Rights
August 23, 2011
This lawsuit is a reminder to title agents that any interest in real property may be subject to a claim of adverse possession. Read on to learn how this decision impacts agents handling waterfront property.
 Rate of Contract Failures Holds Steady in July
August 23, 2011
Contract failures – cancellations caused largely by declined mortgage applications or failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price – were unchanged in July, according to the National Association of Realtors.
 Poll: Nearly Half of Notaries Lack Protection from Flawed Notarizations
August 23, 2011
The National Notary Association reports that 46 percent of Notaries who responded to its poll said they do not carry Errors & Omissions insurance, leaving nearly half of the Notary community vulnerable to costly lawsuits.
 Bank Closures in 2011 Reach 68
August 23, 2011
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., banks were closed in Illinois, Georgia, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Small Business Funding Approved for 11 States and D.C.
August 23, 2011
According to the U.S. Treasury, this funding will help create private sector jobs and spur more than $3.6 billion in additional small-business lending.
WFG National Title Grows Default Services Division
August 23, 2011
Barry Owen, who was named senior vice president and national sales manager, will be charged with growing the company’s market for all default related services and products, including owners & encumbrances reports, trustee sale guarantee and trustee work, default title and escrow services.
Annual Convention Registration Brochure Arriving in Your Mailbox
August 18, 2011
The Registration Brochure for ALTA's 104th Annual Convention, being held Oct. 12-15 in Charleston, S.C., will be arriving in your mailbox soon and contains all the information you need to know about the schedule of events, conference hotel, travel accommodations and registration rates. The online version of the brochure can be accessed here. Read on for more details.
 NAIC Title Insurance Task Force to Address Several Industry Issues during Summer Meeting
August 18, 2011
Among items on the agenda, the Task Force will consider the Title Agent Statistical Data Plan Implementation Guideline developed by the Title Statistical Plan (C) Working Group; consider a motion to adopt reports of the Title Statistical Plan (C) Working Group, the Title Annual Statement Instructions (C) Working Group and the Market Conduct and Mortgage Fraud (C) Working Group; discuss increasing costs and closing responsibilities; and review survey results of revisions to the Title Insurers Model Act and Title Insurance Agent Model Act.
 USDA Coffer Contains $11.2 Billion to Guarantee No-Down Mortgages
August 18, 2011
To be eligible for the no-down program, borrowers can earn up to 115 percent of the median income for the area and live in a qualified area.
 ALTA Board Member Honored for Professional, Civic Achievements
August 18, 2011
Peter Birnbaum, president and CEO of Chicago-based Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund Inc., was named an Academy of Illinois Lawyers Laureate by the Illinois State Bar Association’s Academy of Illinois Lawyers for his dedication to the legal professional and equal commitment to investing in his community and assisting neighbors.
 Welcome the Latest ALTA Members
August 18, 2011
ALTA membership continues to increase as more and more title and settlement agents realize the many benefits the Association provides. Check out who has recently became a member.
 37 Community Banks Receive $418M to Help Small Businesses Access Capital
August 18, 2011
A total of 80 banks have now received more than $1 billion in funding through the Small Business Lending Fund.
ALTA Reports Record Membership
August 18, 2011
ALTA membership has reached an all-time high of 3,865 member companies, increasing more than 90 percent since 2001.
Average 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Sinks to 4.15 Percent
August 18, 2011
Mortgage rates, fixed and adjustable, reached all-time record lows providing further incentive for those homeowners looking to refinance.
LenderLive Settlement Services Expands Business Development Team
August 18, 2011
Denver-based LenderLive Settlement Services LLC expanded its business development team with the addition of Kimberly Joyce as national sales manager and Brad Noblit as regional account manager.
95 Percent of Refinancing Borrowers Choose Fixed-Rate Mortgages
August 16, 2011
According to Freddie Mac, the trend toward shorter loan terms is at its highest share since 2003.
Stewart Title Exec Honored in Real Estate Forum Women of Influence 2011
August 16, 2011
Melissa G. Eastman, senior vice president, national business development and manager of the Stewart National Title Services office in Dallas, has 25 years of experience in the real estate industry.
Westcor Named One of Best Places to Work
August 16, 2011
Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. was named one of the Orlando Sentinel’s 2011 Top 100 Companies for Working Families.
 Contract Cancellations Impact Closed Title Orders
August 16, 2011
Whether it’s due to homebuyers walking away from signed contracts or unable to secure financing because of credit issues, exceptionally large numbers of signed real estate contracts fell apart in June, failing to reach settlement.
 ABA Approves New Uniform Law on Notarial Acts
August 16, 2011
With increasing variation among states in their treatment of notaries public and notarial acts, the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts is designed to modernize and clarify the law governing notaries public, their responsibilities and duties, and to provide a stable infrastructure for the performance of notarial acts with respect to electronic records.
 The Impact of Recent Changes on Homeowners and Businesses
August 16, 2011
The Impact of Recent Changes on Homeowners and Businesses American Land Title Association President Anne Anastasi recently had an article published in National Mortgage News that encourages itemization on mortgage disclosure forms because greater transparency of the source of costs helps consumers see what costs are included in the cash needed to close. She also addressed the impact of tolerances and the issuance of several “magic GFEs” during the process. Read on.
 Economy Continues in Roller Coaster Fashion
August 16, 2011
Despite the recent ups and downs in the capital markets the likelihood of an extended period of both relatively low short- and long-term interest rates is helpful news for the housing market's recovery as it continues to struggle, according to Freddie Mac's U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for August.
WFG National Title Adds Sales VP in Puget Sound Region
August 16, 2011
WFG National Title Insurance Co. appointed Wendy Lunt as vice president, sales and marketing for its newly acquired Puget Sound Division.
Hear the State of the Industry; Learn How to Tell Your Story
August 11, 2011
ALTA is proud to announce the general session lineup for its 2011 Annual Convention, which will be held Oct. 12-15 at the Charleston Place in Charleston, S.C. Check out what's planned as ALTA will provide a state of the industry overview; a dynamic presentation to help you explain the industry's story to homebuyers and regulators; analysis of the economy; and an intense "black ops" keynote that will leave you knowing how to apply Navy SEAL training to any business situation, anytime, anywhere.
 Second Quarter Metro Prices Mixed with Little Change
August 11, 2011
Median existing-home prices declined 2.8 percent in the second quarter, while total state existing-home sales, declined 5.4 percent during the quarter.
 HUD Unveils Web-based Map to Attract Private capital into Areas Recovering from Foreclosure
August 11, 2011
The new tool displays displaying the location all foreclosed properties currently offered for sale by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
CFPB Adds RESPA Director
August 11, 2011
Bart Shapiro will serve as a senior advisor for the Office of Community Banks and Credit Unions at the CFPB.
Stewart Execs Reappointed as American Bar Association Committee Chairs
August 11, 2011
The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law recently reappointed Jim Gosdin and Bruce Hawley of Stewart Title Guaranty Company (STG) to leadership chair positions for the 2011-2012 bar year.
New Company Offers Centralized Title Ordering through Electronic Dashboard
August 11, 2011
NITA Solutions provides a network of title agencies unified at a central point of contact to distribute title and escrow orders to any market in the country through an electronic “dashboard.”
Market Concerns Produce New Record Low Mortgage Rates
August 11, 2011
Mortgage rates continued to decline as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage marked a new low for 2011, while the 1-year AMR averaged a new all-time record low.
 Title Insurance Veteran Inspires Hope in Book about Cancer Survivors
August 11, 2011
Motivated by his 4-year-old nephew who lost his battle to an aggressive brain tumor 20 years ago, lifelong title insurance veteran John Voso Jr., senior vice president of Old Republic National Title Insurance Co., wrote the book “Today’s Heroes, Surviving with Style to instill “hope and encouragement."
 ALTA Supports Bipartisan Bill to Extend Mortgage Loan Limits
August 9, 2011
Several lenders have stopped accepting mortgage applications at the current limits due to fears the loans won’t close before the higher limits expire Sept. 30.
 ALTA Member Wins British Seniors Open Amateur
August 9, 2011
Chip Lutz, president of Sentry Abstract Company in Pennsylvania, won the British Seniors Open Amateur by shooting a two-under 214 to come from behind and edge Irish golfer Arthur Pierse by one stroke at Royal Portrush in Antrim, Northern Ireland.
 CATIC Reports Strong Results for First Six Months
August 9, 2011
CATIC reported strong results for the first six months of 2011 as title operating revenues increased 9 percent over the comparable period of 2010.
 Investors Title Company Announces Second-Quarter 2011 Results
August 9, 2011
The company reported net income decreased 37.2 percent to $1.6 million during the second quarter of 2011, compared with $2.5 million for the prior year period.
Indiana Land Title Association Now Offers Online CE Classes
August 9, 2011
ILTA uses the funds it collects from its education program to support legislative and advocacy efforts aimed at creating awareness about the issues and nuances of the title insurance industry.
TSS Software Adds Digital Closing Docs to Platform
August 9, 2011
TSS said the integration allows its customers to place an order with Digital Closing Docs directly from TitleExpress, eliminating the need to rekey multiple names, addresses, phone numbers and property information.
Pennsylvania County Expands Electronic Recording Options
August 9, 2011
Montgomery County’s electronic recordings have increased from 10 percent in 2007 to 50 percent in 2011, according to the county recorder of deeds.
Data Trace Expands Geographic Coverage
August 9, 2011
According to the company, data from 18 title plants from counties in California, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania has been added to its new technology platform.
 The Docket: Federal Court Ruling Impacts Title Policy Arbitration Agreements
August 4, 2011
This lawsuit In re California Title Insurance Antitrust Litigation stands as a reminder to title insurance companies and other insurers to check their policies for arbitration clauses. Read on to learn how the decision impacts the title insurance industry.
 Senate Bill Proposes Federal Tax Lien Registry
August 4, 2011
While ALTA's Government Affairs Committee has already voiced strong opposition to the bill, ALTA is seeking real-life examples of how a federal tax lien registry would impact the real estate transaction.
 Lender Offers Rural Buyers No-Down Payment Loans
August 4, 2011
Through its Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Total Mortgage Services is offering rural home buyers 100 percent financing or closing cost assistance.
Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Lending Up 107 Percent from Last Year
August 4, 2011
According to the MBA, the spike in commercial/multifamily lending activity during the second quarter of 2011 was driven by increases in originations for all property types.
Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows Amid Signs of Weakening Economy
August 4, 2011
According to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit its lowest level for 2011 as it averaged 4.39 percent.
Fidelity National Title Group Selects Solution to Automate Claims Process
August 4, 2011
Fidelity selected Innovation Group's Insurer Claims and Insurer Analytics as the company moves to automate and digitize its claims process.
Stewart Offers REO Services for Community Banks
August 4, 2011
The company said the focus is on maximizing the value of each bank’s assets in the shortest amount of time.
Be the Go-To Source for the Latest Industry Information and Trends
August 4, 2011
Attending ALTA's 2011 Annual Convention is not simply an expense. It's an investment in your company, your staff and the future of the title industry. It's also the best opportunity to attend professional development sessions and obtain valuable CE/CLE credits. Read on to learn more about the sessions scheduled during ALTA's 2011 Annual Convention, being held Oct. 12-15 at the Charleston Place in Charleston, S.C.
 CFPB Reveals Third Round of Draft Mortgage Disclosure Form
August 2, 2011
After two months, four different versions and more than 18,000 comments, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its third round of draft mortgage disclosure form.
 NAIC Agent Data Call Implementation Guide Sent to Title Task Force
August 2, 2011
The National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s Title Statistical Plan Working Group approved last week an implementation guideline to assist states in collecting data related to the Title Insurance Agent Statistical Report.
 ALTA Forms Approved in June Published as Final
August 2, 2011
ALTA forms approved by the ALTA Board of Governors on June 23, 2011, have completed the Comment Period and have been published in final publication status.
 ALTA Urges Regulators to Avoid ‘Wild West’ Approach by Including Title Insurance in Risk Retention Provision
August 2, 2011
ALTA urged federal regulators to modify its proposed risk retention provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) to include sensible underwriting features that are proven to reduce risk.
Homeland Security Company Expands into Title Space
August 2, 2011
Homeland Security Capital Corp., an international provider of specialized technology-based radiological, nuclear, environmental, disaster relief and electronic security solutions to government and commercial customers, expanded its entry into the title and settlement services industry by acquiring California-based Timios.
FHA Takes Action Against 240 Lenders
August 2, 2011
Sanctions against lenders include reprimands, probations, suspensions, withdrawals of approval and civil money penalties.
Advantage Title Selects RamQuest’s Total Solution
August 2, 2011
The title company's chief operating officer said the software makes it easier to navigate the HUD, while adding and deleting lines is intuitive and easy to do.
Demotech Withdraws Financial Stability Rating of New Jersey Title Insurance Company
August 2, 2011
The underwriter has suspended issuance of new commitments and is focusing on the resolution of defalcations and claims received on issued policies.
 ALTA Names New CEO
July 28, 2011
Serving as chief operating officer, Michelle Korsmo has been instrumental in ALTA achieving record membership and revenues, and anticipates building upon the association's strong foundation and continuing to improve its deliverables to members in the industry.
 First American Releases Q2 Earnings
July 28, 2011
First American Financial reported its title insurance and services segment had pretax income of $56.9 million in the second quarter of 2010, compared with $60.9 million during the same period a year ago.
 Old Republic Details Second Quarter Results
July 28, 2011
Old Republic’s title business posted pretax income of $5.5 million during the second quarter of 2011, attributing growth in market share to industry consolidation and dislocations over the past three years.
 Stewart Reports Financial Results for the Second Quarter 2011
July 28, 2011
Stewart Information Services’ title operations continued to improve as it reported net earnings of $5.9 million during the second quarter of 2011.
Stewart Appoints New Agency Services Manager for New Hampshire and Maine
July 28, 2011
Gary Bernier will manage Stewart’s independent agency network in New Hampshire and Maine, and continue as underwriting counsel both states.
WFG National Title Taps Industry Veteran to Grow Footprint in Washington
July 28, 2011
As the president and division manager, Lynn Riedel will oversee the growth and maintenance of a full service title, escrow and settlement services company serving Puget Sound, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties in Washington
RedVision, TSS Integrate Platforms
July 28, 2011
RedVision, a provider of title report production and real property research solutions, has integrated with TSS Software Corp.’s flagship title and settlement solution, TitleExpress.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Follows Treasury Yields Higher
July 28, 2011
According to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.55 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending July 28, up from last week when it averaged 4.52 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.54 percent.
 New Jersey Nixes Notary Use of Webcams
July 28, 2011
New Jersey’s Department of the Treasury has determined the state’s statutes do not allow the use of webcam or other video equipment to conduct a notarization.
Check Out What's Planned for the Annual Convention
July 28, 2011
Whether you are a title agent, escrow officer, attorney, operations manager or underwriter, ALTA's Annual Convention, which will be held Oct. 12-15 at the Charleston Place in Charleston, S.C., has something for everyone to make sure you are getting your money's worth for attending.
 ALTA CEO to Step Down; Accepts Offer in Private Sector
July 26, 2011
Over the past three and a half years with Kurt Pfotenhauer at the helm, ALTA has significantly improved its advocacy presence on Capitol Hill, growing from one D.C. lobbyist to four and increasing contributions to its Title Insurance Political Action Committee by 65 percent since 2007. Read on for a review of other major achievements.
 Fidelity’s Title Group Reports Strong Second Quarter
July 26, 2011
The company’s chairman said the strong results can be attributed to it commercial business, where Fidelity generated nearly $94 million in revenue in the second quarter.
 ALTA Urges Inclusion of Title Insurance in Qualified Mortgage Standard
July 26, 2011
ALTA urges the Federal Reserve Board to require the inclusion of a title insurance policy as it evaluates the ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage (QM) standard.
 New Jersey Title to Cease Issuing New Committments
July 26, 2011
Due to a dramatic increase in losses stemming from agent and/or closing attorney defalcations, New Jersey Title Insurance Company will cease issuing new commitments effective July 27.
 FTC Refrains from Enforcing Most of Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule
July 26, 2011
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced July 15 it will refrain from enforcing most provisions of its Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule (MARS) against real estate professionals who assist consumers in obtaining short sales from their lenders or servicers.
Old Republic Names New Head of REO Operations
July 26, 2011
Old Republic recently named Scott French as its senior vice president of REO services.
RamQuest Rolls Out New Version of its Flagship Solution
July 26, 2011
The company said version 7.0 of Complete Closing Enterprise enables new efficiencies and increased level of customer service.
Consulting Firm Launches Digital Marketing and Public Relations Division
July 26, 2011
Mandrien Consulting Group will offer clients various digital marketing products including website design, email newsletter marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging, You Tube production, content production, and more.
 ALTA Responds to Closing Cost Study
July 21, 2011
While ALTA encourages transparency in providing consumers costs associated with obtaining a loan, the faulty methodology Bankrate uses in collecting data for its study leads to inaccurate results of the true cost of title insurance. ALTA sent a letter to Bankrate.com outlining significant problems and concerns with the study about how title insurance costs are calculated and portrayed.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Ticks Up To 4.52 Percent
July 21, 2011
Mortgage rates changed little over the previous week following mixed economic and housing data, according to Freddie Mac.
 ALTA Urges One-Year Extension of Current Mortgage Loan Limits
July 21, 2011
ALTA joined several other trade associations in sending a letter to members of Congress requesting a one-year extension of the current mortgage loan limits set to expire on Sept. 30, 2011.
 California Passes Statute Impacting Short Sales
July 21, 2011
Senate Bill 458 effectively treats a short sale to which a lender consents as if it is a non-judicial foreclosure sale.
Stewart Hires Chief Human Resources Officer
July 21, 2011
Stewart Information Services named Susan McLauchlan as chief human resources officer.
Old Republic International Announces Second Quarter 2011 Conference Call
July 21, 2011
Old Republic will hold a conference call 3 p.m. ET July 28 o discuss second quarter results.
TitleVest Bolsters Staff
July 21, 2011
Manhattan, N.Y.-based TitleVest added seven industry veterans to its business development and national title insurance divisions.
ClosingCorp Launches SmartGFE Calculator For Title Companies
July 19, 2011
ClosingCorp announced the availability of its SmartGFE Calculator, a pricing and compliance tool allowing title companies and settlement professionals who add the calculator to their websites to give lenders the opportunity to generate title and settlement rates instantly.
Data Trace Adds 17 Counties to Title Plant Databases
July 19, 2011
The company now has 342 geographically indexed plants throughout the country.
Texas Abstracting Firm Designated as ‘Endorsed Partner’
July 19, 2011
San Antonio, Texas-based Hollerbach & Associates, an independent real estate services and title research firm, will continue on in its status as endorsed partner of the TBA Services Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Texas Bankers Association.
 CFPB Set to Open Doors Thursday as Uncertainty Persists
July 19, 2011
While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is scheduled to officially open Thursday, several questions remain including how the Bureau will operate and who will run it.
 GAO Report Analyzes Potential Impacts of Dodd-Frank on Mortgage Market
July 19, 2011
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed the GAO to assess the effect of mortgage-related provisions on the availability and affordability of mortgage credit and to issue a report by July 2011
 July 2011 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook: Soft Patch or Double Dip?
July 19, 2011
Buffeted by a recovering rental sector, the housing market is unlikely to experience a "double dip" and will likely follow the performance of the overall economy for the remainder of 2011, according to a report.
 U.S. Senate Considers Flood Bill
July 19, 2011
Draft legislation to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program is circulating through the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, a week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation (HR 1309) to extend the program through 2016.
 ALTA Board Approves New Endorsements; Forms Committee Issues Technical Correction
July 14, 2011
The ALTA Board approved recommendations to adopt three new endorsements during a meeting on June 23, 2011, while the Forms Committee issued a technical correction to the ALTA Short Form Expanded Coverage Residential Loan Policy.
 ALTA President Shines During Congressional Hearing
July 14, 2011
ALTA President Anne Anastasi represented the title industry well Wednesday testifying before the Financial Services Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee during a hearing titled “Mortgage Origination: The Impact of Recent Changes on Homeowners and Businesses.”
 New Florida Insurer Insolvency Law Protects Title Insurance Policyholders
July 14, 2011
Under the new law, title policies issued by an insurer in Florida will remain in effect until the Department of Financial Services can arrange for another title insurer to assume those policy obligations.
Fidelity Adds Former Regulator to Government Relations Team
July 14, 2011
Fidelity National Financial Inc. announced the appointment of Sherwood "Woody" Girion as senior vice president, government relations.
RamQuest Adds UPS Shipping and Tracking Capabilities
July 14, 2011
Using the UPS integration, RamQuest said users of its Closing Market can streamline and simplify their shipping and tracking processes.
WFG National Title Expands Presence in Louisiana Market
July 14, 2011
WFG National Title Insurance Co. added Stephen Sklamba and Liz Pecoraro to its Louisiana agency division.
TitleVision Texas Enhances Title Plant Coverage
July 14, 2011
Dallas-based TitleVision Texas announced the addition of Bexar, Jefferson and Rockwall counties in Texas to its title plant coverage.
 House Approves ALTA Supported Bill to Extend Flood Program for Five Years
July 14, 2011
Passed by a vote of 406-22, H.R. 1309 would improve the National Flood Insurance Program's financial stability, help bring certainty to the housing market, reduce the burden on taxpayers and open new avenues for private sector participation in the flood insurance market.
Would a Federal Land Titling System Help Your Business? Rep. Marcy Kaptur thinks so
July 14, 2011
ALTA urges members to contact their member of Congress to ask them not to support H.R. 2425, which would require HUD to study the creation of a federal land titling system.
Mortgage Rates Fall After Weak Jobs Report
July 14, 2011
Mortgage rates followed long-term bond yields lower amid weaker than expected jobs gains and an increase in the unemployment rate, according to Freddie Mac.
 ALTA President to Testify During Congressional Hearing on Wednesday
July 12, 2011
ALTA President Anne Anastasi will testify Wednesday during a hearing before the Financial Services Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee titled “Mortgage Origination: The Impact of Recent Changes on Homeowners and Businesses.” Anastasi will testify that the best way to improve the mortgage origination process is to improve federally mandated mortgage disclosures.
 HUD Issues Corrections, Clarifications to RESPA
July 12, 2011
HUD issued a final rule making technical corrections and clarifying amendments to RESPA regulations, including a clarification on instructions for the HUD-1. According to HUD, if a borrower does not purchase a settlement service that was on listed on the GFE, such as owner’s title insurance, there should be no amount entered for that service in the corresponding line on Page 2 of the HUD–1, and the estimate of the charge from the GFE should not appear on the comparison chart on Page 3 of the HUD–1. Read on for more about these corrections and clarifications.
 ALTA Urges Opposition to Amendment Terminating National Flood Insurance Program
July 12, 2011
ALTA joined 17 other associations in sending a letter to members of the House of Representatives urging opposition to an amendment that would terminate the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
 ALTA, Coalition for Sensible Housing Policy Respond to Comments from Rep. Frank
July 12, 2011
The Coalition for Sensible Housing Policy, comprised by 45 associations including the American Land Title Association, responded to remarks made Monday by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) regarding financial reform.
Stewart Title Subsidiary Acquires REO and Subservicing Company
July 12, 2011
Stewart Lender Services announced the acquisition of a majority ownership interest in PMH Financial, which provides REO services, short sale management, collateral valuation, subservicing, loan review and due diligence services to national and regional lenders.
New York-Based Title Companies Merge
July 12, 2011
Valley Stream, N.Y.-based Sutton Alliance and Riverside Abstract announced the merger of their companies and the formation of a new organization, Sutton Riverside Alliance.
New Mexico County to Implement PropertyInfo’s Records Management Solution
July 12, 2011
Dona Ana’s implementation will feature PropertyInfo’s CountyFusion software suite, including cashiering, automated indexing, customized workflows, web search portal, assessment integration, customized reporting, full legacy system data conversion, disaster recovery services, redaction and eRecording.
Don't Miss the 2011 Summer Title Agents Executive Conference
July 12, 2011
Registration is now open for the ALTA’s Title Agents Executive Conference, which will be held July 16-18 at the Marriott in Park City, Utah.
WFG National Grows Presence in Washington
July 7, 2011
Williston Financial Group has acquired Northpoint Escrow & Title, which provides title, escrow and settlement services in Puget Sound, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties in Washington, including the Seattle and Tacoma metropolitan areas.
PropertyInfo Integrates with Government Software Provider
July 7, 2011
PropertyInfo said the integration of its CountyFusion product with BS&A Software will streamline the recording and information exchange process for government offices maintaining real estate documents and transactions.
TSS Offers New Payment Option for Web-Based Solution
July 7, 2011
The payment option allows for a low one-time setup fee and per order usage fee to utilize TitleSphere.
 Poll: Advocacy, Communications Top ALTA Member Benefits
July 7, 2011
Other ALTA benefits ranked in the poll include Education and Training Programs, Meetings and Conferences, Relationships and Networking, Professional Resources, and Small Business Programs and Services.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Rises
July 7, 2011
After changing little over the past month, both long- and short-term mortgage rates followed Treasury yields higher this week, Freddie Mac reported.
First American Announces Second-Quarter Earnings Release
July 7, 2011
First American Financial Corp. will host a conference call at 11 a.m. ET, July 28. The call will follow the announcement of the company's operating results for the second quarter of 2011, which is scheduled for release at 7 a.m. ET, July 28, 2011.
 Military Financial Services Provider Purchases National Title Company
July 5, 2011
USAA's real estate subsidiary, USAA Real Estate Co., has entered into an agreement to purchase United Lender Services, a Pittsburgh-based title insurance agency.
 Photos Available from ALTA Federal and Business Strategies Conferences
July 5, 2011
Photos from ALTA’s 2011 Federal Conference and Lobby Day, which was held March 13-16 in Washington, D.C., and the 2011 Business Strategies Conference, which was held May 8-10 in Las Vegas are now available. Check out photos from the various events and functions from both conferences.
ALTA’s Director of Meetings Honored with PMPI’s President’s Award
July 5, 2011
The American Land Title Association is proud to announce that Cornelia Horner, CMP, Director of Meetings and Marketing, received the 2011 President’s Award from the Meeting Professionals International Potomac Chapter (PMPI).
 HUD Issues Safe Act Final Rule
July 5, 2011
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a final rule setting the minimum standards that states must meet to comply with the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (SAFE Act) in licensing mortgage loan originators (Final Rule).
 West Virginia Names Acting Insurance Commissioner
July 5, 2011
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Michael Riley will serve as acting insurance commissioner of the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commission effective July 1.
First American CIO to Advise Technology Provider’s Board
July 5, 2011
Larry Godec, senior vice president and chief information officer at First American Title Insurance Company, will advise Apptio's Board of Directors on the unique challenges of the evolving CIO role and the strategic development of new solution offerings.
Foreclosures Reportedly Delayed as HUD Lacks Funds to Pay Closing Agents, Attorneys
June 30, 2011
It's been reported that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has delayed the sale of several hundred foreclosed properties because of lack of funds to pay closing fees.
TIPAC Contributors List - 2nd Quarter 2011
June 30, 2011
So far this year, TIPAC has raised more than $195,000 from 288 contributors, as it pushes toward its goal of $300,000. Take a look at those who have already contributed. If you have any questions about TIPAC please contact Kelley Williams at kelly@alta.org.
OCC Issues Guidance To Banks Regarding Foreclosure Practices
June 30, 2011
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency today clarified expectations for the oversight and management of mortgage foreclosure activities by national banks.
OLTA Asks Ohio Supreme Court to Reject County’s Excessive Fees for Electronic Documents
June 30, 2011
The Ohio Land Title Association urged the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold the Public Records Act and preserve the public-private system of computer-enhanced property title assurance by rejecting Cuyahoga County’s excessive reproduction fees for electronic real estate records.
Colorado Names New Insurance Commissioner
June 30, 2011
Cindy Compton, president of the Land Title Association of Colorado, describes the new commissioner, Rep. Jim Riesberg, as a legislator who "does his homework."
Southern Title Appoints New COO
June 30, 2011
As executive vice president and chief operating officer for Southern Title Insurance Corp., Gary Cortellessa said one of his priorities is to establish core teams in the company’s profit centers, including sales, customer service, underwriting and administration.
ALTA Urges Senate Not to Crowd Out Small Lenders in GSE Reform
June 30, 2011
As Congress considers options to reform the housing finance system, ALTA said members of Congress should remember that eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will shift market share to the largest lenders.
DataQuick Expands Property Research Suite
June 30, 2011
The company’s PropertyFinder TOPS system delivers property information, customer management reporting in a single platform.
Mortgage Rates Mixed as 30-Year Fixed Continues to Hold Steady
June 30, 2011
Fixed mortgage rates held steady amid mixed economic reports and some signs of improvement in the housing market.
TIPAC Contributors List - 2nd Quarter 2011 - Page 3
June 30, 2011
TIPAC Contributors List - 2nd Quarter 2011 - Page 2
June 30, 2011
 CFPB Releases Second Round of Combined Disclosure Forms
June 28, 2011
If you remember the headaches caused by HUD’s RESPA reform in 2009, it is vital ALTA members provide feedback to the CFPB on how these new forms will impact real estate closings and business operations. ALTA encourages members to engage in the process by signing up for CFPB updates and offering feedback regarding the latest draft disclosure form.
 Overcharging for Records Limits Transparency, Amicus Brief Argues
June 28, 2011
An amicus brief filed in Data Trace Information Services, LLC, et al. v. Recorder of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, asks the Ohio Supreme Court to reject Cuyahoga County’s extreme reproduction fees for electronic real estate records.
Pennsylvania Governor Signs Bill Banning Private Transfer Fees
June 28, 2011
Gov. Thomas Corbett signed into law House Bill 442, which ban the practice of private transfer fees throughout the Commonwealth.
TitleVision Texas Director of Customer Solutions Elected to TLTA PAC Board of Trustees
June 28, 2011
Dallas-based TitleVision Texas announced the election of Dan Bartlett, director of customer solutions, to the Texas Land Title Association’s Political Action Committee Board of Trustees.
ALTA promotes Green to Education and Research Coordinator
June 28, 2011
In this role, Deirdre Green will be responsible for day-to-day operations and customer service for ALTA’s Land Title Institute, which provides education, training and team-building experiences for professionals in the title insurance industry.
 North Carolina Passes UPL Bill
June 28, 2011
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue signed legislation impacting the state’s unauthorized practice of law statute, which among other things, establishes a private cause of action against any person who knowingly commits or aids and abets another person committing the unauthorized practice of law.
Get Ready for Second Round of CFPB’s Draft Mortgage Disclosure Form
June 23, 2011
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to release its second draft of the combined mortgage disclosure form next week. ALTA encourages members to provide feedback regarding the draft disclosure form once its released.
Texas Strengthens Private Transfer Fee Law
June 23, 2011
Texas Gov. Rick Perry took important action to protect Texas homeowners by signing HB 8 to strengthen Texas’ existing law that restricts private transfer fees.
 ALTA Urges Regulators to Revise QRM Provision
June 23, 2011
ALTA joined more than 300 members of Congress and a diverse coalition of more than 40 organizations to urge federal regulators to go back to the drawing board on their proposed risk retention provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
 Coalition White Paper Warns Proposed QRM Provision Harms Creditworthy Borrowers
June 23, 2011
The Coalition for Sensible Housing Policy, which is comprised of more than 40 bipartisan organizations including ALTA, issued a white paper explaining how the proposed Qualified Residential Mortgage definition would harm creditworthy borrowers and slow the housing recovery.
 OFAC Tightens Libya Sanctions
June 23, 2011
Title and settlement agents should be reminded they need to be in compliance with requirements against doing business with targeted foreign countries, terrorists and others targeted by U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
ALTA Grassroots Effort Successful in Garnering Support Against Proposed QRM Provision
June 23, 2011
The latest ALTA grassroots advocacy effort helped garner support from more than 300 members of Congress urging federal regulators to revise their proposed Qualified Residential Mortgage provision.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Unchanged at 4.50 Percent
June 23, 2011
Mortgage rates are mixed but holding steady for a second consecutive week, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
 ALTA Supports Efforts to create a U.S. Covered Bond Market
June 23, 2011
ALTA supports the efforts of U.S. House Financial Services Committee in considering legislation that would create a covered bond market to provide liquidity for commercial real estate.
 The U.S. Supreme Court to Hear RESPA Case
June 21, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court will review a case that could have a significant impact on who has the right to sue for damages under the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act.
 Moody’s Says Risk-Retention Provision Needs Reworked
June 21, 2011
Moody’s Analytics issued a report urging federal regulators to rework rules that require lenders to retain part of the risk when they repackage loans into securities.
 Federal Reserve Board Publishes HOEPA Fee-Based Trigger Adjustment
June 21, 2011
Mortgage loans are subject to the additional HOEPA requirements if either the annual percentage rate exceeds certain thresholds or the aggregate points and fees exceed the greater of 8 percent or a specified dollar amount.
 HUD Announces Dates for Hope for Homeowners Phase-Out
June 21, 2011
The HOPE for Homeowners program terminates on Sept. 30, 2011.
ALTA President Speaks at TLTA Convention about Value of Title Insurance, Financial Reform
June 21, 2011
Anne Anastasi, president of the American Land Title Association, gave a presentation June 17 about the importance of title insurance and various federal issues impacting the title insurance industry during the Texas Land Title Association Annual Conference and Business meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Fidelity’s Title Insurance Subsidiaries
June 21, 2011
A.M. best said the ratings reflect Fidelity's adequate capitalization and strong market profile as the largest title insurance group in the United States.
Stewart Title of California Expands San Diego Sales Team
June 21, 2011
Stewart Title of California announced the expansion of their San Diego sales team serving South County to include Kelli Bradfield and Brenda Berglund.
Title Company Obtains License in 14 states
June 21, 2011
Advantage Title recently obtained licensing in 14 additional states and is awaiting approval in another 10.
 ALTA Addresses Questions About Revised Survey Standards
June 16, 2011
The American Land Title Association has updated a set of Frequently Asked questions after receiving a wide range of inquiries from title professionals, lenders and surveyors on the "Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys."
 Title Agents of All Sizes Can Compete in Growing Short Sale Market
June 16, 2011
Title agents looking to find a growth market may want to consider becoming versed in handling short sales as more residential properties are being reported with negative equity and lenders are becoming eager to reduce foreclosure inventory.
 Report Highlights Most Affordable and Most Expensive Real Estate Markets
June 16, 2011
The most affordable U.S. market is Niagara Falls, N.Y., which has an average home listing price of approximately $61,000, while Newport Beach, Calif., led the list of most expensive U.S. real estate markets with an average home listing price of approximately $2.5 million, according to Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s Home Listing Report.
Stewart Subsidiary Helps Belize Empower Land Owners
June 16, 2011
Stewart Global Systems, which began work in Belize in 2006 to develop and implement a land information system, will now focus on building a national land policy framework focusing on private and public sector development through secure land possession.
June 2011 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook: The Doughnut or the Hole?
June 16, 2011
June 2011 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook: The Doughnut or the Hole? Home sales growth remains dampened by declining consumer confidence and economic uncertainty, according to Freddie Mac’s June 2011 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook.
Mortgage Rates Mixed; 30-Year Fixed Ticks Up to 4.50 Percent
June 16, 2011
Fixed mortgages rates changed slightly despite recent inflation reports, according to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
 U.S. Supreme Court Expected to Decide Whether To Review RESPA Case
June 14, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether it will review a case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the plaintiff did not need to show she was overcharged to have standing to assert a claim based on a violation of RESPA’s anti-kickback prohibition.
 Underwriter Files Lawsuit Against Agent Over Missing Escrow Funds
June 14, 2011
During an audit, WFG National Title Insurance Co. officials discovered $7.9 million missing from TitleServ trust accounts related to closings insured by the underwriter.
 First-Quarter Market Share Analysis Shows Industry Improvement
June 14, 2011
The first quarter of 2011 showed improvement for the title insurance industry, according to ALTA’s First-Quarter Market Share Analysis. Read on for information about premiums generated in the largest states, as well as underwriter market share data.
Stewart Lender Services Names New Sales Vice President
June 14, 2011
Brian Moss will be responsible for helping SLS enter into new strategic relationships with a primary focus on the top national lender servicers, along with ongoing product innovation and consultative support.
Data Trace Increases Geographic Coverage
June 14, 2011
Integration with Nazca Solutions now gives Data Trace access to property data and title records in more than 320 counties.
ALTA’s State Government Affairs Manager Speaks at American Escrow Association Annual Conference
June 14, 2011
Nick Hacker, Manager of State Government Affairs of the American Land Title Association, discussed the need for a collaborative approach as the title insurance, escrow and settlement services industries adjust to legislative and regulatory changes during a keynote presentation at the American Escrow Association (AEA) Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
Educational Article on Title Insurance to Submit to the Media
June 9, 2011
ALTA has developed an article titled “Title Insurance Vital to Protecting Homebuyers” to help members combat misconceptions in the marketplace about the value of title insurance. Read on to learn how you can take advantage of this exclusive member benefit.
Mortgage Rates Move Lower Following Weak Jobs Report
June 9, 2011
Weaker than expected job growth in May pushed both fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages to new lows for the year.
A.M. Best Affirms First American Ratings
June 9, 2011
According to the ratings firm, the ratings reflect First American’s significant market presence within the title industry as well as its significantly improved underwriting leverage measures.
Negative Equity Decreases Slightly
June 9, 2011
New analysis from CoreLogic shows that Nevada had the highest negative equity percentage with 63 percent of all mortgaged properties underwater, followed by Arizona (50 percent), Florida (46 percent), Michigan (36 percent) and California (31 percent).
 Fannie Mae Issues New Servicing Standards for Delinquent Loans
June 9, 2011
Fannie Mae released new standards for mortgage servicers related to delinquency management requirements following a directive from the Federal Housing Finance Agency requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to align their guidelines for servicing delinquent mortgages they own or guarantee.
 Best Practices When Handling Deed in Lieu Transactions
June 9, 2011
While most jurisdictions recognize the execution of a deed in lieu of foreclosure as a legitimate alternative to foreclosure proceedings, the validity of a deed in lieu of foreclosure is subject to a number of attacks which need to be addressed. Read on to learn the various items that could impact a deed in lieu.
 ALTA Board Member Comments on State of the Industry, Value of Title Insurance
June 9, 2011
John Hollenbeck, a member of the American Land Title Association’s Board of Governors and senior executive vice president of First American Title Insurance Co., gave a keynote presentation on the state of the title insurance industry on June 8, offering insight on the importance of title insurance and addressing the impact of regulatory changes during the National Settlement Services Summit in Cleveland, Ohio.
South Carolina Bank Shuttered
June 7, 2011
First Citizens Bank and Trust Company in Columbia, S.C., assumed all of the deposits of Atlantic Bank and Trust in Charleston.
2011 Annual Convention Call for Presentations Now Open
June 7, 2011
Deadline to submit presentation proposals for the Annual Conference, which is being held Oct. 12-15 at the Charleston Place Hotel in Charleston, S.C., is June 10.
 Title Insurer’s Duty to Defend Addressed in Several Court Cases
June 7, 2011
There have been several cases illustrating the risk in a title insurance company’s obligation to defend the insured. A few recent cases illustrate why underwriters should be leery of insuring titles that are subject to known litigation risks. Read on.
 ALTA Supports Federal Regulators’ Extension of Comment Period for Qualified Residential Mortgage
June 7, 2011
The American Land Title Association announced its support of federal regulators’ decision to extend the comment period for the Risk Retention and Qualified Residential Mortgage provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
 House Passes One-Year Extension of Flood Program
June 7, 2011
A week after ALTA joined 26 industry groups urging passage of legislation to extend the national flood insurance program, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011.
 ALTA’s Ailes Comments on NAIC’s National Title Agent Data Call, Efforts to Improve Consumer Shopping and Reduce Fraud
June 7, 2011
Justin Ailes, vice president of government affairs for the American Land Title Association, participated today in a panel discussion at the National Settlement Services Summit in Cleveland, Ohio.
ALTA Reports Title Premiums Up 8.7 Percent in First Quarter
June 2, 2011
The American Land Title Association (ALTA) reported title insurance premiums written during the first quarter of 2011 increased 8.7 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2010. According to ALTA’s preliminary 2011 First-Quarter Market Share Analysis, the title insurance industry generated $2.25 billion in title insurance premiums during the first three months of 2011, compared to $2.07 billion during the same period a year ago. Check out the report for market share information as well.
 GAO Report Addresses Foreclosure Documentation Problems
June 2, 2011
The report does not address false reports of foreclosure problems that could threaten homeowners' legal title, as a group of ALTA members met with GAO officials to share industry practices when insuring a real estate owned transaction and the effect foreclosures have on the process.
 Property Records Industry Association Releases Whitepaper on Land Records
June 2, 2011
The whitepaper includes ALTA’s position on land records, which says “the cost to obtain a reproduction of a public record or document in any format should be the public record custodian’s actual out-of-pocket cost to produce the reproduction.”
WFG Bolsters Default Services Division
June 2, 2011
As the head of the company’s default services division, Morgan Harris will oversee the growth of the division nationwide.
RedVision Introduces Automatic ACRIS Recording Notification System
June 2, 2011
The system empowers RedVision clients with instant notification of their document recordings in four New York counties, including Kings, Queens, Bronx and New York.
PREP Newsletter: An Overview of the Land Records/GIS Integration Initiative for Assessment Officials
June 2, 2011
The lead article latest edition of the Property Records Education Partners newsletter explains an initiative by the Property Records Industry Association to integrate land records with geographic information systems.
 HUD Announces Several Rule Changes and Proposals
May 31, 2011
In response to an executive order issued in January by President Obama and following a two-month public comment period, HUD has issued a plan for periodic review of its existing regulations to determine whether any regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed. The plan includes an appendix of several rule changes and proposed changes.
 Hawaii Places Moratorium on New Regular Nonjudicial Foreclosures
May 31, 2011
Senate Bill 651 places a moratorium through July 1, 2012 on all new regular nonjudicial foreclosure actions, which prevents foreclosures by power of sale to be initiated or recorded during the relevant period.
ALTA to Participate in Habitat for Humanity Project
May 31, 2011
On June 1, ALTA staff will join the First American Community Fund to help in a Habitat for Humanity project to rehabilitate a property in Arlington, Va.
 OCC Proposes Rule to Implement Provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act
May 31, 2011
On May 25, the OCC proposed to amend its regulations to implement several provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
ALTA TIPAC Contributors
May 31, 2011
So far this year, TIPAC has raised more than $171,000 from 254 contributors, as it pushes toward its goal of $300,000. Take a look at those who have already contributed. If you have any questions about TIPAC please contact Kelley Williams at kelly@alta.org.
 Technologies Your Title Company Won’t Survive Without
May 26, 2011
There are several tech tools available to help companies remain competitive and profitable. Read on for a look at a few technology options title insurance professionals can take advantage of to remain profitable in a competitive and shrinking market place.
 Reminder: Deadline Tomorrow to Offer Feedback on Mortgage Disclosure Prototypes
May 26, 2011
The deadline to send comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding its initial drafts of the combined mortgage disclosure form is tomorrow (May 27).
 11 Cities Where Homes Sell the Fastest
May 26, 2011
California boasted the highest number of cities where homes tended to spend the shortest amount of time on the market last month, based on March housing data from Realtor.com.
 States Banning Private Transfer Fees Grows to 33
May 26, 2011
The number of states restricting the use of private transfer fees (PTFs) now stands at 33 as three more governors signed legislation banning the predatory fees.
Agents National Names New Indiana Manager
May 26, 2011
Randy J. Mohr has been named Indiana area manager ans will focus on supporting Agents National Title’s current title agents, as well as prospecting new title agency relationships.
Commercial Real Estate Markets Stabilizing, But Prices Decline to Post-Crash Low
May 26, 2011
While prices for commercial properties reached a post-recession low, the improving economy and job creation mean growing demand for commercial real estate, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Fixed Mortgage Rates Continue To Find New Lows
May 26, 2011
Slower economic activity pushed fixed-rate mortgages slightly lower for the sixth consecutive week, Freddie Mac reported in its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
 The Docket: Maryland Court Makes Narrow Ruling on What is Considered Forgery
May 24, 2011
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled on a case where a company’s Article of Amendment was forged. Read on to find out what impact the court’s ruling on what is considered a forgery has on the title insurance industry.
 HUD Issues Guidance for $100-down Financing Program for REOs
May 24, 2011
Pursuant to Mortgagee Letter 2011-19, an eligible borrower may finance the cost of the upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) through his or her FHA-insured mortgage as long as the total mortgage amount, including the UFMIP, does not exceed 100 percent of the “as is” appraised value of the property.
 Full House to Address Flood Insurance Reform
May 24, 2011
The Flood Insurance Reform Act will be reported to the full House, which is expected to take it up once lawmakers return from their week-long recess next week.
 Thirty States Now Restrict Use of Private Transfer Fees
May 24, 2011
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1594, while Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 185.
Michigan Title Agency, Law Firm Partner to Enhance Short Sale Services
May 24, 2011
Sun Law Group and Lighthouse Title Groug created an alliance to offer a more comprehensive short sale and closing service solution to homeowners in Michigan.
Stewart Title Adds to Panama City Beach Office
May 24, 2011
Stewart Title in Panama City Beach announced the addition of David Powell, Chuck Tucker and Amy Hayes.
Wisconsin Title Company Selects RamQuest
May 24, 2011
The Title Company of La Crosse, Wis., said the company is already seeing benefits including increased speed of workflow and paper reduction.
 Enterprise Workflow Platforms Provide Title Agents Alternative to Traditional Settlement Software Applications
May 19, 2011
Companies must contend with real-world system reliability, including service interruptions that may shut down some, occasionally all, processing points, as hosted closing software applications are totally dependent on connectivity for user access. An option that may prove viable to title agents is the use of a high-speed enterprise workflow with the power and reliability of locally hosted and updated software applications.
 Proposed Executive Order Could Impact Title Companies Awarded Government Contracts
May 19, 2011
If implemented, the draft Executive Order would apply to all companies seeking to do business with the federal government, and would go far beyond the current disclosure requirements for contributions to political candidates and their parties.
ALTA Promotes Ailes to Vice President of Government Affairs
May 19, 2011
In his expanded role, Ailes is responsible for all of ALTA’s government relations efforts including federal and state government affairs, legislative and regulatory advocacy, legal issues, political action committee and grassroots engagement.
Fixed-Rate Mortgages Hit a New Year-To-Date Low
May 19, 2011
According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.61 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending May 19, 2011, down from last week when it averaged 4.63 percent.
RedVision Enhances Texas Property Search Database
May 19, 2011
Parsippany, N.J.-based RedVision, a provider of real property research solutions, has enhanced its Texas property record database for non-insured products with the addition of Bexar, Jefferson, and Rockwall counties.
Delinquency Rate Declines Significantly, MBA Reports
May 19, 2011
The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 8.32 percent of all loans outstanding as of the end of the first quarter of 2011, an increase of seven basis points from the fourth quarter of 2010, and a decrease of 174 basis points from one year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Delinquency Survey.
MISMO Achieves Milestone with Release of V3.1 Reference Model and Data Dictionary as Candidate Recommendation
May 19, 2011
Version 3.1 is a major milestone that brings all the content from previous years in the Version 2.x series transaction standards into a single unified model and defines the solution for the next generation of automated mortgage processing.
 Three Underwriters File Joint Federal Lawsuit in New Mexico Land Grant Dispute
May 17, 2011
First American Title Insurance Company, Stewart Title Guaranty Company and Old Republic National Title Insurance Company filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico against members of a city’s Land Grant Board of Trustees in a dispute over land grants.
 Latest GSE Reform Bill Includes Title Insurance Requirement
May 17, 2011
A bi-partisan GSE reform bill proposed by Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to overhaul the federal mortgage finance system would require the placement of title insurance on loans sold on the secondary market.
 CFPB to Unveil Draft of Combined RESPA/TILA Disclosure Form
May 17, 2011
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has invited ALTA and several other trade groups to get a first look at a combined RESPA/TILA disclosure form.
 Freddie Mac Offers Closing Cost Assistance on Foreclosure Purchases
May 17, 2011
Freddie Mac launched a sale incentive to clear out inventory of foreclosed homes, offering closing cost assistance and other incentives on homes sold to owner-occupant buyers.
 Indiana Joins List of States Restricting Private Transfer Fees; Similar Bill Awaits Governor Signature in Arkansas
May 17, 2011
Indiana became the 28th state to restrict the use of private transfer fees as Gov. Mitch Daniels signed HB 1541.
Fidelity Introduces New Product
May 17, 2011
The LEED Project Certification Data Report will be issued at the request of owners, lenders, buyers, tenants, attorneys, appraisers and other stakeholders of certain commercial properties that are certified under U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System by the Green Building Certification Institute.
Fidelity Names Florida State Manager
May 17, 2011
Dan Wallace will be responsible for the development and maintenance of business between builders, developers, brokers, lenders, asset managers, non-agent attorneys, CPAs and financial planners with Fidelity National Title across Florida.
First American Names State Counsel for Ohio
May 17, 2011
In his newly expanded role, Kevin Eichner will assume the additional responsibilities of state counsel for all First American Title offices in the state of Ohio while continuing to serve as state agency counsel and president of Ohio Bar Title.
Abstract Solution Group Partners With RynohLive
May 17, 2011
Title agents that are members of the The Abstract Solution will now have their accounts reconciled in near real time, eliminating disbursement errors and possible losses from fraud.
 ‘Only Way to Get Out of This is to Let People Fail’
May 12, 2011
Having served as past chairman of The Mortgage Bankers Association and testifying 14 times in front of Congress, David Kittle fully understands the various ingredients that played into the mortgage meltdown. He shared his knowledge with attendees during the final general session at the Business Strategies Conference at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
 Syndicated Columnist Offers Advice on How Title Industry Can Garner Better Press
May 12, 2011
Award-winning columnist Ken Harney complimented ALTA for its efforts to ban private transfer fees and offered suggestions to help the industry garner better press during the general session of day two of the Business Strategies Conference at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
 Professional Development Session Wrap Up from Day 2
May 12, 2011
Four more professional development sessions were offered on the final day of the Business Strategies Conference as attendees took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about productivity, operations, growing your business, and compliance and regulation.
 HUD Issues Guidance to Mortgagees Working With FHA Borrowers Who are Disaster Victims
May 12, 2011
Mortgagees are reminded that pursuant to Mortgagee Letter 2001-07, a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures is automatically imposed on FHA-insured properties in Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas.
 Michigan Title Agents Urged to Work With Underwriters When Closing Transactions Subsequent to a Foreclosure by MERS
May 12, 2011
The Michigan Land Title Association urges title agents to work closely with their underwriter when handling REO properties or transactions sold out of REO where the foreclosure evidenced by the chain of title was done in the name of. After an initial analysis, it appears that these properties will need to be reforeclosed.
Stewart to Outsource Internal Audit Function
May 12, 2011
The company said outsourcing to Deloitte will reduce overall costs, enhance service offerings and increase flexibility.
Freddie Predicts 5 percent Increase in 2011 Home Sales
May 12, 2011
Freddie Mac projects a 5 percent increase in 2011 home sales over 2010, according to its May U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook.
WFG National Title Adds to Florida Team
May 12, 2011
Roger Blauvelt will serve as state counsel for Florida and help develop and support the underwriter’s agency relationships, while Lisa Kent will provide support to agents on a variety of transactional issues, including curing title defects.
 Surviving Title Agents Sowing Seeds for Future Success
May 10, 2011
The American Land Title Association’s 2011 Business Strategies Conference at the Cosmopolitan was in full swing Monday as more than 200 attendees heard messages addressing where we are, where we’re going and what’s the best strategy for getting there.
 Economist: Moving Forward as the Recession Recedes
May 10, 2011
While several housing markets across the country are beginning to recover, home price values will continue to fall throughout the year, Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist, told more than 200 attendees at ALTA's 2011 Business Strategies Conference in Las Vegas.
 Professional Development Session Wrap up
May 10, 2011
Business Strategies Conference attendees had the option of sitting in on 12 professional development sessions during the first day of the Business Strategies Conference, focused on four key areas including productivity, operations, growing your business, and compliance and regulation.
Conference Attendees Make Personalized Videos to Market Company
May 10, 2011
Nearly 20 attendees at this year's Business Strategies Conference, which is being held May 8-10 at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, took advantage of recording a short video message that can be used to promote their company.
Loan Fraud Expert, Syndicated Reporter, Baseball Hall of Famer to Address Attendees on Day 2
May 10, 2011
During the second day of general sessions at the Business Strategies Conference, attendees will hear from a long-time mortgage industry veteran, an award-winning real estate reporter and a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer who will share how he's overcome several life's struggles.
North American Title Names Manager for Ocean City, N.J. Office
May 10, 2011
North American Title Agency announced that Betsy Barr, a licensed title producer with more than 25 years of title experience, has joined its Ocean City, New Jersey office as branch manager.
 Conference Attendees Compete in Title Bowl Challenge
May 10, 2011
Three teams of two squared off in the Title Bowl Challenge during the first day of Business Strategies Conference as members of ALTA's Education Committee peppered contestants with various title related questions.
 Changes to Privacy Regulations in India Could Impact Title Outsourcing Business
May 5, 2011
Recent changes to India’s privacy regulations could impact title insurance companies that outsource various functions to companies in India.
 Texas Jury Rules in Favor of Stewart in Mexico Land Dispute
May 5, 2011
A Texas jury ruled in favor of Stewart Title Guaranty in a dispute over 16 parcels of land in Mexico.
Download a SmartPhone App for ALTA’s Business Strategies Conference
May 5, 2011
Get the information you need to know about the Business Strategies Conference, including schedules, list of exhibitors, attendees, maps and more all on your phone.
50-Year Title Veteran Retires from Stewart’s Commercial Division
May 5, 2011
After more than 50 years in the title business, Jim Putnam will retire as senior vice president of Stewart Title’s commercial division in Houston.
Data Trace Adds Title Plants in Eight Counties
May 5, 2011
Data Trace Information Services, a provider of data services to the settlement services industry, announced the addition of eight new counties to its collection of title plant databases. The additional counties include Sandoval, N.M.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Putnam, N.Y.; Warren, Iowa; Cass, Ind.; Morgan, Mo.; Somervell, Texas and Hood, Texas.
Expansion Helps Push Investors Title to First-Quarter Profit
May 5, 2011
A recent expansion into Texas helped North Carolina-based Investors Title Co. post a profit of $1.02 million during the first quarter of 2011.
 Minnesota Announces Enforcement Actions Against Title Companies
May 5, 2011
The Minnesota Department of Commerce last week signed three separate enforcement actions against mortgage originators and title agencies for alleged abuses and violations of Minnesota law.
Participate in the Title Bowl Challenge
May 3, 2011
Join the ALTA Education Committee for the Title Bowl Challenge "game show" during the 2011 Business Strategies Conference in Las Vegas. Questions will cover topics including title, escrow, insurance, ethics and industry regulation.
 ALTA Past President Marvin Bowling Passes Away
May 3, 2011
Marvin Bowling Jr. was a tennis player and avid golfer. He enjoyed travel and was a man of deep faith. Bowling also was an old-fashioned title guy.
Reach Customers with a Personalized Marketing Video
May 3, 2011
During this difficult market, you need as many tools as possible to stand out from the pack. To differentiate yourself from the competition, ALTA has created a Personalized Marketing Video to help promote your services. Click here to find out how you can record your own video at the 2011 Business Strategies Conference in Las Vegas.
 Fidelity Posts Strong Q1
May 3, 2011
Cost reduction and a robust refinance market helped Fidelity National Financial’s Title Group posted its strongest first quarter in several years.
 Dodd-Frank Ranks as Highest Compliance Concern for Lenders in 2011
May 3, 2011
QuestSoft's third-annual survey polled 405 lenders on their level of concern for regulatory changes affecting the mortgage industry in 2011.
Title Companies Can Proceed to Close Loans in Michigan With MERS as Mortgagee
May 3, 2011
False reports about a recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals caused several title companies to refuse closing any transactions where MERS was the mortgagee.
ALTA Wins 2010 Best of Business Award
May 3, 2011
The American Land Title Association has been selected to receive a 2010 Best of Business Award in the Non-Profit Organizations category by the Small Business Commerce Association.
Alliant National Title Names New Chief Operating Officer
April 28, 2011
Carol Mastronfini is responsible for overseeing agency and legal requirements, and playing a vital role in forming and implementing the underwriter’s vision and strategies.
Mortgage Rates Fall With Latest Economic and Housing Reports
April 28, 2011
Mortgage rates fell for the second consecutive week, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
 Title Industry Wins Significant Rate Battle in New Mexico
April 28, 2011
A New Mexico appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a five-year battle attempting to have courts declare regulation of title insurance rates in the state unconstitutional.
 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Opinion Regarding Unauthorized Practice of Law
April 28, 2011
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion involving a long-standing dispute between the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts and National Real Estate Information Services over the unauthorized practice of law. Read on to learn what role the court said attorneys should play in the real estate transaction.
 First American Reports Q1 Earnings
April 28, 2011
A $45.3 reserve strengthening charge for its Canadian operations and increased claims in its domestic title operations pushed First American Financial to a $15.3 million loss during the first quarter of 2011.
 Stewart Releases First-quarter Results
April 28, 2011
Although the first quarter is historically slow with limited home sales activity and commercial transactions, Stewart Information Services narrowed its loss compared to the same period last year.
 Old Republic’s Title Group Posts Profit During First Quarter
April 28, 2011
Old Republic International Corp.’s title business continued to reflect the positive operating momentum that first emerged in the second quarter of 2009, the company reported in its 2011 first quarter earnings release.
 ALTA Files Brief in Massachusetts Foreclosure Lawsuit
April 26, 2011
To help title companies underwrite REO transactions in Massachusetts, ALTA is asking the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to clarify what impact an improper foreclosure has on the title of a third party who purchased the property at the foreclosure.
All Work and No Play, Make for a Stressed-out Title Agent
April 26, 2011
With winter just behind us and several changes on the horizon for the industry, it's time to take a break and recharge. ALTA's 2011 Business Strategies Conference at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas provides just the opportunity. Of course there will be various opportunities to learn and network, but you can also enjoy all the luxury that the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and nearby CityCenter have to offer.
 ALTA Releases Final Year-End and Fourth-Quarter 2010 Market Share Analysis
April 26, 2011
After four consecutive years of declining title insurance premiums written, the analysis showed premiums leveled off in 2010.
WFG National Title Grows Commercial Division
April 26, 2011
WFG National Title Insurance Co. added Trevor Cheyne as assistant vice president, manager commercial division and senior escrow officer.
TitleHound Announces Solution to Reduce Tolerance Losses
April 26, 2011
Middletown, R.I.-based TitleHound released a solution aimed to reduce costly tolerance losses with the use of its patent pending software product.
Florida-based Title Company Expands Footprint with Acquisition
April 26, 2011
Bay National Title expanded its footprint with the purchase of Criterion National Real Estate Solutions of Jacksonville, N.C.
 Montana, North Dakota Join List of States Banning Private Transfer Fees
April 26, 2011
Governors in Montana and North Dakota signed legislation placing a ban on the dangerous fees, which steal home equity, lower home resale values and add another layer of difficulty to selling a home.
 Register Online for the 2011 Business Strategies Conference
April 25, 2011
 Record Your Personalized Marketing Video at the Business Strategies Conference
April 25, 2011
Washington State Delays Implementation of New Rate Structure
April 21, 2011
Hacker Attacks Highlight Need for Plan to Protect Sensitive Data
April 21, 2011
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Drops to 4.8 Percent
April 21, 2011
House Hearing Addresses Risk Retention Proposal
April 21, 2011
Existing-Home Sales Rise in March
April 21, 2011
Housing Starts Rise 7.2 Percent in March
April 21, 2011
Title Agents Remain Vital Piece of Real Estate Transaction
April 21, 2011
E-recording Offered in All of Colorado's Counties
April 21, 2011
New FHA Fees Go Into Effect
April 21, 2011
Washington Becomes 25th State to Restrict Private Transfer Fees
April 21, 2011
New Insurance Commissioners Take Posts in Michigan, Connecticut
April 21, 2011
RedVision Offers Foreclosure Certificate Product in New York State
April 21, 2011
TSS offers new TitleExpress Cloud Solution
April 21, 2011
ALTA Upgrades to Database Software and Expected Website Downtime
April 17, 2011
As part of ALTA's continued efforts to better meet member and customer needs, we are upgrading our association management database software. Because this affects you, we want to give you a heads up on what to expect and when to expect it during this process.
FinCen Releases 2010 Mortgage Fraud Report
April 14, 2011
The number of suspicious activity reports involving mortgage loan fraud increased 4 percent last year. Read on to find what types of fraud dominated the report.
Fannie Mae Updates Loan Modification Requirements
April 14, 2011
The update is effective for all mortgage loans evaluated for a modification on or after April 15, 2011, and includes updated underwriting requirements pertaining to verifying financial information, escrow account payments and property valuation.
Cook County, Ill., Recorder of Deeds Website Goes Down After Being Hacked
April 14, 2011
Title agents and attorneys trying to log onto the site to access land records, federal and state tax liens, and other documents were directed to other websites.
Florida Avoids Deregulation of Land Surveyors
April 14, 2011
The current regulatory and licensing system for surveyors will remain unchanged after the Florida Land Title Association (FLTA) and other interested stakeholders successfully lobbied against a bill that would have deregulated the industry.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Moves Up to 4.91 Percent
April 14, 2011
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slowly increased for the fourth consecutive week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Trump Your Competition With Cutting-Edge Educational Sessions
April 14, 2011
With all of the changes impacting the mortgage and real estate market, now is the time to hear from industry experts and learn the latest tactics to help your company become more efficient, expand its footprint and remain compliant. Attend ALTA’s 2011 Business Strategies Conference and increase your odds to succeed in the market by attending various professional development sessions providing the latest information in four vital categories, including Productivity, Operations, Growing Your Business, and Compliance & Regulation.
MISMO Trimester Workgroup Meeting Slated for May 23-26
April 14, 2011
MISMO’s Title Workgroup will meet May 24 during the event.
MBA Releases 2010 Commercial Real Estate Data Book
April 12, 2011
Commercial and multifamily real estate markets continued to stabilize in the fourth quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 2010 fourth quarter Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Quarterly Data Book. Find out who were the top commercial and multifamily mortgage servicers in 2010.
ALTA Asks FHFA to Clarify Proposed Rule Banning Private Transfer Fees
April 12, 2011
While ALTA eagerly anticipates the FHFA will finalize its proposed rule banning the GSEs from purchasing mortgages backed by collateral that is encumbered with a private transfer fee covenant, some clarification is necessary to help title professionals, lenders and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac better understand how the rule will be implemented.
Fannie Mae Provides Closing Cost Assistance to REO Buyers
April 12, 2011
Fannie Mae announced that people purchasing a Fannie Mae-owned HomePath property will receive up to 3.5 percent in closing cost assistance. Read on to see who is not eligible for the incentive.
New York-Based Title Company Closes
April 12, 2011
Titleserv, which provided title insurance, appraisal, and settlement services for residential and commercial customers in 47 states, reportedly closed its doors.
Moody’s Issues Report on Title Insurance Industry
April 12, 2011
Moody’s Investors Service predicted title insurance underwriters will remain challenged over the next year and a half, but indicated it will not downgrade any of the companies’ ratings.
Simplifile Names Director of Channel Sales
April 12, 2011
Mark Ladd will be responsible for developing and maintaining strategic Simplifile partnerships and county relationships.
TSS Adds Ernst Publishing Calculation Features to Cloud Solution
April 12, 2011
This integration allows TitleSphere subscribers to purchase query credits to obtain recording fee calculations from Ernst Publishing directly in their orders.
Fidelity Announces First Quarter Earnings Release
April 12, 2011
Fidelity National Financial Inc. will release first-quarter 2011 earnings after the close of regular market trading on April 28.
ALTA Applauds Amendment Requiring Title Insurance for Qualified Residential Mortgages
April 7, 2011
The American Land Title Association’s advocacy efforts showed success Wednesday as the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises passed an amendment requiring title insurance for all loans that would be defined as qualified residential mortgages.
New Loan Officer Rules Go Into Effect as Court Dissolves Stay
April 7, 2011
The Federal Reserve Board's regulations governing loan originator compensation went into effect April 6 after a federal appeals court dissolved a stay suspending implementation of the rule.
ALTA Forms Approved in February Published as Final
April 7, 2011
The ALTA Forms Approved by the ALTA Board on February 3, 2011, have completed the Comment Period and have been published in final.
RamQuest and Digital Docs.net Announce Integration
April 7, 2011
According to the companies, the automated marketing platform enables title agents to increase market share and repeat business.
National Title Company Adds Exec to Sales Team
April 7, 2011
David Wilson will be responsible for building New Millennium Title Group’s national sales organization, including expanding the national client base as well as building and maintaining the company’s relationships at all levels.
Federal Shutdown Could Delay Closings
April 7, 2011
In the event of a federal government shutdown, the FHA would cease operations, while Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue to operate.
Flood Insurance Reform Bill Garners Bipartisan Support
April 7, 2011
Legislation that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years garnered bipartisan support and passed by a voice vote April 6 in the Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.
Bill Repealing 1099 Reporting Requirements Sent to President
April 5, 2011
The 1099 provision would have required businesses to file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service to report annual purchases from contractors above $600.
 Flood Insurance Bill Expected to Move Forward
April 5, 2011
A revised bill that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) program for five years is expected to be finalized Wednesday by the Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.
 Nevada Bill Would Increase Recording Fees
April 5, 2011
The bill would require a county recorder to charge a $3 fee for recording a document, instrument, paper, notice, deed, conveyance, map, chart, survey or any other writing other than an originally signed copy of a certificate of marriage.
 Virginia Joins Growing List of States Banning Private Transfer Fees
April 5, 2011
The state’s governor recently signed Senate Bill 931, bringing the number of states that ban or restrict private transfer fees to 24.
TitlePrep Joins Closing Market Network of Service Providers
April 5, 2011
RamQuest said the new integration allows title companies to boost efficiencies by streamlining the title search ordering and receipt process.
RedVision Launches Title Plant in Clark County, Nev.
April 5, 2011
The company said the plant encompasses over 70 percent of the state’s population.
MISMO Receives 2010 Innovation Award
April 5, 2011
The PROGRESS in Lending Association presented the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization earned the award for development of its MISMO Version 3 Architecture and reference model.
PREP Newsletter: Successful Winter Symposium
April 5, 2011
The latest edition of the Property Records Education Partners newsletter discusses the Property Records Industry Association Winter Symposium in Washington, D.C.
 Will New LO Rule Impact Payments to Affiliated Title Companies?
March 31, 2011
Read on to find out how payment to title companies affiliated with mortgage brokers may be impacted by the new Loan Originator Compensation rule that goes into effect April 1.
 ALTA Warns QRM Proposal Fails to Promote Sound Lending Practices
March 31, 2011
The federal government’s attempt to promote high quality mortgage loans through its "qualified residential mortgages" will erode collateral underwriting standards and drastically affect access to affordable loans for creditworthy Americans.
 SBA Launches Temporary Program for Commercial Real Estate
March 31, 2011
Small businesses facing maturity of commercial mortgages or balloon payments before Dec. 31, 2012, may be able to refinance their mortgage debt with a 504 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration under a new, temporary program.
 ALTA Comments on Congressional Proposals to Eliminate GSEs
March 31, 2011
While ALTA believes reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is needed, several legislative proposals by members of Congress to essentially eliminate the Government Sponsored Entities fail to recognize the GSE’s important role in providing fair market competition and rational underwriting standards.
Regional Underwriter Expands into Minnesota
March 31, 2011
Agents National Title Insurance Co. is now licensed to issue title insurance in eight states.
New Consumer ‘Title Insurance Guide’ Debuts in Newspaper with Consumer Protection Rating Feature
March 31, 2011
TI Services will provide a weekly guide in the Denver Post to help consumers and real estate professionals select or recommend a reputable title company for their title insurance and closing services.
MISMO Approves Version 3.1 as Candidate Recommendation
March 31, 2011
This data set brings the Version 3 architectural model on par with all published specifications from previous years in the Version 2.x series, and defines the solution for the next generation of automated mortgage processing.
 Industry Faces Increased Costs to Get Deals Closed
March 29, 2011
More stringent lending requirements and complicated closing instructions are adversely impacting all transactions – not just foreclosures – as it’s taking longer and costing more for title agents to close deals.
 ALTA Urges Continued Support of International Real Property Foundation
March 29, 2011
ALTA initially partnered with IRPF in 2006 and supports its goal of creating free, efficient, transparent and equitable real estate markets anchored to private property rights.
 2006 ALTA Policy Forms ‘With Modifications’ Approved for Use in Florida
March 29, 2011
Because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policy requires a 2006 policy "where available," this standard has been picked up in most of the lenders’ closing instructions.
Westcor Integrates With eLynx Electronic Closing Network
March 29, 2011
More than 80 percent of all eCN loan traffic benefits from a direct integration with an insuring title underwriter, according to eLynx, making it easier for lenders to reconcile the data and documents used in an end-to-end electronic loan process.
Stewart Adds Industry Veteran to Commercial Division in Northeast
March 29, 2011
Michael Desmond joined the Stewart's Boston operation as vice president, national business development, and will be responsible for expanding the company's national commercial business.
Fitch Reports Increase in Title Industry Profitability
March 29, 2011
Due to an expected plunge of originations this year, Fitch anticipates a decline in revenue for title insurers in 2011.
Title Insurance Premiums Written Rise Slightly in 2010
March 24, 2011
According to the preliminary 2010 Year-end and Fourth-Quarter Market Share Analysis, the title insurance industry generated $9.61 billion in title insurance premiums in 2010, up 0.2 percent from 2009.
 Deadline Approaches to File Claim in Federal Gulf Coast Oil Spill Trial
March 24, 2011
A claim must be made by April 20 to preserve the ability to recover money damages against Transocean, the owner of the oil rig responsible for the Gulf Coast oil spill.
 National Governors Association Issues Policy Against Private Transfer Fees
March 24, 2011
The National Governors Association offered significant support to ban private transfer fees issuing a policy in statement opposing the predatory scheme.
Underwriter Integrates with SoftPro to Aid Agent Productivity
March 24, 2011
The integration will allow North American Title’s agents to order electronic policy jackets without leaving their SoftPro workspace.
RedVision Enhances Social Media Presence
March 24, 2011
In an effort to keep clients informed on relevant industry news and events, the company launched new Facebook and Twitter pages.
First American Announces Two Appointments to Board of Directors
March 24, 2011
First American Financial Corp. appointed Michael D. McKee and Thomas V. McKernan to its board of directors.
 HUD Issues Guidance for Loan Originator Compensation Rule
March 22, 2011
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued guidance to clarify RESPA requirements related to proper disclosure of loan originator compensation on the GFE and HUD-1.
 Florida Bill Would Deregulate Land Surveyors
March 22, 2011
A bill introduced Florida would eliminate regulation and license requirements for professional land surveyors, causing severe consequences for the title insurance industry, the Florida Land Title Association warned.
 Wisconsin Agency Expands Footprint with Acquisition
March 22, 2011
Knight-Barry Title Group continues to take advantage of the economic downturn, and recently expanded its coverage area with the acquisition of Executive Title.
GreenFolders Provides Security Tool for Messages and Files
March 22, 2011
The company said its GreenFolders Communicator helps businesses share client files electronically with their customers, protect their customers’ privacy, and maintain compliance both with electronic data laws and the new wave of electronic communications laws.
CEO of Regional Underwriter Retires
March 22, 2011
EnTitle Insurance Company announced the retirement of Michael Waiwood, who serves as president and CEO.
 ALTA Completes Successful Federal Conference and Lobby Day
March 17, 2011
Attendees of ALTA’s 2011 Federal Conference and Lobby Day met with 190 members of Congress and staff sharing the value of the land title insurance industry, offering input on how to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, RESPA Reform and the Dodd-Frank Act. Read on to find out what attendees said about the experience.
 TIPAC Honors 2010 Contributors
March 17, 2011
ALTA's Title Insurance Political Action Committee honored several members who helped contribute to a successful donation campaign in 2010.
Underwriter Appoints New Mexico Counsel
March 17, 2011
Susan McKnight will provide underwriting assistance, education and agency support for WFG National Title’s agencies throughout New Mexico.
30-Year Fixed Rate Falls to Lowest Rate Since December
March 17, 2011
The 30-year fixed-rate dropped to 4.76 percent while the 15-year fixed-rate hit its lowest rate at 3.97 percent since December 2010, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
 FHFA Extends Home Affordable Refi Program
March 17, 2011
The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced an additional extension of the Home Affordable Refinance Program, a refinancing program administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to June 30, 2012.
 ALTA Discusses Draft of Combined Mortgage Disclosure Forms
March 15, 2011
With the disclosure improvement for mortgages and other financial products a top priority for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ALTA’s RESPA Task Force discussed a draft of its combined RESPA/TILA disclosures during the Federal Conference in Lobby Day in Washington, D.C.
 ALTA Discusses GSE Reform, Other Market Concerns at Annual Federal Conference in D.C.
March 15, 2011
Opening the first day of the 2011 Federal Conference and Lobby Day on March 14, ALTA provided an update on GSE reform, qualified residential mortgages, Dodd-Frank, mortgage interest deduction, CFPB combined mortgage disclosure, flood insurance, the NAIC agent data call and market conduct groups, Washington State regulation and private transfer fee covenants.
 Industry Prepares for Amplified RESPA Enforcement Climate
March 15, 2011
Federal Conference attendees were warned a key change in the financial regulatory reform bill is a provision that imposes civil penalties for violating any of the consumer financial laws, including RESPA.
 ALTA’s Underwriters Section Meeting Update
March 15, 2011
Members of this section received an economic forecast from the MBA, discussed reinstituting claims code reporting, heard an update on upcoming form changes and revisions, and received the latest developments regarding the association's mortgage impairment lawsuit.
 ALTA’s Abstracters and Agents Section Meeting Update
March 15, 2011
Members of this section heard preliminary results from the 2010 ALTA Agents and Abstracters Survey, as well as activity reports on the NAIC Agent Data call, the Title Agents Executive Conference, Research Committee and Education Committee.
Outsourcing Firm Adds Title Veteran
March 15, 2011
Linda Naylor, who joins LenderLIve Network as executive vice president, has more than 34 years experience having held various positions in operations, sales and underwriting.
 Virus Attack Amplifies Need for Title Companies to Safeguard Private Information
March 10, 2011
ALTA’s Technology Committee recently published a set of guidelines to help title companies ensure security in real estate transactions. Read on to learn how this booklet can help your company implement a plan to protect non-public personal information and avoid violating privacy laws.
 ALTA TIPAC Contributors
March 10, 2011
So far this year, TIPAC has raised more than $62,000, as it pushes toward its goal of $300,000. Take a look at those who have already contributed.
 ALTA Member Honored With Top 40 Under 40 Distinction
March 10, 2011
Craig Haskins, executive vice president of Knight-Barry Title Group in Wisconsin, was selected by the Milwaukee Business Journal from nearly 250 nominations.
First American Names President of New York Division
March 10, 2011
In this new role, Steven Rogers will be responsible for all aspects of First American Title's New York division, including business development, both direct and agency, and underwriting.
RedVision Announces New Regional Sales Director
March 10, 2011
The national provider of title reports and real property research solutions hired Eugene Sisneros as regional sales director.
 Fed Issues Policies Regarding Escrow Accounts
March 8, 2011
The Federal Reserve Board also proposed rules to implement escrow-related provisions pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
 New FTC Rules Require Short Sale Disclosures
March 8, 2011
The Federal Trade Commission recently issued rules that may impact real estate practitioners representing clients involved in short sale transactions. Read on to see what disclosures are required when negotiating a short sale with a lender or advertising short sales experience.
 S.D. Governor Signs Legislation Banning Private Transfer Fees
March 8, 2011
Twenty states now ban these harmful fees, while legislation to prohibit PTFs is pending in 18 additional states.
First American Bolsters Commercial Division
March 8, 2011
Jeanne LaBelle has joined the company’s National Commercial Services Division in Washington, D.C., as senior divisional counsel for the Eastern region.
CourtsOnline Renamed Intrievex
March 8, 2011
The information retrieval company added Rick Myers as president and Curt Whitton as vice president.
 Utilize Exclusive ALTA Member Tools to Provide Education about the Title Industry
March 3, 2011
The American Land Title Association provides members several exclusive tools to explain the important role the industry plays in the safe and efficient transfer of real estate and the service title professionals provide to the economic growth of the country.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Drops for Third Consecutive Week
March 3, 2011
Long-term fixed rates decreased for the third consecutive week, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
 Texas Bill Would Ban Private Transfer Fees by Closing Loopholes in Current Law
March 3, 2011
House Bill 8 will close the loopholes in current law by prohibiting future private transfer fees on real property and providing clarity and notice requirements to properties with existing private transfer fees.
New York Division Rolls Out 2011 Continuing Legal Education Program
March 3, 2011
The 2011 CLE program provided by First American Title Insurance Company's New York Division offers 25 individual seminars on a range of topics from "Title Insurance 101" to timely and more practice-specific courses such as "Transfer and Mortgage Taxes in Foreclosure and Bankruptcy."
TitleVest Names CFO, Senior Underwriting Counsel
March 3, 2011
Manhattan-based TitleVest named James Leslie as chief financial officer and Glen Chernick as senior underwriting counsel.
 Defalcation Hampers 2010 Financial Results for Regional Underwriter
March 3, 2011
EnTitle Insurance Co. reported an increase in title insurance premiums, but a significant defalcation resulted in a $3.6 million loss during 2010.
Former Florida Title Agency Owner Indicted in $47M Fraud Scheme
March 1, 2011
According to the indictment, the title agency owner and a settlement officer were among 14 others charged in a large-scale mortgage fraud conspiracy involving $47 million in loans and 22 properties.
U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson to Address Federal Conference Attendees
March 1, 2011
Find out what decisions are being made on Capitol Hill regarding issues such as GSE reform and Dodd-Frank rulemaking, and how it may impact your local market.
 TIPAC Sets Record in 2010; Sets Higher Goals for 2011
March 1, 2011
ALTA members once again exceeded the Title Insurance Political Action Committees fund-raising goal in 2010, and have jumped out in 2011 with a confident start to this year’s campaign.
 Virginia Bill Impacts Signing of Electronic Notaries
March 1, 2011
Virginia’s legislature passed a bill that allows a document to be electronically notarized when the signer is not present if satisfactory evidence of the identity is established. Read on to find out what issues the Virginia Land Title Association has with the legislation.
 Details of Proposed N.Y. Department of Financial Regulation Emerge
March 1, 2011
The New York law firm SNR Denton said the merged regulatory body will have broad regulatory authority in content and scope.
Ohio-based Title Agency Expands Retail Division
March 1, 2011
Resource Title National Agency added Donna Betley as an account executive in its retail division, and will be responsible for servicing existing customers and working to build new relationships and sales.
 First American Title Segment Reports Strongest Quarter Since 2006
February 24, 2011
The title division reported pretax income of $81.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to earnings of $58.4 million during the same period in 2009.
 HUD Clarifies Guidance for Refinances
February 24, 2011
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a new mortgagee letter clarifying and updating existing guidance to mortgagees concerning refinance transactions for FHA insurance. Read on to find out what changes are effective immediately.
 ALTA Board Approves Endorsement Adoptions and Revisions; Decertifies Several Policy Forms
February 24, 2011
The ALTA Board of Governors approved recommendations revise 12 existing endorsements, adopt four new endorsements and decertify several policy forms during a meeting on Feb. 3.
TSS Software Integrates with Fraud Monitoring System
February 24, 2011
The addition of RynohLive to its RealExpress platform will provide a real-time view of their escrow activity, eliminating disbursement errors and possible fraud losses.
RedVision Adds Title Plant Offerings in California
February 24, 2011
Incorporated into RedVision’s integrated workflow platform, the seven-county title plant includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Company Expands Rate Calculator Offering in Four States
February 24, 2011
TI Services LLC now offers its TRACcalculator service in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas to provide “Good Faith Title Estimates” to lenders.
 Reminder: New ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey Standards Go Into Effect Feb. 23
February 22, 2011
The revised standards are the first major rewrite since they were first adopted by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) and the American Title Association (now ALTA) in 1962.
 Five More States Introduce Legislation to Ban Private Transfer Fees
February 22, 2011
The latest states to looking to curb the use of these dangerous predatory fees are New Mexico Idaho, Georgia, Arkansas and Michigan.
Get Inside Information on the Future of RESPA and Regulatory Enforcement
February 22, 2011
While the industry has worked with the new Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 for more than a year now, questions remain about compliance, how the title industry has been impacted by the changes and what further adjustments will need to be made once the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is up and running. Our expert panel will provide operational advice and current enforcement trends.
 Missouri Supreme Court Rejects Industry Plea to Hear Case Impacting Cost to Access Records
February 22, 2011
Offering no explanation, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the Missouri Land Title Association to hear a case that could cost the title insurance industry millions of dollars a year to purchase recorded documents and maintain title plants.
PREP Newsletter: History Lesson on Land Records in the United States
February 22, 2011
The latest edition of the Property Records Education Partners newsletter is now available. The feature article titled "The Earthen Vessel: Land Records in the United States," provides great analysis of the history of land records and examines the methods for maintaining title information in the United States.
 New Insurance Regulators Named in Connecticut, South Carolina and D.C.
February 22, 2011
David Black was named director of South Carolina’s Department of Insurance; Thomas Leonardi was tabbed as the head of the Connecticut Insurance Department; and William White was selected as commissioner of Washington, D.C.’s Department of Insurance, Securities & Banking.
eRecording Counties Surpass 600
February 22, 2011
The Property Records Industry Association reported that the number of counties electronically recording documents surpassed 600 during the month of February.
Survey Shows Impact of New RESPA Requirements on Lenders
February 22, 2011
Find out which are the most common ways lenders obtain pricing information from their service providers.
HUD Launches Quarterly Publication Focused on Research-based Policy
February 22, 2011
The first publication is intended to inform the broad housing and community development field on future policy directions based on research and data.
Help Explain the Industry's Value: Take ALTA's 2011 Title Agent and Abstracter Survey
February 18, 2011
To help explain the value of the title insurance industry, ALTA is collecting information on the many curative efforts agents and abstracters perform every day to keep the public record in order and assist in the efficient transfer of real estate. Please take approximately one hour of your time to complete the 2011 Title Agent and Abstracter Survey.
Let ALTA Know How You Use MERS
February 18, 2011
Please take a five-minute survey so we can learn more about how ALTA members interact with the system, its usability, accuracy of information and how the database could be improved.
 FDIC Provides Guidance on Coverage for IOTA Accounts
February 17, 2011
When legislation signed into law last year extended unlimited FDIC insurance for Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA), many ALTA members asked if the same protection was afforded to Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA). Read on to find out what protection the FDIC extends to IOTA accounts.
 Efficiency Improvements Push Stewart to 2010 Profit
February 17, 2011
Improved operating efficiency in its core title operations helped Stewart Information Services turn a $62.2 million loss in 2009 into a profit of $2.9 million during 2010.
 Investors Title Reports Improved Financial Results in 2010
February 17, 2011
Higher levels of refinance activity and a reduction in claims and other expenses resulted in a 32 percent increase in net income for North Carolina-based Investors Title Co. during 2010 compared to the previous year.
Ohio-based Title Agency Grows National Commercial Footprint
February 17, 2011
Resource Title National Agency hired Keith Barker to grow the company’s commercial business in the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast states.
Florida Law Firm Expands Trial Practice
February 17, 2011
Among its practice areas, Miami-based law firm GrayRobinson, P.A. represents title insurance companies involved in fraud cases, as well as state and federal class-action litigation.
TSS Software Announces Two Promotions
February 17, 2011
The national provider of real estate title and settlement solutions promoted Toni Carroll to national sales director and Erika Rollins to marketing director.
 FHA Increases Mortgages Fees
February 15, 2011
The Federal Housing Administration will increase its annual mortgage premium (MIP) by .25 percent on all 30- and 15-year loans issued on or after April 18, 2011.
American Land Title Association Says GSEs should be Returned to Original Mission
February 15, 2011
ALTA warns the Obama Administration and Congress that any plans to significantly alter or eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would have a severe impact on consumers as mortgage rates would increase and small businesses would be pushed out of the market.
 Two Connecticut Bills Target Refinance Title Premiums
February 15, 2011
One bill would prohibit title insurance fees on refinances, while another bill would require title fees on a refinance to be reduced proportionately by an amount that reflects the time during which the property was secured by the original mortgage.
 Oklahoma Title Industry Helps to Resolve PACE Lien Priority Problem
February 15, 2011
The Oklahoma Land Title Association supports a proposed bill that would amend the Oklahoma Energy Independence Act to correct lien priority issues.
Stewart Title Guaranty Forms Northern New England Agency Services District
February 15, 2011
The organizational change will bring together Stewart’s independent title agencies in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont in one district.
RedVision Reports Continued Growth
February 15, 2011
The provider of real property research solutions attributed its success in 2010 to expanded geographic coverage in Utah, the hiring of a sales and marketing VP and release of an integrated workflow platform.
WFG National Title Names South Carolina Agency Manager/Counsel
February 15, 2011
Clinton Yarborough will be responsible for growing the underwriter’s presence in South Carolina, with an emphasis on recruiting and serving as a resource for agencies.
 VA Revises Loan Modification Procedures
February 10, 2011
The Department of Veterans Affairs published an interim final rule Feb. 7 revising its loan modification regulations due to issues that created difficulty in modifying mortgage loans.
 Proposed House Bill Threatens National Flood Insurance Program
February 10, 2011
Although five and a half million taxpayers depend on the National Flood Insurance Program as their main source of protection against flooding, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would phase out the program by 2013.
 Welcome the Latest ALTA Members
February 10, 2011
ALTA membership continues to increase as more and more title and settlement agents realize the many benefits the Association provides. Check out who has recently became a member.
California-based Title Agency Grows Footprint
February 10, 2011
Consumer’s Title is now licensed to do business in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
N.J.-based Title Agency Expands into Texas
February 10, 2011
Madison Title Agency selected Brian Irwin to manage and expand the company’s business in the Lone Star State.
Utah-based Credit Union Launches Paperless Closing Service
February 10, 2011
Mountain America has partnered with Stewart’s PropertyInfo to offer a service that allows homebuyers to access and pre-approve most of the necessary documents online prior to closing.
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Rates Rise to Highest Level Since April 2010
February 10, 2011
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.05 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Feb. 10, up from last week when it averaged 4.81 percent,
 Licenses Suspended for 12 Maryland Title Agencies after Underwriter Finds $1M Shortage
February 10, 2011
The Maryland Insurance Administration suspended the licenses of 12 title agencies less than two months after an underwriter audit discovered a title agency diverted more than $1 million from an escrow account to pay operating expenses.
 Growing Your Business: Target the Right Customers
February 8, 2011
The president of a national real estate franchise company offers advice on targeting customers in the real estate community. Find out which real estate agents he says provide prime opportunities to capture business.
PropertyInfo Acquires Records Management Firm
February 8, 2011
The company said the acquisition of RecordFusion will complement its eRecording technologies.
Underwriter Bolsters Presence in Southeast
February 8, 2011
WFG National Title Insurance Co. tabbed Thomas Klein to manage and grow the company’s agency support operations in Alabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
 Seven Trends That Will Drive the Future of Housing
February 8, 2011
Find out how energy-efficient installations, sheds, Echo-Boomers WINKS and the Sandwich Generation will all impact the future of home sales.
RamQuest Opens New Business Segment
February 8, 2011
The software company’s new Center for Business Excellence will be responsible for defining and demonstrating industry best practice standards and modeling methodologies for more progressive customer and prospect engagements.
 Texas Bill Could Impact Cost to Access Public Records
February 3, 2011
A bill proposed in Texas could have a severe impact on the cost to obtain public records in the state and eliminate availability of non-certified records.
 ALTA Advocacy Effort Clears Hurdle as FHFA Proposes to Ban PTFs
February 3, 2011
ALTA’s advocacy efforts to protect consumers and their home equity from private transfer fee covenants earned a significant victory Feb. 1 as the Federal Housing Finance Agency issued a proposed rule that would limit government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank from investing in mortgages encumbered by private transfer fee covenants (PTFs).
 Bill to Ban Private Transfer Fees Introduced in Pennsylvania
February 3, 2011
Legislation supported by the Pennsylvania Land Title Association (PLTA) to prohibit the future use of private transfer fees (PTFs) in Pennsylvania was introduced in the state’s senate.
 Arizona Court Rules on Property Rights Dispute
February 3, 2011
A recent court decision in Arizona has a direct impact on property rights, including right-of-way, plats and easements for trails, drainage, utilities, roads and other items.
MISMO Holds Trimester Workgroup Meetings
February 3, 2011
Among the topics discussed included legislative and regulatory developments impacting the industry; economy realities and predictions through 2015; the basic structural framework and architecture of the MISMO standard; and an update on the Uniform Mortgage Data Program (UMDP).
New Title Agency Launched in Texas
February 3, 2011
Different from the traditional title agency structure, TitleVision Texas will not issue title policies but offer property research reports, title plant subscriptions and production alternatives.
PREP Newsletter: If You're Not at the Table, You're Going to be on the Menu
February 3, 2011
We've seen plenty of industry and political reaction to the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. Every aspect of the industry is under the microscope. In desperate times, there will be desperate reactions, such as a 2010 congressional bill introduced, in part, to evaluate the need for a national land registration system.
 Fidelity Posts Strong Q4 Results
February 1, 2011
Fidelity National Financial’s title segment posted its strongest earnings in several years during the fourth quarter of 2010 as low mortgage interest rate fueled strong refinance volumes and the company continued to manage expense.
 Nebraska Bill Would Impact Easements
February 1, 2011
A bill introduced in Nebraska would eliminate permanent wildlife conservation easements and bar the Nebraska Environmental Trust from funding land purchases.
 New Rule in New Mexico Allows Underwriters to File Rates Lower Than Promulgated Rate
February 1, 2011
A rule went into effect Jan. 1, 2010 in New Mexico that allows title insurance underwriters to file rates lower than the promulgated rate set by the superintendent of insurance.
Stewart Announces Milestone in Electronic Title Policy Generation
February 1, 2011
The company reported more than two million policies have been produced by title agencies utilizing the Stewart Title Electronic Policy System.
Loan Fraud Rises in Latest FinCEN Report
February 1, 2011
According to FinCEN, suspicious activity reports, characterized by filers as indicating possible mortgage loan fraud, increased 2 percent to 16,693 in the third quarter of 2010.
Fraud Unit Created in Minnesota
February 1, 2011
U.S. Attorney for Minnesota B. Todd Jones said the new unit will work closely with the criminal division to halt on-going criminal fraud and freeze assets before indictments are filed, pursuant to the Anti-Fraud Injunction Act.
Title Company Expands Staff Throughout North Dakota
February 1, 2011
North Dakota Guaranty and Title Company, a provider in residential, commercial and mineral title information services, announced the addition of the following experienced professionals to its Title Team.
 Florida Title Agency Owner Dies in Federal Custody after Two Years on the Lam
January 27, 2011
The death of the owner of West Palm Beach-based Flagler Title who was accused of stealing $10 million from clients is a reminder that title professionals have a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard escrow funds.
 Colorado, Nebraska Contending With Bills That Could Impact Access to Records
January 27, 2011
The state land title associations in both states are monitoring the legislation proposed in their state.
 Old Republic Reports 2011 Earnings
January 27, 2011
Old Republic International’s title business continued to reflect the more positive operating momentum that first emerged in the second quarter of 2009 as it reported pretax income of $9.4 million in 2010.
MBA Adjusts 2011 Origination Volume Prediction
January 27, 2011
The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts loan origination volume for single-family loans will fall to $966 billion in 2011, levels not seen since 1997.
FHA Terminates Agreements With 15 Originators
January 27, 2011
The Federal Housing Administration terminated agreements with 15 originators and seven underwriters approved for mortgage insurance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
 N.D. Moves Closer to Banning Private Transfer Fees
January 27, 2011
The North Dakota Senate passed Senate Bill 2149 on its second reading, moving the state a step closer to banning private transfer fees.
ALTA Member Benefit: Access to Member Directory
January 27, 2011
Networking and building relationships is a key component to a successful operation and expanding your footprint. As an ALTA member you have exclusive access to our membership directory, connecting you quickly to thousands of other industry professionals to help meet your needs. Read on to find out how to access the membership directory from your desktop.
 ALTA Asks FDIC to Confirm IOTA Accounts Receive Unlimited Deposit Coverage
January 25, 2011
The American Land Title Association sent a letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. asking it to reaffirm that title companies' Interest on Trust Accounts are considered "functionally equivalent" to Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts for the purposes of unlimited deposit insurance coverage.
 Bills to Ban Private Transfer Fees Introduced in Four More States
January 25, 2011
Montana, South Dakota, Virginia and Washington have legislation pending that would ban the future use of private transfer fees.
 Title Company Owner, Two Employees Indicted in $4M Fraud Scheme
January 25, 2011
The indictment alleges that beginning at least as far back as 2004, a substantial shortfall began to develop in an escrow account due to mistakes made during the closing process on several transactions that required costly pay-outs to resolve, and partly from several large and long-undetected thefts by individual employees.
Glance at Upcoming ALTA Meetings
January 25, 2011
Get a quick update on all of the meetings ALTA has planned and tailored to meet the needs of your operation. From our annual convention to meetings for large and small agents, we’ve got you covered.
Title Industry Veteran Launches New Operation
January 25, 2011
Leslie Rennell, former president and CEO of Cleveland-based Resource Title Agency Inc., has formed Resource Title National Agency Inc.
Underwriter Bolsters Agency Audit Department
January 25, 2011
WFG National Title Insurance Co. has named Mark Knight senior agency auditor and Keith Nolan as agency auditor.
 Responding to Negative Defalcation Media Reports
January 20, 2011
ALTA has created a model letter to the editor to help members respond quickly to negative media coverage regarding defalcations.
 ALTA Urges Inclusion of Owner’s and Loan Policies in Definition of QRM Exemption
January 20, 2011
ALTA recommended to federal agencies that a title search, examination, curative work and the placement of both an owner’s and loan title insurance policy are best practices that should be included in the definition of a Qualified Residential Mortgage exemption.
Attend ALTA's 2011 Federal Conference and Get an Exclusive Tour of the White House
January 20, 2011
Not only can you attend ALTA's 2011 Federal Conference and Lobby Day to inform Congressional leaders of the importance of our industry and stay abreast of the latest issues that will impact your business, you also can take an exclusive tour March 15 of the White House.
Tame Inflation Figures Leave Mortgage Rates Mixed
January 20, 2011
The latest Freddie Mac Mortgage Survey showed mixed results for both long- and short-term rates, with the 30-year rising slightly and the 15-year falling just as slightly.
 Freddie Mac Releases Updated Seller/Servicer Guide
January 20, 2011
Effective for mortgages with settlement dates on or after May 1, 2011, Freddie Mac will require verification of funds and that purchase money mortgages be seasoned for 120 days in order to be refinanced as a “no cash-out” refinance mortgage.
 Title Companies Still Face New 1099 Reporting Requirements in 2012
January 20, 2011
With a repeal of the health care reform unlikely, a section of the legislation will require any taxpayer with business income to issue 1099 forms to all vendors from whom they purchased more than $600 of goods and services that year beginning in 2012. Read on to learn how title companies that make non-credit card purchases of more than $600 will be impacted.
PRIA to Host Winter Symposium in D.C.
January 20, 2011
The Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) will host an Annual Winter Symposium in Washington, D.C., on March 2-4, at Washington Marriott Hotel.
PREP Newsletter: Who's On First? Let's End the Blame Game
January 18, 2011
In today's world, in which we are bombarded with negative news, it is easier to point fingers and blame, then to set a course in a new direction. The land records and mortgage industry are intertwined and we cannot afford to operate in special interest silos.
 The Docket: Ibanez Ruling Spells Out Proper Foreclosure Procedure
January 18, 2011
ALTA’s Title Counsel Committee says that courts are holding lenders to the letter of the law when foreclosing. This makes it even more important for title agents and underwriters to review an analyze each foreclosure carefully. Read on.
 Bills to Ban Private Transfer Fees Introduced in Nebraska, Wyoming
January 18, 2011
In Nebraska, Chris Langemeier introduced legislative bill 26, while in Wyoming, House Bill No. 0131 was introduced by Reps. Lisa Shepperson and Kermit Brown, and Sen. Drew Perkins.
 Title Industry Helps Restore Lost Records in New Orleans
January 18, 2011
Working cooperatively with the Orleans Parish clerk of court, the title insurance industry helped recover mortgage and conveyance records that were lost after a computer crash in October.
ALTA’s Romeo Re-elected to MISMO Governance Committee
January 18, 2011
Kelly Romeo, director of industry standards and practices for ALTA, was recently re-elected to the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO) Governance Committee.
FDIC Announces Hotline for Small Businesses Regarding Availability of Credit
January 18, 2011
FDIC announced the formation of a new dedicated, toll-free hotline for small businesses to make inquiries or to register concerns about the availability of credit.
President Releases Executive Order on Regulatory Strategy
January 18, 2011
President Obama signed an Executive Order outlining his regulatory strategy to support continued economic growth and job creation, while protecting the safety, health and rights of all Americans.
Agents, Abstracters Can Learn the Latest on RESPA Compliance
January 13, 2011
Attendees of ALTA's Agents and Abstracters Forum will get the inside scoop on the future of RESPA enforcement. With significant fines looming for RESPA violations, agents and abstracters must keep abreast of regulatory pitfalls. Attend this meeting to keep your operation out of the regulators' cross hairs.
 ALTA Warns Limited Definition of ‘Qualified Residential Mortgage’ Would Hinder Market Recovery
January 13, 2011
he American Land Title Association joined 11 other trade associations in a joint letter warning several federal agencies that a narrow exemption from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 20101 credit risk retention rules would hinder an already weak housing market and impede a national economic recovery.
 Industry Likely to See Increase of Qualified Mortgages
January 13, 2011
Find out what impact an increase in more low-risk "qualified mortgages" would have on the title insurance industry.
 A Message From Our President: ALTA the Voice of Reason Amid Swirling Confusion
January 13, 2011
Read on to find out why ALTA President Anne Anastasi says there is a silver lining behind all of the negative foreclosure news.
RamQuest Celebrates 20th Anniversary
January 13, 2011
Plano, Texas-based software provider has provided solutions to the title and settlement services industry since 1991.
MBA Analyzes Real Estate Markets in Declining Cities
January 11, 2011
The study offers insight on the potential future evolution of real estate markets in cities that are in the midst of a severe and persistent economic decline, including detailed statistical analysis of trends in U.S. metro areas over the past 40 years, paying particular attention to seven large metro areas since 2000.
Missouri Land Title Association Asks State S.C. to Hear Case Impacting Cost to Access Records
January 11, 2011
The Missouri Land Title Association (MLTA) asked the state’s Supreme Court to hear a case that could cost the title insurance industry millions of dollars a year to purchase recorded documents and maintain title plants.
First of Five Regional Meetings Slated This Weekend for Small Agents and Abstracters
January 11, 2011
With agents and abstracters facing economic challenges, ALTA has developed fivef Agents and Abstracters Forums to make them more accessible and affordable. The first forum will be held Jan. 16 in Nashville, Tenn.
Leaders of Departments of Insurance in Texas, Ohio Leave Positions
January 11, 2011
Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin announced that he will not seek another term as head of the Texas Department of Insurance, while Ohio Department of Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson announced her resignation effective Jan. 10.
Software Provider Launches Podcast Series for Title Industry
January 11, 2011
The president of TSS Software will host a bi-weekly podcast delivering industry-related news in an entertaining fashion.
Company Provides service to Locate Real Estate, Legal Professionals
January 11, 2011
CourthouseDirect.com has launched CourthouseSquare.com, giving real estate and legal professionals the ability to locate and do business with other real estate and legal professionals locally or nationally more effectively.
Report Finds Small Builders Produce Majority of New Homes
January 11, 2011
According to a study by the National Association of Home Builders, more than 65 percent of all home building establishments had annual receipts below $1 million.
 Title Companies Absorbing Questionable Fees for Payoff Requests
January 6, 2011
As the financial industry seeks to make up for lower revenues amid heightened federal regulations, many banks are finding new ways to generate income. Find out which bank is charging title companies $20 per call to get payoff information.
 FHA to Require Flood Zone Determination on All Mortgages Beginning March 1
January 6, 2011
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) updated its flood zone requirements for FHA-insured mortgages.
St. Louis County Offers e-Recording
January 6, 2011
E-recording is now available at the St. Louis County Recorder of Deeds office, according to St. Louis County Recorder of Deeds Janice Hammonds.
 Two New England States Enact Emergency Amendments to Foreclosure Rules
January 6, 2011
Vermont and New Jersey are the latest states to impose more rigorous standards on foreclosure plaintiffs in response to allegations that fraudulent affidavits may have been employed to prosecute foreclosure proceedings and obtain foreclosure judgments.
Top Cybercrime Threats in 2011
January 6, 2011
McAfee Labs predicts geolocation, mobile devices and Apple will top the list of targets for emerging cybercrime threats in 2011, while shortened URL services and Internet TV platforms will also be victimized by attackers.
Fidelity Schedules Q4 Earnings Release
January 6, 2011
Fidelity National Financial will release fourth-quarter 2010 earnings after the close of regular market trading Jan. 27 and hold a conference call the following day.
 Lenders Asking Title Agents to Sign Red Flags Rule Agreements
January 4, 2011
With the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Red Flags rule going into effect on Jan. 1, some lenders are asking title agents and settlement service providers to sign agreements that they will adhere to the rules promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission.
 Unlimited FDIC Insurance Extended for IOLTA Accounts
January 4, 2011
Legislation (H.R. 6398) was signed into law that extends unlimited FDIC insurance for Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts accounts through Dec. 31, 2012.
 Ginnie Mae Issues HMBS Certification Requirements for HECM Life Estates
January 4, 2011
According to policy guidance, the document custodian must verify that the promissory note is executed by the holder of the life estate; the security instrument is executed by the holder of the life estate and any future interests; the intervening assignments reflect such mortgagors; and the title insurance lists such mortgagors as holding title.
Software Provides Flexibility for Companies of Any Size
January 4, 2011
Adeptive says every user of its title software has access to all of the same enhancements and integrations, and all in a single product.
Don't Forget: Register for Webinar Addressing Survey Standard Changes
January 4, 2011
Gary Kent, chair of the ALTA Liaison Committee with the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, will present a webinar for surveyors on Jan. 12 explaining the changes in the 2011 ALTA/ACSM Land Survey Standard from the 2005 version.
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