Famed Economist, Underwriter Panel Headline Friday General Session

October 22, 2009

Title agents attending the 2009 ALTA Annual Convention in Palm Beach, Fla., won’t want to miss Friday’s event-filled general session. Famed economist Hernando de Soto will offer the keynote presentation as he will discuss the immense value the title insurance industry provides in building economic growth and making the American Dream of home ownership possible.

De Soto believes that everything that people own – including the title to your house and car – is documented on property paper. Owners can hold, transfer, assess and certify the value of such assets only through documents that have been legally authenticated by a global system of rules, procedures and standards which ensure that the relationship between those documents and each of the independent assets they represent is never debased.

“This formidable system of property rights, which has evolved steadily since the industrial revolution, provides all the rules and recording mechanisms to securely fix on paper the knowledge required to legitimately hold, transfer and transform the things we own. It produces the trust that allows credit and capital to flow and markets to work,” de Soto said.

Also featured during Friday’s general session will be the popular underwriter panel, featuring Chris Abbinante, president of Fidelity National Title Group; Dennis Gilmore, CEO of First American Title Insurance Co.; Malcolm Morris, CEO of Stewart Title Guaranty Co.; and Rande Yeager, CEO and president of Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.

These executives will share insight into the future of the industry and share their experience.

Following a lunch break, the professional development sessions will fill up the afternoon’s agenda.

David Townsend, CEO of Agents National Title Insurance Co. and Brent Scheer, CFO of Agents National, will discuss Mortgage & Escrow Fraud: Prevention & Discovery. The two will offer advice on how underwriters work with agents to oversee escrow accounts to protect themselves and the agency owner from escrow fraud. Mortgage fraud and escrow fraud are often intertwined and this session will identify how these inter-related frauds are perpetrated through actual examples. It will also highlight how to detect and minimize your exposure to defalcation.

In this economic environment, everyone is trying to reduce risk. Richard Reass, president of RynohLive will help agents learn about reducing exposure to risk and how to strengthen banking relationships in the process. Reass said title/escrow companies can proactively manage their escrow and banking account relationships through the use of inexpensive technology/software.

Surveys can often provide helpful information to a real estate transaction. In the session “Why Can't Two Surveyors Ever Agree? Understanding Boundaries & Legal Descriptions,” Gary Kent, of the Schneider Corp., will tell attendees about the various types of legal descriptions and how they are developed and interpreted, the basic principles that guide the interpretation of legal descriptions and the determination of boundaries, and the sources of uncertainty that result in conflicts and overlaps in legal descriptions and on boundaries.

James Kearn, with Attorneys’ Title Fund Services LLC, will offer Part 1 of the development session discussing short sales and other distressed property transactions. This session will focus on the host of government programs available for, and designed to keep borrowers in possession of their homes, which are generally referred to as the federal “RAMPD” hierarchy of help. These federal sponsored programs include forbearance by the lender, a structured re-payment option, and the Home Saver Advance program. They also include several types of mortgage modifications, including the Home Affordable Modification Program (HMP) and the Home Saver Forbearance program. Also discussed will be the implementation of those programs by government sponsored enterprises, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as federally sponsored alliances of lenders and community organizations, such as the Hope Now network, designed to help guide mortgagors through the labyrinth of available programs and options.

In the second part of his presentation, Kearn will explore workout options resulting in the borrower losing possession of the property, which include pre-foreclosure redemptions, commonly known as “short sales”; and the proffer of a deed in lieu of foreclosure. The mechanics, documentation, and title insurance aspects of each workout option will also be addressed.

Greg Litster, of SAFE Checks, will offer information on cyber crime and check fraud in the presentation “Liability in a Paperless World.” He will share specific defenses, including technologies beyond “Positive Pay,” to help prevent these crimes. Particular attention will be paid to check fraud, the most dominant form of payment fraud, because it produces the greatest losses.

Darryl Turner, CEO of Title Solutions Group, will provide specific steps to begin consulting with Realtors and lenders to help title agents understand the needs of their clients.

“Your customers are only interested in improving their business,” he said. “Can you truly help them and increase your sales simultaneously?”

In the session “Are Your Public Records Really Public?” Brian Twibell, CEO of RedVision; Mary O’Donnell, CEO of Westcor; Richard Bramhall, chief title officer of Bank of America; David Floyd, recording manager of SKLD; and Robert Germain, clerk of court for Highlands County, Fla., will take to the stage to discuss the wide practice and policy gap across the 3,600 U.S. counties that record land records. In certain counties, copies of these records are readily available, but in others their availability has been restricted and/or the county is charging to provide access. This alarming trend toward restricting access and/or charging for access is rapidly growing as county budget shortfalls loom on the horizon. This session will cover, in detail, the enormous and negative business impact this trend is having on the title industry through the use of real life business examples from agents, underwriters and their servicing firms.

There also will be several vendor sessions starting the activities on Friday morning, including:

Jan Clark, vice president, sales and marketing, of Ernst Information Services Co., who will discuss “RESPA Compliance – Solutions for GFE to Closing.”

Brian Benson, VP, title and settlement Services, of First American CoreLogic, who will discuss Tools to “Give Fallout a Knuckle Sandwich and Save You and Your Clients Bucks.” Mary Schuster, director of operations of RamQuest, and Jon Allen, VP, sales and marketing of RamQuest, will offer the presentation “A Real World at a Real 2010 Solution.”

Dick Reass, president of RynohLive, and Carol Butler, manager of RynohLive, who will discuss “Eliminate Disbursing Losses & Protect Your Company.”

Tim Conley, vice president, sales and marketing of SoftPro. Who will offer the presentation “SoftPro Select – The Answer to All of Your Closing and Title Production Needs.”

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

North American Title Insurance Company (NATIC) is a seasoned title insurance underwriter, helping title agents to achieve their individual business goals for more than 50 years. Today, the company conducts real estate settlement services in 39 states and the District of Columbia through a network of experienced, independent agents.