Title Companies form ‘Super Alliance’

February 23, 2016

A dozen title insurance agencies and settlement services law firms have aligned as a national consortium called The 12th Floor Group. The alliance is comprised of independent firms, with the requirement that each member have a physical office in the states in which it operates.

According to a press release, The 12th Floor Group was conceived in response to the challenge of building a settlement services firm with national coverage in several states that have traditionally posed significant barriers to entry. The group was conceived after consultation with many national banks, mortgage lenders, reinsurance companies, mortgage insurance companies, government regulators and members of the secondary market. The 12th Floor Group covers more than 40 states through the combined licensure of its members. The 12th Floor Group utilized state-focused operations centers, focused on being able to address the varying legal and regulatory schemes from state-to-state governing title and settlement services, according to Stephen Papermaster, chief executive officer of First Title & Escrow and president of The 12th Floor Group.

“With this new model, The 12th Floor Group has strategically created a consortium of companies which are domiciled with brick-and-mortar in even the most difficult jurisdictions,” Papermaster noted. “Its members actually live in their respective states, and employ local closing agents, attorneys and title agents who are part of the local economy, political structure and culture.”

He also said that lenders and banks doing business with The 12th Floor Group will be able to place orders and make status inquiries through a single, cloud-based portal.

The 12th Floor Group has retained RESPA expert Marx Sterbcow as outside general counsel to ensure compliance with RESPA and other related federal regulations. In addition, the group has retained Richard Horn, a former CFPB attorney who formed the law firm Rich Horn Legal, to provide TRID counsel and guidance.

Group members must undergo an intensive internal vetting process and audit by the group’s general counsel, according to the release. In addition, each member must maintain, at a minimum, an AICPA Service Oriented Company Certification of some level. All initial members of the group have at least a SOC type 1 certification.

All group members have adopted and implemented the basic requirements set out in ALTA’s Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices, the press release said. Over the past 12 months, the initial members have met and developed a set of additional proprietary best practices for third- and fourth-party vendor management, social media/ FFIEC, REO and loss mitigation, and OFAC/anti-money laundering and mortgage fraud.

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