November 2009

Dear ,

October proved to be as eventful and active as ever as TLTA continued to work on the rule implementation for House Bill 4338, filed final closing arguments in the rate case, continued our work in Washington to address concerns with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency(CFPA) legislation and engaged the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) on RESPA implementation.

House Bill 4338 - Agent Insolvency
We're extremely appreciative of the hard work done by TLTA’s Regulatory Committee and Board. During their two meetings last month they managed to draft and adopt proposed rules, in addition to responding to TDI’s recommendations. On October 20th, TDI held a H.B. 4338 stakeholder meeting to review proposed rules for the new statutory requirements, including the mandatory minimum capitalization. The meeting went very well and all parties appear to be working in the same direction. Items that require additional work include the surety bond form and the process for certification of unencumbered assets. We currently have two task forces working on revised proposals and we hope to present those soon. It also appears we’re on track for the Commissioner to publish new rules for adoption shortly after the beginning of the year.

Rate Hearing
At the end of October, TLTA and other parties to the rate hearing filed their closing arguments with the SOAH. The SOAH judges have indicated their desire to provide the Commissioner with a recommendation before the end of the year. Once the Commissioner has received their recommendation, he is free to adopt a new rate at any time. We will notify you as soon as the SOAH recommendation is published.

Consumer Financial Protection Agency
On the federal front, TLTA has put in a great deal of lobbying effort to remove “title insurance” and “real estate settlement service providers” from the CFPA bill during the House Committee process.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore(D-WI) offered an amendment to remove all forms of insurance, including title insurance, from the CFPA bill. Due in part to efforts of the American Land Title Association (ALTA) to nurture and promote the Moore amendment, the amendment was adopted by the House Committee. Unfortunately, “providers of real estate settlement services” remains in the bill and our title agents continue to be subject to CFPA regulation.

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa(D-TX)
who serves on the House Financial Services Committee has worked diligently to address our concerns. He has an open dialogue with Chairman Barney Franks regarding the removal of “settlement service providers” which will prove helpful when the bill returns from the Senate. We’d also like to recognize our members in the Valley -John King,Byron Lewis,Mike Overly and Paul Rodriguez- who have worked with the Congressman in this effort. TLTA is also grateful for the efforts of state Senator Carlos Uresti who sent a letter to Congressional members with whom he shares constituents and key figures on the House Financial Services Committee, pointing out the hardship that the proposed CFPA could present to independent title agents in Texas.

In the Senate, Chairman Dodd has filed his version of the CFPA bill. Unfortunately, the bill contains references to both “settlement service providers” and “title insurance.” This means that the education effort is starting from scratch in the Senate and there is much more work ahead.

Another particularly troubling aspect of the CFPA is the fact that this new agency will be responsible for raising its own revenue through assessments of its regulatory population. This means as a Texas title agent, who performs settlement service activities, you could receive a new bill in the mail from the federal government separate from your income taxes. We’ll continue to diligently seek the removal of title agents from this unnecessary and potentially very costly regulation.

In closing, I cannot stress enough how important supporting the TLTAPAC is to our overall efforts. Campaign fundraisers have reached a feverish pace and the strength of our PAC has allowed us to participate in this interim fundraising cycle. The ability to participate is invaluable in terms of our industry’s exposure and relationship enrichment with members of the legislature, but this is only possible because of your support. Please consider making a direct contribution to the PAC today.


Aaron Day


TLTA Files Closing Argument Briefs in Biennial Rate Hearing

As we reported earlier, the title insurance rate hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings wrapped up on September 16. At the conclusion of the hearing, the administrative law judges announced the final brief submissions and indicated their goal is to have their recommendation to the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner before the end of the year.

In October, TLTA, along with other parties to the hearing (TDI, OPIC, etc.) filed our closing arguments. TLTA's closing arguments and the closing arguments of other parties to the hearing can be found on our website.

Minerals Coverage Order Now in Effect

The Texas Department of Insurance has officially adopted changes to the Basic Manual regarding minerals coverage which include two new endorsements regarding Minerals and Surface Damage (T-19.2 and T-19.3). The new statistical codes for these endorsements can be found on TDI's website.
If you have not taken the steps to prepare for this change, we urge you to do so now. Two of TLTA's Minerals Coverage webinars, which originally sold-out, have now been archived and added to our online Education on Demand series which allows you to access the training you need in a way that fits your schedule.
Update Your Basic Manual-Ask a Question-Get More Information


HUD Announces Restraint in RESPA Enforcement for First Four Months

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a press release saying that they will “exercise restraint” in enforcing the new RESPA rules for the first four months of the year beginning January 1, 2010 when the new rules take effect.
Observers continue to be concerned that questions remain about how to comply as the implementation period approaches. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan stated that HUD is “sensitive to the concerns of the industry as it integrates these new rules into their day-to-day business practices."

RESPA Reform Update and Upcoming Education Opportunities

The Department of Housing and Urban Development released the latest installment of FAQs on November 17. These FAQs attempt to answer some of the Title Industry's questions regarding compliance and implementation of the pending rules, which are set to take effect on January 1, 2010.
Hands-On, How-To Workshops
In the meantime, we strongly encourage you and your staff to prepare for the pending rules. Our special RESPA and the new HUD-1 Hands-On, How-To Workshop continues its tour across the state this week and two weeks in December. Space is limited and workshops continue to sell out. For additional program details click here or register online today.
Join us from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1 as the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association and TLTA partner to bring this important webinar regarding the changes and issues ahead as we prepare for RESPA compliance on January 1, 2010.
RESPA reform means BIG changes ahead for all parties involved in the settlement process – but particularly for lenders and title agents. This new road has curves and intersections that require not just using new forms – but new processes and systems. Click here for program details or register online.

Obama Signs Legislation to Extend Home Buyer Credit

As we reported earlier, last week the House and Senate approved legislation that would extend the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers through the first six months of next year. Also included in the bill was a provision to expand the program to certain existing homeowners. Late last Friday, President Obama approved the legislation and signed it into law.Under the expanded program, existing homeowners are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500 if they purchase a new home. To qualify, current owners will need to have lived in their prior residence for five consecutive years out of the past eight years. The credit will apply to homes under contract by April 30, 2010, as long as they close by June 30. First-time buyers will continue to be eligible for up to $8,000. Read the Wall Street Journal’s The Lowdown on Home-Buyer Tax Credits.


StrausAppoints Sunset Commission Members

Earlier this month,Speaker of the House Joe Straus appointed his selections to the Sunset Advisory Commission. As we reported earlier,Lt. Governor Dewhurst made his selection earlier this fall. The Sunset Advisory Commission is made up of five Senators, five Representatives and two public members.

Straus appointed Representative Dennis Bonnen to serve as Vice-Chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission. Other appointees include Representative Rafael Anchia,Representative Byron Cook,Representative Linda Harper Brown,Representative Carl Isettand Lamont Jefferson who will serve as the public appointee.

Earlier this month,Sunset Chairman Senator Glenn Hegar issued a review schedule for the 82nd Legislative session and TLTA will be meeting with members of the Sunset Advisory Commission staff over the coming weeks. We look forward to working with Sunset staff and members of the Commission as the Texas Department of Insurance and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel undergo their Sunset reviews.


Why I Give

By the end of October, you’ve raised$45,584 for the TLTAPAC. As TLTA President Mark Greek said in his President's Message, "It doesn't matter what role you play in your company. Everyone can be a PAC supporter."

If you're still wondering why you should support the TLTAPAC,Randy Pittman has a few more reasons...

I Give Because...

It's a way for me to give back to the industry I've had the privilege of being involved with for over 14 years.

Also, the more involved I become at the board level, I see how the money we raise for the TLTAPAC helps our cause. TLTA is able to seek help on the legislative front from our state Senators and Representatives when we need it.

During the 2009 legislative session, a couple of Legislators picked up our e-filing legislation and I watched as they fought on behalf of our industry to pass the bill that was important to not only myself, but our industry.

Randy Pittman
West Texas Abstract
& Title Company

TLTAbay 2009 Raises Close to $14,000 for TLTAPAC

Last Friday, the TLTAPAC wrapped up our annual online auction. On behalf of the Texas Land Title Association and TLTAPAC Board of Trustees, we want to thank our TLTAbay Committee, donors, shoppers and bidders - we couldn't have done it without you!

The auction helped to raise almost$14,000 for the TLTAPAC, putting us well on our way to meet our annual fundraising goal of $100,000.

Although the auction is over, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to support the TLTAPAC. You can make a donation online or sign up to sponsor one of the TLTAPAC events during our Annual Conference and Business Meeting. Please act today!


Industry Stats

Release Date Latest Release
Change from Previous Release

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 11/05/09 4.98% -0.05%
15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 11/05/09 4.40% -0.06
10 Year Treasury Rate 11/10/09 3.50% -0.02
Existing Home Sales (in millions) 10/23/09 5.57 +9.4%
New Home Sales 10/28/09 402,000 -3.6%
Supply of Housing Inventory 09/25/09 7.5 months 2.7%
Information Provided by ALTA.

TLTA News Ticker - Providing You the Latest in Industry-Related News

Monday through Friday you can count on TLTA for the latest business and industry news clips in Texas and across the United States. Check out the TLTA News Ticker today!