December 2009


Dear ,

November offered no reprieve from the ever-changing and challenging regulatory and legislative landscape for the Texas title industry.

TLTA submitted comments on the proposed rules from the biennial rule making process. Fortunately, we obtained some positive results. We have also been extremely busy formulating proposed rules for the new insolvency statute, as well as meeting with stakeholders and TDI on those rules. Your regulatory committee, board and multiple task forces have been devoting many hours and ample expertise to this process.

TLTA has also been working with TDI to address potential conflicts with the new RESPA rules and TDI regulations and practices. As a result,TDI has issued a set of guidelines for use of the new HUD-1. We appreciate the Department for helping make this transition easier for Texas title agents.

We also learned in November that title insurance will be the primary issue looked at by the Texas House Insurance Committee this year. This means that we have our work cut out for us this spring, meeting with lawmakers and putting together testimony to explain what we do and why it works for Texas consumers. This effort is on top of the discussions taking place with the Sunset Commission, which will be evaluating the title insurance industry in the context of TDI Sunset review. The Sunset Commission kicked off its review process with an organizational meeting in mid November.

There's been heavy legislative fundraising activity over the past months in preparation for the end of the year filing deadline. Thanks to your PAC contributions, TLTA has been present supporting those candidates who work to protect and strengthen your industry.

Finally, as if all of this state activity was not enough, Congress has the title industry in its sights with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) bill. If the CFPA bill passes the U.S. House as expected later this month, it threatens to individually regulate all Texas title agents and charge agents a special tax for the privilege. Additionally, H.R. 2609 , which creates a shell Federal Insurance Office, passed the Financial Services Committee earlier this month. These efforts to federalize the regulation of our industry are very concerning and TLTA is working hard to defeat them.

In closing, as the holidays approach and the year ends, we want to offer our sincere thanks to all of our members who have contributed their time and talents on these very important and historic issues.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 512.472.6593 or at aaron@tlta.com.

Sincerely,


Aaron Day

REGULATORY NEWS - TDI

Commissioner Issues Final Adoption Order for 2008 Rule Hearing

Order in Effect February 1, 2010
Last month, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) issued a final order on the agenda items heard at the October 2008 rule hearing. In September, TLTA submitted comments to TDI regarding the proposed rules and we're grateful for TDI's favorable response. In the final order, TDI reversed their position and decided to not adopt two very problematic agenda items proposed by OPIC.
One item would have required that title commitments be delivered only to the buyer (i.e. not their lawyer or agent) and would have required a firm delivery time of five days prior to closing, independent of the Texas Real Estate Commission contract or parties’ wishes. The other item would have labeled certain title agent’s charges as “negotiable” and/or “waivable” in P-21 to encourage buyers “to shop” for better terms regarding these charges during that five day period. Although well intended, these items could have ultimately resulted in consumer costs and confusion.
View Adoption Order-View Agenda Items-Get More Information

Agent Insolvency Rulemaking Process Underway

The agent insolvency rulemaking process is underway via stakeholder meetings and communications with TDI staff. TLTA has presented its proposal for each rule required by the new statute resulting from House Bill 4338, including suggested bond forms and an approach to unencumbered asset certification designed to provide meaningful information to the department without creating a punishing financial burden to title agents. Stay tuned as this process will continue into the new year.If you have any questions please contact Aaron Day at 512.472.6593 or aaron@tlta.com.

FEDERAL NEWS

TDI Issues Guidelines for Use of New HUD-1

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has issued guidelines regarding the use of the new HUD-1. TLTA has worked with TDI over the last few months to determine where there would be conflicts with the new RESPA requirements and current TDI requirements, and these newly published guidelines are the result of those discussions. We urge you to review these and be prepared to comply by the end of the year. Click here and scroll to the bottom to view new HUD-1 Guidelines on TDI's website.

HUD Releases Ninth Installment of New RESPA Rule FAQs

The Department of Housing and Urban Development released the latest installment of the new RESPA rule FAQs on November 19. This is the ninth installment of the FAQs which attempt to answer some of the title industry's questions regarding compliance and implementation of the pending rule.

Hands-On, How-To Workshops
TLTA's RESPA and the new HUD-1 Hands-On, How-To Workshop continues to receive rave reviews and sell out across the state. There are only two workshops left, so make plans today to join us at one of the following locations:

Tuesday, December 15 - Round Rock
Wednesday, December 16 - San Marcos

For additional program details click here or register online today.

Consumer Financial Protection Agency Bill Filed in Senate

A Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) bill has been filed in the Senate by Chairman Dodd of the Senate Banking Committee.
The bill includes references to both “title insurance” and “settlement services” in the definition of “financial activity.” If passed without the necessary amendments, this bill would create an agency which would levy taxes directly on the regulated individuals from the largest underwriter to the smallest agent. Additionally, it would open up a new universe of federal regulation for our industry.
As we previously reported, the House version of the CFPA bill was amended to remove “title insurance” from the definition. However, it still contains the language including “settlement service providers” and thus Texas title agents. TLTA is continuing to work hard and undo this fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of real estate closings at the federal level.

Financial Services Committee Passes Federal Insurance Office Act

Last week, the House Financial Services Committee unanimously passed H.R. 2609, the Federal Insurance Office Act, introduced by Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises.
Below is a summary of the Federal Insurance Office Act provided by the House Committee on Financial Services:
Federal Insurance Expertise
Insurance plays a vital role in the smooth and efficient functioning of our economy, but the credit crisis highlighted the lack of expertise within the federal government regarding the industry, especially during the collapse of American International Group, also known as AIG, and last year’s turmoil in the bond insurance markets. A Federal Insurance Office will provide national policymakers with access to the information and resources needed to respond to crises, mitigate systemic risks, and help ensure a well functioning financial system.
International Coordination
Although America’s insurance markets still operate on a state-by-state basis, today’s financial markets are global. The Federal Insurance Office will therefore provide a unified voice on insurance matters for the United States in global deliberations. The Federal Insurance Office and the United States Trade Representative will share the authority to enter into and negotiate agreements with foreign entities.
Promote Financial System Stability
Insurance accounts for 10 percent of the assets of the financial system and employs almost 40 percent of the employees in the financial services industry. Having a strong knowledge base at the Federal level of government will be instrumental in helping to promote stability in our financial system.

Wells Fargo to Begin Using New GFE/HUD-1

ALTA.com l December 1, 2009
While title agents will be at the mercy of their lender clients as to when they will start using the new GFE/HUD-1 forms, Wells Fargo has made it clear it plans to begin using the new forms before January 1, 2010.

According to the lender, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will implement the new requirements in mid-December. This means it will issue the new GFE for any application that is taken beginning mid-December. The lender’s wholesale lending division will activate the new requirements in early December.View full ALTA story.

TEXAS LEGISLATIVE NEWS

Major Title Insurance Issues Included in House Interim Charges

In November, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced the interim studies for House Committees.Between legislative sessions, these committees traditionally study a variety of issues to determine if new laws or changes to existing laws are warranted.

The House Insurance Committee has been charged with five issues, two of which deal specifically with title insurance. The first interim charge questions our current rate structure and the other addresses our new minerals rules and forms and their effect on rates.

TLTA is fully engaged in this process and prepared to explain and demonstrate the value of our ratemaking system and recent minerals solution. We will continue to work with the committee over the interim as they continue their research and prepare to publish their findings before the of the 82nd legislative session beginning in January 2011.

TLTAPAC

Back the PAC and Help Us Reach$50,000 By End of 2009

December 30, 2009 marks the half-way point in our fundraising year and we're just $4,500 shy of the half-way mark to reach our $100,000 annual goal. Many of you participated in our annual TLTAbay online auction last month. If you didn't, it's not too late, click here to make a donation and help us meet our goal.

Here are a few good reasons why you should make the commitment to Back the TLTAPAC, from PAC supporter Michael Roe.

I Give Because...


It's a way to support the industry that for the last 20+ years has provided my career.
It provides those working on my behalf in the legislature the necessary tools needed to accomplish our goals.
By supporting the PAC, I'm supporting the industry as a whole. I'm not only supporting my continued career, but that of every title professional in the great state of Texas.


Michael Roe
First American Title Insurance Company

Want to Get Involved?

Sponsor a TLTAPAC event during our Annual Conference and Business Meeting or make a donation online.

NEWS TO KNOW

Industry Stats

Release Date Latest Release
Change from Previous Release

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 11/25/09 4.78% -0.05%
15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 11/25/09 4.29% -0.03
10 Year Treasury Rate 11/10/09 3.50% -0.02
Existing Home Sales (in millions) 11/23/09 6.10 +10.1%
New Home Sales 11/25/09 430,000 +6.2%
Supply of Housing Inventory 11/25/09 6.7 months -10.6%
Information Provided by ALTA.

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