March 2010


Dear ,

While February buried much of Texas in snow, it also buried the Texas Land Title Industry in work as TLTA finalized and proposed an alternative means of addressing the mandatory minimum capitalization requirements under the new agent insolvency statute; evaluated, developed and presented a response to TDI’s wind-down plan requirement; and participated in the CFPA debate which reached a fevered pitch in Washington.

TLTA has submitted a proposal to TDI for the new mandatory minimum capitalization requirements, which if adopted, would allow agents to make deposits with the department on a per policy basis until such time as the unencumbered asset minimums are met. This is a critical break-through in setting up rules governing the mandatory minimum capitalization requirements in HB4338. The rule development process has been challenging as TLTA and TDI have worked together to develop rules implementing the new statute in a manner which addresses the Department’s concerns without being too difficult or costly for agents to comply. The goal is to ensure that the insolvency regulations do not threaten the solvency of existing agents.

TLTA remains optimistic that this proposal will be well received and will provide a benefit for the Department, consumers, and agents complying with the rule.

TLTA this month also addressed the wind-down plan regulation which came into effect on February 1st, but which according to the Department, will be enforced beginning May 1st. Unfortunately, we believe the language in the rule is unworkable and therefore, President Mark Greek has sent a letter to the Commissioner formally requesting that enforcement of the rule be suspended until the next biennial hearing where technical and substantive problems can be addressed. Stay tuned as we will inform you of TDI’s response to our letter and any decisions they may make about future enforcement of the rule.

In Washington,the CFPA bill has generated many headlines as it has been on a roller coaster ride in the Senate. TLTA executive committee members including President Mark Greek and Past President Celia Flowers walked the halls of the nation’s capitol last week educating members of Congress about why we should not be included in this bill. The timing could not have been more perfect as it was the most important legislative issue of the week as members of the Senate negotiated the bill. The information and negotiation status of the bill continues to change as Senators have entertained housing the functions of the CFPA in another existing department versus creating a new stand alone agency. The new home for these functions changes hourly. When we arrived in DC, the new regulations were to reside in the Treasury Department. As we met with our Senate delegation on Tuesday, the FDIC became the new home. We awoke the next morning to find that the Federal Reserve would be the recipient of the new powers contemplated by the CFPA bill.

Suffice it to say, that the details and viability of the financial reform bill (whatever its future name or home) remains fluid. However, TLTA’s diligence on the issue remains constant.

Finally, TLTA was very grateful to have State Representative Patrick Rose speak to participants of our annual Land Title School of Texas last week in Austin.The Representative gave an excellent speech on the importance of our staying involved in the legislative process and offered some great insights into the issues which will be in the headlines during the next legislative session. We appreciate his participation and his good work on behalf of Texas.

Sincerely,


Aaron Day

FEDERAL NEWS

TLTA Attends ALTA Federal Conference and Lobby Day

Last week, TLTA President Mark Greek, Past President Celia C. Flowers, Executive Vice President Leslie Midgley and Director of Government Affairs Aaron Day attended the American Land Title Association Federal Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. In addition to attending the conference, the TLTA team visited with several members of the Texas congressional delegation to express our concerns with the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) legislation. Look for a full report from President Mark Greek in the March President’s Message.

Left to Right: TLTA President Mark Greek, TLTA Member Natalie Lancaster, TLTA Member Randy Lee, Jr., TLTA Executive VP Leslie Midgley, TLTA Past President Celia C. Flowers, TLTA Director of Governmental Affairs Aaron Day, TLTA federal lobbyist Jim Hyland

REGULATORY NEWS

Residential Mortgage Loan Originators Required to be Licensed By April 2

Doug Foster
Commissioner, Texas Department of Savings & Mortgage Lending

Many of you have been challenged in your relationship with lenders in the last few months with the significant changes in RESPA. There are still more changes ahead in the mortgage lending arena for those of us in Texas with implementation on April 2, 2010 of the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (“SAFE Act”) signed by President Bush in July 2008 creating the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registration (NMLSR).

SAFE specifies minimum standards for all states in the regulation of residential mortgage loan originators. Fortunately, Texas was one of only two states that already exceeded all of these standards. However, there are also certain mandates that remove flexibility we have provided in the past and significantly expand the range of individuals required to be licensed.

The purpose of this article is to both raise your awareness of the upcoming changes and to seek your continued cooperation in ensuring only properly licensed individuals are providing residential mortgage loans. Unlicensed residential mortgage loan origination is a misdemeanor offense in Texas and many people who have never been required to be licensed before will need to have completed that process prior to May 31, 2010.

Read full article

Important Update Regarding Agent Wind-Down Plan

Read President Mark Greek’s Letter to Commissioner Geeslin

In late January, TLTA announced that we had assembled a special task force to develop a template for the wind-down plan. The wind-down plan is required to be submitted to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) in response to new changes to Administrative Rule D.1 which went into effect on February 1, 2010. We also reported that TDI had announced a 90-day grace period for complying with the new rule.

After extensive analysis of this rule change, the task force has determined that the rule, as adopted, is unworkable. Based on their recommendation, TLTA President Mark Greek has sent a letter to the Commissioner requesting that TDI refrain from any enforcement of the new language in D.1 until it can be corrected in the next biennial hearing.Read Mark Greek’s letter to Commissioner Geeslin. We will notify you once we receive a response to our letter and of any decisions TDI makes about the future enforcement of the rule. In the meantime, if you have any questions please feel free to contact Aaron Day.

TEXAS LEGISLATIVE NEWS

TLTA Testifies Before Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations

We would like to thank Guy Robert Jackson, Chambers County Abstract, who testified on behalf of TLTA at the February 23 Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations hearing. In addition to county and water issues, the committee heard testimony regarding concerns surrounding federal housing assistance for those affected by recent hurricanes.

During the hearing it was reported that an estimated 1 in 5 homes seeking federal assistance have an ongoing title issue. Due to these title issues homeowners are being turned down for federal assistance. Many of the homeowners are working with Texas Legal Aid to resolve their issues.

Watch February 23 Intergovernmental Relations Hearing

Sunset Advisory Commission Review Schedule

As we reported earlier, the Legislature approved the continuation of the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC) during July’s special session, however both agencies must undergo another review by the Sunset Advisory Commission.

A hearing for TDI and OPIC has been scheduled by the Commission for May 25 and 26, 2010 in Austin to hear Sunset staff recommendations. A decision regarding staff recommendations is expected to be rendered at the July 6, 2010 hearing. Over the last few months, TLTA staff has actively engaged both the Sunset staff and the Commission members to educate them about the importance of the Texas title industry and address any questions or concerns they may have prior to the hearing. We look forward to the upcoming hearing and will provide an update as new details develop.

Representative Patrick Rose Featured Speaker at 2010 TLTA Legislative Luncheon

TLTA would like to thank Representative Patrick Rose who spoke during our 2010 Legislative Luncheon. Representative Rose offered attendees an insider’s perspective on the current political climate and the importance of getting involved.

2010 Primary Results


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TLTAPAC

Breakfast of Champions

Join the PAC Breakfast Club Now
This year we want EVERYONE to attend the TLTAPAC Annual Business Meeting & Breakfast on Thursday, June 24th during the TLTA Conference! This annual sell-out event is an absolute must for anyone invested in the future of the title industry because your ticket shows your support for the work of the PAC.

In addition, for the first time ticket proceeds from the Closing Breakfast on Friday, June 25th will also benefit the PAC. Always a Conference highlight, this year’s Closing Breakfast will feature guest speaker Don Yaeger, Sports Illustrated associate editor and four-time New York Times best-selling author who will share his motivational message, “What Makes the Great Ones Great.”

These two events together will become The TLTAPAC Breakfast Club – purchase more than one PAC Breakfast ticket, whether it’s two tickets for one breakfast or one for each, and you will become a member of the PAC Breakfast Club and receive a discounted price on your tickets!

Find Your Sweet Spot at the Bert Massey Classic Golf Tournament

Make plans now to join us on Wednesday, June 23 for the Bert Massey Classic PAC Golf Tournament. Take in the stunning Lake Tahoe views and exquisite mountain backdrop that frames the world-renowned golf course in Incline Village. This is more than a way to improve your handicap - you’re supporting the PAC and investing in your livelihood. Registration fee includes green fee, golf cart, refreshments on the course and the awards luncheon.

Can't join us for the Golf Tournament?

There are plenty of other ways to Back the PAC -sponsor one of the golf tournament holes, prizes, or make a corporate contribution. Our corporate accounts directly support our fundraising activities and our account needs replenishment. Our fundraising activities, like the Bert Massey Classic PAC Golf Tournament and TLTAbay, enable us to raise individual contributions that can then be used to reach out and educate our friends in the legislature. Back the PAC and send in your $500 corporate donation today!

Why I Give…

EJ Brent
First American Title Insurance Company

First let me say, it is never too late! I had worked in the title insurance industry for 25+ years before I was encouraged to become involved in TLTA. That involvement gave me the opportunity to see how groups such as TLTAPAC really work to accomplish important goals. WE, as title professionals, should be very thankful for their involvement on our behalf.

I have never been personally involved in politics, always thinking “What difference can one person really make?”TLTAPAC has taught me that one plus one can equal a lot more than two. My dollars, plus your dollars, plus those we can convince our friends and colleagues to give, enables TLTAPACto give our leaders the strength and ability to carry our messages to the Legislative arenas.

Contributing to TLTAPACis more than just writing a check, it is an opportunity to invest in my industry and ultimately, my career. It scares me to think what might have happened in past Legislative years to adversely affect our industry, if TLTAPAC had not been on Capitol Hill, watching out for us!

Why I give…because I believe. Now, ask me why I am an Individual Member!

Donate Online With Your Personal Credit Card Donate in Installments Donate by Personal Check

NEWS TO KNOW

Texas Attorney General Recognizes the Importance of Title Insurance

Charges South Texas Home Developer with Unlawfully Selling Homes
TLTA applauds the efforts of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who last week,charged a South Texas developer with defrauding first-time home buyers by unlawfully selling houses that were encumbered by undisclosed liens.

According to Abbott, Casa Linda Homes sold residential properties encumbered by different liens, including liens for delinquent property taxes; liens of a third-party lender; or mechanic’s lien for labor or materials used to improve the property. Purchasers were not warned about the undisclosed liens by title companies, because Casa Linda did not require home buyers to purchase title insurance. Thus, the developer could sell the properties without home buyers – particularly inexperienced, first-time home buyers – realizing that their new houses were subject to undisclosed liens. When Casa Linda Homes subsequently failed to pay its undisclosed debt, the creditors who were owed money then instituted foreclosure proceedings or filed lawsuits against the home buyers.

The Attorney General , in reporting these charges, urged Texans to "make sure a title company is involved in the transaction and independently determines who owns the property and checks for liens or outstanding debts for which the buyer could be held liable."

Internet Banking Security Risk Alert

The Texas Department of Insurance Title Division recently notified TLTA concerning an internet banking security issue that has the potential to harm title entities that use the internet for banking purposes (transfers, wires, etc.). Earlier this month, a Colorado title agent’s online wiring account was attacked and while actions have been taken to get the money back and consumers are at this point protected against any harm by the underwriters and the banks, this incident serves as a warning to anyone who banks online. Although a website may be encrypted, it does not mean that you are protected from malware or spyware. Once a hacker has an entity’s login information, they can then launch an effort to change the login and authorization procedures and then take monies from the account. Recent news articles have suggested that if a company has online access, they use a dedicated workstation that only allows access to the bank and it not be used for the purpose of email, internet surfing or any other online transactions.

Industry Stats

Release Date

Latest Release

Change from Previous Release

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

03/04/10

5.01%

-0.08

15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

03/04/10

4.40%

-0.07

10 Year Treasury Rate

03/08/10

3.59%

+0.03

Existing Home Sales (in millions)

02/25/10

5.45

-16.7%

New Home Sales

02/24/10

309,000

-11.2%

Supply of Housing Inventory

02/24/10

9.1 months

-12.3%

Information Provided by byALTA.

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