April 2010


It has been an eventful Spring for the Texas Land Title Industry as the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) bill gained momentum and the Texas House Insurance Committee began preparations for their interim hearing. Additionally, at our request, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) published very important guidance for the Agent Wind-down Plan. It is important to note that since the TDI audit manual appears to adequately spell out the necessary components of the plan, TLTA will not be creating a template for the wind-down plan as previously indicated.

The CFPA bill has taken a dramatic shift as the Senate Republicans have reached a deal with Senate Democrats on certain terms of the bill. This removes Republican opposition to the bill being heard on the floor and will theoretically allow for more amendments. It is worth noting that there is not complete consensus on the bill and the Republicans will still have an opportunity to filibuster if there is not a final bipartisan version. TLTA is working hard to secure an amendment to strike “settlement service providers” or otherwise address the inclusion of “settlement service providers” in the bill. So far, the Senate version of the bill, even with its references to “settlement service providers,” is a significant improvement over the House version. However, we are remaining diligent to ensure that the bill which reaches the President’s desk does not threaten the Texas Title Industry or our current system of regulation.

The pace of interim meetings at the Texas Legislature has definitely picked up in anticipation of the next Legislative Session. The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee met again on title issues related to hurricane relief efforts in South Texas. The Ways and Means Committee has also been meeting to review all sales tax exemptions (including Title Insurance). The House Insurance Committee has also asked for information from Title Industry stake holders in preparation for their interim study on Title Insurance Rates and the P-50.1 Minerals Resolution. TLTA will be working to craft a comprehensive report to the committee explaining our rate structure and the value of our services in addition to the history of P-50.1.

Sincerely,

Aaron Day

FEDERAL NEWS

Republicans End Filibuster of Financial Overhaul Bill in Senate

The Washington Postl April 29, 2010
Republicans ended their three-day filibuster of a financial regulatory overhaul Wednesday, reaching agreement with Democrats to begin debate on a bill aimed at curbing the risky investment practices that brought the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse.

After voting three times this week to block debate, GOP senators decided to reverse course and attempt to reshape the bill through the amendment process. The change in tactics came after Senate banking committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and the ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), announced that they had again reached an impasse in their efforts to reach a bipartisan compromise.

Democrats had embraced the GOP filibuster as an opportunity to portray Republicans as defenders of powerful special interests, in particular major banks and investment houses. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had threatened to keep the Senate in session overnight Wednesday to reap maximum political benefits.View full story.

REGULATORY NEWS

TDI Offers Wind-Down Plan Guidance

As we reported earlier, The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) published guidelines for preparing the new "wind-down plan" as required in Administrative Rule D.1.

Earlier this year, TLTA assembled a task force to develop a template for the wind-down plan to guide agents in complying with this new rule. However, after meeting, the task force decided that more clarification was needed and we sought that through a letter to TDI.

TDI responded to our request by providing guidance in the form of amendments to the Title Auditors Notebook (Audit Manual) which is available on the TDI website.

TDI Releases Bulletin Addressing Transfer Fee Covenants

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has issued the following bulletin addressing transfer fee covenants. The bulletin urges title companies to proceed with caution relative to covering property with such covenants, and it issues a reminder that if you are excepting to these covenants, it must be done in accordance with Procedural Rule P-5.

Last week, the Texas Land Title Association Board of Directors voted to oppose the proliferation of these transfer fee covenants in recognition that their use threatens the long term ability to determine title on property encumbered with such fee covenants.

View Commissioner's Bulletin No. B-0018-10

TEXAS LEGISLATIVE NEWS

Sunset Advisory Commission Releases Texas Department of Insurance Report

Texas state agencies are subject to periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission and the Texas Legislature to make certain the agency is functioning properly and its existence is still necessary.As we reported earlier, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) went through this review process during the last regular session, but due to time constraints the legislation to continue the agencies failed to pass.A special session was then called in July 2009 and the Legislature voted to continue the existence of TDI, along with several other state agencies, thus resulting in TDI undergoing another Sunset review.

On Friday, the Sunset Commission staff issued its report and recommendations to the Legislature for the Texas Department of Insurance and we want you to be aware of what the report contains. As you may recall, the report to the 81st Legislature contained a recommendation to statutorily require every title agent, each year, to pay for an audit of their business operations by an outside Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

We are pleased to report that the new Sunset report does not contain a recommendation for an independent agent audit. It does, however, recommend express authority for TDI to audit and review the operating accounts of a regulated agent as it did in its last report.

A Sunset Advisory Commission hearing is scheduled for May 25 and 26 to discuss the recommendations as outlined in the new staff report. The Commission will then meet on July 6 to render its decision and make recommendations for the final report to the Legislature. We will be monitoring the hearing process and representing the industry's interests.

Sunset Staff Report-Sunset Advisory Commission-Additional Information

Runoff Election Results

View Primary Runoff Election Results.

TLTAPAC

Now Accepting Nominations for 2010-2011 TLTAPAC Board of Trustees

The TLTAPAC Board of Trustees is now accepting nominations for 2010-2011. If you are interested in serving for a three year term on the board or know someone who would make a good trustee, please fill out the nomination form by no later than May 10.

We need folks who are committed to our cause of continuing to enhance the title insurance industry's political influence at the Capitol and who can help us educate TLTA members on the importance of investing in the PAC. TLTAPAC Trustees are responsible for raising and disbursing funds to achieve the governmental affairs objectives of the Texas Land Title Association. They are responsible for educating other industry members in their areas of the state about the TLTAPAC and encouraging them to invest and participate at the grassroots level. We are seeking energetic members who are willing to contribute to the TLTAPAC and assist in fundraising events.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing or if you know the perfect candidate, we urge you to send in a completed form today! Nominated members will be approved at the annual TLTAPAC Board of Trustees meeting held in conjunction with the TLTA Annual Conference in Lake Tahoe.Forms must be received by noon on May 10, 2010. If you have any questions, please contact Mary Beth Kiser at 512.472.6593 or marybeth@tlta.com.

Back the PAC and Join The New Breakfast Club

This year we want EVERYONE to attend the TLTAPAC Annual Business Meeting & Breakfast on Thursday, June 24 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 TLTAPAC.

Also,for the first time ticket proceeds from the Closing Breakfast on Friday, June 25 will benefit the PAC. 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 special events make up our new TLTAPAC Breakfast Club. It's easy to join, just purchase more than one PAC Breakfast ticket - whether it’s two tickets for one breakfast or one for each - and you'll be a member of the PAC Breakfast Club and receive a discounted price on your tickets!

Dust Off Your Golf Clubs - It's Time For The Bert Massey Classic PAC Golf Tournament

Register now to join us on Wednesday, June 23 for the Bert Massey Classic PAC Golf Tournament.Avid golfers and amateurs alike are invited for a morning of golf followed by an awards ceremony and lunch on the lawn.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!

Contact Mary Beth Kiser at 512.472.6593 for additional sponsorship opportunities.

NEWS TO KNOW

Home Sellers: Fee Might Be Hidden

San Antonio Express l March 29, 2010

Here's a new concept in real estate: Buy a house, and when you go to sell it years later, owe the original developer or builder 1 percent of the sales price.

Freehold Capital Partners, a company started in Texas, is selling developers across the country on a plan that would attach a private transfer fee to homes, allowing developers to profit for generations.

The fee, written into neighborhood restrictions, would encumber the property for 99 years and throw 1 percent of the sale price back to the developer — or his or her estate or another investor — and Freehold each time the home changes hands.

It's an idea that's drawn the attention of some state legislatures and real estate trade organizations, which are fighting to stop the transfer fees from gaining a spot in the market.View full story.

Industry Stats

Release Date

Latest Release

Change from Previous Release

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

04/15/10

5.07%

-0.14

15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

04/15/10

4.40%

-0.12

10 Year Treasury Rate

04/16/10

3.79%

-0.07

Existing Home Sales (in millions)

03/23/10

5.02

-0.6%

New Home Sales

03/24/10

308,000

-2.2%

Supply of Housing Inventory

03/24/10

9.2 months

+1.0%

Information Provided by by ALTA.

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

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

CLASSIFIEDS

Public Notice Regarding Southern Title Insurance Company

Please take notice that Southern Title Insurance Corporation (“Southern Title”) has ceased issuing title insurance policies in the State of Texas effective December 15, 2008. Southern Title is a title insurance underwriter who issues title insurance policies through several title insurance agents. For a list of these agents please contact Southern Title. Southern Title will maintain sufficient financial reserves to cover claims against title insurance policies currently in force. Should you have questions, please contact Southern Title at 1051 East Cary Street, Three James Center #700, Richmond, Virginia 23219, (804) 648-6000 or http://www.southerntitle.com.

Complaints regarding Southern Title should be reported to the Texas Department of Insurance at P.O. Box 149104, Austin, Texas 78714-9104, (512) 305-2026 or http://www.tdi.state.tx.us.