Although there is a lengthy laundry list of issues we are currently working on at TLTA, I wanted to take this opportunity to simply send Season's Greetings to each of you. I think we can wait until January to add more items to the "to do" list.
As I'm sure you know, in recent weeks the title industry has come under renewed scrutiny by the mainstream media and the public as a result of an article published in the October issue of Forbes Magazine. Although this is not the first time our industry has come under attack, this article is particularly egregious in its assumptions and conclusions about title insurance practices.
THE HEAT IS ON and now is the time for you to contribute to TLTAPAC. An anonymous TLTA member has just contributed $2,500 and they have thrown down the gauntlet with a challenge to all TLTA members. From now until November 30, 2006, our anonymous donor will contribute $100 for each member whose contribution to the PAC for 2006-2007 totals $2,500. Now that's a commitment!
As reported last week in Breaking News, the 2004 Biennial Rate Hearing concluded on August 17, however, the Commissioner has not yet rendered a decision regarding the proposed agenda items. Dates for post-hearing filings and closing arguments were established for the various parties. Any further action by the Department will be reported as soon as it is available.
I would like to thank you, the members of TLTA, as well as our leadership and staff for the opportunity to serve as your president. I am most grateful and truly humbled by this honor. I also want to thank my two immediate predecessors, Bruce Liesman, who has been an outstanding representative for our industry during the past year, and my friend Terry Grantham, who brought a unique understanding and perspective to many of the industry's issues during his year as president. In representing the underwriters and agents respectively, these two gentlemen represent the diversity of TLTA, and that diversity is one of our greatest assets.
May II 2006
Deregulation - seems like a plain old word, but it's a word that strikes fear in the hearts of title people in Texas. Like menacing boiling black clouds zapping the tender earth with sizzling ragged bolts of lightning and vicious wind and hail - that word scares us.
The national media is having a feeding frenzy on the title insurance industry, and most of the articles being published are not pretty.Investigations of captive reinsurance companies allegedly created to rebate premiums to big builders and other producers started in Colorado and have now spread to at least fourteen other states, with the media following the story all along the way. Colorado is also making headlines after recently announcing that over 180 affiliated title businesses in the state are not real companies but were set up for the purpose of rebating. A very politically charged investigation in California alleges inadequate competition in the title insurance business is resulting in consumers being overcharged. A Congressional hearing last week along with an ongoing investigation of the industry by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is focusing spotlights, or should I say "search lights", on title insurance. As they are prone to do, the media seems to be looking for sensationalism rather than the truth.
It's a huge problem – pervasive, insidious and growing. And if you think loan fraud is not a problem for the title industry, think again!
On February 7, 2006 TLTA held a one-day seminar in Houston called, "Lenders and Loans; With a Focus on Fraud Awareness." The day started with a discussion by Mr.Bo Norrell, Senior Vice President of Litton Loan Servicing LP.; Litton provides loan servicing to lenders (investors) that buy large portfolios of residential loans. Mr. Norrell shocked the audience when he said that in reviewing current loan portfolios, on average, 30% of the loans are to some degree based on fraud. That is a staggering number and one that should get the attention of everyone in our industry as well as the lending community.That level of fraud might jeopardize the entire economics of secured lending. (For those of you who were in the business in the late 1980s during the S&L collapse, does this sound familiar?
One of the issues I outlined last June at the beginning of my term as President, under the heading "Defining Our Destiny was the following: We need to be proud of and confident in the way we do business. We must believe in the integrity of the products and services that we provide. And we need to do a much better job at educating the public and our own employees as to the nature and value of the products and services we provide.