April 26, 2017 

TLTA Witness Lineup Testifies Against HB 4239, Bill Left Pending in Committee

On Tuesday, April 25, the House Committee on Insurance held a hearing for HB 4239 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, a bill that proposes to upend our stable rate system. TLTA put forth a lineup of expert witnesses to testify against this bill, stating that it would increase costs for Texas homeowners, reduce competition by shuttering small businesses and increase risks and claims. Witnesses also pointed out the differences between title insurance and property casualty insurance, reminding the committee that title insurance is more assurance than insurance, with premiums only paid once.
The hearing drew a large crowd, with 142 people signing in as witnesses, the vast majority of whom registered in opposition. A big thank-you to all the TLTA members who packed the hearing room.
After hearing almost two hours of testimony, including extensive questioning by the committee members, the committee voted to leave HB 4239 pending. We are very pleased with that outcome and will continue to work to keep the bill from proceeding any further.

During her testimony, Leslie Midgley, CAE, Executive Vice President and CEO of TLTA, discussed how title insurance provides "13,000 quality Texas jobs" for 592 licensed title agencies, including 540 independently owned companies. She also elaborated on the fact that title insurance prices are 15% lower today than they were 25 years ago, stating, "This is a testament to the system we have in place. Today's debate is really about what type of regulatory system the legislature wants. I can tell you that Texas is widely viewed across the country as a model for a successful title system."
Proponents of the bill – which included Doug Deason, Texans for Free Enterprise (TFE); Bill Hammond, Executive Director, TFE; Dr. David Eaton of The University of Texas at Austin; Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF); and Rod Bordelon, TFE – claimed that this bill was not about regulation and was simply about price. However, they did not dispute that claims could potentially increase if this bill passes.

Constituents pack the room for the HB 4239 hearing.

TLTA would like to thank all members and supporters who took time out of their schedules to attend the hearing, and especially those who testified against this bill (listed in the order in which they were called):

  • Jon Hockenyos, Economic Consultant, TXP
  • Kergin Bedell, Attorney, Burton & Bedell, PLLC
  • Steve Scurlock, Independent Bankers Association of Texas
  • John Fleming, Texas Mortgage Bankers Association
  • Kelly Flanagan, Texas Association of Realtors
  • Todd Boykin, Attorney, Burdett Morgan Williamson & Boykin LLP
  • James H. Dudley, President, TLTA
  • John Dwyer, Trinity Title

TLTA members and supporters gather after the hearing.
TLTA will keep you informed on the status of this bill. We are very pleased with the results of this hearing and were pleased to have the opportunity to share our perspectives and data with the committee.

SB 2203 Also Heard in Committee Yesterday

On April 25, SB 2203 by Sen. Kelly Hancock was heard by the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce. The regulatory cleanup language in this bill has been previously vetted and is supported by the TLTA Board of Directors. The bill would do two things:
  1. Codify the Texas Disclosure
  2. Require TDI to promulgate a statistical report that aligns with common accounting practices of title agents
The bill was left pending in committee. TLTA will keep you posted on this legislation.

TDI Quarterly Audit Results Published

Texas Department of Insurance | April 26, 2017
The following is a summary of recent TDI audits, violations and enforcement actions from December 2016 through February 2017. Read TDI's complete summary of operations for the quarter or read the key statistics below.
Compliance Audits: TDI's goal is to comprehensively audit agencies at least once every two years. That means this quarter (within the last three months), TDI conducted 77 audits. 
Commissioner Orders and Active Cases: From December 2016 through February 2017, TDI signed two orders resulting in fines or the revocation of escrow officer licenses. As of this report, 46 cases remain active and under investigation.
Compliance Audit Results: Below are TDI’s most common audit findings from December 2016 through February 2017. The numbers below represent how many agencies had an infraction, not the number of times the infraction occurred.

Number of Agencies

Texas Insurance Code

Escrow Accounting
Minimum Escrow Accounting Procedures and Internal Controls
Procedural Rules
Section 2702.053 – Actual receipts and/or disbursements not in agreement with settlement statement or premium split not disclosed.
Outstanding checks not cleared timely.
#16 - Every disbursement not supported by invoice or sufficient other evidence.
P-73: Failure to prepare/maintain Form T-64 (TD) when CD used.
#15 – Disbursement sheets missing, incomplete or incorrect.

Dodd-Frank News: U.S. House Banking Chairman Unveils Dodd-Frank Replacement 

Reuters | April 20, 2017
The head of the U.S. House of Representatives' banking panel has unveiled the Republicans' most ambitious plan so far to loosen financial regulations, a 600-page bill to replace the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, also set an April 26 hearing to discuss replacing the 2010 law.

"Republicans are eager to work with the president to end and replace the Dodd-Frank mistake with the Financial CHOICE Act because it holds Wall Street and Washington accountable, ends taxpayer-funded bank bailouts, and unleashes America's economic potential," the Texas Republican said in a statement.
Read More »


TRID News: Average Closing Times Now Sit at Lowest Level in Two Years 

HousingWire | April 19, 2017
The average time to close a loan in 2016 fluctuated around the high 40s, but this is no longer the case, according to the latest Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae.

The survey found that the average time now sits at the lowest level in two years, coming in at 43 days in March, down from 46 days in February. This is the shortest time to close since February of 2015.

After the implementation of the CFPB's TRID rule last year, the industry became hyper focused on the average time to close a loan.
Read More »

TLTA is scheduling several live webinars for spring 2017. Register now, or reserve your On-Demand version today!