February 13, 2019

In This Issue:

  • Legislative Update: Bills We're Monitoring, Senate Property Tax Committee Advances Property Tax Reform Legislation, Special Election Results
  • TLTA Volunteers Continue Assisting TDI's Plain Language Initiative
  • National Association of Realtors Unveils GSE Reform Proposal
  • Fannie, Freddie See Massive Increases in Trading in January
  • Redfin, Zillow Now Buying Houses in Dallas, Houston

Legislative Update

Texas lawmakers have filed more than 2,500 bills to-date. Staff at TLTA are currently monitoring the development of these bills and other issues that could impact our industry or industry partners.
Among the bills we are monitoring is HB 1560 by Dutton. As filed, HB 1560 would impose a new tax on title underwriters. Our legislative team engaged Rep. Dutton in conversations about the intended purpose of the legislation and its likely future direction, and it's clear that his bill is a work in progress. We'll continue to monitor HB 1560's development, but it appears we can have confidence that Rep. Dutton is receptive to our industry's concerns with the proposal as filed. Rep. Dutton is a talented legislator who has for years had a strong and positive relationship with our industry. If you have concerns or questions about our conversations with Rep. Dutton, please contact Aaron Day
The property tax reform proposal highlighted by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Texas House at a joint press conference in January was voted out of the Senate Committee on Property Tax on Monday. A committee substitute for SB 2 was adopted, as were 15 amendments. Senate sources say the bill could be heard on the Senate floor as early as Thursday.  
The special election to replace former state Rep. Justin Rodriguez in House District 125 was held Tuesday, and two candidates will advance to a run-off election – Fred Rangel and Ray Lopez. A date for the runoff has not been set. Learn more
We are excited to report that more than 300 title professionals are in Austin for TLTA's Day at the Capitol! We are going door to door on a goodwill mission to share our industry's story with legislators and staff. This is our industry's most important advocacy event this year, so thank you to all who are attending and supporting the mission!
TLTA's legislative team is working to advance our Legislative Agenda for the 86th Session. Our priorities include maintaining Texas’ successful title insurance system, modernizing the Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association, clarifying the Remote Online Notary (RON) statute approved last session, and certificates of authority for entities.
We are pleased to report that state Rep. Oliverson filed the TTIGA bill (House Bill 1614) Tuesday morning. 

TLTA Volunteers Continue Assisting TDI's Plain Language Initiative

TLTA | Feb. 11, 2019
Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan implemented his plain language campaign in 2018, citing his goal that the agency use plain language in everything it does – from designing forms to answering consumers' telephone calls.
“It’s not enough to be technically accurate if no one understands your message,” he said. “It’s win-win when consumers understand insurance and how it works.”
TLTA volunteers have been working overtime to make sure the commissioner's goal is accomplished in the Basic Manual. TLTA's Basic Manual Task Force, chaired by Denise Holmes, continues working diligently to re-write all Basic Manual rules for future conversion to plain language. 
For the members of the Task Force, the efforts in support of Commissioner Sullivan's plain language initiative are only part of the many hours the group has invested over the last five years in developing a more user-friendly format for the Basic Manual. 
TTLTA and it’s members are very grateful to the members of the Basic Manual Task for a for their hard work on behalf of consumers and our industry.
Watch TDI's Plain Language Campaign Video »

National Association of Realtors Unveil GSE Reform Proposal

National Association of Realtors | Feb. 7, 2019
With over 400 people on hand for the National Association of Realtors®’ Housing Finance Reform Policy Forum, NAR today unveiled a new vision for reforming the GSEs. As featured speakers for the panel titled “NAR’s vision: A plan for secondary finance shaped in the aftermath of adversity for longevity,” co-authors Dr. Susan Wachter, Professor of Real Estate and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Richard Cooperstein, head of Risk Management at Andrew Davison and Company, presented NAR’s comprehensive GSE proposal to the public for the first time at the Grand Hyatt in Washington.

NAR’s research is intended to provide a pragmatic solution to the challenges facing the housing finance system by prioritizing and protecting a liquid mortgage market for Middle America and underserved borrowers alike. Unlike a recapitalization and release plan, NAR’s vision offers policymakers a responsible framework that protects taxpayers, minimizes costs to consumers and promotes housing accessibility and affordability.

“This vision is the result of years of research and collaboration between NAR, our members, our friends in the industry and countless policymakers who have been influential in this arena,” said NAR President John Smaby. “Our hope is that this research will help provide Congressional leaders and administration officials with a credible, deliberate framework as they work to secure reforms that will benefit taxpayers, consumers and the American economy. Ultimately, ensuring the GSEs continue providing liquidity and stability in the mortgage market remains NAR’s priority during these discussions.”
Read More »
Read the Executive Summary of NAR's GSE Reform Proposal »

Fannie, Freddie See Massive Increases in Trading in January

Yahoo Finance | Feb. 11, 2019
Trading data from OTC Markets Group shows that shares of government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac saw a dramatic increase in dollar trading volume last month.
Common shares of Fannie Mae (OTCQB: FNMA) and Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) experienced 795 percent and 529 percent month-over-month increases in dollar volume respectively. The increase was also seen in preferred shares as well, as some share classes saw month-over-month dollar volume increases of over 1,000 percent.
The mortgage liquidity providers, which have been under conservatorship since 2008, appear to finally be heading towards a viable long-term solution. With Mark Calabria awaiting Senate confirmation to become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (the agency that oversees the two companies), acting director Joseph Otting has reportedly told employees and members of Congress that a plan to privatize the companies is in the works.
Read More »

Redfin, Zillow Now Buying Houses in Dallas, Houston

TLTA | Feb. 11, 2019
The direct homebuying operations of Redfin and Zillow are expanding into Texas, making homeowners in Dallas and Houston respectively cash offers for properties listed with the online real estate brokers.
Learn About RedfinNow's Development in Dallas Market »
Learn About Zillow Offers Development in Houston Market »

TLTA has scheduled a variety of live webinars for 2019! Register now, or explore our library of more than 80 On-Demand webinars and videos covering the title industry topics you need!