March 25, 2020

In This Issue:

  • Breaking News on the New Federal Stimulus Package to Help Businesses and Employees During COVID-19 Relief Bill
  • Stay-at-Home Orders, Title Insurance Designation as an Essential Business, Building Trades Letter
  • County/District Clerk Closures and Operational Changes
  • RON-Related Challenges
  • TDI Adjusts Licensing, Continuing Education Requirements, Additional Regulatory Relief Has Been Requested
  • COMPLIANCE UPDATE: New Stat Codes Effective April 1

Breaking News on the New Federal Stimulus Package to Help Businesses and Employees During COVID-19

James E. Hyland, TLTA Federal Legislative Counsel  | March 25, 2020
The Senate and White House reached an agreement on a two trillion-dollar stimulus bill to aid the economy in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday. The Senate convened at noon today and is expected to vote soon. It takes 60 Senators to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, so bi-partisan cooperation was essential in these negotiations.  Senator McConnell and the GOP Senate caucus have been critical of the delay by Democrats on the legislation. 
 
Next the legislation will go to the House, where it will likely pass by voice vote. There is some confusion that there is a competing bill offered by Speaker Pelosi. While she introduced a competing bill Monday, as the process stands now, she advocated for pieces of that bill to be included in the Senate bill.  
 
The bill text has yet to be released, but here’s a broad outline of the major components.
 
Read More »
 

Stay-at-Home Orders, Title Insurance Designation as an Essential Business, Building Trades Letter

TLTA | March 25, 2020
Keeping your businesses running is our highest priority. We continue reaching out to local and state officials urging them to designate title insurance as an essential business in any stay-at-home orders issued around the state.
 
As these orders are coming out, regardless of the exact wording, title insurance is falling into the essential business category. Some orders say financial services, some specifically say title, but under federal guidelines, title insurance falls under essential as part of financial services.  Welcome news that you can continue to operate your businesses and serve the public, while practicing best practices to ensure the safety of your staff and customers.  
 
TLTA has been communicating with state and local officials to ensure this outcome. You can review the letter TLTA sent to Governor Abbott, the letter we sent to the mayor of San Antonio, which is a good example of the letters we sent to mayors across the state, and this model letter we sent to county judges statewide.
 
And, the informal building trades coalition of which we are part (along with home builders, realtors, mortgage bankers and other affiliated industry) has finalized a letter to Governor Abbott requesting he issue an executive order that clearly identifies the state's essential businesses. 

Read the Latest Updates on TLTA's Coronavirus-Related Projects and Priorities »
 
 

County/District Clerk Closures and Operational Changes

TLTA | March 25, 2020
We know that the ability to get data from your county clerk and record documents is critical to your ability to stay in business. To assist, we’ve compiled a list with the latest on the status of county clerk closures. So far, while many clerks are partially closed or closed to the public, all continue to find ways to service title agents. If you know of changes in the operations of county offices with which you work, please email updates to tlta@tlta.com. If you are looking for information on county operations outside of Texas, ALTA has produced this resource. 

Read the Latest Updates on TLTA's Coronavirus-Related Projects and Priorities »
 

RON-Related Challenges

TLTA | March 25, 2020
We’ve heard from you loud and clear that one of your biggest challenges is the lack of lenders allowing RON transactions. This is a complex issue because the technology is new, there are still a limited number of vendors and more education is needed, but please know TLTA is working it on several fronts. We are urging our lender partners to fast-track adoption and to assist in getting the secondary market to expedite adoption. We are developing educational materials to help lenders, warehouse lenders, county clerks and the public understand how RON works and how it can be a vital tool during this crisis. 
 
If you're need to get up to speed on RON, you can register for this useful on-demand webinar:
 
Webinar: Get Up to Speed on Remote Online Notarization (RON)
 
This on-demand webinar focuses on the use of Remote Online Notary (RON) and other E-Closing scenarios. In addition to addressing common fears and misconceptions for lenders, buyers, sellers, and title insurance providers, this webinar covers the following:
  • Electronic closing platforms and methods
  • Benefits of using a RON service vs. having an "in-house" RON
  • Pitfalls (or, when a RON or E-Closing is not possible or discouraged)
  • Basics of preparing for your electronic or RON closing
At the completion of this course, participants should have a basic understanding of how to determine if an electronic or RON closing is an option, as well as the steps to prepare files for e-closing.
 
Register For the On-Demand RON Webinar Now »
 

TDI Adjusts Licensing, Continuing Education Requirements, Additional Regulatory Relief Has Been Requested

TLTA | March 24, 2020
We have been working closely and directly with TDI to provide lenience on several requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including two signatures on checks, electronic signatures, escrow audit submission deadlines, license renewals, and more.
 
TDI issued information Tuesday about leniency on license renewals and continuing education requirements, announcing that Governor Abbott approved waiving certain licensing requirements for insurance agents and adjusters. These measures, TDI announced, will ensure services remain available during the state’s response to coronavirus COVID-19.
 
We know that decisions on the remaining regulatory relief items listed above are critical to you in determining how you structure your operations during this unique time, and we have shared that urgency with TDI.
 
We hope and expect to receive guidance very soon and please rest assured, the minute we have it, we'll share it with you.
 
We expect to receive guidance as soon as tomorrow, so look for a breaking news.
 

COMPLIANCE UPDATE: New Stat Codes in Effect April 1

TLTA | March 23, 2020
The Texas Department of Insurance has adopted amendments to the Texas Title Insurance Statistical Plan. These amendments create new stat codes for changes made to rules R-5 and R-8 when the new rate rule changes were adopted in 2019. 
 
The change to Rate Rule R-5 allowed cash purchasers of property valued at $5 million or more to have up to 90 days to finance the property and not have to pay the full basic rate for the loan policy. Although a simultaneous rate credit existed before, the rule did not allow 90 days to obtain the credit. The Statistical Plan will now have code number 3211 for tracking this transaction.
 
The change to Rate Rule R-8 extends the number of years a discount is available to a consumer who renews a loan policy from seven to eight years after the original policy was issued. The Statistical Plan will now have code number 4008 to account for these renewals.
 
As proposed, the revision to §9.401 included an effective date of January 1, 2020, for the adoption by reference of the rules in the Texas Title Insurance Statistical Plan. However, because the date included in the proposal has passed, TDI has revised the amendment to §9.401 to make the adoption by reference effective April 1, 2020. 
    
TLTA worked with TDI staff on the development and adoption of these amendments. 
 
If you have comments, concerns or questions, please contact us at 512.472.6593 or tlta@tlta.com.

In addition to the live webinars listed below, you have access to our library of more than 80 On-Demand webinars and videos covering the title industry topics you need to earn continuing education credits and stay ahead of the curve on the latest industry trends!

***Please note that the April 7 webinar, “Minerals: The Law, The Exception, and T-19 Series Coverage” is part 2 of a series on this topic. If you plan to register for the April 7 minerals webinar, you might consider watching the first webinar in the series “Survey Endorsements” on-demand.