January 6, 2021

In This Issue:

  • TLTA Advocacy Update
  • TDI Compliance Updates for Escrow Officers, Agents and Underwriters
  • Beneficial Ownership Registry Becomes Law
  • Round Three of the PPP - New Stimulus Bill Amendments
  • FHFA News

TLTA Advocacy Update

TLTA | Jan. 6, 2021

87th Session of the Texas Legislature Commences Next Week

The 87th Session of the Texas Legislature commences Jan. 12. Legislators have been prefiling legislation since November, and we are currently tracking these bills of interest, which could impact our industry or the broader real estate marketplace. TLTA staff and our lobby team will engage legislators and staff on many of these bills, and we will monitor their progress as the session continues.
 
Earlier this month, TLTA's Board of Directors  approved two legislative agenda items recommended by our Legislative Committee , which is chaired by Steve Streiff. The first item on our industry's agenda for the 87th Legislation would, if passed, effectively create a statute of limitations to provide that a quitclaim deed in the chain of title would not defeat bona fide purchaser status for subsequent transferees of the property after a period of time.
 
The second item on our legislative agenda would create a period of certainty to rely upon a homestead affidavit as a release of an abstract of judgment lien against a property, which would allow for these transactions to close while balancing the interests of creditors.
 
As noted in previous editions of Dateline, the leaders of the Texas Senate and House have indicated that there will be reduced access to the Capitol this session, and big issues like the state budget and redistricting will likely be the Legislature's focus under these difficult conditions. Those limitations were taken into account as we identified our legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative session and will continue to impact our ability to engage legislators on our industry's behalf.
 

Amicus Letter Submitted to Texas Supreme Court

On Dec. 31, 2020, TLTA submitted an amicus letter to the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Concho Resources, inc. et al. v. Marsha Ellison, d/b/a/ Ellison Lease Operating. 
 
At its meeting Dec. 22, the TLTA Board of Director s voted to submit the amicus letter. This letter, recommended by TLTA's Judiciary Committee  chaired by Leslie Johnson, urges the Texas Supreme Court to uphold the Appellate Court decision and affirm the following principles and policies: 
  1. The uniform interpretation of real property records is essential to the real estate, title and oil and gas industries. The positions urged by the Appellants and the other amici would result in significant damage to well-established Texas precedent.
  2. The Court of Appeals correctly interpreted the 1927 deed as including all land north of the road notwithstanding the recital as to amount of acreage, in accordance with the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion in Stribling v. Millican DPC Partners, LP, 458 S.W.3d 17 (Tex. 2015).
  3. An unambiguous instrument cannot be retroactively changed by a subsequent boundary agreement, particularly one containing no granting clause and not signed by all persons in title.
  4. A subsequent unrecorded letter agreement cannot affect record title.
  5. TLTA would express no opinion as to other issues in this case but would urge the Court to preserve the long-standing law regarding deed interpretation and conveyancing in order to preserve stability in this important area.
Review TLTA's Amicus Letter »
 

Continue Collecting $2.00 Guaranty Fee

TLTA staff have received numerous inquiries about the Guaranty Fee, and we have confirmed with the Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association (TTIGA) that the Guaranty Fee remains in place and should continue to be collected at $2.00 per policy. The TTIGA Board meets again later this month, and they can always change the fee, but we do not expect them to change the fee at this time. If they were to adopt changes to the Guaranty Fee, the changes would not take effect for 90 days at the earliest.

(NOTE: The Guaranty Fee is not the same as the GARC fee. You do not need to collect the GARC fee at this time).
 

TDI Compliance Updates for Escrow Officers, Agents and Underwriters

Texas Department of Insurance | Dec. 28, 2020

Important Licensing Information for Escrow Officers and Title Agents

The Texas Department of Insurance issued an important notice last week with key reminders about licensing compliance for escrow officers and agents. The notice includes special coronavirus and general escrow officer licensing information you need to know.
 
Review the Notice from TDI  »

Underwriters: TDI Issues Orders and Adopts Rules 

The Texas Department of Insurance sent notice last week regarding orders they've issued and rules they've adopted (click the link to review TDI's notice):
 
Maintenance Tax and Assessment Rates
Maintenance Tax and Examinations Overhead Rules
 

Beneficial Ownership Registry Becomes Law

ALTA | Jan. 5, 2021
On a rare New Year's Day session, Congress voted to override President Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The president objected to the bill because it did not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields news and social media companies for their content moderation policies.

With the move, the law creates a new beneficial ownership registry for shell companies. ALTA members asked members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill during the 2019 ALTA Advocacy Summit.

With the law passed, FinCEN will get to work building the registry system. Over the next two years, shell companies will have to file their beneficial ownership information with FinCEN. The information will be updated whenever the company's ownership changes hands. There are a number of exemptions to the filing, especially if the company already has to file this information as part of an SEC or other financial regulatory requirement.
Title companies report beneficial ownership information to FinCEN as part of the Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs). This is the one piece of information the industry does not have another business reason to collect and has no verification source.
 
Read More »
 

Round Three of the PPP - New Stimulus Bill Amendments

JD Supra | Jan. 5, 2021
In an effort to achieve an agreement before the expiration of many of the CARES Act economic relief measures, on December 21, 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act (the “Act”). The Act is included as Title III of the approximately 5,500-page Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “Appropriations Act”), which adopts numerous stimulus and economic assistance provisions across a wide range of organizations and entities operating within the U.S. economy. The president signed the Appropriations Act (including the Act) into law on December 27, 2020.

This Alert is an initial analysis of the expanded Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”) — which was a material component of the CARES Act. The PPP was a novel policy tool when launched and proved to be an enormously popular one. When the initial $349 billion appropriated to the program was exhausted in a matter of days, Congress added $320 billion to the program through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act adopted on April 24, 2020. Appropriated but unused funds from those earlier authorizations have been made available for the PPP loans authorized under the Act.

The Act extends and continues the origination authority for the existing PPP from August 8, 2020 until March 31, 2021, with slightly modified rules for loan applications and loan forgiveness.

In addition, the Act creates a new second draw program (the “Second Draw PPP”) for smaller eligible entities (e.g., with 300 or fewer employees and a maximum loan amount of $2 million). Among other things, the Second Draw PPP will be available for borrowers under the original PPP (the “Original PPP”), provided that a smaller eligible entity has repaid its Original PPP loan.
 

FHFA News

Request for Input on Potential Changes for Appraisal Process

MReport | Jan. 4, 2021 
 
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has issued a Request for Input (RFI) related to its appraisal policies, practices, and processes.

The RFI follows the challenges that appraisers have faced over the past year, including issues during the COVID-19 pandemic when many appraisers were either unable or unwilling to perform on-site inspection due to the public health crisis. With the RFI, the FHFA is opening a public discussion on whether it will be necessary for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) to create new modifications to its appraisal procedures without introducing new risks to the process.
 
Read More »
 

2021 Plans to Serve Underserved Areas

HousingWire | Jan. 5, 2021 
 
The Federal Housing Finance Agency published the 2021 plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve the most vulnerable communities through their Duty to Serve plans.
 
While these plans normally encompass three years – and would need to lay out the plan for years 2021 to 2023 – due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FHFA announced the government-sponsored enterprises would be releasing just one year – an extension of their 2018 to 2020 plans.

Read More » 

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