April 21, 2021

In This Issue:

  • TLTA Legislative Update
  • Title Companies Should Be Careful When Responding to Subpoenas for Documents
  • FHFA Sets Extensions and Expirations on Loan Flexibilities
  • Survey: Title Professionals Targeted for Wire Fraud in a Third of all Transactions
  • U.S. House of Representatives Approves Cannabis Banking Bill

TLTA Legislative Update

TLTA | April 22, 2021

We've entered the final six weeks of the 87th Legislative Session, and in approximately three weeks, end-of-session deadlines will begin to kick in. With the limited timeline remaining and the continued advancement of key legislative responsibilities, including the state budget for the upcoming biennium and the supplemental appropriations bill (both of which are scheduled to be heard on the House floor today, April 22), the mood at the Legislature has grown more serious and the pace at which bills are living or dying increases daily.
SB 885, the Quitclaim Bill by Sen. Hughes that TLTA is working to pass this session, was passed by the Texas Senate April 21 and will now head to the House for referral to committee. And, the House companion to the Quitclaim Bill, HB 3320 by Rep. Landgraf, was heard in the House Business and Industry Committee Tuesday, April 20. Roland Love, chair of TLTA's Regulatory Committee, testified on behalf of TLTA and the bill was well received by the committee members.
Earlier in the session we reported that TLTA's Board of Directors adopted a neutral position on SB 30 and similar racial covenants bills with the commitment TLTA would work with legislators to minimize any unintended consequences. Following our industry's opportunity to work with SB 30's bill author and other stakeholders on the continued development and redrafting of the bill, TLTA's Board of Directors adopted a support position on SB 30 and any identical bills during their quarterly meeting Tuesday, April 20.
We've received numerous questions on HB 2240 regarding ACH transactions and good funds. We appreciate the valuable input and the conversations with those of you who have shared your input with us. As a reminder, TLTA's Board of Directors has adopted a neutral position on HB 2240 (i.e., we are not actively opposing it, nor are we actively supporting it). Over the last few months, we've been contacted by the bill's author and proponents, and we've shared with them our concerns and suggestions regarding how the bill could be improved to provide more consumer and industry protections. The bill author and proponents agreed to accept our suggested changes, and the bill language has been amended twice – here is the engrossed version containing the suggested amendments that the Texas House approved. This process of working with legislators and proponents to improve bills with which we have concerns is a customary part of the legislative process we utilize when engaging on bills of interest to our industry, and our approach is a legislative norm that legislators value. This bill has passed out of the House, but it has not yet been referred to a committee in the Senate. We’ll continue to keep you informed on its status.
For your reference, here's our Master Legislative Tracking List and Action Report, which was updated today, April 21. This report includes updates on the bills TLTA is trying to pass this session, updates regarding other bills on which TLTA's Board of Directors has taken positions, as well as a link to the larger list of more than 150 bills on which we are working this session. Click the image to access this helpful tool:

Only 39 days remain in the 87th Legislative Session, but special sessions are expected due to redistricting and other issues. 

Bills TLTA Is Trying to Pass

 The bills TLTA is trying to pass during the 87th Legislative Session were approved by TLTA's Board of Directors as recommended by our Legislative Committee, which is chaired by Steve Streiff. TLTA is seeking passage of two statutory changes that would improve real estate transactions:
In addition to the bills we are trying to pass listed above, you can review our broader Master Legislative Tracking List and Action Report, which includes other bills on which TLTA's Board has taken positions, as well as a link to a list of the more than 150 bills we are working this session. We have been actively addressing concerns and seeking improvements to these bills to avoid unintended consequences and preserve our daily functions as title agents and underwriters.

Questions about TLTA's legislative process and how you can get involved?

 The TLTA Legislative Committee, our Local Legislative Liaisons, our Grassroots Network and our PAC Board of Governors are all part of our team of engaged legislative advocates. Learn More About TLTA's Legislative Process and How You Can Get Involved »

Title Companies Should Be Careful When Responding to Subpoenas for Documents

Perry Cockerell, PC - TLTA Judiciary Committee Member | April 21, 2021
Title companies are by nature customer-service oriented. Thus, the natural inclination upon receiving a subpoena from an attorney in a lawsuit—especially a lawsuit involving a good customer—can be to provide an entire guaranty file without consulting legal counsel. But consider the following cases where a title company’s urge to be helpful and forgo the expense of hiring a lawyer ended up causing the title company more harm than good.
Read More »

FHFA Sets Extensions and Expirations on Loan Flexibilities

HousingWire | April 21, 2021
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced on Wednesday that due to “low usage” it is no longer extending expirations on certain temporary loan origination flexibilities for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator is also advancing permanent changes to be made in the appraisal space.

Temporary flexibilities related to employment verification, condominium project reviews, and expanded power of attorney are being allowed to expire as scheduled on April 30, 2021, the FHFA said. The government agency also said it plans to retire all temporary selling flexibilities on May 31, 2021.

During the Mortgage Bankers Association’s spring conference on Tuesday, FHFA Director Mark Calabria hinted that the power of attorney, verification requirements and condo project reviews would be wrapping, however, more likely “this summer.”
Read More »

Survey: Title Professionals Targeted for Wire Fraud in a Third of all Transactions

ALTA | April 20, 2021
Title insurance professionals reported cyber criminals attempted to trick employees to wire funds to a fraudulent account in a third of all real estate and mortgage transactions, according to ALTA’s 2021 Wire Fraud and Cyber Crime Survey. However, training and education seem to be working as funds were only wired to a fraudulent account in a little over 8% of these attempts.

Nationwide, 76% of title agents reported wire fraud attempts were the same or increased in 2020. Fraud attempts and losses were up nationwide due to the pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The survey of nearly 550 title agents nationwide was conducted in March 2021 by ALTA’s Research & Analytics Work Group. It asked agents about their experience with cybercrime and wire fraud.
Read More »

U.S. House of Representatives Approves Cannabis Banking Bill

Reuters | April 19, 2021
The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation that would allow banks to provide services to cannabis companies in states where it is legal, a step towards removing what analysts say is a barrier to development of a national industry.

Lawmakers voted 321-101 to approve the bill and send it to the Senate.

The bill clarifies that proceeds from legitimate cannabis businesses would not be considered illegal and directs federal regulators to craft rules for how they would supervise such banking activity.

Read More »

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