Dear TLTA members,
I certainly would have been very surprised if you told me that only nine months after you honored me with TLTA’s presidency at the annual conference, I would be on my second week working from home, doing my part along with millions of other Americans to navigate the challenges of our battle with the COVID-19 virus.
When my year as president of TLTA began, we had just closed the book on a successful legislative victory. The theme I established for my year of service was two-fold: take stock of how we can shore up our industry in the years to come by working on developing young future industry leaders, and working on new technological threats and challenges. Our goals were forward thinking and strategic, nothing like the in-the-trenches crisis management that we are now all engaged in hourly.
During our association’s more than 100-year history, I’m not the first person to take this forward-looking approach to my leadership role, which is why it should be no surprise that our association is very much poised, ready, and above all, essential, in times like these.
What will define my tenure remains to be seen, but I am honored that I’ve had the opportunity to guide our TLTA assets as we work to support our industry in this unique environment. TLTA is working overtime to make sure that all aspects of the closing and settlement process flow as smoothly as possible in these challenging times, and we’ve already made incredible progress helping develop and implement solutions to many of the unique challenges you are reporting from your businesses and communities:
Temporarily Removing Regulatory Hurdles
TDI Commissioner Sullivan issued a bulletin outlining several temporary escrow modifications that are intended to provide immediate relief to you. Additionally, TDI is actively reviewing the potential use of electronic signatures on checks and other non-promulgated forms, but no decision has been made yet. We will continue working with TDI to get more guidance soon.
And, earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott approved extending and waiving certain licensing and continuing education deadlines and requirements for insurance agents at TDI’s request. For underwriters, TDI issued a bulletin this week and created a modified filings chart with some extended deadlines for underwriter financial filings in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Securing Title Insurance Designation as an Essential Business
We know that it is critical to your business and to consumers for you to be able to continue conducting business during this crisis. Our outreach to state and local officials regarding title insurance’s status as an essential business is getting results. As state, county and city orders continue to be issued, title insurance is being included in the essential business category. As importantly, we are considered an essential business under the federal Homeland Security CISA guidelines as part of financial services.
And, in conjunction with our allies in the building trades, we’ve taken the next step by uniting with builders, realtors and other real estate market professionals in a request to the governor that he issue an executive order establishing statewide that title insurance should remain open for business.
County/District Clerk Closures and Operational Changes
For an industry that relies on the continuation of document recording, data regarding changes in county operations is crucial. With feedback from you on what’s happening in your counties, we've compiled a list with the latest on the status of county clerk closures. So far it looks like all of them are continuing to record documents, although some have adopted modified operations. If you know of operational changes at your county clerk’s office, please email updates to email@example.com.
As I mentioned when I was honored with the opportunity to speak at last year’s conference, what I truly cherish about the TLTA community is the common bond we have as we work together. And, I am proud that our industry’s people represent America’s best virtues: hard work, devotion to family, and devotion to our trade. I know that during this time we will continue to work hard, even while many of us are away from the office and working from home. I also know that this is an opportunity to bond and connect with family, either at home, or just connecting online.
Please know that with your continued support, TLTA is working all-hands-on-deck to make sure our membership keeps doing the essential work that has contributed to the success of the Texas economy. Incredible work by everyone in the TLTA community, thank you!
For the latest news on TLTA’s COVID-19 efforts, please see our dedicated webpage , which is updated daily and anytime new information is available. Please stay healthy and continue reaching out to let us know how our TLTA community can help.
Michael C. Savas, CTIP
Texas Land Title Association