December 2008


REGULATORY NEWS

Minerals Issue Coverage Update

On Tuesday, a public meeting was held at TDI to discuss progress on a solution for the minerals coverage issue.  At that meeting, TLTA presented a new proposal which can be viewed here. 
 
This proposal is the result of many hours of hard work by the TLTA minerals working group and Board of Directors over the last 6 months.  We estimate that over 1000 hours have been spent by our volunteers working to arrive at a compromise solution that addresses all the concerns brought forward.  At the conclusion of Tuesday's meeting, the Commissioner indicated his appreciation for the work that has been done by TLTA and other interested parties.  He announced that he and his staff will study this proposal and work quickly to determine the next step in the process.
 
By way of background, you may recall that after a bulletin was issued regarding minerals coverage and later pulled down by TDI last spring, a hearing was held on July 15.  TLTA offered a proposal to revise P-5 and at that hearing a number of interested parties, including members of the State Bar of Texas, Lenders and Builders, raised concerns about the proposed solution.  Because of these conerns, the Commissioner asked the industry to meet with the various stakeholders to continue to seek a solution that was agreeable to all and was in the best interests of the consumers of Texas.
 
This has been a long and difficult process and we want to thank all the volunteers that have worked so tirelessly on this issue on behalf of our entire membership.

TLTA will continue to work with all interested parties and fellow trade associations to answer their questions about the proposal and seek their support.  If you have questions on the specifics of our proposal, please contact TLTA Director of Government Affairs Aaron Day or TLTA President Celia Flowers.  We will continue to keep you updated as we hear more from TDI on how they will proceed.

Texas Real Estate Commission Adopts Contract Addendum

Earlier this week, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) adopted the following rules:
 
New 22 TAC537.51 proposes to adopt by reference a new TREC addendum for reservation of oil, gas, and other minerals. The proposed addendum would be used in situations where a seller in a real estate transaction wishes to reserve all or an identified percentage interest in the mineral estate owned by the seller, as defined in the addendum.
 pdf iconDraft TREC 44-0, ADDENDUM FOR RESERVATION OF OIL, GAS, AND OTHER MINERALS
 
New 22 TAC537.52 proposes to adopt by reference a new TREC short sale addendum. The proposed addendum would be used in transactions where the seller requires the consent of the lienholder to sell the property and the lienholder agrees to accept the seller's net proceeds in full satisfaction of seller's liability under the mortgage loan.
 pdf iconDraft TREC 45-0, SHORT SALE ADDENDUM
 Please contact TREC if you have any questions. 

LEGISLATIVE NEWS

81st Legislative Session

With less than a month until the 81st Legislative Session convenes, TLTA staff are preparing for a challenging legislative session.  Several hundred bills have already been pre-filed many of which deal with subject matters which we must watch closely to insure that the proposed law changes do not negatively affect our industry.  Of particular note is House Bill 352 by Representative Orr which would prohibit the exclusion of minerals coverage from the title policy.  Rest assured, we understand the gravity of this bill and the impact it would have on the title industry in Texas.  TLTA has met with Chairman Orr to express our concern about his bill and inform him of the progress TLTA has made over the past several months in crafting a compromised solution to the minerals question.  TLTA is also working hard to secure the support of all stake holders in the real estate industry for the TLTA proposal.  This debate will require constant effort and aggressive attention throughout the 81st Session.
TLTA is also in the process of formulating its legislative agenda, drafting bills which will solve problems faced by our members on a daily basis.  We will continue to keep you apprised of our progress on this front as well as our efforts to defeat or mitigate legislation harmful to our membership.  If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Day.

TLTAPAC UPDATE

Dream Vacation Giveaway - Win a Chance to Get Away From It All

Help the TLTAPAC and encourage employees and co-workers to sign up for the chance to win a $3,000 Travel Voucher sponsored by Simplifile. A $50 voluntary contribution enters you to win this incredible vacation getaway to anywhere you can dream up.
 Please contact any of the Board of Directors, TLTAPAC Board of Trustees, or Joey Prohaska for tickets. If you have any questions, please contact our office.

Centennial Club - Secure Your Place in History

In celebration of 100 years of making history together, the TLTAPAC created the Centennial Club. The Club recognizes those who have given $100 or more during our year of celebration which ends December 31, 2008.  Contribute today and help protect and support the Texas title industry!

FEDERAL NEWS

Shaun Donovan Selected As Next HUD Secretary

President-Elect Barack Obama announced on Saturday that Shaun Donovan, currently Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, has been selected to be the next Secretary of HUD.  As Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development in New York City, Donovan has helped create the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation. Donovan served at HUD during the Clinton Administration, and also worked in both the business and non-profit sectors where he helped make responsible homeownership and access to affordable housing a reality for American families.  Click here to view the official announcement, or for a full biography and highlights of Donovan's record.

Final Revised FMLA Regulations Issued by Department of Labor

By: James H. Kizziar, Jr. Bracewell & Giuliani LLP
On November 17, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor published final revised regulations implementing the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). The final regulations contain the first substantive revisions to the FMLA regulations since 1995. The DOL determined that revisions to the FMLA regulations were needed to conform the regulations to legal decisions on current FMLA regulations, to clarify and strengthen certain regulations, and to provide greater flexibility to other regulations. The final regulations will become effective on Friday, January 16, 2009.
 
Click here for full story.

News to Know

Mortgage Rates Left in Dust by Treasuries, Failures
Bloomberg| December 18, 2008
Americans seeking mortgages aren't getting the full benefit of record low yields on Treasuries and government-supported mortgage bonds, blunting U.S. efforts to curb the housing crisis.
 
Borrowers Rushing to Refinance Loans as Rates Drop
Yahoo News | Dec 18 12008
Homeowners around the country are scrambling to refinance their mortgages at the lowest rates since the early 1960s as the economy staggers through what's likely to be the worst recession in decades. Mortgage brokers are already reporting a surge of calls from borrow.
 
More than 8 million homes face foreclosure in next 4 years
Market Watch/ Yahoo| December 18, 2008
More than 8 million mortgages could go into foreclosure in coming years in the wake of the credit meltdown as the economy worsens and the U.S. suffers more job losses, according to a recent report. Credit Suisse's fixed-income research team forecast that 8.1 million mortgages will be in foreclosure over the next four years, representing 16% of all mortgages. More than 8 million homes face foreclosure in next 4 years

Title Insurer Takes Its Chances in Florida
Palm Beach Post| December 18, 2008
A depressed real estate marketplace wouldn't seem like the best time to invest $10 million into a title insurance company, especially when thousands of competitors are going out of business. But Entitle Direct entered the Florida marketplace on Oct. 1 - a month after its initial launch in Pennsylvania - with a promise that it will undercut other agents' title insurance rates by 35 percent.

'All Available Tools' to Spur U.S. Economy
National Post | December 17, 2008
For the first time in its history, the U. S. Federal Reserve is effectively giving away money. The central bank took the unprecedented step yesterday of slashing its benchmark interest rate to an extraordinarily low range of zero to a quarter per cent yesterday in an attempt to prevent the world's largest economy from suffering a long and painful recession.

For One Lender, FHA Has Been a Vital Lifeline
HousingWire | December 17, 2008
Government loans are hot - so hot, in fact, that compared with total volumes through the third quarter of 2007, St. Louis-based Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative said Wednesday that origination levels of FHA/VA loans have more than tripled at the firm through the same period for 2008. The group, a national alliance of mortgage bankers, tracks and compiles origination activity of its more than 125 member companies by product, geography and member.
 
Treasuries Snap Four-Day Gain After Fed Cuts Rate to Near Zero
Bloomberg | December 17, 2008
Treasury two-year notes fell for the first time in five days, driving yields up from record lows, after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to zero and said it may increase purchases of riskier securities.

Dissolved Title Company Point of Legal Disputes
Knoxville News Sentinel | December 17, 2008
A Lenoir City judge and a prominent Maryville developer are entangled in a legal dispute that also is linked to a federal tax lien against the judge. The matter is highlighted in a July complaint filed in U.S. District Court by an entity called Assurance Title Co. That company was the plaintiff in the complaint.
 
A Second Mortgage Disaster On The Horizon?
CBS New - 60 Minutes | December 16, 2008
New wave of mortgage rate adjustments could force more homeowners to default!

How Lehman's Fall Created a Global Panic
Fortune | December 16, 2008
The world changed forever on Sept. 15, 2008, the Monday Meltdown, a day that will live in the annals of finance alongside Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929. We are still odds-on to avoid a depression like the one that followed Oct. 29, but the Monday Meltdown made one more likely, and has claimed trillions of dollars of wealth worldwide and triggered a global recession.