February 2010


Dear ,

January offered little time for reflection or the making of personal resolutions (that would surely be broken anyway). What it did offer, however, was an interesting vista from which to view the issues TLTA will undoubtedly be in engaged in over the next year.

Most recently, it is important to note that there are some kinks to work out relative to the wind-down plan required by the new Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) rules effective this month. As you know, the department has delayed the enforcement of this particular rule for 90 days. There is language in the rule which appears to make it unworkable. The language was made available for the first time just prior to the Commissioner’s final rule adoption, so it did not have the benefit of a hearing. TLTA has assembled a task force to address the problems with the language and provide feedback for TDI. We will keep you informed as this process continues and guidance for this rule becomes available.

Last month, TLTA met with members of the House Insurance Committee and the Sunset Advisory Commission. With the upcoming legislative committee interim study hearings and Sunset’s review of TDI, these meetings provided an opportunity for us to address questions or concerns about the title industry before they became the subject of formal hearings. Additionally, we also met with TDI Commissioner Mike Geeslin to discuss alternative and more workable means for agents to satisfy the mandatory minimum capitalization requirement resulting from House Bill 4338. We’re optimistic as we appear to be on the path to finding a solution which will prove to be least burdensome on Texas title agents.

On the federal front, our industry continues to fight the good fight in Washington. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) legislation has experienced a number of twists and turns over the past few weeks with Chairman Dodd’s retirement announcement, the election of a new Massachusetts Senator ending the momentum of the health care bill and a State of the Union address where the President identified the financial services bill as a new priority. Although these events have brought some opportunities, they’ve also made things a bit more challenging.

Information regarding the CFPA bill continues to be contradictory and the ultimate path of the bill remains unclear. Speculations include Congress no longer pursuing a stand alone agency and instead folding some new responsibilities and regulatory oversight into the Treasury Department— a concept we would also oppose. At this time, it’s not clear as to whether Dodd and the Administration would be willing to lose the opportunity for a more overt political statement (and score keeping) that a stand alone agency would provide.

TLTA has engaged our title industry colleagues across the country with key relationships and the ability to affect this debate in order to work title insurance and settlement services out of the bill no matter what form it may take.

In closing, we understand that the several new regulations and various time tables for compliance can make for a confusing landscape. We are here to help you navigate this terrain. Please do not hesitate to call us with your questions.

Sincerely,

Aaron Day

REGULATORY NEWS - TDI

TLTA Task Force Studying Ways for Agents to Comply With New Wind-Down Plan Requirements

One of the new rules effective Monday, February 1, is a requirement that all agents prepare a wind-down plan and submit it to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). We have received a number of questions about when this plan is due and what it should include. Based on our inquiries to TDI about this issue, we have been notified that they will observe a 90-day grace period for compliance with this new rule.

Our initial review indicates that the rule may be unworkable as written. TLTA has formed a small working group to study this issue and work with TDI on possible ways for agents to comply with this new regulation by May 1. The group has begun work with a goal of quickly providing you with more information in plenty of time before the rule becomes enforced. Look for more information from us in the very near future.

If you have any questions please contact TLTA's Director of Government Affairs, Aaron Day at aaron@tlta.com or 512.472.6593.

Biennial Rule Hearing Order Now in Effect

Basic Manual Subscription Service Updates Have Shipped
As of February 1, the Basic Manual changes resulting from the 2008 biennial rule hearing order adopted by the Commissioner are in effect.

Subscribers of the Basic Manual Update Subscription Service should have received their hard copies in the mail. If you did not receive a copy, you may not be a Basic Manual subscriber and your Basic Manual is now out of date.Click here to update your Basic Manual by purchasing the 2010 Basic Manual Update Subscription Service.

Additionally, TLTA utilized feedback from our escrow officer forum to prepare an index designed to help you quickly analyze what has changed and how it affects you.This chart can be used as a starting place for quick and easy orientation of the rules and as a launching point for further study.

Update Your Basic Manual|Get Education on this Topic|Ask a Question

SOAH Judges Send Rate Hearing Follow-Up to TDI Commissioner

As we reported in January’s Dateline Austin, the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) judges recommended a 2.66% basic premium rate increase for title insurance in Texas. TLTA argued for a higher rate increase and therefore disagreed with many aspects of the proposed recommendation. TLTA and other parties to the hearing filed exceptions to the proposal.View TLTA’s SOAH proposal exception or view other parties’ proposal exceptions.

Late last month, after reviewing all of the exceptions to the proposal and responses to the exceptions,the SOAH judges sent a letter to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner amending some aspects of their Proposal for Decision, but keeping their recommendation for a 2.66% rate increase.

We will continue to stay on top of developments and will certainly keep you updated on this matter of critical importance to our industry. If you have any questions, please contact TLTA’s Director of Government Affairs, Aaron Day at aaron@tlta.com or 512.472.6593.

TEXAS LEGISLATIVE NEWS

Early Voting Starts Tuesday, February 16

Early voting for the March primaries begins on Tuesday, February 16 and continues through Friday, February 26. Below are several helpful links to make your election season a little easier. Have questions regarding your rights as a voter? Call1.800.252.VOTE.
•Are you registered to vote?
•What’s on the March Primary Ballot?
•Where is my polling place?Contact your Voter Registrar
•Request a ballot by mail

FEDERAL NEWS

HUD Releases Eleventh Installment of RESPA Rule FAQs

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the eleventh installment of the RESPA Rule FAQs. As you review the installment, please note that any new or updated information will be bolded to differentiate them from previously released information.

TLTA and Bankers Partner to Present More RESPA Webinars - Register Now

TLTA and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) are teaming up to address the flood of questions that have emerged around the changes to the GFE and HUD-1. Using the resources of both associations, we have assembled a panel of some of Texas’ top lenders, doc-prep attorneys, and title insurance specialists to provide the most current overview and to field immediate questions coming from the industry.

Even if you went to training before the law went into effect, you need to attend. Our panelists inform us that the learning curve is steep, and they are adding to their program daily –REGISTER TODAY!
The New GFE – A Line By Line Walk-Through
Friday, Feb. 12 l 9-10:30 a.m.
What every Lender needs to know and every Closer should understand about how this form is completed and relates to the HUD 1.
REGISTER ONLINE The New HUD-1 – A Line By Line Walk-Through
Wednesday, Feb. 17 l 9-10:30 a.m.
What every Closer needs to know and every Lender should understand about how this form is completed and relates to the GFE.
REGISTER ONLINE

The CFPA: How a Crusade to Protect Consumers Lost Its Steam

Washington Post l Jan. 30, 2010
At a time when the country is deeply divided over the proper role of government, what is Capitol Hill's appetite for a new, independent agency with broad power to police the financial industry and protect consumers from the risky lending practices that contributed so much to the financial crash of 2008?
Not as hearty as the Obama administration had hoped last year when it turned a Harvard Law professor's crusade for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency into a major element of its regulatory reform initiative. After months of tinkering, the House last month finally endorsed the creation of a CFPA, but the Senate Banking Committee hasn't found this particular ingredient to its liking.View full article.

TLTAPAC

Your Support is Critical to the Health of Our Industry

As we reported earlier, title insurance will be one of the primary issues for the House Insurance Committee’s interim studies. This means we, as members of the industry, must take every opportunity to reach out to our Texas lawmakers to explain how we are regulated and why it works for Texas consumers.

Since July, TLTA has attended over sixty campaign fundraisers and contributed to over 66 elected officials. Throughout our visits we’ve shared the importance of the Texas title industry and solidified our role as a resource. Our successful outreach is due in great part to your support.

We need 100% participation from the title industry and a contribution in any amount makes a difference. Make a personal donation today and help us reach our goal of $100,000 by June 2010!

Donate Online With Your Personal Credit Card

Donate in Installments

Donate by Personal Check

NEWS TO KNOW

Industry Stats

Release Date

Latest Release

Change from Previous Release

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

02/04/10

5.01%

+0.03

15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

02/04/10

4.40%

+0.01

10 Year Treasury Rate

02/03/10

3.59%

-0.03

Existing Home Sales (in millions)

01/25/10

5.45

-16.7%

New Home Sales

01/27/10

342,000

-7.6%

Supply of Housing Inventory

01/27/10

8.1 months

+2.5%

Information Provided by by ALTA.

TLTA News Ticker - Providing You the Latest in Industry-Related News

Monday through Friday you can count on or the latest business and industry news clips in Texas and across the United States. Check out the TLTA News Ticker today!

CLASSIFIEDS

WEBB COUNTY TITLE PLANT FOR SALE

Bid Proposals Must Be Submitted by February 15, 2010
The Court appointed Liquidator of Webb County Title and Abstract Company, Inc. (“WCTA”) offers for sale the company’s entire title and abstract plant. All sales are “as is, where is” without warranty or representation, and subject to approval of the Receivership Court. Cash offers only.

Interested parties are invited to submit bid proposals, in writing, to WCTA’s Special Deputy Receiver no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on February 15, 2010. All parties are encouraged to inspect the plant; arrangements to do so may be made by contacting Graciela Velazquez at (956) 724-7104.

Click here for additional details(PDF)