November 2010

Dear ,

Title Insurance made national headlines this month as what has become known as “the Foreclosure Mess” unfolded. The good news is that a great deal of the news coverage is actually highlighting the importance of title insurance. The bad news is this issue has also created some confusion in the market place.

Fortunately, TLTA helped dispel some of the uncertainty by meeting with the Texas Attorney General’s office early on in the crisis and clarifying that there has been no moratorium attempted or contemplated in Texas. In fact, the bottom line is that in Texas, there is no crisis beyond any of the confusion because Texas law avoids the uncertainty that exists in other states. Foreclosures are continuing in Texas and title insurance is being issued on these properties under traditional circumstances.

The 82nd Legislative Session is also just around the corner and TLTA members and staff are feverishly working to prepare for the upcoming storm. This month, the Legislative Committee recommended and the Board adopted a legislative agenda that includes a number of bills TLTA will seek introduction and passage of this spring. TLTA Legislative Committee volunteers will help draft bill language and staff will be working to find sponsors. The agenda is designed to make life easier for TLTA members, solve problems that exist in real estate law, protect the industry and benefit consumers. Due to big upcoming issues like congressional redistricting, a potential $25 billion shortfall and a variety of partisan conflicts, we are facing a historically difficult legislative session for affirmative agendas like our own. However, we will work hard and seize opportunities for the industry and will adjust priorities as events demand.

TLTA has already begun working on legislation for the Senate Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Committee, chaired by Senator Royce West, to address title issues for lower income property owners following a natural disaster. This effort has resulted in two proposed solutions to allow for home repairs and certainty in title for homesteads that have been subject to family-member to family-member transfers and potentially have several co-tenants who may or may not be known or reachable. Special thanks to TLTA volunteers, Richard Black, Guy Robert Jackson, and Roland Love who spent several hours with the IGR workgroup and came up with the proposed solutions. If passed, these bills may result in more property in Texas becoming qualified for title insurance. 

On the federal front, TLTA sent comments this month to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) addressing the proposed rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would prohibit the government-sponsored entities from backing mortgages on properties with private transfer fee covenants. TLTA’s goal is to bolster the proposition while offering some modest modifications that would allow for Home Owners Associations to continue utilizing these fees in accordance with certain principles. If the FHFA successfully adopts the proposed rules effectively banning private transfer fee covenants, this would go a long way to eradicate this menace facing consumers.

TLTA Federal lobbyist Jim Hyland will be providing more information and updates on these and other issues at the 20th Annual Robert C. Sneed Texas Land Title Institute during his “Federal Legislation Affecting Your Business” presentation, so I encourage you to attend this informative program.

Finally, today is Election Day. If you haven't already, I urge you to vote and participate in the future of our state and nation. More information can be accessed through our website.


Aaron Day


Foreclosure Issue: What You Need to Know

As the foreclosure issue remains in the headlines, you may be receiving questions from clients, local media or others about exactly what’s going on. As this issue continues to develop, a great deal of the news coverage is actually highlighting the importance of title insurance.

TLTA has been monitoring this issue from the outset and we are filtering the most important information for the Texas title industry. With the barrage of news coverage, we thought it would be beneficial to provide you with the following timeline and relevant information. Read the full article.

TLTA Debuts New Hot Topics Page

TLTA is proud to debut its new Hot Topics page, providing you easy access to the information you need about current issues in the title insurance industry. Get all the latest news, related documents and education you need to understand what’s going on in the market. Visit it here.

Webinar: Focus on Foreclosure

Friday, November 12, 2010
10:00 - 11:00 a.m. CST
As the “foreclosure mess” continues to be in the national spotlight, it's hard to keep up with what has or could happen and what it means for foreclosures in Texas. Lenders and mortgage servicers’ processes and procedures are being scrutinized and revised, and title companies need to be sure they are “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s” when dealing with foreclosed property transactions.

Roland Love, Winstead, PC and Tommy Bastian, Barrett Daffin Frappier Turner & Engel, L.L.P.

Register | More Information | Other Education Events

TLTA Webinar: Who Has the Power? POAs, Notarization & Acknowledgements

Tuesday, November 9, 2010
10:00 - 11:00 a.m. CST
From examination to closing, these questions need to be asked:  What should closers & examiners look for when asked to use a Power of Attorney?  What are the requirements of a proper acknowledgement in Texas? What are the most common rules a notary may not know?   

Key topics will include:   
•    Foreign acknowledgements
•    Authority to Act 
•    Verifying if the person is still alive 
•    Military POAs – including use of Power of Attorney with a VA loan 
•    Who can acknowledge and what type of document needs to be submitted? 
•    What if the document is defective? Does this invalidate the document and/or the transaction? 

Lisa M. Beville, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company 
Stephanie N. Goble, SPHR, CTIA, Barrett Daffin Frappier Turner & Engel, L.L.P.

Register | More Information | Other Education Events

20th Annual Robert C. Sneed Texas Land Title Institute

The TLTA Land Title Institute features outstanding faculty, timely topics and a great venue to network. This year’s event promises to deliver yet another great program designed especially for real estate attorneys and title professionals. In honor of our 20th Land Title Institute, register by Friday at 5 p.m. to be entered in a drawing to win two nights, Dec. 3rd and 4th, in the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. 

Institute Brochure | Register | Sponsorship Opportunities


TLTA Submits Letter to FHFA on Private Transfer Fees

On October 14, TLTA submitted a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in response to the FHFA’s call for public comment on Private Transfer Fees. In the letter, TLTA agrees with the FHFA’s findings about the danger of Private Transfer Fees, but added a suggested modification to allow a transfer fee for the benefit of property owner associations. Read the full letter.

NAIC Completes Data Call Survey

The NAIC recently surveyed state insurance departments to determine what steps need to be taken to implement the NAIC data call within each state. Eleven states indicated that they intend to participate in the data collection. It's important to note that 16 states, including Texas, said they did not intend to participate. Therefore, it is not anticipated that the report by NAIC will threaten or change the Texas statistical plan, which has been in existence for many years and works well. 


TLTA Board Approves Proposed Rule Hearing Agenda Items

The TLTA Board approved proposed agenda items as recommended by the Regulatory Committee for the 2010 Biennial Rule Hearing. The 2010 hearing has not yet been scheduled and we will advise you when TDI issues a call for a hearing. The proposed agenda items consist mainly of housekeeping changes, which we hope will provide for an efficient hearing when it is called. The TLTA Regulatory Committee is continuing to work on remaining issues to prepare for the hearing. Read the Board Action Request.

TDI Names New Escrow and Agent Licensing Personnel

The Title Division at TDI has added two new insurance licensing staff members, Michele Greer and Sherry Richburg. Please note you can always access an updated TDI title division staff list at the TLTA website.

Michele Greer

Sherry Richburg


House Insurance Committee Meets to Discuss Title Insurance

Last Thursday, the House Committee on Insurance met to discuss their interim charges. As we reported earlier, the title industry’s rate structure as well as new minerals rules & forms and their effect on rates are two of the five charges being studied by the committee. Earlier this spring, Chairman John Smithee asked TLTA to gather additional information to assist the committee. In July, we submitted comments  explaining our history and the mechanics of our regulatory framework, along with the recent minerals resolution. TLTA President Brian Pitman and Legislative Committee member Bert Massey testified before the committee. As always we will continue to keep you up to date regarding the committee’s interim studies. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Day or Tedrah Hutchins.

TLTA Board Adopts Legislative Agenda

In late October, the TLTA Board approved its affirmative legislative agenda for the 82ndlegislative session. We’re now in the process of drafting language for potential legislation that 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. Read the Board Action Request. If you have any questions, please contact either Aaron Day or Tedrah Hutchins.

Senate Working Group Meets on Clear Title for Hurricane Victims

The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee (IGR) held a committee meeting on October 19. Throughout the interim, TLTA Legislative Committee Chair Roland Love, Richard Black and Guy Robert Jackson have served as resources for the committee. The key issue before the working group was finding a workable solution for hurricane victims who were previously unable to establish clear titles. Without a clear title, many were unable to obtain post disaster relief or federal aid. Thanks to the tireless efforts and expertise of the working group and TLTA volunteers, the committee has found not only one, but two possible solutions for hurricane victims. Potential legislation for these solutions is currently being drafted and will likely be filed for the upcoming legislative session. If you were unable to attend the hearing, the archived meeting can be found here.

Election Day – What You Need to Know

The general election is today and the Texas Secretary of State has developed a new website to give voters easy access to information about candidates, important dates and polling locations. We urge you to vote if you haven't already done so.

Strength in Numbers - Become a TLTA Individual Member Today

During this election season, the importance of TLTA's strength in numbers is as crucial as ever. By becoming a TLTA Individual Member for just $20 per year or $80 for five years, you will not only receive Individual Membership benefits, such as a listing in the TLTA Membership Directory, but you will also help make TLTA’s voice louder for the upcoming legislative session. Join the Ranks today!


October Case Review

Dallas County Tax Assessor v. Andolinas
By Denise Dumon, North American Title Company
This case is a reminder of the potential pitfalls associated with the sale of property out of a bankruptcy proceeding, and the need for careful review of the terms of the bankruptcy court order. 

Horizon Landscape, LLP, a plant nursery and landscape company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2004, emerging with a confirmed reorganization plan in 2005. Read the full case review


PAC Fundraising Off to a Strong Start

TLTAPAC fundraising is already off to a great start this year as we have already raised $51,136 of our $110,000 goal - and we're only four months into the year! TLTA Fundraising Co-Chairs Mark Greek and Terry Grantham recently launched two new PAC fundraising programs – the Leadership Challenge and the Career Commitment. The Leadership Challenge was a competition initiated by the Board of Directors and Committee Chairs who challenged their committee members to match their summer board meeting contribution of $24,600. TLTA would like to thank Legislative Committee Chair Roland Love, who at the recent Legislative Committee meeting encouraged members to donate by offering all of the cash in his wallet as seen in this photo. At a current total of $8,500, the committees are trailing the Board, but they still have plenty of time to catch up. You also don’t need to be a member of a TLTA committee to help – donate today!

TLTA also recently launched the Career Commitment Pledge in which participants state that as long as they are gainfully employed in the title insurance industry, they will make a TLTAPACdonation every year. We would like to thank the more than 20 members who have already taken the pledge and invite you to become part of this elite group today!

Take the Pledge | View Current Donors & Career Commitment Supporters

Why I Give by Teresa Frost

 Teresa Frost
Teresa Frost
National Investors
Title Insurance Company

With elections under way, it's more important than ever to give to the TLTAPAC so that TLTA can educate incoming legislators about issues that might impact the Texas title industry.
My career would not be what it is today if it were not for TLTA and the work done by TLTAPAC.
I recently decided to make the Career Commitment with TLTA because I want to plant the seed for effective regulation for the future.
Donate | Career Commitment | View Donors

The Annual TLTAbay Online Auction will be held November 4 – 12. There are a lot of exciting items in the auction this year, from stays at hotels and vacation homes to sports tickets and iPads. We would like to thank our donors, and give special thanks to Celia Goode-Haddockand her TLTAbay subcommittee.Take a minute to bookmark the auction page now, and be ready on November 4 at exactly 8 a.m. when the bidding will begin! All proceeds benefit the TLTAPAC. 
Auction Page | Donate an Item


Follow TLTA on Facebook

We recently launched a TLTA page on Facebook that we are updating with breaking news, photos and other important information for our membership - "Like" our page today! 

Industry Stats

Indicator Release Date Latest Release Change from Previous Release
30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 10/21/10 4.21% +0.02
15 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 10/21/10 3.64% +0.02
10 Year Treasury Rate 10/26/10 2.67% +0.08
Existing Home Sales (in millions) 10/25/10 4.53 +10.0%
New Home Sales 9/24/10 288,000 0.00
Supply of Housing Inventory 8/25/10 8.6 months - 1.5 months