July  2004



Our thanks to SMS for its sponsorship of this issue of Downdate - SMS is an established leader in automating title and escrow companies through software and services that streamline the escrow, closing and title production process.

AVOIDING AD VALOREM TAX LOSSES

by Roland Love Winstead, Sechrest, and Minnick, P.C.

At this year’s TLTA Conference, there was an excellent presentation by Albert Rush regarding E-commerce fraud. Mr. Rush’s presentation reminds us once again that the criminal does not really need a gun to rob a bank, or a title company. But, what about those times when we shoot ourselves in the foot? Many claims might be avoided at the closing table, and others are simply unavoidable risks of conducting title business. Every year, however, one of the most significant areas of loss for the title insurance industry relates to ad valorem taxes. Many, if not most of these losses, can be avoided by careful attention during the closing process.  More story


THANKS TO ALL TLTA VOLUNTEERS

We would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to those volunteers who served on the 2003-2004 Board of Directors and as Committee Chairs. Your commitment of time, effort and expertise in working on a number of timely and sensitive issues has enabled TLTA to better serve our members and the industry. Click here for a roster of 2003-2004 Board members and Committee Chairs.

In addition we would like to thank those of you who served on one of the many TLTA Committees, Task Forces or Agent and Underwriter Section Executive Committees. With your help and support, we have been able to address many issues of concern to our members as well as represent the Texas title industry on the regional and national level.


TLTA ANNUAL CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS 

The annual conference held in Corpus Christi at the Omni Bayfront Hotel June 4-6 was a great opportunity for TLTA members to get together for a combination of social and educational events and traditions. The conference kick-off party was held at the Texas State Aquarium and featured the ever-popular PAC Silent Auction. Texas Monthly Executive Editor Paul Burka gave members a close-up account of the recent Special Legislative Session, as well as the "inside scoop" on the Texas political scene at the PAC Breakfast. Fifty-one individuals attended the Educational Sessions that were offered on Friday and Saturday. Saturday's General Session included TLTA's Annual Professional Excellence Awards (see article below) as well as a presentation on the Texas economy by Mark Dotzour and comments by ALTA President Charles Kovaleski.

The President's Dinner on Saturday evening was filled with tributes to TLTA leaders and volunteers and gave special recognition to several outstanding members. (See article below). The gala event concluded with our own version of "An Evening At the Copacabana." For the second year members enjoyed gaming at the casino tables, with a special cameo appearance by Carmen Miranda. The Sunday morning conference finale featured comedian Greg Schwem who entertained the crowd with his hilarious take on the title industry. Click here to view the conference photo album.


ANNUAL AWARDS RECOGNIZE TLTA'S OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEERS

The General Session of the Annual Conference was the setting for the presentation of a number of awards to TLTA members who have demonstrated excellence in their profession. PEA Committee Chairman Chris Phillips presented the Professional Excellence Awards to three deserving TLTA members. The Award for Outstanding Abstract Personnel was presented to Ken Crutcher, Commercial Title Examiner with Chicago/Fidelity Title. The award for Outstanding Agency Personnel was presented to Bill Fairbanks, Vice President – Underwriting Counsel for Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation. Shirley Ward, President and CEO of Attorney's Title Company in Athens was the recipient of the award for Outstanding Escrow Personnel. 

The Peggy Hayes Award was presented to Chris Phillips by Russell Sugg of Alamo Title Insurance. The award was presented to Phillips in recognition of his contributions as an instructor at the TLTA Land Title School of Texas. Sharon Fancher, an attorney with the Law Offices of Sharon R. Fancher in Dallas was recognized as the winner of the E. Gordon Smith Award. Sharon scored a perfect 100 on the 2004 Land Title School of Texas test in March, but was unable to attend the award ceremony. Click here for photos. 

Congratulations to all our outstanding award winners, including Titleman of the Year and President's Award winners. (See below for stories)


MARION DAILY NAMED TITLEMAN OF THE YEAR

MARION DAILY AND WIFE JUDY

Marion Daily, President of West Texas Abstract and Title Company in Midland, was named TLTA's 2004 Titleman of the Year during the President's Dinner on June 5. Presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the title industry and the association over a long period of time, the Titleman of the Year is the highest award bestowed upon a TLTA member.

Daily graduated from North Texas University and relocated to Midland in 1976. A 28 year veteran of the title industry, Daily has served over the years on numerous TLTA committees as well as on the Board of Directors for seven years.


PHIL WELLS AND GLENN CLEMENTS RECEIVE JAMES H. GARST PRESIDENT'S AWARD

Glenn Clements, Executive Vice President of Stewart Title Guaranty Company and Phil Wells, Executive Vice President/National Agency Manager for Title Insurance Company of America received the 2004 James H. Garst President’s Award at TLTA's annual conference. Dave Ginger presented the awards to Wells and Clements in recognition of their significant contributions during his term as president. 


MANY THANKS TO OUR 2004 ANNUAL CONFERENCE SPONSORS

The TLTA Annual Conference was made possible through the support of the following sponsors:
PLATINUM SPONSORS
RECONVEYANCE SERVICES, INC.
SMS
SOFTPRO

GOLD SPONSORS
American Pioneer Title Insurance Company
COMERICA  
Landata Technologies, Inc.
National TaxNet

SILVER SPONSORS
ACS/Title Records Corporation                               
DataTrace                                                                     
NoteWorld Servicing Center                                     
OnStaff                                                                          
RamQuest Software Inc.                                            
REI Data                                                                        
USA Digital Solutions                                                  
White Garrison & Hill, P.C.                                        

BRONZE SPONSORS
Data Tree LLC
General American Corporation/GATORSystems
hal Systems Corporation
Imersion Technologies, Inc.
The Post Closing Department

UNDERWRITER SPONSORS
Alamo Title Insurance 
Chicago Title Insurance Company
Commerce Title Insurance Company
Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company
Fidelity National Title Insurance Company
First American Title Insurance Company
Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation
North American Title Insurance Corporation
Old Republic National Title Insurance Company
Security Union Title Insurance Company
Southern Title Insurance Corporation
Title Insurance Company of America
Ticor Title Insurance Company
Title Resources Guaranty Company
United General Title Insurance Company
    
GRANTHAM INSTALLED AS 2004-2005 PRESIDENT

Terry L. Grantham of West Texas Title Company in Lubbock was installed on June 5, 2004 as TLTA President during the General Session of the Annual Conference. Grantham is also a partner in the Lubbock law firm of Craig, Terrell, Hale & Grantham, L. L. P.

Grantham graduated Texas Tech University School of Law 1982, (J.D.) He is a member of the Lubbock County Bar Association, College of the State Bar of Texas and Texas Association of Abstractors and Title Agents. In addition to serving on numerous committees over the years, he has served on TLTA's Board of Directors for five years, as At-Large Director for four years, as Chairman of the Rates, Rules and Forms Committee and as Agent Committee Chairman and Delegate.
 

2004-2005 BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTED

The 2004-2005 Board of Directors was presented for election to the membership on June 5 during the General Session of the Annual Conference. The new board members were installed by Nominating Chair Jack Rattikin III. Click here for a roster and photo of 2004-2005 Board members.


TEXAS TRAILS COUNCIL HONORS BERT MASSEY

TLTA Past President Bert Massey was presented the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Texas Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America on June 17, 2004 in Brownwood, Texas. Bert was chosen as recipient of the award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and service to the City of Brownwood and the Big Country. He has served on the Brownwood City Council since 1978 and as Mayor since 1984. The Texas Trails Council saluted Bert as a "Good Scout, Good Samaritan, and Good Friend" to his fellow man and his community. 


 JOE GREALISH NAMED REGIONAL MANAGER FOR FNTIC/ALAMO DIRECT OPERATIONS
 Joe Grealish has been named Executive Vice President/Regional Manager for Fidelity National Title Insurance Corporation and Alamo direct operations in Texas. Grealish is currently President of FNTIC and Alamo in Houston and will continue to directly manage Houston along with his Regional responsibilities. His career at Fidelity National Financial began in 1986 in San Francisco. He has held numerous positions including County Manager for FNTIC/Alamo Title in Houston for the last three years, County Manager in Santa Clara County (San Jose, CA.), State Manager for the State of Michigan and County Manager of Napa County, CA.


NEW TLTA MEMBERS

Please join us in welcoming the following new members who have joined TLTA since April 2004.
ACTIVE MEMBERS
Apache Title Co.
Howard R. Widmer, President
320 St. Louis
Gonzales, TX 78629
County: Gonzales
Phone: 830.672.1201 Fax: 830.672.1206
email: apachetitle@gvec.com

Classic Title Company
Carolyn Lee, President
17721 Dallas Parkway, Suite 116
Dallas, TX 75287
County: Collin
Phone: 972.931.9667 Fax: 972.931.9579
email: clee@classtitle.com

First Fidelity Title
Robert S. Clark, President/CEO
17480 N. Dallas Parkway, Suite 121
Dallas, TX 75287
County: Collin
Phone: 972.713.7467 Fax: 972.250.6233
email: andismith@dallas.net

Texas Title Company
Camille Clark, President
2550 Gray Falls Dr., Suite 212
Houston, TX 77077
County: Harris
Phone: 281.558.4853 Fax: 281.558.3106
email: texastitleco@aol.com

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
Balcom Law Firm, P.C.
David Torok
8584 Katy Freeway, Suite 305
Houston, TX 77024
County: Harris
Phone: 713.973.9900 Fax: 713.464.8553
email: dtorok@balcomlaw.com
website: www.balcomlaw.com

Global Additions
Sandra Wing, President
1989A Santa Rita Rd., Suite 182
Pleasanton, CA 94566
County: Out of State
Phone: 925.461.1198 Fax: 925.461.0498
email: swing@globaladditions.com


SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE

We know many of you serve as teachers and trainers for your company, or have written articles about the title industry in the past. We would love to have more articles and information to publish in Downdate, Dateline, and on the TLTA Web site. Contact kathy@tlta.com for more information.


ACT NOW TO INSURE YOU ARE LISTED IN THE TLTA DIRECTORY!

The  2004-2005 Membership Directory update process is well under way! Update forms were sent to all TLTA members in April, and we are now sending reminders to those who have not responded to our first request. Although the original deadline for responding was May 31, we still need your updated information! Please complete the update form and fax it to 512.472.5931, if you have not already done so. If you have questions or problems regarding your listing contact Kathy Whatley or Paula Thomas at 512.472.6593. And, if you need another form faxed or mailed to you, e-mail kelly@tlta.com. Directories will be printed and distributed in September 2004. 
 

THE TLTA GREENSHEET

How do you find someone to fill that key position in your firm? Are you looking for the best method to reach other title industry professionals? Whether you're advertising for a job opening or selling your business, equipment or service, the TLTA GREENSHEET is your answer. It's your on-line connection to industry related employment and business opportunities. Click here for the latest GREENSHEET.


PUBLICATIONS

Expand your professional library with these TLTA publications:

 “A Handbook for Texas Abstracters and Title Men”  Written by the late Frank A. Stamper, one of the most distinguished members of the Texas title insurance industry, this textbook is a must for every title professional. Topics include The Evolution of Title Evidence and Assurance, The Texas Registration System Reading, Interpretation and Platting of Property Descriptions and The Abstract Plant.

Click here to go to the TLTA ON-LINE STORE.

Texas Forms Manual, A Guide for Real Estate and Title Documentation is compiled, edited and maintained by fellow TLTA members. The 8½ x 11, loose-leaf volume contains the documents most commonly used to handle a real estate transaction in Texas – all the way to the closing at the title company. Order yours today, and see why so many real estate and title professionals depend on this valuable resource. Click here for ordering information.


SEND US YOUR FEEDBACK – AND YOUR IDEAS

We welcome your comments or suggestions about DOWNDATE, as well as other TLTA publications and products. Please forward information to kathy@tlta.com.