October 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.

TDI PUBLISHES NOTICE OF 2004 Title Insurance Biennial Hearing

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has issued notice for the Rulemaking and Ratemaking Phases of the 2004 Texas Title Insurance Biennial Hearing. The Rulemaking Phase of the hearing for the consideration of rules, forms and endorsements and related matters will begin on December 15, 2004 and continue thereafter at dates, times and places designated by the Commissioner until its conclusion.  The Ratemaking Phase of the hearing for consideration of matters with rate implications will begin on December 31, 2004. Both hearings will be held in Room 100 of the William P. Hobby, Jr. State Office Building, 333 Guadalupe Street in Austin. The TLTA Rates, Rules and Forms Committee and Board of Directors are in the process of finalizing positions on agenda items that have been filed. Click here to review the electronic version of agenda items on the TLTA web site. If you have questions, please contact mindy@tlta.com  


The Commissioner of Insurance will hold a public hearing on Tuesday November 2, 2004, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 100 of the William P. Hobby, Jr. State Office Building, 333 Guadalupe Street in Austin, Texas, to consider a request filed by the Title Professionals Association to withdraw Procedural Rule P-53 of the Basic Manual of Rules, Rates and Forms for the Writing of Title Insurance in the State of Texas. The Commissioner will also consider whether the Rule should be modified and will further consider how to accurately identify, report, examine and/or contain marketing expenses as they relate to title rate calculations and violations of article 9.30, including whether such expenses should or should not be included in the title rate.  The TLTA Rates, Rules and Forms Committee will meet on October 18 to discuss this issue and will report to the Board of Directors at their meeting in San Antonio on October 20.  


The Texas Department of Insurance has adopted amendments to the Texas Title Insurance Basic Manual effective November 1, 2004. Amendments include form T-37A, Immediately Available Funds Procedure Agreement (Agent Designation for Federally-insured Lender), which provides for a designated agent of a federally-insured lender as a party to the agreement that defines procedures to make funds immediately available among a financial institution, a title company, and a federally-insured lender in the closing of a mortgage loan. In conjunction with the new form, amendments to procedural rule P-27 (Disbursement from Escrow or Trust Fund Accounts) have been adopted to conform the language of this procedural rule for use with the new form.

The amendment to §9.401 also updates the adopted Statistical Plan. The amendments to the Statistical Plan update the codes and other reporting requirements that have occurred since the last two Texas Title Insurance Biennial hearings.

Click here  to view TDI Order of Adoption

T-37A - Immediately Available Funds Procedure Agreement
P-27 - Disbursement From Escrow or Trust Fund Accounts  
TDI Statistical Plan Revision

We will be contacting you soon with information about ordering updates to the Texas Title Insurance Basic Manual.


by Ellen Schweppe

This article was reprinted with permission from ALTA's Title News, March/April, 2004 - Volume 83 Number 2. Ellen Schweppe is president of Ellen Schweppe Company, LLC, an editorial services firm serving the financial services and other industries.

You've been asked to give a speech. Or you are making a presentation on the value of title insurance as part of your company's public awareness campaign. Once you confirm the time, date, and place, what else do you need to do before you step up to the podium?

Here are the key questions to ask those organizing the event to make sure you know what to expect and can meet the audience's expectations, as well as important questions to ask yourself as you plan your presentation. More story


We would like to convey our deepest sympathy to George and Cindy Houghton, whose son Andy passed away August 9 as a result of injuries sustained in Iraq in July. Andy was gravely injured by a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) while riding in a Bradley fighting vehicle. He was on an early morning patrol near Samarra, Iraq with his platoon. Services were held on Monday, August 16, 2004, at the Old Cadet Chapel on the grounds of the West Point Cemetery. Andy's father, George Houghton is Vice President/South Texas District Manager of Stewart Title Company in San Antonio. 

If you would like additional information, a web site has been created in Andy's memory at http://andyhoughton.org/news.htm.


The 2004-2005 TLTA Membership Directory is being printed as of this writing, and will be mailed to TLTA members in the next few weeks. As in past years, each member company will receive a designated number of directories at no charge. Additional copies can be ordered once you have received your first shipment of directories. If you would like to know how many directories your company will receive in the initial shipment, please e-mail kelly@tlta.com.  


The TLTA Board of Directors will meet at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at the Omni San Antonio Hotel in conjunction with the Central Texas Regional Seminar. Attending one of our Board meetings is a great opportunity to observe first-hand how TLTA conducts its business. If you are interested in attending, please contact Leslie Midgley at the TLTA office. Click here for a complete schedule of this year’s board meetings.


TLTA's Central Texas Regional Seminar will be held in San Antonio on October 19 & 20. Please note the location for this year’s seminar, which has been held in Austin in the past. We will also introduce a new seminar entitled Understanding Endorsements & Right Rules, Correct Calculations Workshop in San Antonio on October 21. If you are unable to attend in October, the Right Rules seminar is also on the calendar in various locations throughout the state. For those of you who usually attend the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Seminar, please remember it is being held November 17 & 18 at the Omni Dallas Hotel. To register for any of the seminars listed or to view the entire Education Calendar, click here.


Save the date for the TLTA Annual Conference to be held at the stunning Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, June 9-11, 2005. We have lowered the conference fees as well as restructured the schedule to accommodate those who may wish to attend daily educational sessions. Our Conference committee and staff are busy working on the details for social events and speakers as well as developing an impressive list of educational offerings. Mark your calendars and plan to attend!


Several of our members have suggested that we introduce a new feature in Downdate profiling a TLTA member in each issue. We think it's a great idea, and plan on introducing our first Member Profile in the next Downdate in November. If you have a co-worker or industry associate that you would like to see featured in the profile please send their information to kathy@tlta.com. Some of the items we would like to include in the profile are:

Name                   Company                  Company Description
Years with Company                 Personal business strategy
Challenges company will face           Why they are successful
Leadership style        Industry trends they foresee            Role models 
Business advice to share         Hobbies         Pet peeve       Favorite Restaurant
One person they would like to meet         First car          City of birth


Please join us in welcoming the following new members who have joined TLTA since August 2004.

Country Title L.L.C.
Tom Berry, Chief Operating Officer
550 Post Oak, Suite 560
Houston, TX 77027
County: Harris, Dallas
Phone:  713.439.0603  Fax: 713.439.0674
email:  dhenslee@countrytitle.net
website:  www.countrytitle.net

Hood Abstract Co.
Jacqueline S. Powell, Vice President & Treasurer
112 Main
Canadian, TX 79014
County: Hemphill
Phone: 806.323.6202 Fax: 806.323.8918
email:  Jackie@hoodabstract.com

Red River Title Company
Doris C. Caston, Owner
100 N. Travis, Suite 200
Sherman, TX 75090
County: Grayson
Phone: 903.868.4446 Fax: 903.868.4314
email:  dcaston@redrivertitle.com
website:  www.redrivertitle.com

Brusniak McCool & Blackwell, P.C.*
Melinda D. Blackwell, Partner
17400 Dallas Parkway, Suite 112
Dallas, TX 75287
County: Dallas
Phone: 972.250.6363 Fax: 972.250.3599
email:  Blackwell@txtax.com
website:  www.txtax.com

Central Tejas Research and Title Services
Catherine Hillis, Partner
807 Brazos, Suite 607
Austin, TX 78701
County: Travis
Phone: 512.469.6026 Fax: 512.469.6053
email:  centraltejas@sbcglobal.net

TXU Energy
Pam Haynie, Account Director
1601 Bryan Street
5949 Sherry Lane, Suite 1800
Dallas, TX 75225
County: Dallas
Phone: 214.378.7970 Fax: 214.378.7967
email:  phaynie@thepointgroup.com
website:  www.txu.com

Ed Winfrey, Attorney
Ed Winfrey, Attorney at Law*
1710 Country Club Drive, Suite 104
Mansfield, TX 76063
County: Tarrant
Phone: 682.518.5100 Fax: 682.518.5101
email: edwinfreyatty@yahoo.com


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.


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.


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.


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