October 2009


TITLE INSURANCE AMENDMENT PASSES - SIGNIFICANT CONCERNS REMAIN WITH CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION AGENCY BILL

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives' Financial Services Committee approved legislation that will establish a new, independent federal agency devoted to protecting Americans from unfair and abusive financial products and services. 

As called for by President Obama, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) represents one of the most significant efforts by Congress on financial reform. The bill, H.R. 3126, was approved by a vote of 39-29, largely along party lines, with one Republican in favor and two Democrats opposed. The bill has far reaching consequences for the financial services industry and this is the first step in a long process. It is important to note that the full House must still approve the bill, which they are expected to take up in November sometime. At this time, the U.S. Senate has yet to draft and consider a bill.

Title Insurance and Settlement Services

Fortunately, an amendment sponsored by Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) removed title insurance as a financial activity and thus it's no longer subjected to CFPA jurisdiction. However, the provision of "settlement services" as a financial activity remains in the bill, despite valiant efforts by Congressman Reuben Hinojosa (D-TX) to negotiate the removal of this language. There will be multiple opportunities to re-visit this issue. Additionally, a number of clarifying amendments added late during the mark-up may help bolster our case that settlement services should not be subject to CFPA. 

TLTA will review the final bill, as amended, to assess the impact on settlement services. 

TLTA FILES CLOSING ARGUMENT BRIEFS IN BIENNIAL RATE HEARING


As we reported earlier, the title insurance rate hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings wrapped up on September 16. At the conclusion of the hearing, the administrative law judges announced the final brief submissions and indicated their goal is to have their recommendation to the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner before the end of the year. 

Last week, TLTA, along with other parties to the hearing (TDI, OPIC, etc.) filed our closing arguments. View TLTA's closing arguments or the closing arguments of other parties to the hearing. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Day at 512.472.6593. 

TLTA LEADERSHIP MEETS WITH ALTA REGARDING THEIR LICENSING FORMS FEE


In September, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) issued a press release regarding their plan to institute licensing fees for the use of ALTA policy forms or their derivatives, beginning in 2010. Last week, representatives from ALTA, including CEO Kurt Pfotenhauer, attended the TLTA Board meeting in Austin to explain their forms licensing fee and address questions and concerns from our leadership. The TLTA Board is studying this issue and how it affects Texas and we will continue to keep you informed about the status of our discussions with ALTA.

Additionally, it is our understanding that ALTA sent out individual letters earlier this month with more details on this program, and your office has probably received that correspondence. We urge you to review these materials carefully. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, you could consider consulting with your legal counsel as well.

MINERALS COVERAGE ORDER TAKES EFFECT NOVEMBER 1, 2009


The November 1 Basic Manual update contains changes resulting from the Minerals Coverage order adopted by Commissioner Geeslin. If you are a Basic Manual Update subscriber, you will receive your hard copy update in the mail shortly. Not a Basic Manual Update subscriber? Check out TLTA's Product of the Month.

2008 BIENNIAL RULES HEARING CHANGES NOT IN EFFECT YET


As we reported earlier, Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin published a notice of proposed amendments to the Basic Manual as a result of the 2008 Biennial Rule Hearing that was held on October 2, 2008.

TLTA has recently received a number of inquiries regarding the effective date of the proposed changes. Please note TDI published these changes with a proposed effective date of October 1, 2009, however until a final order is issued we do not know what the actual effective date will be. 

In TLTA's submitted comments, we requested TDI delay the effective date until 60 days after the final adoption to allow everyone time to comply. We anticipate a later effective date will be granted. We will notify you as soon as a final order is issued.

TLTA LEADERSHIP MEETS WITH ALTA REGARDING THEIR LICENSING FORMS FEE

In September, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) issued a press release regarding their plan to institute licensing fees for the use of ALTA policy forms or their derivatives, beginning in 2010. Last week, representatives from ALTA, including CEO Kurt Pfotenhauer, attended the TLTA Board meeting in Austin to explain their forms licensing fee and address questions and concerns from our leadership. The TLTA Board is studying this issue and how it affects Texas and we will continue to keep you informed about the status of our discussions with ALTA.


Additionally, it is our understanding that ALTA sent out individual letters earlier this month with more details on this program, and your office has probably received that correspondence. We urge you to review these materials carefully. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, you could consider consulting with your legal counsel as well.

NEW LICENSING FOR RESIDENTIAL LOAN ORIGINATORS

Texas Mortgage Bankers Association | September 2009

The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Lending (SAFE), part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), is designed to enhance consumer protection and reduce fraud by encouraging states to establish minimum standards for licensing and registration of state-licensed mortgage loan originators. As well for the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR) to establish and maintain a nationwide mortgage licensing system and registry for the residential mortgage industry. SAFE also established minimum standards for mortgage training, both pre-licensing and continuing education for state-licensed mortgage loan originators and federally chartered mortgage loan originators. Each category requires passing a qualification exam (state and national components), a background check, and at least eight hours of continuing education on an annual basis. The requirement for the state-licensed mortgage loan originators also requires the completion of 20 hours of pre-licensing education.

Texas Mortgage Bankers Association (TMBA) is currently an approved educational provider through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) and plans to offer courses which meet the requirements for the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act. Visit www.texasmba.org or www.texasmortgagelicensing.org for more information.

WEBINAR: DIGGING DEEPER INTO MINERALS - GET PREPARED FOR NOV. 1 CHANGES

Wednesday, October 28 10-11:30 a.m. CDT

The Texas Department of Insurance has officially adopted changes to the Basic Manual concerning minerals coverage including new rules, forms and rates. These changes will go into effect November 1, 2009. This new 1.5 hour webinar will provide answers to the following questions and more:

Under what circumstances should each endorsement be used or NOT used? 

Do we use a general exception and not list or worry about mineral reservations? 

How do we address customer questions about what we "used to cover" and what we now cover in our policies? 

Cost is $89 member/ $109 non-member per connection and includes continuing education credit for up to 7 participants. This webinar is expected to sell-out, so register online or download the registration form and fax it to 512.472.5931 before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27th.

NOW AVAILABLE - Our sold-out September 16th Webinar - Minerals Coverage and Proposed Rules and Forms received rave reviews and it's now available on TLTA's Education on Demand. Cost is $15 member/$25 nonmember and 1 hour of escrow credit per registrant is available. 

19th ANNUAL ROBERT C. SNEED TEXAS LAND TITLE INSTITUTE - DECEMBER 3-4, 2009

See Why Past Attendees Rave "Great Seminar " and "Wouldn't Miss This One!"

The TLTA Institute always features outstanding faculty, timely topics and a great venue in which to network. This year’s event promises to deliver yet another great program designed especially for real estate attorneys and title professionals. 

CRITICAL TRAINING FOR RESPA AND THE NEW HUD-1

In-Person Training You Can't Get From a Webinar - Space Limited

Led by experienced faculty, this workshop uses case studies so you gain an in-depth understanding, get answers to your questions and you're ready to tackle the big changes come January 1. If you're responsible for completing the new HUD-1 and need to understand what goes where, this workshop is tailored to meet your needs. Space is limited, but we're certain with 11 locations and dates throughout November and December, you'll find one that's right for you. 

POSITIONING YOUR COMPANY FOR THE REBOUND

By: DJ Horn - Western Region Agency Representative, Title Resources Guaranty Company
 
In high school, I played a little basketball. I was not the “Star” player, I hate to admit. I was not the one on the team that could “light it up” in the scoring category. The one thing I could do was rebound. As soon as I saw a shot go up toward the basket, I turned to survey what was going on around the net, positioned myself between my opponent and the ball, and tried to read which angle the ball would come off the rim. Then quickly jump, reach and snatch it from the sky and pass it off to someone who could dribble it down the court or put it back up to score.

Today in our down real estate market, we are all hoping for a recovery as quickly as possible, and hopefully some of these questions will allow you to think about how you and your company can start reading the ball off the rim. But what are you doing to position your company for success when the market rebounds? Even though we are still working to get deals in the door to sustain us, we need to be surveying what is going on around the rim. Many offices may have downsized and are in a season of consolidation. Are you creating an efficient and effective office system that is going to be successful when the market picks up again? Are you making sure you will be just as productive only with less staff? Now is the time to make sure this happens. No, I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you when the market is going to rebound, nor do I have the recipe for success in your office. I do know that when the market comes back, you will need to be ready with a solid plan in place. 

Join The Young Professionals

The new Young Professionals Committee was created to identify and engage a new generation of leaders in the title industry. There's still plenty of opportunities for you to get involved. 

TLTA's PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

Basic Manual Update Subscription Service

The Basic Manual Update subscription service is a member benefit that provides the most cost-effective and efficient means to ensure your Basic Manual is always in compliance. As part of the Texas Department of Insurance's current audit procedures, they require proof of a current up-to-date Basic Manual. Stay in compliance, save money and stop guessing - become a Basic Manual Update subscriber today and receive all of the updates for 2009.

WENDELL STRAHAN, 1929 - 2009


TLTA mourns the loss of long-time member Wendell Strahan, President, South Plains Abstract Company, who passed away this weekend. South Plains Abstract summed it up perfectly when they said, "Wendell was full of humor, honor, wisdom and character. We will miss him greatly and the office, town, and industry will not be the same."

Visitation with the family is scheduled for Wednesday, October 28 from 6-8 p.m. at the Branon Funeral Home located at 403 North Austin Ave. Lamesa TX 79331. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 29 at the First Presbyterian Church located at 1305 N. Ave G Lamesa, TX 79331. Donations can be to the First Presbyterian Church Lamesa or the Texas or American Cancer Society.

TLTA BOARD MEMBER NAMED ONE OF TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY'S OUTSTANDING ALUMNI


TLTA Board member Celia Goode-Haddock, President and CEO of University Title Company, was recently named one of Texas A&M University's College of Education and Human Development Outstanding Alumni. This is the College's highest honor and is bestowed on alumni who dedicate themselves to careers in teaching, research and/or service, support activities that promote access to education, achievement and health for all, establish and promote diversity and engage in work that supports the mission of the College. 

BANKING VETERAN TODD GREGORY JOINS UNION BANK


At the end of September, Union Bank opened their first Texas branch. Although they've been operating in Texas since 1985, Todd Gregory, Senior Vice President and Division Manager, will be leading the effort to expand the bank's services in Texas. Until recently the majority of their services were delivered from the West Coast to core markets across the nation.

TEXAS COURTHOUSE RESTORATION PROJECT UPDATE


The benefits of our unique partnership with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) goes beyond the support of the Texas Courthouse Stewardship Workshop. Through our partnership we have been able to reach out to county clerks across the state and let them know we appreciate and value their work and their communities. 

Additionally, it's allowed TLTA members to be active participants in their county courthouse rededication ceremonies. Most recently, Terry Norman, Heart of Texas Title Co., LLC , and Donald Barley, McCulloch County Abstract & Title, Inc., attended the McCulloch County courthouse rededication ceremony in September and Judy Davis, Rain County Abstract and Title Company, attended the Rains County rededication ceremony just last weekend. We'd like to thank each of them for their support and for representing TLTA at these historical events.

Courthouse Restoration Exhibit in Lampasas

The Texas Courthouse Restoration Project exhibit, which showcases not only the program, but TLTA's unique partnership with the Texas Historical Commission, is currently on display at the Lampasas Courthouse until the end of October. This special traveling exhibit will be visiting communities across the state and we'll continue to notify member companies when it is scheduled to stop in their area.

Join Our Effort and Help Protect Texas' Treasures
As a title industry professional, you are aware of the importance the county courthouse has in your daily business. In fact, many of your communities have benefited from courthouse restorations through the economic development of town squares, job growth and tourism. Please consider joining our effort to protect your county courthouses and become a Texas Courthouse Restoration co-sponsor. 

GET INVOLVED IN TLTA's STATEWIDE VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE - IT'S EASY!


Earlier this year, TLTA launched our voluntary statewide voter registration initiative as an easy way for our member title companies to demonstrate how they are serving their communities and being good citizens. The concept is simple – during a closing in your office, your consumer is offered a new voter registration card.* Several of our members are already offering this service, but the TLTA Communications Committee has be charged this year with expanding the program and encouraging offices to join TLTA's statewide voter registration drive.

Want to Get Involved?

The Secretary of State's office will provide a voter registration display box and voter registration cards free of charge. To request your display box and voter registration cards, please contact the Secretary of State's Office at 1.800.252.VOTE. 

**Please note - You may not accept a completed Voter Registration unless you have been deputized by your County Registrar/Tax Assessor-Collectoror the Secretary of State. Please contact your local registrar for information on how to become deputized.

TLTA's KIM SCHOPPERT RECEIVES TSAE'S YOUNG PROFESSIONAL AWARD


In September, TLTA's Member Services Coordinator Kim Schoppert received the Texas Society of Association Executives prestigious Young Professional Award. This award recognizes a young professional who is a role model for others and has gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to TSAE, who encourages participation among fellow members and non-members and exemplifies qualities of leadership and professionalism within their organization. 

While accepting her award Kim said, "This job has changed my life. It has given me confidence, direction and a career with a future. I have learned the importance of associations to their industries and I'm honored to be a part of such a great industry."


TLTA's DAY OF SERVICE

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali once described the importance of volunteering as, "... the payment you make for your space on Earth." In September, several members of the TLTA staff offered their services and spent a morning volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank in Austin. The staff sorted over 3,000 pounds of meat which in turn provided over 2,462 meals to central Texas families in need.

Share Your Stories and Photos

We know many of you are engaged in volunteer and community outreach efforts and we want to know about it. Email your stories and/or photos to Tedrah Hutchins so we can share your efforts and achievements with other members in a future Downdate.

WELCOME TO OUR NEW MEMBERS


We would like to welcome our newest members to TLTA. A list of new members approved in October by the TLTA Board of Directors can be viewed on our website.


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