November 2009

Mark Winter Installed as ALTA President

Earlier this month, Mark Winter was officially installed as the 2009-2010 American Land Title Association President. Winter, who is based in Washington, D.C. is the executive vice president of public policy for Stewart Title. 

“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve this association,” Winter said. “As I take over the presidency of ALTA, I want to extend my gratitude to past ALTA presidents for sharing their moral compass, to the board colleagues for sharing their wisdom and to the members for sharing their confidence.”

Kurt Pfotenhauer, ALTA’s CEO, said, “The coming year will be pivotal for the title insurance industry and Mark’s experience on Capitol Hill and his aptitude for advocacy will provide additional firepower as ALTA continues to confront several unresolved issues that could impede the industry’s growth.” 

>View Full Business Wire Press Release

WEBINAR: The New RESPA Road: Where Lenders and Title Intersect

Join us on Tuesday, December 1 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. CST as the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association and TLTA partner to bring this important dialogue on the changes and issues ahead as we prepare for RESPA compliance on January 1, 2010.

RESPA reform means BIG changes ahead for all parties involved in the settlement process but particularly for lenders and title agents. This new road has curves, and intersections that require not only the use of new forms, but new processes and systems. 

Register Now - Program Information - Ask a Question

Information You Need, When You Need It

On January 1, 2010, it’s ALL changing. Don’t be caught off guard, take the steps you need to prepare for RESPA implementation by registering for this hands-on, how-to workshop. Register now and see why participants are saying “I now feel much better about the upcoming changes than before this workshop.” 

There are only five workshops left and space is very limited. Don’t delay as this could be your last opportunity to get the answers to your questions before the new HUD-1 takes effect.

Growing Market Share in a Down Economy

By Mark Macejewski, Agency Account Manager for Chicago/TICOR
As the real estate market has declined, the ranks of realtors, lenders, and title companies have diminished, but competition for the remaining business is fierce. With fewer producing realtors and lenders, title companies are lined up around the block.

Marketing strategies are the same in good markets as in bad, but the over-all effectiveness of a marketing plan becomes clear when markets decline. So what really works?

Your success depends on the expectations of your real estate market. For example, if every title company in your county has a low level of customer service, the realtors and lenders operating in that area grow to expect that level of service.

Therefore, it should be your goal to first identify what the level of 

expectation is for your given area and set a new standard. I am constantly surprised by how many Escrow Officers and managers don’t know who the key producers are in their towns or what their competition is doing to garner the business. Knowledge of the market and of the expectations of the market is critical to developing a sound marketing plan.

As I travel around the region, I see many different markets and expectations vary widely from small towns to large metro areas such as Houston, DFW, San Antonio, and Austin. The metro areas have a constant one-upping mentality and the smaller markets have many interpersonal relationships that make it hard to pull business away.

In the end, the process is the same. Identify the given level of expectation and set a new one. One of the problems is finding time to sit down and ask the questions necessary to obtain the business. This is possible as a marketing representative or from the closers desk; you just have to be willing to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and ask the questions, paying genuine attention to the answers you receive.

Which strategy works best in the small or metro markets? In my experience what works best in small markets is creating a business relationship when a personal one already exists. Train people that they should be friends with the closer at the other title company but still send you their business because of the business value you provide. Show them that a business relationship with you is worth having, and that you can co-exist as their friend.

   In the end, the process is the same.

Identify the given level of expectation and set a new one. 
Conversely, in a large metro market, the best way to create and maintain relationships is by adding business value or a level of service that others are unable or unwilling to offer. If the foundation of your relationship is value-based, it is not easily eroded. For example, if your marketing plan relies on technology, a competitor can come in behind you and provide similar technology to retain the client. However, if you ask the questions and find out what is important to your client, you can always go back to him/her with meaningful value that will get attention. In addition, asking thought-provoking questions is the best way to show your client you care about his/her business.

In effect, you are raising the expectation of what a title company can offer and giving clients a reason to send business to you. So remember, identify the expectations of your market in addition to getting a client his check, and then strive to exceed market expectations. 

TLTA's Product of the Month

Texas Land Title Institute Legal Library
Our new Texas Land Title Institute Legal Library is the online legal resource for real estate attorneys. By subscribing to this extensive legal library, you’ll have access to over 400 title industry course articles that were originally presented during the Texas Land Title Institutes over the years. This is a must-have resource for any real estate attorney or professional doing business in the title industry. 

Order now to take advantage of the introductory price of $149 and you’ll get an extra month for free. 

TLTA Announces New Certified Title Insurance Professionals

We’re proud to announce the Fall 2009 class of certified title insurance professionals. The following twenty-nine individuals have met all of the requirements, passed the examination and are now part of an elite group of certified title industry professionals. Congratulations!

Fall 2009 Certified Title Industry Professionals

Brandi Abercrombie, CTIA - Jacksonville Title Company

Matthew Aycock, CAEA - JMC Title Agency

John Bruce, CTIA – Heritage Title Company of Austin, Inc. 

Kelly Caskey, CESA – TriCentury Title, LLC

Glenda Choate, CTIA - Tyler County Title

Anita Deming, CAEA – Central Texas Title

Jeremiah Garza, CESA – TriCentury Title, LLC

Stephanie Goble, CTIA – Barrett Daffin Frappier Turner & Engel, L.L.P.

John Hall, CTIA - Stewart Title Guaranty Company

Gay Heavilin, CESA - Independence Title Company

Deana Hickman, CTIA - Northshore Title, Inc.

Linda Highley, CAEA - East Texas Title Company

Brenda Hindsman, CTIA - Heritage Title Company of Austin, Inc.

Jill Jared, CESA - Alamo Title Company

Janet Karr, CTIA - Chicago Title Insurance Company

Paul Knouse, CAEA - LandSafe Title of Texas

 Gaylene Lonergan, CTIA - Commonwealth Title of Dallas

Samantha Marrs, CTIA - Texas Country Title

Christina McNulty, CESA - Tyler County Title

Lynette Novak, CTIA - Coastal Title Company

Kathy Nunn, CTIA - Heritage Title Company of Austin, Inc.

Robin Pearson, CTIA - Central Texas Title

Mandy Pruett, CESA - Central Texas Title

Mary Reeves, CESA - Security Title, Inc.

Christina Shaheen, CESA - Alamo Title Company

Rosemary Taylor, CESA - Central Texas Title

Kerry Wakefield, CESA - Alamo Title Company

A. Steven Young, CAEA - Lawyers Title Company of Brazos County

There are currently three professional designations a title professional can earn. They are:

CESA - Certified Escrow Settlement Associate
CAEA - Certified Abstract Examination Associate
CTIA - Certified Title Insurance Associate

Each designation represents a measure of achievement and proficiency in the Texas title insurance industry and distinguishes these highly motivated individuals. The newly certified professionals will be recognized on December 4 during TLTA’s Land Title Institute in San Antonio. 

Mark Bilbrey Receives ALTA’s Highest Honor

In October, title industry veteran Mark Bilbrey received the American Land Title Association’s highest honor, Honorary Membership, which is bestowed by ALTA’s Board of Governors for performance of distinguished and meritorious service to the association or to the land title industry. Mark is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Central Title Group for Old Republic Title Insurance Company and based in Houston, Texas. 

> Full Story from ALTA

Gary Farmer Named 2009 Distinguished Citizen by Boy Scout Council

Gary Farmer, President of Heritage Title Company of Austin, was recently named the 2009 Distinguished Citizen by the Boy Scouts of America Capitol Area Council.  He was recognized and presented this award at a special Gala dinner in his honor in Austin in October.  This award honors men and women who have gone above and beyond to serve in leadership positions, and who give back to a broad range of people in the community.  Among his many civic contributions, Gary has spearheaded the region’s economic development efforts through Opportunity Austin an initiative of the Austin Chamber of Commerce who also honored him in 2007 with their Austinite of the Year Award.  

In honoring him this year, representatives of the Boy Scout Council said, "Since 1980, Gary Farmer has been Austin’s biggest cheerleader.  His efforts on behalf of Austin are monumental and he is highly deserving of this distinguished honor."  

Martin Abstract Honored With Historical Marker

Martin Abstract Company is making history with an outstanding 100 years of business and the Texas Historical Commission is honoring this milestone with a special Texas historical marker. Historical markers have been a part of the Texas landscape since 1936 and there are now over 13,000 State Historical Markers in Texas. These special markers commemorate the history of not only public buildings, but also organizations and businesses that have made a lasting contribution to our state.

University Title Company Named One of Texas Top Companies

University Title Company has been selected as One of the Best Companies to Work for in Texas for the third consecutive year. This statewide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Texas, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and business. University Title Company will be honored for their achievement during the Texas Association of Business Annual Conference in January. 


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