U.S. SENATE APPROVES FINANCIAL OVERHAUL LEGISLATION

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate approved the final version of the financial overhaul legislation known as The Restoring American Financial Stability Act, or H.R. 4173 on a 60-39 vote. It will now be sent to President Obama for his approval. Both Texas Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, voted against the bill. With over 2,300 pages, the legislation will have broad impact over the financial and mortgage markets.

As we reported earlier, title insurance will not be subject to regulation by the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This Bureau will be an independent agency housed within the Federal Reserve and will have broad authority to write new rules on consumer protection.

Additionally, TLTA and the American Land Title Association (ALTA) were instrumental in clarifying that "settlement services", while considered a financial product and subject to CFPB jurisdiction, be excluded from the business of title insurance. The summary of the base text released at the beginning of the House-Senate Conference specifically states that the legislative changes to the settlement service definition further clarify that title insurance is not covered by the CFPB.

The bill will create many changes to the mortgage market, RESPA regulation and other things. RESPA will be regulated and enforced by the new CFBP and the bill will also likely require a new RESPA/Truth in Lending Disclosure form. In addition, there will be numerous changes to restricting pre-payment penalties and yield spread premiums among many others.

For the first time, the bill will also create a Federal Insurance Office (FIO) in the Department of the Treasury, establishing a federal presence focused on insurance, but no regulator. The FIO will gather information about the insurance industry, including access to affordable insurance products by minorities, low- and moderate-income persons and underserved communities. The FIO will also monitor the insurance industry for systemic risk purposes, and will serve as a uniform, national voice on insurance matters for the U.S. in the international market.

TLTA will continue to be your advocate on this important issue and we will keep you informed of our progress. If you have any questions, please contact TLTA at 512.472.6593.

CONGRESS APPROVES FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS TAX CREDIT EXTENSION

On June 30, Congress approved a plan to give first-time home buyers an extra three months to finish qualifying for federal tax incentives. As we reported earlier, buyers had until April 30 to sign a sales contract and until June 30 to complete their sales.

As reported in the The Wall Street Journal, "lenders and real-estate companies have warned of bottlenecks that could lead thousands of potential buyers to miss out on the credit that they thought they were getting." 

The United States House approved the new measure on Tuesday to extend the completion of the sales until September 30, 2010. The Senate followed with a unanimous voice vote just hours before the original June 30 deadline. Just last week, the Senate attempted to pass the measure as part of a larger package, but after the vote failed they opted to pass the tax credit provision by itself. The legislation will now make its way to President Obama, who is expected to sign the measure very soon. 

It is important to note the extension outlined in the measure is only valid for buyers who were under contract by April 30. Those buying a home after April 30 and closing before the September 30 are not eligible.

TLTA HOLDS SUMMER BOARD MEETING

The TLTA Board of Directors and Committee Chairs met last week in Bastrop for their annual planning session. The meeting included an orientation and strategic planning for the new year. Past President Kay Schroeder also shared some of her experiences and insights about how the Board and Committees can work together. 

PITMAN LAYS OUT GOALS

TLTA President Brian Pitman also out his goals for the new year which include engaging the membership at regional town hall meetings this fall and further developing the Young Professionals Network. Pitman would like to see another record-breaking year for the TLTAPAC and he got the ball rolling by announcing a $5,000 donation.

REGIONAL MEETINGS THIS FALL

During the two-day meeting, TLTA staff also reviewed the association's finances and an update on regulatory and legislative issues at the state and federal level. Many of these issues will also be discussed at the regional meetings. More information about these meetings coming soon. Mark your calendars and plan to attend the meeting nearest you.


Regional Town Hall Meeting Schedule

• Harlingen/Corpus Christi, August 16-17
• San Antonio, August 27
• El Paso, September 2
• Midland/Lubbock/Amarillo, September 13-15
• Houston/College Station, September 22
• Austin, October 5
• Waco/Tyler/DFW/Brownwood, October 25-27

NEW TLTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTED AT TLTA ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND BUSINESS MEETING

During the 2010 Annual Conference and Business Meeting, TLTA installed the 2010-2011 Board of Directors. The Board of Directors include: President Brian Pitman, Independence Title Company, Austin; President-Elect Phyllis J. Mulder, Alliant National Title Insurance Company, San Antonio; Immediate Past President Mark C. Greek, First American Title Insurance Company, Houston; Underwriter At-Large Director Dan Hassen, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, Houston; Underwriter At-Large Director James A. Johnson, Charter Title Company, Houston; Agent At-Large Director Celia R. Goode-Haddock, University Title Company, College Station; Agent At-Large Director John Martin, Lone Star Title Company of El Paso, El Paso; Underwriter Section Chair & Delegate to the Board J. Christopher Phillips, Title Resources Guaranty Company, Dallas; Underwriter Section Vice Chair & Delegate to the Board Joe Grealish, Fidelity National Title Group, Houston; Underwriter Section Delegate to the Board Richard Black, Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Austin; Agent Section Chair and Delegate to the Board Randy Pittman, West Texas Abstract & Title Company, Midland; Agent Section Vice Chair and Delegate to the Board Dawn Enoch Moore, Allegiance Title Company, Dallas; and Agent Section Delegate to the Board John King, Sierra Title of Hidalgo County, McAllen. Contact information for the Board of Directors can be found on the TLTA website

SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW - BECOME A CERTIFIED TITLE PROFESSIONAL

As of July there are 80 Texas title industry practitioners who have earned one or more professional certification designations from TLTA. These individuals have earned the CAEA, CESA or CTIA by meeting eligibility requirements and successfully passing a rigorous examination. Take your title career to the next level by earning one of theses prestigious designations. Applications are due by August 13 to sit for the exams being given September 14 in Houston or Dallas/Fort Worth; and on September 15 in Lubbock. 

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH: INSTITUTE LEGAL LIBRARY

Subscribe to the Institute Legal Library today for half the price! The Institute Legal Library is THE online legal resource for title attorneys providing access to over 400 title industry course articles originally presented at the Texas Land Title Institute. 

WELCOME TO OUR NEW MEMBERS

We would like to welcome our newest members to TLTA. 

BERT MASSEY RETIRES AS BROWNWOOD MAYOR

Longtime TLTA member Bert Massey recently retired as mayor of Brownwood, a position he held for more than 26 years. According to the Brownwood Bulletin, at his final City council meeting, Massey was "in his usual form, moving the meeting along in his customary mixture of business and banter." Massey will continue to be active in the TLTA serving as Chairman of the TLTAPAC and a member of the Legislative Committee. He also served as TLTA President in 1981-1982 and has chaired the TLTAPAC since its inception.

EDWARDS ABSTRACT AND TITLE CO. ANNOUNCES MERGER

Edwards Title and Abstract Co. has announced the merger of three title insurance companies: Edwards Abstract and Title Co., Security Land Title Co. and Southern Texas Title Company will unite and emerge as Edwards Abstract and Title Co. Edwards Abstract will be licensed to operate in both Cameron and Hidalgo counties. 

RAMQUEST ANNOUNCES LEADERSHIP CHANGES

RamQuest, a provider of business solutions for the land title industry, announced two leadership changes this month. Mark Holley has been named Vice President of National Accounts and Agency Relations, where he will lead RamQuest's strategic initiatives and business development efforts at the national account level as well as manage the company's underwriter relationships. 

RamQuest also announced Brooks Yeager as Director of Internet Services. In this position, Yeager will lead the development, sales and marketing efforts of Closing Market, RamQuest's business-to-business, system-to-system network that allows participants to order, exchange, fulfill and market products and services required in the real estate closing process. 

2010 ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND BUSINESS MEETING PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS



View complete conference photo album

REAL ESTATE CENTER ECONOMIST SPEAKS AT OPENING SESSION

Mark Dotzour, Ph.D., Chief Economist at the Real Estate Center, Texas A&M University returned to the TLTA Annual Conference and Business Meeting once again to present his outlook on the Texas real estate market and the national economy.

While some sectors may be seeing small improvements, Dotzour predicts the national commercial sector and lenders will continue to face challenges in the next 12 months. "The Texas economy is like a big beefy vegetable stew. The stew is brewing and it smells great, but in the next six months the federal government is going to dump a whole bunch of salt into the stew, along with a good dose of turpentine." said Dr. Dotzour. Overall Dotzour emphasized Texas has fared better than other states and will likely rebound earlier. "The stew will be ready when small businesses begin hiring and credit is readily available again." 

ANNUAL CONFERENCE OFFERS EXCEPTIONAL PROGRAMMING

The national underwriter executive panel discussion was one of the highlights at this year's Annual Conference and Business Meeting. It featured guest panelists: Chris Abbinante, President, Fidelity National Title Group, Inc. – Eastern Operations, Jacksonville, FL; Robert Chapman, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, Minneapolis, MN; Dennis J. Gilmore, President, First American Title Insurance Company, Santa Ana, CA and Malcolm S. Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Houston. This distinguished panel shared straight talk about the state of things today and predictions for the future based on their unique perspectives. The discussion was moderated by Bert V. Massey, II, The Brown County Abstract Company, Inc., Brownwood. Needless to say, Bert kept the session both entertaining and informative as topics ranging from claims handling to the national economic outlook took center stage.

Hot Topic breakout sessions also offered something for everyone, ranging from guidance on handling troubled loans and working with lenders on foreclosures and REO sales to taking part in a highly interactive presentation focusing on the bottom line affect that may result when new technologies streamline operations. Other topics included industry professionals representative of the four generations in today's workplace honing in on the fun and the frustrations this can pose, plus a look at RESPA, TILA, CFPB and other initiatives underway that could impact the title industry in the coming year.

CONGRATS TAHOE TUESDAY WINNERS

Early registrants for the 2010 Annual Conference & Business Meeting were eligible for FOUR "Tahoe Tuesday" drawings for a free Conference registration. Drawings were held on the 4th Tuesday of February, March, April and May prior to the Conference and depending on how early they registered; it was possible to be eligible for all four drawings which really increased the odds! Tahoe Tuesday drawing winners were: February - Celia C. Flowers, East Texas Title Companies in Tyler; March – Dru East, Northshore Title Inc. in Portland; April - Geri Hosterman, Title Resources Guaranty Company in Dallas and May - Cindy Hinson, PGP Title, Inc. in Coppell.

J. CHRISTOPHER PHILLIPS AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS TITLE PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD

J. Christopher Phillips, President, Title Resources Guaranty Company, Dallas, was awarded Title Person of the Year during the President's Evening at the TLTA Annual Conference and Business Meeting. This award recognizes significant and longtime contributions to the title industry and the association. It is the highest honor bestowed by TLTA.

"We are honored to present Chris with this prestigious award," said Leslie Midgley, Executive Vice President of TLTA. "Chris has been a constant champion for our association and the title industry in Texas. The contributions he has made as part of our association leadership are too many to name and we are privileged to have him among our ranks."


RANDY PITTMAN AWARDED JAMES H. GARST PRESIDENT'S AWARD

Randy Pittman, President/Owner of West Texas Abstract Title Company, Midland, was awarded the esteemed President's Award. This award recognizes the achievements of an individual who has shown outstanding service to the TLTA president during his or her year in office.

"Randy's service to TLTA as Chairman of the Regulatory Committee was truly exemplary," said Mark Greek, 2009-2010 TLTA President and Texas Agency Manager/Vice President of First American Title Insurance Company in Houston. "Our current economic climate provided for issues on both the national and state landscape and Randy's leadership helped guide us successfully through the issues."


TLTA RECOGNIZES NEW HONORARY MEMBERS

At the Annual Conference, TLTA awarded honorary membership to the late Wendell Strahan - who was awarded the designation posthumously,Billy Vaughn and Kirk Kuykendall. The honor is in recognition of their countless contributions to the association and the title industry over many years.

ROB ARMSTRONG AND JOHN BRUCE HONORED WITH PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE AWARDS

 TLTA awarded Professional Excellence Awards to Rob Armstrong, Title Officer, Navasota Abstract & Title Company in Navasota, and John Bruce, CTIA, Senior Vice President, Heritage Title Company of Austin. The award recognizes individuals who are making a difference and allows us to honor those behind-the-scenes folks for their extraordinary achievements. 


BRANDI ABERCROMBIE NAMED TLTA'S 2010 RISING STAR

 Brandi Abercrombie, CESA, CTIA, Manager of Jacksonville Title Company and Compliance Manager for East Texas Title Companies, was awarded the 2010 Rising Star Award. The award recognizes up-and-coming leaders and individuals who have made exceptional contributions as TLTA committee members and who have been identified as future industry leaders. 

AARON MURRAY RECEIVES E. GORDON SMITH SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

TLTA is proud to announce this year's E. Gordon Smith Award winner is Aaron Murray with Integrity Title Company, LLC, in Houston. The E. Gordon Smith award is given to the person with the highest test score at the Texas Land Title School. Aaron accepted his award in June at TLTA's Annual Conference and Business Meeting. 


MAKE PLANS TO JOIN US NEXT YEAR

Make plans to join us June 16-18, 2011 for the TLTA Annual Conference and Business Meeting at the J.W. Mariott San Antonio Hill Country.

THANK YOU TO OUR 2010 ANNUAL CONFERENCE SPONSOR