TLTA Board of Directors Update

The TLTA Board of Directors had its quarterly meeting in October at the association headquarters in Austin. The first half of the meeting was held jointly with the Finance Committee and the annual audit was presented by TLTA’s outside accounting firm.  Year end and current financials were also reviewed and accepted. TLTA ended the 2009-2010 significantly ahead of projections and association reserves remained well within board policy requirements. First quarter financials for 2010-2011 also indicate a
positive variance against budget. Overall, TLTA remains in sound financial standing.

Board members also approved new members and reviewed data indicating that overall membership is at an all-time high. The progress of committee work was also discussed and the Board reviewed data regarding participation in TLTA programs, including educational programs and PAC giving. Committees have been very active during the first quarter of the TLTA leadership year, with 53 committee or task force meetings being held through October. As previously reported in Dateline Austin, the Board also reviewed and approved agendas for the 2010 rule hearing and upcoming legislative session as recommended by the Regulatory and Legislative Committees. During the meeting, the Board also instructed staff to prepare and submit comments to the Attorney General’s office regarding a recent request for opinion about whether or not scanners are allowed in the Courthouse.  

Additionally, the Board instructed staff to work on corrective language for a federal statute that has been filed regarding private transfer fee covenants and President Brian Pitman appointed a task force to study HOA resale certificate issues. The Board also met twice in recent weeks to discuss the Commissioner's Rate Order and strategy for our response. As a result, a Motion for Rehearing was filed. The Board will meet again next week by conference call to continue assessing this situation and will also hold its next regularly scheduled quarterly meeting in January.




Commissioner Issues Rate Order, TLTA Responds

TDI Commissioner Mike Geeslin has issued an order in the 2008 Texas Title Insurance Biennial Rate Hearing, which was heard in September of 2009. In issuing this order, the Commissioner rejected the recommendations of the State office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) judges who heard the case, as well as the arguments in favor of rate relief made by TLTA and other industry parties.

TLTA believes this ruling is unjustified and has therefore taken the necessary action of filing a Motion for Rehearing along with other industry parties including Stewart Title Guaranty Company, the Independent Title Agents of Texas, the Sierra Group and the Independent Metropolitan Title Agents of Texas. Fidelity National Title has also filed a separate Motion for Rehearing.

The current effective date is January 1, 2011. Make sure your Texas Title Insurance Basic Manual is updated with all the new information by purchasing or renewing the Basic Manual Subscription Service.  Don’t miss out on this cost effective and efficient way to update your manual. TLTA will also be hosting a webinar, Analysis and Updates on the 2008 Biennial Rate Hearing Order on January 11 to walk you through the highlights of the order.


Texas Adds Jobs, but Jobless Rate Stays at 8.1%

By Brendan Case | Dallas Morning News
Texas employers expanded payrolls by 47,900 jobs in October, the largest monthly increase since May, but the state jobless rate remained unchanged at 8.1 percent, the Texas Workforce Commission said recently.

The October jobs gain followed three straight months of declining payrolls. The state turns out to have lost 7,600 jobs in September, according to recently revised data, despite September's preliminary announcement of a 3,700-job gain. Texas also lost jobs in July and August. 

While Texas has and continues to have its share of economic turmoil, we have fared better than most other parts of the country. That's why “There’s No Place Like Texas” and that’s the theme for TLTA’s 2011 Annual Conference Business Meeting in San Antonio June 16-18, 2011. 


Doutzer on Economy: ‘From Choppy Waters to Calmer Seas’

By Jennifer Hill | San Antonio Express-News
The business community across the country has “cautious optimism” about the economy, but no one is breaking into celebration — or full-fledged hiring mode — yet, Mark Dotzour, chief economist for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University recently said. “The boat is moving from choppy waters to calmer seas,” Dotzour said. While business leaders have been taking the November elections as a sign that the new Congress won't be hostile to business, Dotzour said the government still needs to send a “go signal” of some sort to smaller businesses that it's safe to hire again.

Are you looking for new employees? Capture the best in the field at TLTA’s job bank – it’s cheaper than CareerBuilder, Monster and most other job websites!


Texas Faring Better Than U.S. in Foreclosures

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest mortgage delinquency survey indicates Texas is faring better than the nation in actual foreclosures. “Texas’ seriously delinquent loans stood at 5.2 percent versus 8.7 percent of loans nationally," said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines. Loans considered "seriously delinquent" are 90 or more days past due or in the process of foreclosure. Foreclosure was started on 0.85 percent of all loans in Texas during third quarter 2010, Gaines said. Nationally, that number was 1.34 percent. 


ALTA Names New President, Awards Honorary Memberships

Malcolm Morris, CEO of Stewart Title and a past president of TLTA, was awarded an honorary membership in ALTA during the association's 2010 Annual Convention in San Diego. Parker Kennedy, executive chairman of First American Financial Corp. was also awarded an honorary membership. Morris was instrumental in leading Stewart from a regional underwriter to a national and international company. He served as ALTA president in 1998 and TLTA president in 1993-1994. He's also served on the TLTA Board of Directors as well as several committees over the years.

ALTA also announced that veteran land title insurance industry professional Anne L. Anastasi has been named president for the 2010-2011 year. Anastasi is president of Hatboro, Pa.-based Genesis Abstract, LLC. Prior to opening her own company in 1994, she served as vice president of a regional land title insurance underwriter. In 1999, Anastasi served as the first female president in the 80-year history of the Pennsylvania Land Title Association. She is also a renowned national speaker, covering topics such as title insurance, customer service, sales and motivation. 

ALTA Releases Security Guidelines and Procedures for Title Industry

ALTA has prepared Office Security & Privacy Guidelines as well as a document laying out Standard Procedures & Controls. The Office Security & Privacy document provides guidance to offices about protecting sensitive customer and company information. The Standard Procedures & Controls document describes minimum internal control procedures that should be implemented within each title company to ensure efficiency, security and safety in real estate transactions. These Control Standards are for voluntary adoption and use by ALTA members; however, ALTA encourages all of its members to incorporate these procedures and controls into their daily business practices.



Webinar: 1099-S and Investment Escrows Webinar

Who, What, How and When is it Reportable?
Friday, December 10, 2010
10:00 - 11:30 a.m. CST

The process for properly handling 1099-S Reporting responsibilities should start on January 1. Filing incorrectly could cost you time, trouble and money! Proper handling of interest-bearing accounts can never start too soon. Be prepared to put your best foot forward in 2011 by getting answers to the following questions:

Which transactions must be reported to the IRS and who is responsible for reporting?
Who must receive information and how is it transmitted?
What are the right questions to ask - at the right time - and how do you properly document your file to avoid paying fines?
What are the Texas regulations regarding escrow funds held in investment accounts?
How do you properly open and maintain these accounts to avoid audit citations?
What does the bank require with regard to the name on the account and IRS regulations for reporting interest earned?
Presenters: Janice C. Hataway, Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and Janet S. Minke, CTIA, Alliant National Title Insurance Company

Continuing Education Credit: 1.5 Escrow Credit, 1.5 Legal Credit, 1.5 CPA Credit

Cost is $129 members/$159 nonmembers.
(Cost includes one connection and continuing education for up to 8 participants. An attendance form will be emailed with a detailed confirmation the day before the seminar.)

20th Annual Land Title Institute a Success

This year’s Texas Land Title Institute celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary and it’s second highest attendance with more than 435 real estate attorneys and title insurance professionals on December 2nd & 3rd at the Hyatt Hill Country Hotel in San Antonio. Co-presented with St. Mary’s University School of Law, the highly respected program again offered a fast-paced agenda with more than 20 diverse, timely topics presented by acknowledged industry experts. Highlights included presentations on water rights and transfers, Federal Tax Liens, the Texas Open Beaches Act and a Federal Issues update by Jim Hyland with the Pennsylvania Avenue Group. One attendees’ overall opinion of this year’s Institute: “The best curriculum since I have been in attendance!”  

Additionally, attendees joined in the 20th Anniversary celebration with prize drawings, fun photos and factoids from Institutes past and even some birthday cupcakes. 

Didn't attend this year’s Institute? You don’t have to miss out on the materials from this year – or any other year! We’ve compiled 20 years worth of Institute course articles in one place that can be accessed easily. The Institute Legal Library Subscription is an online resource with access to over 400 title industry course articles presented throughout the 20-year history of the Institute. Podcasts of select 2010 presentations will be available for purchase too – watch for more on this soon!

Stay Current: TLTA Hot Topics Page

TLTA’s Hot Topics page gives you quick and easy access to the information you need about current issues in the title insurance industry. From the current foreclosure issue to GSE Reform and the CFPB, get all the latest news, related documents and education you need to understand what’s going on. 




Save the Date: 2011 Day at the Capitol

TLTA’s Day at the Capitol will be February 15-16, 2011. Each legislative session, industry associations fill the hallways of the Capitol with hundreds, often thousands of professionals and they all have one goal - to educate legislators about their respective industries. We know that when it comes to title insurance, no one knows more about the importance of our industry in Texas than you. Be sure to mark your calendar for February 16 and stay tuned for more information from TLTA.

2011 TLTA Annual Conference and Business Meeting
TLTA will be hosting its 2011 Annual Conference and Business Meeting in San Antonio June 16-18. Also stay tuned to the TLTA conference website for more information and to view photos from last year's conference.




Brandy Barton, Branch Manager, DHI Title Company of Central Texas
Chair, TLTA Young Professionals Committee

How did you get started in the title industry?

After working for a mortgage company for a couple of years, I went to work for Stewart Title Guaranty in Houston as a Customer Service Rep in 1995. 

Who is your mentor?
I have learned from many people, but if I had to pick one or two, I would say Janet Minke (Alliant National Title) and Shari Foster (Fidelity National Title), who are two people I have really looked up to.

Why are you an Individual Member? 
I believe in what TLTA does for our industry, so this is one way that I can show my support. Also, you get a lot of bang for your buck, with all the benefits that go along with it. I find it a win-win opportunity. 

What’s the best management book you’ve read?
Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell

Name 3 artists in your IPod?
Shinedown, Fleetwood Mac and The Cure

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
On the weekends I love to watch the Food Network. Barefoot Contessa is my favorite!




Life’s View From Odd Angles: An Abstractor's Point of View

By Sandra Kachmar, CAEA | Mid-Coast Title Co., Inc.

The question I have always dreaded is, “What do you do for a living?” When I respond with, “I am an Abstractor,” I am invariably met with a blank stare. It is hard to have a job no one understands, but I have been an Abstractor for twenty years, and besides being really proud of the work I do, it has helped keep the beans on the table. 

Welcome to Our New Members

We would like to welcome our newest members to TLTA. 


In Memoriam - Edward Cutrer

Edward Cutrer, long-time TLTA member and former Titleman of the Year, passed away on November 27, 2010. Ed worked for many years in the title industry starting Capital Title in the 1970's, and later retiring from Stewart Title. Read the full obituary

TLTA Past-President Mike Ramsey Retires

After 43 years in the title insurance industry, Mike Ramsey, Southwest Region Agency Manager for Fidelity National Title, will retire at the end of the year. Ramsey was TLTA president in 1980-1981 and was honored as Title Man of the Year in 1972. He is also a former president of the Title Underwriters of Texas and served on various TLTA and ALTA Boards and Committees over the years. We thank Mike for his years of service to the industry and congratulate him on his retirement.


WFG Announces Leadership Changes

WFG has announced the addition of Lloyd Draper and Bert Massey to their Texas Agency Team. Read WFG’s press release.

Gracy Title Named Among ‘Best Places to Work’

Gracy Title recently won two awards for being one of the best places to work in 2010. The first award came from the Austin Business Journal where Gracy won 8th place on the list for medium-sized Central Texas companies. Criteria for the award includes having the best climate, team atmosphere, benefits, and most importantly, engaged employees. The second award came from the Austin American-Statesman’s Top Workplaces 2010 for mid-size employers in Central Texas. 

Southwest Abstract Celebrates 100 Years

Southwest Abstract Company Inc. is celebrating 100 years of record keeping for Val Verde County.