Sunday, December 28, 2008
Get the message?
If you are in Pennsylvania and refinancing, you'll not get a better deal than our CHOOSE AND SAVE program.
Most title companies use independent notaries and you'll end up paying a signing fee or closing fee of some kind. If you are in our market area, we'll come to you at no extra charge. We close 8 to 8 Monday thru Friday and 10 to 5 on Saturday.
So, shop for title insurance and closing services. Do not just go wherever your mortgage lender wants you to go.
Here's our easy to use title insurance premium calculator. Look at those discounts for refinancing!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
- Provide a legble copy to the buyer's title agent or attorney for review prior to closing.
- Be prepared to give the ORIGINAL power of attorney up at closing so it can be recorded prior to the deed. If you wish, you may record the document yourself, however, you must do so well in advance of the closing so that the recordation can be verified.
- Make certain that the document is acknowledged in front of a notary, that it specifically gives the power to convey real estate and that it meets the statutes of the state in which it was created. It pays to have the document prepared by a competent attorney.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Under the Good Faith Estimate provision of the new rule, a mortgage lender can "guarantee" to its customers that the price of its designated vendors' settlement services will not increase by more than 10 percent at closing. If, however, borrowers elect to shop for their own real estate closing service providers, they have no such protection. "It should be no surprise that a borrower, when faced with this choice, will decline to shop for settlement service providers and be relegated to use those vendors preselected by the lender," the company said in its comments on the rule filed last May. ClosingCorp urged that HUD provide consumers who prefer to shop for their own real estate settlement services with clear information as to what services they can shop for; explain that they may find lower rates or more acceptable providers on their own; and even refer consumers to online or other resources that will assist them in comparing vendors and prices, or even initiating a transaction. Alternatively, HUD could provide these links and references on a newly-created consumer assistance page on its own Web site.
I agree that consumers should be encouraged to shop but I think the folks at ClosingCorp are missing the value the 10% tolerance brings to the GFE. Loan originators have had very little motivation to get their settlement service quotes right. These new tolerances at least pull the quotes into some sort of reality when the loan originator is making a referral.
Remember, that just giving a quote doesn't obligate the consumer to use that company BUT having this price quote in hand will give consumers reliable figures with which to go out and comparison shop. Isn't that great? It's a major step forward in consumer centric disclosures.
Loan originators who would prefer not to make a referral, don't have to give an accurate quote, they just tell consumers to go find someone to do the job.
Either way, the consumer has more information and more power than they did under the old rules.
THANK YOU HUD!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Both are great questions, John.
Yes, you can buy owner title insurance later if you did not buy it when you made the purchase. The title agent will need to re-examine title and then the premium should be based upon market value of the property. In PA, if you don't have a current appraisal, we would work out a market value using the tax assessment. Also, in PA our title rates are regulated. They may not be in your state, so be sure to shop around and get quotes in writing.
Unsettled or unsatisfied mortgages are one of the most common post-closing issues title insurance companies deal with. Your friend should call their title agent and also file a formal claim directly with the title underwriting company. That's the company whose name and logo are on the policy jacket.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Many of our customers, particularly our customers involved in commercial transactions, have been contacting us with questions about the financial strength of LandAmerica's two major title insurance companies, Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company and Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation.
It is important to remember that while an affiliate of these underwriters, LandAmerica 1031 Exchange Services Company, Inc. ("LES"), had problems liquidating guaranteed securities, our title insurance companies continue to do business and have adequate surplus and reserves to meet our customers' needs.
These problems do not affect our title insurance companies, as LandAmerica underwriters, Lawyers Title and Commonwealth, have over $300 million in combined statutory surplus. We have put together the attached spreadsheet, which was taken from publicly filed documents, to allow you to see for yourselves that the underwriters remain competitive with other major U. S. title companies.
We appreciate your business, and we are working hard to earn your continued trust. Please call and we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Here's what I think. I think the folks at the top of Fidelity, First Am, Old Rep, and Stewart ought to consider what the failure of a major underwriter means to THEM and then do something to stop it.
Insurance is all about trust and stability. If an industry shows vulnerability beyond the capabilities of the public's ability to comprehend, the industry is doomed.
Do we want more doom?
Doom da doom doom doom doom.
I don't but I can't do a darn thing about it.
I have hope that decision-makers at the highest levels in the big title insurance firms are thinking big picture and not just selfish survival.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) is up in arms over the recently updated Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) revision to the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), a simplified three-paged document designed to help borrowers better understand the terms and conditions of their home loan, has the NAMB President Marc Savitt promising, “We are not going to stand for this,” wrote National Mortgage News.
When NAMB came into the mortgage wholesale seen, as I remember, they walked, talked and acted like hard money lenders. NAMB put their hard money arms out and while trying to go their membership, swallowed up the business of wholesale origination and took the framework of traditional and reputable mortgage brokers with them.
NAMB whether you encouraged bad practices or simply did nothing to stop them, I don't give a darn. All I can say is that you marched the business of mortgage brokerage to a cliff and played the horns till everyone fell off.
You are not needed here anymore. Go away. Mortgage lenders can try to re-build wholesale mortgage lending without anymore of your bright ideas. Consumers were not well served by your counsel or your membership. I hope you have no political pull with the new administration. I hope the Obama administration puts the interests of consumers first and your greedy needs last.
In the following press release Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today (11/18/200) announced that she has filed seven new lawsuits against so-called mortgage “rescue” companies and warned consumers about an alarming rise in these scams that prey on vulnerable homeowners on the verge of foreclosure. Madigan urged consumers to use caution when seeking help if they are at risk of losing their homes and to seek reputable sources for assistance.
“Consumers need to resist offers of a ‘rescue,’” Madigan said. “These scam artists prey on desperate homeowners who are struggling to save their homes. I urge consumers to avoid ‘rescue’ offers and, instead, reach out to trusted sources for help. My office assists homeowners attempting to avoid foreclosure. Anyone looking for help should call us immediately.”
I just came in contact with one of these scams this week. A reader of this blog contacted me to ask about an offer a "rescue" company had made to some people in foreclosure. These folks were being asked for $2000 up front, non-refundable, all for this company to try to save them but with no promises.Wisely, our fellow reader recognized the signs of a scam and assisted these folks by encouraging them to call their lender directly. Guess what? They got a mortgage loan modification AND they didn't pay their desperately needed $2000 for the privilege.
GREAT JOB YOU ANGEL!!! I am so proud of you.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Obama administration is likely to try to go well beyond the new Respa rules and look more comprehensively at disclosures lenders are required to make to borrowers, said Howard Glaser, a mortgage industry consultant who served as a senior HUD official in the Clinton administration. "This won't be viewed as sufficient to restore borrower confidence in the mortgage process," Mr. Glaser said. Read more...
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Jacksonville, Fla. and Richmond, VA -- (November 7, 2008) -- Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE:FNF) and LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:LFG) today announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which FNF will acquire LFG. Under the terms of the merger agreement, LFG shareholders will receive 0.993 shares of FNF common stock for each share of LFG common stock.
Fidelity National Financial, Inc. and LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. Announce the Signing of a Definitive Merger Agreement
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
No doubt models are changing, they have to. Fidelity - with Cyberhomes - has decided to change the point of sale by capturing the consumer before the real estate agent has a chance to.
Looks like we might have a giant lender deciding to offer consumers one stop pricing - all services included without affiliation, but with full ownership. Does that fly in insurance circles? Probably.
My plan is still the same. I'm planning to offer boutique title services at a local level with the emphasis on quality and traditional services.
We'll see where all of this leads. Should be interesting.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
You'll need a CURRENT photo ID that has been issued by the state or federal government.
I have also noticed that lenders are asking for copies of social security cards.
So, take both to closing.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
So, let's say you have two mortgages, your main mortgage and a HELOC. You decide to refinance your main mortgage but you like your HELOC and don't want to pay it off and satisfy it. The problem is that your HELOC will move up to first position when you payoff your main mortgage and that would put your NEW main mortgage in second position. THAT won't make your main mortgage lender very happy at all, so they will require that your HELOC lender agree to subordinate their position, allowing your new main mortgage lender to basically skip in front of them in line.
This subordination is done with a legal document signed by the HELOC lender. The subordination document is usually recorded when you record the new main - first - mortgage.
As a consumer, you sort of have to keep an eye on the refinance process if you intend to leave a HELOC or any subordinate mortgage in place. It might take time to get the subordination approved and so you should contact your HELOC lender and get the process started. Don't rely on the title agent to do this because they might not know you intend to keep the loan until late in the transaction. That's the other thing - make sure YOU tell the title agent that you intend to have a subordination and also make sure you have told your new main mortgage lender.
What happens if the transaction closes and no one did a subordination? The title agent - who likely insured first position for your new main lender - will have to fix it. They'll have to go to the other lender and ask for the subordination. This can still be done post closing but it's risky because the lender might not agree. If the lender doesn't agree, then the new main lender who wants first position may have a claim against the loan title insurance policy.
Claims are based on losses but the lack of lien priority may impact the saleability of the mortgage paper and though the lender hasn't suffered a loss in a foreclosure, you still have the question of whether or not the title agent followed the lender's written instructions. The title insurer will work all of this out with the mortgage lender.
As the consumer, your obligation is to cooperate, as needed, to assist in the resolution of getting the subordination. Why? Well, your new main mortgage was likely subject to the subordination and you have to satisfy that condition even if it is post closing.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Thank you for your and your teams’ excellent work regarding my home purchase. I have completed your survey and you should be receiving it in the mail soon.
Also, I really appreciate the guidance, counseling, and service provided regarding the sewer easement survey situation. I come from a military background and currently serve and attention to detail as we say, wins wars. I know this is only a home purchase but that is what professionals are all about!!
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
EL DORADO HILLS, CA, October 08, 2008 /24-7PressRelease/ -- CentRealTech Inc. announced today that they have released an Industry White Paper which presents a compelling case for the implementation of a Web based, automation solution for the labor intensive Title Production Process used by most title companies today. The title industry is going through one of the toughest times in its history with the direct impact of the housing slump, the subprime mortgage collapse and the regulatory/consumer group pressures to reduce premiums. Read more...
What a bunch of hooey. Real people buying real property want a real title examination behind their title insurance. That's what real people think they are buying when they pay for title work in a real estate closing.
Automation is crappy product with no thought and just because you can do it cheaply is not a good reason to do it at all.
The best thing the title underwriters can do - hopefully having learned from all of the claims they are processing right now - is to restore traditional human title examination and start educating the troops.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Home buyers can now purchase title insurance directly
Here's a link to the article.
First of all, any regular reader of Title Insurance Talk knows that consumers have ALWAYS been able to buy their title insurance directly.
I am a pro-consumer title insurance advocate and so when I heard of the ENTITLE marketing plan, I was interested. I have been encouraging my fellow title professionals to market directly to the consumer for years.
When I looked at the details of the ENTITLE offer, I found that they have a set of flat fees which consumers must pay in additional to the title insurance premium. Unless the consumer is involved in a high priced transaction, say, over $200,000, they pay MORE in flat fees than the so called 35% savings implied in the advertising.
In PA - most transactions are under $200,000 and so consumers who fall for the 35% savings ploy are being ripped off.
I have contacted both the Dept. of HUD and also the PA Dept. of Insurance and complained that ENTITLE is misleading consumers.
The best tactic for any consumer is to shop around and get your quotes in writing. Compare the entire transaction - title premium and flat fees.
Our Choose and Save program is the least expensive way to buy title insurance and settlement services in the Commonwealth of PA.
The folks at ENTITLE must be laughing all the way to the bank - at the expense of our citizenry and that MAKES ME REALLY MAD.
Friday, October 03, 2008
SUBJECT: INDEPENDENT TITLE AGENTS FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST OHIO DEPARTMENT
OF INSURANCE DIRECTOR ALLEGING FAILURE TO ADEQUATELY PROTECT OHIO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Ohio Association of Independent Title Agents (OAITA) (www.oaita.org) has filed a lawsuit
with the Ohio Supreme Court against Mary Jo Hudson, Director of the Ohio Department of
Insurance. OAITA, an association of independent title insurance agents in Ohio, seeks to prevent
the spread of kickbacks and referral schemes in the real estate industry by asking the Ohio
Supreme Court to compel the Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance to enforce currently
existing rules prohibiting banks, realtors and mortgage brokers and their subsidiaries from
engaging in the business of title insurance.
OAITA is represented in the newly-filed lawsuit by Columbus attorney E. Bruce Hadden, Medina attorney Gregory W. Happ and Oakwood Village attorney Robert B. Holman. The lawsuit alleges that Director Hudson failed to enforce current administrative rules based on long-standing Ohio statutes that prohibit banks, realtors or mortgage brokers, or any of their subsidiaries, from unlawfully steering Ohio homeowners and their real estate transactions to title insurance agencies owned all or in part by those same banks, realtors or mortgage brokers. The suit alleges that ownership of title insurance agencies by banks, realtors or mortgage brokers, known as controlled business arrangements, creates dangerous conflicts of interest by allowing those banks, realtors and mortgage brokers to obtain kickbacks and referral fees for steering Ohio homeowners to their own controlled title agencies. The lawsuit alleges that such conflicts of
interest violate Ohio statutes and that Director Hudson has failed to construe newly enacted rules in accordance with the long-standing law. The suit is the first of its kind in the United States and is an important step towards reducing the overreaching power and influence a bank, realtor and mortgage broker has over a homeowner’s real estate transaction and, in particular, a
homeowner’s statutorily protected choice of title insurance provider. The lawsuit is important
since many homeowners do not even realize such a choice exists. By permitting banks,
mortgage brokers and realtors to move into the title insurance business, the lawsuit alleges that
the ODI’s inaction has helped to feed the pervasive greed that has overwhelmed the real estate
industry in recent years. Considering the well-known impacts of the mortgage industry meltdown and the rise in foreclosures across the country, homeowners across Ohio are well-served by the OAITA’s action.
Independent title insurance agents serve as important checks and balances on the power of
banks, realtors and mortgage brokers to unlawfully steer homeowners’ real estate transactions to controlled entities. Members of OAITA are independent title insurance agents who refuse to give kickbacks or referral fees to banks, realtors and mortgage brokers for the real estate transactions they close. Instead, independent title agents: (1) help to reduce the cost of title insurance by not engaging in elaborate schemes to reward referral parties at the homeowners’ expense; (2) help to lessen the likelihood of real estate related litigation involving homeowners by not allowing referral party pressure to dictate closing requirements; and, (3) help restore trust and integrity in the fiduciary relationship that exists between homeowners and their settlement providers by insuring that only disinterested title agents provide title insurance services, not their referral parties.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
“If the federal government wants to get into the asset management business, we all may as well write the check for taxpayer losses right now,” said another managing director at a distressed-loan purchasing specialist. “This business is much harder than it looks, and the issue isn’t as simple as holding to maturity or a desire to be aggressive on loan modification.”
Some sources, as a result, expected that the Treasury proposal could end up being a boon for distressed mortgages. “They’ll find out they need to churn and burn whatever they buy,” one source suggested. “That could mean the market for whole loans will really start moving, with the pricing hurdles removed.”
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Correct me if I'm wrong, but memory tells me strict accounting mark to market rules came out of the S & L crisis as a solution to prevent failure due to the overstated value of assets.
I don't think we should take lightly any vacation of mark to market rules.
The core and substance of the Paulson Plan - namely the creation of a reverse auction system in which the Treasury acts as the buyer of last resort for mortgage backed securities to help troubled institutions get this hard to value paper off their books - is a sound plan. I think the public and congress over-reacted and so I'd have to say the administration didn't do such a great job selling it.
What we have here is a pricing mechanism failure. Rather than masking the problem with a mark to market vacation - which BTW might not be so easy to undo - the auction system could jump start a real market and other buyers might follow. That's a real fix in which taxpayers are NOT bailing out but buying mortgage backed paper that likely has value far above the purchase price.
I would hope that policiticians could demonstrate leadership and good statesmanlike qualities and help their constituents understand simple business concepts rather than the easy role of demagogue.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I don't claim to be a brainiac, rocket scientist or economist. I'm a street level, street trained mortgage lender and title agent. I lived through what happened at street level and had sufficient exposure to the inner workings of wholesale lending and secondary market operations to get a feel for how it should work and where it went wrong.
I just don't buy into blaming one political party over another because each administration we lived through added their own twang to the song and frankly any sanity in the mortgage industry or securities industry could have ignored politics and held firm to quality in due diligence. That's the job of underwriters and management, not politicians.
As for the Paulson Plan, I can only say this. How we got here isn't as important to me as not dying while we fight out who to blame and stupid politics. We can worry about that stuff once our damaged ship at sea in a hurricane makes land. For now, I'm listening to three people - Paulson, Bernanke and Bair. Why? Because over the last year I have watched them and they have not disappointed me with their critical decision making as they have attempted to bring us home and out of harms way.
I trust that they know the monetary system and have a gut instinct for how all this is moving without perhaps being able to verbalize it. I trust that their intuition senses danger and that they have a very hard time dealing with politicians who don't understand and have to act like they do.
This is not a time for pure democracy. This is not a time for populist decision making. This is a time for leadership and hard resolve and fast action to save our economy from severe damage.
I trust the warnings. I'm willing to trust the plan. Call me an idiot if you want to, that's okay but my guts are talking and I do like to listen to those guts even if I can't articulate their message in any way you can understand.
“The National Compliance Summit promises to deliver useful legal knowledge applicable to title companies’ business immediately,” said
Thursday, September 25, 2008
from The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 25, 2008
Congress reached an agreement in principle on a $700 billion package to bail out the financial industry, leaders from both parties said Thursday. They plan to present the deal to the White House later Thursday, hoping for a vote within days. Lawmakers said there were few hurdles remaining. "There really isn't much of a deadlock to break," said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Republican Sen. Bob Bennett said the plan is one that can "pass the House, pass the Senate (and) be signed by the president."
I am now advised that the lot number in my deed and the prior deed is purportedly incorrect. FATIC only provides a current deed with the search and so I called their Quakertown office to get the chain data and perhaps copies of prior documents. They were kind enough to take the call right away and were able to look at the archive immediately. That was impressive, BUT their file as a naked as my file is. They have no chain back beyond the last deed.
They charged me $135 for a full search and they did a stupid-ass current owner which probably cost them $10.
So, I have two choices. I can pass off my customer to FATIC's claim office and say FATIC - YOU figure it out; OR
I can pay an abstractor to research the title -at my own expense - and try to figure out what reality is and how to fix it.
You know me by now. What do YOU think I'm gonna do?
That's right. I'm gonna pay - out of my pocket - to have the title searched back to find the problem and fix it IF it is a reasonably easy fix. If it's a fix that involves a quiet title action, I'll pass it on to FATIC to pay that bill and handle it. I'm hoping - for the sake of my customer - that it's something I can work out.
NOW HEAR THIS ALL YOU FOLKS WHO SAY TITLE INSURANCE ISN'T WORTH IT. Any fix that I do myself is done because the consumer bought owner coverage. If I fix this without turning it into FATIC it will NEVER show up as a claim. GOT THAT?
The work done by traditional title insurance agents in claim avoidance is what you pay for when you buy title insurance.
In the following press release Acting United States Attorney Terrence Berg announced that a 45 year-old Macomb man who embezzled over $2.2 million while working as a bookkeeper for a now-defunct Michigan title company was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison on 9/18/2008. Joined in the announcement was FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena.
Eric McAlpine was an independent contractor performing bookkeeping functions for American Title Works, a title agency with offices in Clinton Township, Livonia and Southfield. Over the course of five years, McAlpine stole checks totaling over $800,000 that were made payable to American Title Works and funded by buyers and sellers of real estate, and/or from lending institutions that granted loans to buyers. McAlpine also stole checks totaling almost $1.5 million that were drafted from American Title Works escrow accounts. As a result of McAlpine’s embezzlement from its escrow accounts, American Title Works went out of business resulting in the loss of employment for its almost 30 employees.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
from The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 24, 2008
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he will "suspend" his campaign on Thursday, and asked to delay Friday night's debate against Democratic candidate Barack Obama, so he can return to Washington to deal with the financial crisis. Congress is currently considering a $700 billion bailout plan that is drawing increased scrutiny from lawmakers.
Why have lenders been slow to adopt this technology when so many consumers use online banking and more will in the future? According to a whitepaper by First American Equity Loan Services, many lenders have said there are a number of issues that are preventing them from utilizing electronic signing of mortgage documents.
I was just thinking about it over lunch. All those gazillion white papers Fannie and Freddie and everyone else did on the paperless mortgage transaction...are they all for naught? I doubt that anyone really cares right now. Who survives and how they do business will take place in a clean slate environment.
Guess we'll find out then, whenever then is.
I care about this big bail out. It’s a socialist solution to a capitalist problem. It won’t work. The solution is simple. Banks will figure it out. Re-write the loans or go under. It’s simple shit. We don’t need to be bailing out these guys and their bad decisions. We’re not bailing out the individuals who made bad decisions. Why are we bailing out businessmen who made bad decisions? Screw them. No golden parachutes, you’re an asshole, you made bad decisions have fun living on $1800 a month.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
How do you know your home and the land it sits on belongs to you? One Oklahoma couple was shocked when they tried to sell their home and found they didn't own the land it's built on.
Dennis and Teresa Fine raised three children in their home near Peggs. After 27 years, when they tried to sell their one and only home, they found out the land it's on belongs to the state.
"It was definitely a shock," Dennis says. "We've lived here for nearly 27 years and bought it from the U.S. government. So, I didn't think there would be a problem with the title."
Their modest home has three bedrooms and two baths and sits on just over an acre of land. They have re-financed the home several times and are the third family to own it. They can't understand how the land ownership problem wasn't discovered before.
"Not until this time, not until we tried to sell it."Read more...
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Both the FHA and VA have trouble with the "door to nowhere" situation. You know what I mean. You planned to put up a deck but never did or maybe you HAD a deck, took it down and never replaced it. Basically, you have a door in a wall and nothing on the other side.
Prior to closing, you'll need to fix it. Some will tell you that you've got to put that deck up. Well, not necessarily. If you'd prefer a cheaper option, ask if your can install a bar across the door, or perhaps one of those fake balconies on the outside - a railing close to the house. In the old days we were allowed to nail or bolt the door shut but I don't know if that would fly anymore.
Anyway, that's the deal. Hope it helps.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 400 points amid reports that regulators are considering a Resolution Trust-like mechanism to help banks unwind soured credit holdings and stepping up action against short sellers. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said that he has starting a "wide-ranging investigation" into short selling and British regulators barred short sales of financial stocks. Calpers and other large holders said they are no longer lending out shares of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.