Thursday, April 30, 2009

Demotech releases report

The collapse of the financial markets compounded these losses in operations and consequently led to a decrease in Net Investments of 28 percent for all companies from the previous year. These results contributed to a Net Loss of nearly $400 million for the industry. While all of the NAIC Title underwriter groups reported a Net Loss, the unaffiliated Title underwriters combined for a Net Gain. Read more...

here's a RESPA question for you

NAMB announces:

On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the House Financial Services Committee voted in favor of attaching an amendment to H.R. 1728, "The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009" that would withdraw the Final RESPA Rule. The amendment, offered by Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL), stated that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should work in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Board (Board) to develop and issue a new rule to address simplifying the mortgage process within six months of the passage of H.R. 1728. Bold

This is a victory for NAMB as we have requested that HUD withdraw the RESPA Rule and work together with the Board to simplify the mortgage process in our comment letters, calls to action, and communications to Congress. H.R. 1728 is tentatively scheduled to be voted upon by the full House of Representatives on May 7, 2009.

My question is this. Does the legislative branch have the authority to direct HUD to withdraw its final rule? I don't think so. They can certainly apply pressure but unless they are re-writing RESPA itself, the rulemaking is the prerogative of the regulator isn't it?

Friday, April 24, 2009


In an earlier post I mentioned that I couldn't find a real live human being to assist in researching a potential fraudulent transaction involving PNC. For the heck of it, I did a search on LinkedIn for PNC and mortgages. I found an officer in the mortgage arena who was connected to one of my colleagues and through him I contacted her. It worked! She responded and within a few days, the PNC angle was resolved and their mortgage assignment was confirmed. Cool - like LinkedIn. ;)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Can you believe it has been six months since our meeting in Pittsburgh!
Well, a lot has been happening at NAILTA headquarters. If you have not had
a chance, please check-out our new and improved website

As with any new start-up, the process of forming NAILTA has taken longer
than some might have wanted or expected but you can be assured that your
President, Board of Directors, and Committee Members have been working
diligently to bring to you an organization that is on the path to being a
voice and a forum for the independent title insurance agent and a resource
for the consumer and public officials. But we are not done, there is much
more to be accomplished and we need your support, your expertise, and your

Please consider joining NAILTA today - it is as easy as 1-2-3. Go to and pay by check or credit card - it is that simple and while
you are there, register for the NAILTA Spring 2009 Conference in Atlantic
City, New Jersey. You can register at the website or simply print the
attached flyer - all the information you need is contained in the

Finally, I ask you to please pass this information on to your colleagues,
industry partners, and vendors. Ask for their support, it is not hard to
do, I am doing it right now!

Best Regards,

Francine D'Elia Wirsching


National Association of Independent Land Title Agents



I'm not a subscriber but here's an interesting headline in

BREAKING NEWS: Federal judge determines real estate firm liable in unearned fee class action
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In an opinion issued Monday in a RESPA class action lawsuit, a federal judge determined that a real estate firm was liable for charging illegal fees to more than 30,000 customers in violation of RESPA.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch

You think there's a problem in the title insurance marketplace here in PA? Well, you've got a chance to express your opinion directly to the horse's mouth, the PA Dept. of Insurance is asking for input.

See the prior post.

If you are an abstractor, notary signing agent, title agent or consumer of title services, NOW is your time to try to make a difference. It's all gonna be on the table, I guarantee it.

So, if new rules are promulgated that you don't like and you didn't take the time to voice your opinion in any kind of helpful way, well, don't say I didn't give you a good heads up.


Geez it's hard to find a human being when trying to contact a big company.

I just can't get a person who can help me research a potential fraud against PNC Bank. Whether through the web or phone system, the wall between outside and inside communications is just too thick. Oh, yes, I can reach a human but not one who can direct me to the right spot or when they think they do I go into yet another phone maze with no way out.

Trying to help you, PNC. Call me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

public hearing on title insurance in PA...May 28th

Public Hearing on Title Insurance Rates and Practices

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department (“Department”) will hold a public informational
hearing on title insurance issues on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 10 a.m. in Hearing Room 4 at the Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120. The hearing will
consider the full scope of issues currently under consideration within the Department, including
the public policy issues raised by the current rating system and market practices such as how
rates are implemented by companies and agents, compensation to title agents, the use of
affiliated business arrangements, and the payment of compensation or profit-sharing based on the referral of business. Additional focus will be given to recent comments by the Pennsylvania
Office of Attorney General and broader reform proposals suggesting that economic trends,
changes in the financial services industry, and technological changes create opportunities for
new efficiencies in the title business. The Department requests information and testimony on the
following topics (this list is not exclusive):

o The premiums charged by title insurance companies, the commissions or fees paid to or
charged by title agents and approved attorneys and the effect such premiums,
commissions and fees have on the overall cost to consumers;

o The cost to title insurance companies to insure against defects in title and the cost to title
insurers or agents to perform the necessary title searches, to prepare a title abstract, to
clear defects in title and to perform a real estate closing;

o The current availability and viability of computerized title records searches and any
current or projected impact electronic searches may have on the cost of performing title

o The current compensation structure to title agents, including the use of affiliated business
arrangements, the payment of compensation or profit-sharing based on the referral of
business, and the effect these practices have on consumers and on competition in the

o The differences between a policy issued upon the sale of a home versus the refinancing of
a home loan and how this should be reflected in the rating structure;

o The appropriateness of charges for services ancillary to a real estate closing;

o What is a reasonable rate of return for title insurance companies under current economic

o The impact of the current real estate market on the solvency of title insurance companies
and the possible impact on consumers given the absence of guarantee fund coverage; and

o Whether current economic trends and changes in the financial services market create
opportunities for new efficiencies.

Individuals wishing to testify about these or any other topics may contact the
Department’s Office of Insurance Consumer Liaison and Market Analysis at the following
address and telephone number to schedule to testify at this hearing. Individuals may also appear
at the hearing without advance notice and will be afforded the opportunity to testify after all
individuals scheduled in advance have testified. Testimony will be limited to a 10-minute
presentation. The Insurance Department requests that individuals provide a written copy of their testimony the day of the hearing, with no limit on the length of written submissions.

Interested parties are also invited to submit written comments, information or suggestions
about these or any other topics to Title Insurance Hearing, Insurance Department, Office of
Insurance Consumer Liaison and Market Analysis, 1326 Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA
17120, (717) 525-5884, The deadline for written comments
will be June 4, 2009.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PA title agents, even if you have no funds to escheat,

you need to file a negative holdings report. It's easy. You can do it on-line and it takes less than five minutes. Follow this link. Once you register, you'll need to give them your asset size, annual sales and number of employees, then click submit and you're done.

Since the state has taken the time to send a reminder, I take that as a signal of increased audits this year. That's what happened with the user tax.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mortgage fraud always surprises me....

and you'd think by now title agents would STOP enabling or colluding to defraud lenders.

You know, younger, inexperienced, or stupid title agents might make the argument that they didn't understand that having two settlement statements was mortgage fraud. Though they'd still be held accountable by authorities, someone might have believed them a year or two ago.

Now, anyone in this business who doesn't know that sending a lender a HUD-1 that does not match up with disbursements is mortgage fraud is an absolute criminal or ignoramus and deserves to at least lose their license.

I had an interesting chat with a real estate agent in New York yesterday. Seems she represented a seller in a transaction which included a seller assist. All went well until the closing. The seller did not attend. The real estate agent also did not attend because the seller was represented by an attorney who said he would attend. Turns out he did not. For some reason no one on the seller side reviewed or approved the HUD-1 prior to closing.

Who signed the HUD-1 for the seller? Get this. The title agent signed for the seller and did so without authority.

The real problem is that the mortgage lender capped the seller assist and rather than contacting all parties to renegotiate the contract, this title agent created and signed a HUD-1 matching the mortgage lender instructions, THEN disbursed funds based on the contract.

WHAT? Yes, the HUD-1 was a total fabrication meant to satisfy the mortgage lender.


The real estate agent, once she discovered what had happened has been demanding that the title agent either undo the transaction or remit the balance owed to the seller so that funds do match up with the HUD-1.

I suggested that she report the facts to the Attorney General, the FBI, the state insurance department, the mortgage lender and the title underwriting company, oh, and also the Dept. of HUD.

We need to clean our business of title agents who are unable or unwilling to walk the straight and narrow line of fidelity. We need to have ZERO tolerance for bad guys or we won't get this situation in the mortgage market under control.

MORAL OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS: Control your transaction. Review the HUD-1 before you close and make certain that the movement of money is correctly shown. There is no such thing as "off HUD" disbursements. Anything paid outside of closing must be disclosed on the HUD-1 as POC so that there is a money trail. Do NOT allow a professional in the transaction to convince you otherwise. To do so is to collude to defraud a mortgage lender. I have no idea if the buyer in this transaction or their real estate agent knew what happened, but even if they did not, they can be held accountable for mortgage fraud.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Pennsylvania outlaws stated income mortgage loans

"Stated income loans present opportunities for abuse on both sides of the transaction," Kaplan said. "The new documentation requirements will go a long way in reducing the potential for fraud and dishonesty."
The new regulation also requires lenders and brokers licensed by the department to use a new, simplified, one-page disclosure form that calls attention to loan features, such as a variable interest rate or prepayment penalty, which can cause loan payments to increase or make it difficult to refinance. Read more......

Friday, April 03, 2009

NAILTA.ORG Spring Conference

You can now register for the conference at

unrecorded spousal waiver

There's just no wiggle room to use unrecorded spousal waivers. We have to either have the spouse sign the mortgage to validate the lien or attach a recorded spousal interest subordination to the instrument. The only alternative is to use an unrecorded spousal waiver with an exception in the loan policy for the spousal interest and I just can't think of a lender that wants an exception for spousal interest, can you?

Underwriters are just paying too many claims on these cases that go to foreclosure. The unrecorded documents are too easily lost when lenders go out of business or do a poor job of maintaining their files. That along with title agents going out of business so nobody has a record that the spouse waived their marital rights.

The spouse may conveniently forget signing the waiver and there goes the validity of the mortgage lien. Poof!