Friday, October 29, 2010

this still blows my mind....ROBO-GFEs...don't they get it yet?

"Several important new features in ClosingCorp’s SmartGFE service just went live in order to improve the GFE data process — including an automatic notification of changed circumstances"  source

ClosingCorp's SmartGFE is nothing more than a ROBO-GFE in my mind.  It's only a matter of time before the lack of human decision making is exposed yet again as a bad idea.  Culture of brainlessness..."we" can't seem to value human beings.

Well, that's an angle I hadn't consider. Hmmm.

"We are not an equity owner in any law firm," he said.

Read the article in Housing Wire.

"standing in the wind" and "the wall is red"

I've probably talked about these two techniques before but just in case, let me explain.

What we call "standing in the wind" is the purposeful listening  to another person venting while remaining calm.  Our natural instinct is to get riled and defensive. It's not that the wind is bad.  The wind is.

Real estate is a large transaction that touches some of the most important moments of life and humans express frustration, rage, fear, sadness and joy in different ways.  Sometimes something completely unexpected will cause a person to need to vent.  These moments are normal.

As noted at the top of Title Insurance Talk, we think of our office as an emergency room of life and that means our staff must be trained in bedside manner.  Remain calm and help.

The second technique, "the wall is red", is the ability of staying on target with an important point, quietly standing your ground, and saying the same thing over and over until the other party understands whatever it is that you need to communicate but they are having a hard time grasping.  The point is to not go off on tangents and to not get riled or frustrated.  We are humans with all the frailties we share, but we are the professional in the transaction and we need to keep our focus on the task and help others to move forward to a successful closing.

Mind you, we are not always successful because we, like you, are not perfect.  We use these techniques to remember to stay calm and move forward to accomplish our shared task.

Here's an example:

Insuring title for property owned by an out of state LLC, not registered as a foreign LLC in PA.  There is a mortgage with a local bank.  The seller was represented by an attorney.

We requested:
  1. the operating agreement for the LLC along with any amendments
  2. a statement of the nature of the business being conducted in PA so we could determine whether or not there was a corporate tax lien risk
  3. authorization to obtain a payoff letter from the bank
We received a letter from the attorney stating that they had no operating agreement, since they were registered in another state, there was no corporate tax risk in PA, instructions to give him the proceeds check payable to the bank and he would secure a release.

We responded asking that he clarify who he was representing in the transaction - the LLC, the bank, or both.  We had reason to believe the LLC did have an operating agreement and would he confirm that with his client.  We respectfully disagreed with his position on PA corporate tax and asked that he provide a statement concerning the nature of the business being conducted in PA.   We also let him know that we needed to communicate directly with the bank and if the bank wanted us to give the attorney the proceeds check, they would need to give us those instructions in writing.

The response included an operating agreement with amendments, a statement that the LLC conducted no business in PA beyond the ownership of real estate and a signed release.

We had independently contacted the bank and received a letter signed by a VP stating that they wanted us to send the proceeds check directly to their office.

Fine, now we could move forward.  No, the attorney still wanted the check directed to him and produced a letter from the bank which instructed us to give the check to the attorney.  This new letter was signed for the VP by his secretary.  We said we would be happy to change the instructions but that the letter had to come from the VP, not by his secretary.  That new letter came a couple of days later, we validated it by calling the bank, and the transaction closed.

I thought the entire exchange was a bit odd.  My staff had remained calm and simply continued to reply and request what we needed over roughly a month.  We had dealt with this attorney in the past and not remembered such an unusual exchange.  Yesterday, the truth of the underlying tension was disclosed.  The attorney, who needed to vent sadness, shared with my staff that the previous manager of the LLC had recently killed himself and his wife in a murder/suicide.

We never know what might be causing another person in our transaction to be less than focused. I am proud of the folks in my office who gently worked their way to closing without getting riled.  They calmly repeated "the wall is red" until it was heard and understood and continued "standing in the wind" until the door to closing opened.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My heavens to Murgatroyd, we're busy.

Me thinks consumers have finally discovered that interest rates are LOW LOW LOW and those that aren't buying are refinancing. 

Oh, and BTW - lenders are lending!  ;)

Monday, October 18, 2010

I really do not understand this need to make transactions brainless. Do you?

The robo-signers that have blown a hole into the foreclosure process are evidence of this never ending quest for the holy grail of brainlessness.  WHY  WHY  WHY WHY is the mortgage and title insurance business so darned interested in getting rid of competent human beings?

I just got a call from a nice lady at  They call every so often to ask if my fees are accurate and I always say that our listing directs people to our web site and to call us to get an accurate quote.

This time she was insistent that they need accurate fees because lenders will use their automated system to populate GFE fields and that they need to guarantee the accuracy of the data.


Why is it so bloody hard for a lender to have trained human beings who know how to complete a loan disclosure?

Why are title insurers who participate in this program ignoring the unique nature of real estate transactions and the definitions of title services.  Is everybody just overcharging consumers to cover all possible transaction fees or are they misleading consumers then giving them a gotcha in the end?

Consumers actually take their transactions seriously and expect to deal with humans who have trained brains in gear.



My brain wants to burst when I have a conversation like that.  I just don't get it.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

mortgage broker advertises interest rates tied to affiliated title insurance

A friend showed me the mortgage rate section of the Tribune Review last weekend and pointed to a mortgage company listing that had asterisks next to a few interest rates.  These asterisks pointed to a note that the rates were only available if the transaction was a purchase and the borrower used a particular title provider.

Clearly the mortgage broker sought to avoid Pennsylvania's discounted refinance title premiums as part of this package deal.  Only purchases transactions are eligible so there's enough cash in the pot to subsidize the rates.  The consumer appears to be getting a deal with the package.

What do you think about this offer?  Is it a problem under RESPA or PA lending or insurance law?

I've pondered on it and I'm really not sure.  It's very much like the deals offered to buyers in construction transactions.  You get the good price if you use the affiliate.  If you don't use the affiliate, you pay higher than market.  As far as I could tell these interest rates weren't especially low.

What's also interesting is that I did some checking around and found that the mortgage broker is an attorney who is operating the title services business through the law firm and not as a title agent.  He's working under the approved attorney program.  That means that TIRBOP rates do not apply.  So what's the deal with purchase versus refinance?  This fellow can charge whatever he wants when he wants to. 

Anyway, in the days of a more compliant and aware marketplace, this was oddly red flaggie.  ;)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hey, readers. Hello!

Hope you like the new look of Title Insurance Talk.  This is the first visual overhaul since 2006.  I've been wanting to update the picture for some time but the right shot just hadn't surfaced, then my friend Marianne sent my this photo of us playing at the local farmer's market.  I LOVE that she caught my TCS minicooper in the shot, SOOOOO, here we are.  ;)

Marianne McAuliffe plays Native American flutes and we love making music together.  She picked up those fun peace glasses at the beach and I love them!

BTW  - Here's the new addition to the TCS fleet.  We retired one of the minicoopers and bought a KIA Soul.  I think the logo looks really nice against the red, don't you?  The Soul is a nice happy looking car and that's what we want.

PS  Here's Marianne's CD.Desert Spirit

Fidelity scales up outsourcing to India

CHENNAI: Spotting an opportunity to cut its costs by around 30 per cent with increased productivity, US-based insurer Fidelity National Title Group Inc has decided to scale up its business process outsourcing (BPO) and software development activities in India.

The company had set up its captive BPO company Fidelity National Financial India in Bangalore three years back.

The $4.6 million revenue Fidelity National Financial India has around 800 employees searching and confirming property titles in the US for its insurance parent. 

Read more in Economic Times.

Monday, October 04, 2010

if you bought a foreclosed home and are concerned about recent news

“If a new homeowner’s title is challenged because of a faulty foreclosure, the title insurer may have an obligation to defend the challenge,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, chief executive officer of ALTA. “However, it is unlikely that a court will take property from an innocent current homeowner and return it to a previous homeowner who failed to make payments on the loan subject to the foreclosure.”
Though laws may vary on a state by state basis, in general, the buyer of a property that has been through foreclosure has numerous defenses available to assure their continued ownership.
  • The alleged deficiency in the foreclosure process may not be accurate.
  • The alleged deficiency in the foreclosure process may not have harmed the previous owner.
  • The foreclosure judgment is a final court order. It is likely too late for a technical objection to the foreclosure process to be raised by the previous owner.
  • Because the new owner purchased in good faith, they may be protected under the law. 

Read more from ALTA here.