Friday, March 29, 2013

lol..sorry couldn't help it. ;)

indictments in the Burgh

A resident of Verona, Pa., and three residents of Pittsburgh, Pa., have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, filing false tax returns, and failing to file tax returns, U.S. Attorney David Hickton announced on March 26.

The 20-count superseding indictment, returned on March 26, named George Kubini, 48, of Verona, Penn.; and Dov Ratchkauskas, 46; Sandra Svaranovic, 52; and Arthur Smith, 63, all of Pittsburgh.

According to the superseding indictment presented to the court, Kubini, Ratchklauskas, Svaranovic, Smith, and a number of other individuals who have already pleaded guilty, participated in a multi-faceted mortgage fraud conspiracy involving hundreds of properties and tens of millions of dollars worth of fraudulent loans.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ALTA reports business is good. Hey, we knew that, right? It's a big wheel turning. ;)

Washington, D.C., March 20, 2013 — The American Land Title Association (ALTA) reported title insurance premiums written during 2012 increased greatly when compared to the previous year.

According to ALTA’s preliminary 2012 Year-end and Fourth-Quarter Market Share Analysis, the title insurance industry generated $11.4 billion in title insurance premiums in 2012, up nearly 21 percent from 2011. During the fourth quarter of 2012, the industry reported $3.3 billion in title insurance premiums, up more than 30 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011.

The states generating the most title insurance premiums during 2012 were California ($1.7 billion, up 25 percent compared to 2011), Texas ($1.4 billion, up 24 percent), Florida ($893 million, up 24 percent), New York ($825 million, up 15 percent), and Pennsylvania ($505 million, up 23 percent).  Overall, 48 states and the District of Columbia reported increases in title insurance premiums written during 2012 when compared to 2011. States reporting the largest percent increase from 2011 to 2012 were Illinois (43 percent), North Dakota (42 percent), and Georgia (30 percent). 

During the fourth quarter of 2012, 49 states and D.C. reported increases in title insurance premium written compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. The states with the highest percent increase in title insurance premium volume compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 include Illinois (82 percent), Kansas(49 percent), Tennessee (48 percent), Delaware (47 percent) and Missouri (47 percent).  

In terms of market share, the Fidelity Family of title insurance underwriters captured 34 percent of the market in 2012, the First American Family garnered 26 percent, the Old Republic Family recorded 14 percent, and the Stewart Family had 13 percent. Meanwhile, independent companies comprised 13 percent of the market in 2012.

Market share data is preliminary as year-end totals have been estimated for three companies. ALTA expects to release its first-quarter 2013 Market Share Analysis around June 1. 

lender's most concerned about data security

The data security problem

The reputational risk road leads us straight to the issue of data and site security, which Reed labeled as the issue she is most worried about at the title level. Any sort of data breach involving a lender’s funds or customer information will be an incredible strike to reputation, even though it would have been a third-party’s negligence that caused it.

“If you’re [the title agent] working 1,000 closings and seven of them are ours, and if your office is broken into and that data ends up in someone’s hands, the headline will say ‘Wells Fargo’s data stolen,’ so we are cautious about that,” Reed said.

Monday, March 18, 2013

O, joy, rapture.....

Our voice mail system HD is fried.  Criminy! Waiting for the new system and handling the phone the old fashioned way.  Funny, how that seems mighty ancient now.  ;)

Monday, March 11, 2013

underwriting alert that deserves repeating

If you are asked to close a deal with any Lender where good funds, incoming money from the lender have not been received,  please contact the Underwriter prior to closing the transaction. 

In Underwriting Directive Numbers 30, 35 and 47 we drew your attention to the Mortgage Broker’s Act which requires a mortgage broker to disburse the proceeds of a mortgage loan as cash, wire transfer, certified check, or cashier’s check. At the end of 1998, Senate Bill No. 94 was signed into law by Governor Ridge which amended the Mortgage Broker’s Act. The Amendment, however, was a minor change and did not in any way change the requirement that a title agent receive good funds from any licensee under the Mortgage Broker’s Act. In fact, the amended section now reads "(a) prohibitions - a licensee shall not: (3) disburse the proceeds of a loan mortgage in any form other than cash, electronic fund transfer, certified check, or cashier’s check where such proceeds are disbursed by the licensee to a closing agent." Should you need a copy of the pertinent section of the Senate Bill, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

We would also like to remind you that these protections, which are for your benefit, do absolutely no good if you do not have the funds in your account prior to disbursing a loan. We have received more reports of delays or failures to fund and changes in the amounts actually funded from the amounts required to fully fund the transaction. All of these problems can be avoided by requiring that all transactions are funded in accordance with the above, prior to your disbursement.

I frankly cannot believe that there are still title agents out there closing and disbursing without having good funds in hand.  Can you?

Friday, March 08, 2013

Thursday, March 07, 2013

vague restrictive covenants


I had a few cases of vague restrictive covenants cross my desk today so I thought I'd share them with you.

In case you didn't know, restrictive covenants are rules created by a seller at some point in the history of the property that run with the land.  These are usually meant to preserve some desired character or atmosphere in the neighborhood.  The thing about restrictions is that they often reflect the values of the time in which they are created and can cause problems later, especially if they are vague.

Let's look at each restriction:
  • No building hereafter erected thereon shall be erected as or for or used or occupied as or for a public garage, manufacturing establishment, commercial business or any offensive or malodorous occupation or purpose, or to be used for any purpose other than that of a private dwelling house with or without private garage.
What to do about offensive or malodorous which are highly subjective words? What if you occupy yourself in some hobby that your neighbors find offensive but to you is lawful and acceptable on your own land? I have a neighbor who constantly makes noise in the garage poking around with machinery.  I have another neighbor who target shoots. I like to have campfires.  Perhaps the smoke is offensive to a neighbor. And, what to do about operating a web based business from your home? Could a neighbor force you to stop because of this restriction against commercial business? Even if you occupy the dwelling, is the mixed use of the home business a violation of the covenant?
  • No trailers or mobile homes shall be erected on said lot.
Interestingly, the dwelling sitting on this lot is a manufactured home which has a mobile home title that we are in the process of having surrendered to the state.  Could the neighbors have forced removal of this dwelling under the restrictive covenants?
  • Each of said lots is hereby designated as a residential lot with no structures to be erected thereon other than a one family dwelling, not less than 1600 square feet in area, exclusive of garage, breezeways, and porches, which said house and garage may be constructed of any recognized building material, but shall not have affixed thereto any imitation siding.
What is a recognized building material?  What the heck is imitation siding?  Can you imagine the problems neighbors could make for each other trying to sort out those restrictions?