New Seminar Announced

Minnesota 8 Hour Prelicense Closer Course

Minnesota MapCompleted!

Date: Monday, March 3rd, 2014
8am – 5pm

Country Inn and Suites
3505 Vadnais Center Drive (1st exit North of 694 on Hwy 35E)
St Paul MN 55110
Reservations: 1 (800) 596-2375       US/Canada Toll-free
Cost is $249.00. Includes book, materials and lunch.

To register click here…

Online Abstracting, Searching and Land Records Class Available

View Slides side by side with online course


I am excited to announce that the Principles of Abstracting Class is now online.  The course contains a solid how to abstract, including: Real and Personal Property;   the Public Land Survey System;   Reading, Drawing and Understanding Metes and Bounds Descriptions;   Rights, Title and Interests;   Transfer of Title;   Deed types and what to watch for;   Marital issues and Title;  Platted Legal Descriptions – Townhouses, CIC’s, Condos, Timeshares and Co-ops;   General and Specific Liens and Statutes of Limitation;  Public Recording Offices – Recorder, Registrar, Treasurer, Auditor, Assessor, District Courts, Federal Courts, Secretary of State;  Registered Land;  Licensing, Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.  Additionally, both the course content and a follow along PowerPoint presentation can be viewed side by side.  A perfect study for the Pre-license Abstracter License.


Online Closer Course Coming Soon

I thought I should JUST FIRE MYSELF because this is WAY TOO HARD.  I felt so INCOMPETENT with all these new rules, new laws, new organizations to satisfy (ARELLO, BCA, Commerce, Software Company, complying with the CFPB for secure online payments, etc.  etc. etc.) I thought I’d go crazy!

But, I am happy to announce the online closer course was recently approved by the national Association of Real Estate Licensing Law Officers ( and is at the MN Department of Commerce for final approval.

It has been a challenge to meet all the new criteria required –

  • Obtaining the Certified Distance Education Instructor (CDEI) designation by taking courses and examinations re: online teaching techniques
  • Filling our a  30 page application for ARELLO approval including CV, bios, describing teaching techniques used in the online course, and a host of other requests.
  • Finding  two well-qualified learners to take the online course to time the 8 hour requirement, along with their resumes, affidavits, comments, etc.
  • Testing the quantity and quality of  questions used  on both quizzes and the Final Examination
  • Creating Affidavits for those taking the courses as to the final examination and proctoring
  • Going to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to prove I’m not a villainous scoundrel
  • Developing an entirely different course because there is a  new and totally different state required outline for the class
  • Submitting a roughly 50 page application for the department of Commerce including dozens of exhibits and affidavits
  • Learning a new Learning Management System to verify the time it takes to finish the class
  • Locating a company that complies with the CFPB standard on taking online payments and security issues
  • and about eight solid months of hard work.

But after being RELENTLESSLY STUBBORN, and NOT GIVING UP, I am at last able to take a deep breath.

Bottom line:  “Maybe I won’t fire myself after all.”



How To Enter the New Electronic Certificate of Real Estate Value

ECRV Required Oct 1 2014

ECRV Required Oct 1 2014  Click here for VIDEO

E-CRV Recording Required as of October 1st

Effective October 1, 2014, the Minnesota Department of Revenue no longer accepts paper versions of the Certifiicate of Real Estate Value (CRV). County and city offices will no longer accept paper copies of the CRV, except for sales that have occurred before Oct. 1, 2014.

Please contact the revenue department if you have questions or to learn more and search “eCRV”.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue has added a toolkit to their E-CRV website that you can use to inform and promote E-CRV to all submitters and taxpayers. Included in the toolkit are:

  • Links to informational videos
  • Suggested posts for county websites and social media
  • Printable promotional materials

Access the eCRV Toolkit for Oct. 1 Changeover.  You can also access the toolkit from the eCRV homepage by clicking the "Local Government Staff" tab and finding the link under the "Resources" section.


CFPB Lays Compliance on Banks for Service Providers

The CFPB has issued a statement that it expects supervised banks and others to oversee their relationship with service providers to assure compliance with Federal Consumer Financial Law.

For settlement agents, closers, abstractors and title insurers, this means there will be significantly more paperwork ahead for us. I would imagine that we will be required to sign affidavits that we comply with a host of federal laws including state and federal laws pertaining to legal requirements of RESPA, TIL, FHLMC requirements, FIRREA, FIRPTA, Federal Consumer financial laws and dozens of others. Additionally you may expect audits, education and new contracts and be sure your licensing is up to date.

To quote part of the statement:

The CFPB expects supervised banks and nonbanks to have an effective process for managing the risks of service provider relationships.

The report lists a minimum of five specific steps that a lender should take in overseeing its service providers:

  • Conduct due diligence
  • Review service provider policies, procedures and controls
  • Contract with the service provider clear expectations on compliance and consequences for non-compliance
  • Ongoing monitoring to assure compliance
  • Addressing problems and terminating relationships where appropriate

While this may ultimately be good for consumers, it will make the daily work of small businesses more difficult. See the CFPB full statement here.

Louisiana Upholds Ban on Gay Marriage, While Court says Ban on Gay Marriage Unconstitutional in IL and WI

gay marriage flag ringsA federal Louisiana judge upholds  bans on gay marriage and refuses to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere;  meanwhile, in Chicago, a federal appeals court says  ban on gay marriages is unconstitutional in Illinois and Wisconsin.  What a mess.

I teach real estate classes, and spend a lot of time on properly preparing documents. I have learned to recommend that when a gay couple is going into title, the deeds, mortgages, and other documents should properly state e.g. “Chris Jones and  Alex Smith, married to each other in the state of Minnesota.”   After all, they are not husband and wife, they may not be considered to be married to each other in Louisiana, and they are not simply “Chris Jones and Alex Smith, married” because  they could both be married, but not to each other. It is a sad state of affairs that the legal community and others are spending too much time on.  All fifty states are confused. But item by item, it is getting settled. Why not settle it once and for all! The US Supreme needs to deal with this and the sooner the better.  Consider these:

  • The IRS has litigated. US v Windsor ,  A gay couple, Windsor and Spyer, were lawfully married in Ontario, Canada, in 2007. Spyer died in 2009, leaving her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. She was barred from doing so by Section 3 of DOMA (codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7), which provided that the term “spouse” only applied to marriages between a man and woman. The IRS found that the exemption did not apply to same-sex marriages, denied Windsor’s claim, and compelled her to pay $363,053 in estate taxes. It took a lot of time, effort, money and litigation to resolve this.
  • Corporations are confused.  What is the rule?  Recently, In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the court found that closely held corporations do not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act requirement that insurance plans cover women’s contraception if it conflicts with the religious beliefs of the business owner. Could that opinion could lead to corporations seeking exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs against gays?
  • Hospitals are confused: . Is a life-long partner in a state that bans same sex marriage, able to visit their partner or make decisions for them in the ICU?  In states that do not recognize gay marriage, gay spouses are not considered next of kin for the purposes of hospital visitation and emergency medical decisions
  • Death: If one partner dies in a state that bans same sex marriage, the other partner is not entitled to bereavement leave from work, to file wrongful death claims, or to automatically inherit their shared home, assets, or personal items.
  • Divorce: Unmarried couples do not have access to the courts, structure, or guidelines in times of break-up, including rules for how to handle shared property, child support, and alimony, or protecting the weaker party and kids. Ok, they were married in Canada, but live in Lousiana and want a divorce – what do they do?


Yesterday, several gay-rights organizations, 15 states and 30 businesses submitted friend of the court briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the justices to take up Utah’s marriage case and rule in favor of the three same-sex couples fighting to outlaw gay marriage bans once and for all. The US Supreme court needs to address this once and for all, and they can’t have it both ways.


Watch out for the Three A’s – Advertising, Affiliation, and Authorization


Word of  Caution for affiliated entities:  besides dealing with Federal Laws such as RESPA and the CFPB, consumer laws in each respective state need to be dealt with when advertising, disclosing relationships and explaining programs. When one doesn’t do their homework, it can cause serious penalties as demonstrated below.

On August 12, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) entered into a consent order with an online mortgage company, its affiliated appraisal company, and its chief executive officer; they agreed to pay $20.8 million to settle allegations of deceptive advertising and illegal lending practices. This particular action, In the Matter of Amerisave Mortgage Corporation et al., reflects the CFPB’s continued focus on mortgage lending and online advertising practices. As such, this enforcement action provides a window into potential pitfalls that third-party marketers, including online lead generators, mortgage lenders, and brokers can encounter when advertising mortgages online. A very good article by Venable LLP, shown recently  in Lexology.  Read the full Lexology article here.

Zillow and Trulia Join Forces

Online giants Zillow and Trulia are joining forces in a stock deal worth $3.5 billion.  Zillow is the acquiring company, and Trulia CEO Pete Flint will continue to head Trulia’s operations but will report to Zillow CEO Spencer Rksascoff.  The company will continue to operate both websites, which reportedly attract more than 130 million visitors each month.

Over the past decade, these two online portals have challenged the traditional real estate brokerage model by making lots of real estate-related information available on the web—information that was previously available only through real estate agents.

And agents have been paying sizeable fees to be represented on these sites—some agent teams reportedly spending over $20,000 per month.

$7 Billion being Paid to Settle Mortgage Claims

Citigroup will pay a total of $7 billion, including a record $4 billion fine to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for charges related to the packaging, marketing, sale, and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS.) The deal was reached after months of negotiations – between Citigroup and a division of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force consisting of state and federal authorities, and financial regulators.

Why it matters: The settlement arguably is the product of a hard-line approach taken by the Department of Justice, providing the largest civil penalty ever. U.S.

Attorney General Eric Holder characterized Citi’s conduct as “egregious,” adding that “the bank’s activities contributed mightily to the financial crisis that devastated our economy in 2008.” Holder also stated that the deal does not absolve Citi or its employees of possible criminal charges.

Read more at Lexology and Citibank

CFPB Turns Three and Shows its Stuff

This is a great article from Lexology, showing the power and focus of the CFPB. Early on I was not a fan of the CFPB,
but as time goes by, their policing powers have been excellent. Good for the consumer and good for “cleaning up” the
type of problems we had that ended in the crisis of 2008.

Among the details the article shows some of the results of the CFPB police:

Penalties / Consumer Relief Obtained
• Amount of penalties ordered to be paid in enforcement actions (total): $150 million
• Highest civil money penalty ordered to date: $27.5 million
• Amount ordered to be returned to consumers: $4.6 billion (more than half of which is mortgage servicing related).

To read the entire article, click here

Info On Home Closing

Home Closing 101: An Educational Initiative of the American Land Title Association