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Click HERE for a complete list of course descriptions or any of the following individual courses:
Online Classes

Principles of Closing

Principles of Abstracting (National Edition)

Principles of Abstracting (Minnesota Edition)

Title Exam for Title Insurers (Midwest Edition)

Reading and Drawing Legal Descriptions

These classes are all available at Classes.Landrecs.com.

For information on new classes contact me.

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Testimonial for “Principles of Abstracting”Online Course

HI Jeanne,

I  have to pass on this news to you, as you are a HUGE part of my success.

I found out last week that I passed my exam and am Licensed in SD now!!!

I raved of your courses to the Board of Abstracters.  I know I wouldn’t have been successful in this quest so quickly without your help!

(even scored 100% in one of the 5 sections!!)

Thank you!  Thank you!!

For whatever reason this industry is difficult to find training on.  I wish it were required to have the standard of training you provide for all individuals to be licensed in any state!

Traci Renkly

Office Manager/Closing Agent

Brookings County Title Company

422 4th Street

Brookings, SD 57006

Legal Issues Affecting Real Estate and Mortgage Title Closings

Excellent article by  Alston and Bird (AlstonFinance.com)

Non-Agency Residential Mortgage Loans in 2014:   A Survey of Legal Issues Affecting the Market. (Read entire article)

It covers in a solid overview of :

  • Qualified Mortgages
  • QRM and Risk Retention
  • Due Diligence Rule
  • Developments in Mortgage Servicing and ECOA
  • Mortgage Servicing Transfers
  • Proposed Changes in Mortgage Servicing and Safe Harbor Protection

“Conclusion

As can be seen, 2014 was a watershed year in the history of residential mortgage finance. More regulations were passed than would be ordinarily expected in a full decade.  A lot remains to be digested, and some areas of regulation are still unresolved, but overall the biggest surprise was that all of these regulations had a surprisingly small impact on the RMBS market. Origination standards had tightenedso much after the financial crisis that the changes from QMs had very little impact. QRMs did not have a loan-to-valueratio requirement and was virtually the same as QMs, so the impact on the market was negligible. Regulation AB IIhas resulted in no real change in the RMBS market, which was completely private anyway. There were a number ofchanges in mortgage servicing, and the mergers and acquisitions market was surprisingly active.”

Penalties Continue to Add Up for RESPA Violators

Reuters continues to report on the now defunct Genuine Title, as well as the Wells Fargo and JP Morgan violations under RESPA.  In addition to enormous fines by the lenders, the CFPB went after individual loan officers for penalties. Todd Cohen and wife Elaine Oliphant Cohen are said to be settling for $30,000. Read more at Reuters

 

Captive Title Insurers – A Good Thing or Not?

I have had concerns for a long time that the Title Industry has captive title insurance agents who receive such a large portion of the pot, that the Title Underwriters are putting themselves at risk. When a large captive agent receives 90% plus of the title insurance premium along with many other fees, that doesn’t leave much for the actual insurance IBNR for claims. Sounds like a risky business.  With the expansion of Title Underwriters risks, including covering agents for the many possible and likely places to err in the Closing Process, to the problems with Identity Theft and Fraud, one would think that the portion retained would be greater.  The title insurance industry has not seemed to change much over the decades. But the risks have. There is more and more detail, and more and more oversight, and more and more room for error and planned fraud.

Here are a couple of very good articles from Forbes about the pros and cons of Captive Insurance. If done correctly, Forbes says, it can be a good thing.  But being done correctly means regular and proper oversight by the Title Underwriter who takes all the risk.

Forbes author, Jay Adkisson says:

A captive can be a wonderful risk management tool when used correctly — but therein lies the rub, many are not. So, in reverse order, here are my 10 pet peeves: Captive Insurance Companies 10 Pet Peeves

On the flip side, when done right, Forbes lists good things about captive insurers.  Ten Good Things About Captive Insurance Companies.  I would be interested to know how carefully his ideas are being followed. Captive Title Insurers? A good thing or not?  That depends…

 

 

Do We Recognize Those Daily Unfair Deceptive Practices

We see them so often, I think we have started to simply overlook those daily Unfair and Deceptive Practices. You  simply can’t go anywhere without someone trying to push a new credit card (when you complain they tell you,  “sorry, my company requires that we ask all customers to open one of OUR credit cards.”) It’s all very annoying.

But worse, my young nephew, a college student, working part time at Walmart, went into a we’ll-go-far bank to cash his hard earned money.  He is attacked by the well-trained teller, who advises him he really should have some help with his finances now that he is a man, earning his own money and the bank can help. “Well, of course, he says proudly, who should I talk to?”  The next thing we know, he comes home with no cash, a new checking account, a new savings account, and a credit card in his proud name with $35 late fees and a 29% interest rate!  He’s no dummy, but we all know students who got suckered by predatory banks into a bad credit card. The CFPB takes that VERY seriously.

So I really appreciate the CFPB and many of the finance challenges they are tackling.  Some of the Unfair practices include

  • Add-On” products, such as enrolling customers for “free” (for one month with a monthly billing after that for Identity Theft Protection, debt protection or credit score services. Often through a third party vendor.
  • Mortgage Servicing
    • where lenders do not honor loan modifications after a servicing transfer,
    • requiring borrowers to “waive all existing claims” in order to qualify for a loan modification
    • failing to properly apply mortgage payments and hosts of others
  • Student loans and Credit Cards, knowing that many students were vulnerable in need for money and unable to understand the consequences of late payment and compound interest. Yes, I agree. We need to teach students more about financing!

An outstanding set of articles by Morrison Foerster gives a much deeper look into UDAAP and the CFPB.  They describe items of interest that annoy many of us (at least this author) by constantly trying to sell us items that are semi-related to what we are in the process of doing.  Their second article is even more detailed.         Both are very interesting – as a consumer, an educator for the mortgage and title industries, and an advocate for fair pratices.

 

 

What Will the New Federal NARAB Mean to the Title Insurance Industry

On Jan. 12, President Obama signed legislation establishing the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB), where any licensed insurance producer meeting requirements can belong.  Starting in 2017, any NARAB member licensed in its home state will be able to obtain a non-resident insurance producer license in any other state.

This is a huge change for all insurers – Property and Casualty, Life, Health, Agricultural, Car Insurers and Title Insurers.  In the past title insurers were required to be licensed in each and every state in which they do business.  Insurance has always fallen under state control. Will this simply be another layer of over-site at the Federal Level?

  • Will it be easier for Large Banks to get into the National Title Insurance Business? (meaning more competition with the same number of transactions)
  • Will it be easier for Large Real Estate Agencies to get into the National Title Insurance Business? (meaning more competition with the same number of transactions)
  • Will it be easier for Title Insurance Underwriters to open operations in nearby states (allowing small regional underwriters to become larger)
  • Will it be easier for Title Insurance Agents to open in nearby states (possibly increasing their book of business)
  • Will it be easier for Affiliated Businesses to extend their reach by opening title insurance operations in multiple states?

I can’t even guess if this will be a good thing or a bad thing for the industry or consumer.  But, nothing stays the same forever. So, be prepared for more and more government involvement in insurance, it will be an interesting (and I am sure bumpy) ride.

For more detail on NARAB, see the Holland and Knight article in Lexology

CFPB Finalizes TIL-RESPA Changes

Good Blog article by Buckley Sandler LLP that briefly outlines TIL-RESPA Changes

On January 20, 2015, the CFPB finalized amendments to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (“TRID”) rule that make a number of amendments, clarifications, and corrections, including:

  • Relaxing the redisclosure requirements after a rate lock.  The final rule permits creditors to provide a revised Loan Estimate within three business days after an interest rate is locked, instead of the current requirement to provide the revised Loan Estimate on the date the rate is locked (and instead of the proposed rule that would have allowed only one business day)
  • Creating room on the Loan Estimate for the disclosure that must be provided on the initial Loan Estimate as a condition of issuing a revised estimate for construction loans where the creditor reasonably expects settlement to occur more than 60 days after the initial estimate is provided
  • Adding the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure to the list of loan documents that must disclose the name and NMLSR ID number of the loan originator organization and individual loan originator under 12 C.F.R. § 1026.36(g)
  • Providing additional guidance related to the disclosure of escrow accounts, such as when an escrow account is established but escrow payments are not required with a particular periodic payment or range of payments
  • Clarifying that, consistent with the requirement for the Loan Estimate, the addresses for all properties securing the loan must be provided on the Closing Disclosure, although an addendum may be used for this purpose

 

UCC Search Releases $1.5 B Loan in Error

A, perhaps overly conscientious, paralegal pulled three UCC searches when asked to locate a Financing Statement that General Motors had given to secure money from J P Morgan.  There were apparently two UCC’s with a balance of $300 million to be paid off, but the paralegal located three UCC’s, and in the course of events, papers were drawn up by the law firm to release all three, including a $1.5 Billion security instrument.

Although the paperwork was checked by JP Morgan, General Motors, and the law firm, the releases were created, signed and filed.  Ouch.  See more in the abajournal

Moral of the story: as I always say in checking deeds,  mortgages and security documents, assume there are always MISTAKES, and your job is to find and correct the error/s. Check, check and double-check.

Genuine Title Scam Busted by CFPB

The internet is buzzing with the latest CFPB settlement. Reuters, Pioneer Press, ABC News, CBS and many others. Here is a link to the St Paul Pioneer Press article.

 

The CFPB and Maryland Attorney General have settled cases against Wells Fargo and Chase for RESPA violations, where more than 100 Wells Fargo loan officers in at least 18 branches, mainly in Maryland and Virginia, participated in the scheme, steering thousands of loans to the now defunct Genuine Title (note the irony of the name) in exchange for cash and marketing services. The penalties were in excess of $35.7 Million.  RESPA specifically prohibits kickbacks in the mortgage process.

 

“These banks allowed their loan officers to focus on their own illegal financial gain rather than on treating consumers fairly,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

 

No mention was made of what will happen to owners of Genuine Title.

 

CFPB Director Discusses New Tools

Below are recaps with hyperlinks to three Tools that CFPB Director Corday discussed at a recent speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.  I think all are of particular interest to the Title and Lending Businesses, as well as consumers.

  • Consumer Complaint Database  Director Cordray acknowledged the criticism of the Bureau’s consumer complaint tool, in particular its public posting of consumer complaints and anecdotes. He noted that the consumer complaint function was mandated by Congress through the Dodd-Frank Act, and is becoming an increasingly important source of information for the Bureau, companies, and consumers. In particular, he stated that the CFPB looks to consumer complaints to guide and focus its enforcement efforts.
  • Owning a Home Initiative  The CFPB is starting an initiative this summer “Owning a Home” in conjunction with the Know What You Owe program .  Director Richard Cordray says that the it will be introducing a new mortgage application booklet and  will include a tool that will allow consumers to determine likely interest rates offered in their geographic area that are tied to their specific credit score.
  • Mortgage Servicing  Cordray highlighted the Bureau’s continued focus on mortgage servicing, noting that the CFPB has set out uniform rules and will continue its supervisory and enforcement efforts in this area, as well.

 

Info On Home Closing

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