30 Years in the Title Insurance and Title Education Business - Real Estate Land Title and Title Insurance Expert. - Educator and author re: Real Estate Information, Abstracting, Closing, Title Examination, Title Policies, Title Plants, legal descriptions - Subject Matter Expert, Educator, Author, Public Speaker Expert Witness on Land Title. Title Insurance and Closing Issues

Don’t Believe Those Online e-Notarize Ads

Webcam Nptary Ad

In Minnesota and other states, electronic notarization (e-Notarization) is moving fast. But DO NOT BELIEVE THE ADS. It is complicated. Each state has its own laws, rules, and especially its own legal terminology.

In Minnesota, a notary may perform electronic notarial acts when the affiant (person signing and swearing to a true statement) physically appears before the approved e-notary and the notary is physically in the State of Minnesota at that time. The notary must have specifically applied for and been approved by the state to use that method. The e-Notarization includes all the elements of a paper document notarization except the notary uses a digital signature and seal to the document (a graphic image) instead of an ink stamp. NO webcams!

Many people confuse e-Notarization with I will refer to as webcam notarization, believing they are the same. Webcam notarization involves live, real time audio-visual technology on the Internet, and (depending on state law) the person signing a document or electronic record appears before a notary public from a different physical location. The requirement of the “presence” of a signer is satisfied via the live audio/video connection not physical location. Each state has its own rules here, and in some cases the notary must maintain a physical audio/video of the webcam notary for a period of years. The audio/video is property of the notary and NOT that of the company the notary may work for.

Documents notarized in states allowing webcams ARE legal and recordable in Minnesota. They just can’t be performed in Minnesota. And remember, with a few exceptions, those who are notarizing real estate documents in Minnesota, such as deeds and mortgages require a Closing Agent License in addition to their e-notary commission, and there is a potential $10,000 fine per transaction for notarizing such documents without the license.

eClosing and buying a home: Technology’s role in closing on a mortgage


Technology is transforming everything; it is changing the way we communicate, the way we access goods and services, and even the way we purchase homes. Soon, more and more consumers may increasingly find themselves being offered technology that allows them to access, sign, and submit mortgage closing documents online. We believe that “eClosing” can leverage technology in the mortgage closing process by providing consumers with more time to review closing disclosures and transform the way consumers relate to the overwhelming process of closing on a home.

When we asked consumers what they felt were the biggest issues associated with closing on a home loan, the most common statements we heard were:

There is a lot paperwork to review at closing
I’m having trouble knowing who can answer my question
The whole process is painful and overwhelming
The main goal of our research into the use of eClosing has been to better understand how technology could help reduce the prevalence of these issues.

Our interest in helping consumers solve their most challenging mortgage closing issues led us launch a four-month pilot in 2015 to explore the costs and benefits of eClosing. At the conclusion of the pilot, we found that borrowers who participated in an eClosing generally reported higher measures of understanding the process, increased efficiency, and a higher perception of being “in control” of their closing experience, compared to borrowers who closed on their home loan just using paper disclosures.

While eClosing is promising, it is not yet universally available to consumers or standardized. Our first publication about this subject, “Mortgage closings today,” highlighted the most frequently cited obstacles preventing lenders from adopting eClosing technologies:

1. Different state laws and requirements

2. Concerns about the defensibility of eSignatures in court

3. Lack of standardization for closing

4. Required coordination across many players

5. Different standards for Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) requirements

6. Not enough counties that record mortgage documents electronically

7. Time and cost of changing processes and policies to accommodate eClosings within companies

Learn more about about our 2015 pilot or prior research. And for tips on how to navigate the mortgage closing process, see our resources below.

Where we are today
Two years after publishing the pilot results, lending institutions, technology innovators, and state and local governments have made strides to respond to these challenges and provide more digital solutions for consumers.

Some encouraging updates:

A commonly stated obstacle to wider adoption of eClosing had been that many counties in the U.S. did not allow electronic recording (eRecording) of mortgage documents such as the Security Instrument (also known as Deed of Trust, or Deed). Encouragingly, almost 80 percent of the American population now lives in counties that allow eRecording. This compares with only 65 percent in 2014, representing a 23 percent increase in three years.
Government-Sponsored Entities (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) have dedicated teams that are working closely with companies to build their eClosing capabilities.
State and local collaboration to promote the adoption of eClosing has increased. For example, North Carolina recently launched a pilot establishing a statewide eClosing system. More information is available in the North Carolina Secretary of State eClosing Pilot video .
Our Transforming the Closing Process video provides an overview of the Consumer Bureau’s vision for how technology can be utilized to streamline the closing process for consumers. We believe that eClosing technology has the potential to transform the closing experience for consumers by creating a process that is more manageable. Technology can help facilitate the opportunity for consumers to review their documents at home before closing, while providing them with educational resources to help them navigate the process. Interactive features, such as live chats, progress statuses, and definitions for confusing terms, can also guide the consumer through the mortgage closing process and answer questions as they arise. Of course, whether a person gets their mortgage closing documents in person or with eClosing, it is important to read all of the documents and to ask questions about anything that is hard to understand or that does not match what you expected or were promised.

CFPB’s resources
We encourage lenders, technology vendors, real estate agents, and settlement providers to take advantage of the resources available on our Owning a Home tool by integrating them into their technology systems.

Homebuyers can learn more about the home buying and the mortgage shopping process with the following resources:

Steps for home buyers
These four steps provide critical information about each phase of buying a home:

Prepare to shop
Explore loan choices
Compare loan offers
Get ready to close
Closing forms
Our downloadable guide to closing forms will help you review some of the key forms consumers receive during their mortgage closing, such as the Promissory Note and Security Instrument.

The Closing Disclosure Explainer
Our Closing Disclosure Explainer tool is designed to double-check that the details about your loan are correct on the disclosure form.

The closing checklist
This downloadable step-by-step guide walks you through what to expect during the closing process. It has helpful tips on what to do and what to look out for before, during, and after closing.

National Association of Realtors on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – What it means for Americans

Tax Reform Bill December 2017

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) worked throughout the tax reform process to preserve the existing tax benefits of homeownership and real estate investment, as well as to ensure real estate professionals would benefit from proposed tax cuts. Many of the changes reflected in the final bill were the result of the engagement of NAR and its members.

The report states that the results were mixed. The exclusion for capital gains on the sale of a home, and mortgage interest rate deductions on homes and second homes was saved, but incentives pertaining to real estate for individuals was overall altered negatively. Significant incentives for large investors were included, helping their tax situation.

The article includes these categories and can be viewed here NAR Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Major Provisions Affecting Current and Prospective Homeowners
Major Provisions Affecting Commercial Real Estate
Major Provisions Affecting Real Estate Professionals
Appendix 1 – Examples of How the Deduction for Qualified Business Income May Affect Various Real Estate Professionals
Appendix 2 – Examples of How The New Law Will Affect the Tax Incentives of Owning a Home

CFPB Announces New HMDA Tool

CFPB Regulatory Implementation Team
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Bureau is pleased to announce the launch of the HMDA Check Digit Tool and Rate Spread Calculator. The CFPB provides the new Rate Spread Calculator for use with data collected in or after 2018. The Check Digit Tool and Rate Spread Calculator will remain available to financial institutions throughout the 2018 collection period and thereafter to support calculation of data field values required for reporting HMDA data.

Check out the tools here:

We encourage financial institutions to direct any questions or feedback on using these tools to [email protected]

HUD Releases Guide to Help Struggling Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

Press Relelase
December 20, 2017

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today released the Homeowners Guide to Success as part of a public-private partnership between federal agencies and industry partners. The guide provides homeowners with information on the critical first steps to take if they are at risk of missing a mortgage payment or facing foreclosure.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said, “This guide arms consumers with easy to understand, reliable information about the assistance available to help them keep their homes. Valuable information like this can make a tremendous difference in the lives of homeowners who may be faced with foreclosure.”

This guide ensures homeowners will have resources at their fingertips and will be ready and responsible for the next steps. The guide also covers the value of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. They are on the front lines providing resources to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. These HUD-approved housing counseling agencies offer free assistance to consumers and help borrowers find housing counselors and avoid scams.

As families recover from the recent hurricanes and are more likely to be targeted by scams, a HUD-approved housing counselor can assist them through the process of purchasing or keeping a home. Independent research shows that borrowers working with a HUD-approved housing counseling agency are more likely to avoid foreclosure than borrowers who do not seek housing counseling.

“Steering consumers away from fraudulent schemes is especially important when they are already facing the difficult situation of not being able to make their mortgage payment,” said Sarah Gerecke, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Housing Counseling at HUD.

As part of the partnership between HUD, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, the Treasury Department, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mortgage Bankers Association, and housing counseling agencies, the guide will be available on federal agency and industry partner websites

Reimagining Land Records and GIS

An event, “Reimagine Land Records – Join the Conversation” orchestrated by the Legislative Committee of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Real Property Section, took place on October 20th. In attendance were an assortment of County Recorders and other County Officials, Land Surveyors, Abstractors, Attorneys, GIS Specialists, Teachers, Land Records Information Systems (LIS) Software Companies and Title Companies.

The session started out with a slide as to what constitutes land records and it was broken down three general categories and who maintains the records and uses them.

Objects (Improvements – roads, physical easements, buildings, etc.
Land Rights (Ownership, estates, government rights, liens, easements, restrictions, etc.)
People (Title, liens that tie to people, etc.)

Discussion revolved around Layers of Information needed by land title specialists and how they can be mixed and used by all most effectively. We all have a stake in this – Homeland Security; FEMA; DOT; Federal, State and local authorities; and hundreds of other entities. My takeaway of the future from the event is as follows:


In the not too distant future, we will feel light-years ahead of today. For those of us who remember typing abstracts on electric typewriters, and getting fax machines in the office, it is truly amazing. Even those who daily toil creating and printing documents, watching people sign, making copies of the signed documents, preparing them for delivery back to the lender and to the respective counties, cutting checks, etc. will see an amazing change.

THERE WILL BE NO PAPER. Documents and closings will be “Born Digital.” They will be created in a secure electronic commerce cyber-system, and emailed to the client through a secure web portal. The closer, a licensed, e-sign notary (perhaps hundreds of miles away from the clients,) will see the clients using a web-cam, review their drivers licenses against the online faces, and e-sign their notary as the clients click through, and e-sign the mortgage, deeds, and other documents.

NO PERSONAL HANDSHAKES when meeting, no paper, no file folders, no copies, no notary stamps or checks, just cyberspace. If owners need information, it will all reside in the cloud, or on their computer or flash drive.


The digitally signed documents will then be electronically submitted back to the lender, with digital copies for the title company, and of course an e-signed digital copy will go directly to the appropriate county (with e-fees) where the documents will move though departments to verify, and reside digitally.

Someday, when the owner takes a future home equity line or sells the property, a title searcher will simply go to a computer to look up the digital documents in cyberspace. But there will be only one place to look up all needed information for each piece of real estate.

A Geographic Information System, accessed by a PIN number (a smart number that ties to Sec- Twp-Rng-1/4 -1/4 and parcel) will open up a Pandora’s Box of information. We will be able to access anything you can imagine about real estate – the physical properties of buildings; terrain; topography; zoning; ownership rights, title and interests; roads; utilities; flood information; zoning; Homeland security; layer after layer.

Records from the – Treasurer, Auditor and Assessor that include current and delinquent taxes (Green Acres, etc.); type of property (single family 3BR, 3BA, 2 story, 2300 sq ft….home); Register of Deeds and Registrar office information (with the ownership, restrictions, easements, mortgages, etc.); District Court files (showing judgments, divorces and court filings against the owners); Death and Probate Court documents; Health and Human Services information (maps of wells and lien information); Federal District Court filings; Dept. of Transportation (updates on roads and widening of streets); Department of Natural Resources; Wind farms; Detailed utility information; FEMA flood maps; City zoning data; Trash bills; Photos of the property with GIS overlays and on and on.

And the records will solve problems besides title searches for many – FEMA, 911, DOT, Homeland Security, Minnegasco, Xcel, public utilities, – when a hurricane or tornado blows through, FEMA can overlay the GIS of the hurricane and know the owners names and rough amount of damage to the property. 911 will have better access to helping people,, because they will estimate number of people impacted, where the nearest hospitals are, and fastest routes to get people there. The DOT will estimate road damage will know where to concentrate their efforts. Gas and electric companies will know where the gas and power are out, and how to proceed as quickly and effectively as possible to make needed repairs.

It’s hard to believe, but the pieces are already there, it’s just (just???) that all the pieces need to be joined into one access point. The future of GIS is coming and it will be interesting.

CFPB Announces Beta Launch of new HMDA Platform

The CFPB is pleased to announce the beta launch of the new HMDA Platform. The main objective of the beta release is to provide financial institutions an opportunity to become familiar with the HMDA Platform and, in particular, determine whether their sample LAR data complies with the reporting requirements outlined in the Filing Instructions Guide for HMDA data collected in 2017.  
The beta version of the HMDA Platform will allow financial institutions to establish test log-in credentials; upload sample HMDA files and perform validation on their data; receive edit reports; allow users to confirm their test data submission; and conclude the test HMDA filing process.
During the beta period, financial institutions may test and retest as often as desired. All test accounts created and test data uploaded during the beta period will be removed from the system when the filing period opens in January 2018.
Check out the beta version of the HMDA Platform:

During the beta period, we encourage financial institutions to provide feedback on their experiences using the HMDA Platform to [email protected]

CFPB Charges Title Company with $1.25 million Dollar Fine

The CFPB takes RESPA matters seriously. While many states, like Minnesota, require a disclosure form describing the relationship between lenders, real estate agents, title companies, appraisers, etc., those who do not disclose those relationships are up for serious fines.
Read the full article here CFBP RELEASE

CFPB Issues Summary of Changes and Clarifications to TRID

To support implementation of the recently issued 2017 TILA-RESPA Rule, the Bureau has issued a Detailed Summary of Changes and Clarifications.

You can access the Detailed Summary of Changes and Clarifications here.

FinCEN Advisory on Money Laundering Scams

FinCEN Advisory

See Advisory HERE

Info On Home Closing

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