Closing

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:

CLOSINGS OF THE FUTURE

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 FUTURE OF LAND RECORDS AND GIS

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 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

Lender Sues Specialty Insurer for Cyberspace Crime

A California-based mortgage company hit its insurer with a lawsuit in a New York federal court Tuesday seeking to recoup under a $3 million policy “substantial” losses incurred when an impostor duped the mortgage lender into wiring money for a nonexistent transaction.
American Pacific Mortgage Corp. asserts that Aspen Specialty Insurance Company must indemnify it for a cyberattack that resulted in an employee wiring more than $75,000 to a fictional company.

More here at Housing Wire

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors issued a warning to people interested in buying a home that scammers were posing as real estate agents, Realtors and title insurance companies to steal consumers’ closing costs.
And earlier this year, the FTC and NAR reissued that same warning because similar scams are still taking place.
In these scams, hackers take over the email accounts of homebuyers, real estate agents, lenders or Realtors. They obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions and send an email to the homebuyer, pretending to be the real estate agent or the title company that’s being used for the closing.

The email tells the buyer that there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions, and instructs the buyer to wire their closing costs to a different account – one controlled by the hacker. Then, once the buyer sends the money to the scammer’s account, the money disappears.

Do you have Cyber Insurance?

E-Mortgage filing in North Carolina

Industry News, Technology update
Thursday, August 10, 2017
North Carolina has been at the forefront of eMortgage and eClosing transactions, and Thursday saw the state at the center of another milestone.

The state’s first eMortgage purchase transaction was completed Thursday, with North State Bank; Brady & Kosofsky, PA; DocMagic; Simplifile and World Wide Notary working together to close the deal. The entire process took 46 minutes.

The loan was originated by North State Bank, and closed by the Matthews, N.C.- based law firm of Brady & Kosofsky, the company said in an exclusive announcement to October Research, LLC. Technology used in the transaction was supplied by DocMagic, Inc., World Wide Notary, LLC., Ramquest, LLC and USPROSERV, LLC, while eRecording was provided by Simplifile.

“The closing itself represented the future of the industry,” partner Jaime Kosofsky said.

The closing came in conjunction with a special event hosted by the North Carolina Department of Secretary of State. The event introduced a newly formed North Carolina Electronic Mortgage Closing Advisory Committee, and four of those members participated in the closing Thursday.

The buyer and seller each executed the closing instruments and financing documents with a biometric signature pad, Kosofky said, which helps protect parties from fraud and forgery. The use of electronic signature and notary technology, coupled with the robust legal framework provided by North Carolina state law, makes it possible for lenders to make safe loans within the guidelines of the new TRID guidelines.

The homebuyer was at the Keller Williams office in Mooresville, N.C., and the eSigning agent – who is an eNotary – was present, along with the real estate broker. The closing attorney, who was at the Matthews office 45 miles south, was present via video to preside over the transaction. The register of deeds office is 55 miles away from the Matthews office in Statesville, N.C.

The seller signed the closing materials via signature last week before leaving town.

Among the principal individuals involved in the transaction were:

Ken Sykes, Kelly Arrington and Jamie Harrington from North State Bank. Harrington was the loan officer, and she completed her second eMortgage transaction Thursday.
Jeff Bode of Mid America Mortgage, whose company acted as the investor for the purchase.
Mona Mohajerani, who acted as the closing attorney, and Brady & Kosofsky Executive Operations Director Esther Fernandes, along with eSigning agent Patricia Paxton.
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Director, Electronic Notarization and Notary Enforcement Ozie Stallworth, who founded the eClosing pilot program in North Carolina.
Jason Streit, president at World Wide Notary, along with the rest of the technology providers involved.

E-Recording Continues to Grow at Rapid Pace

Technology
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Since the start of the second quarter, CSC has added 61 counties in 25 states to its eRecording network, the company announced.

“By partnering with CSC, these counties and their clients will now enjoy the benefits of award-winning service from an industry pioneer,” CSC Sales Director Kevin Kinderman said in a release. “We provide a total recording solution through our eRecording network and our national paper recording services. We’re looking forward to making our county and submitter partners’ lives easier.”

The new counties are in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Protect Your Money from Wire Fraud Schemes – ALTA Video

Buying and selling a home is an exciting time, but there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers . The American Land Title Association wants homeowners and sellers to be aware that criminals are using wire fraud schemes to steal money meant for home purchases or the proceeds from the sale of the property. Watch this video for four tips to protect your money and advice for what to do if you’ve been targeted by a scam.

See the ALTA VIDEO HERE

CFPB Loses Case Over RESPA

A lawsuit brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against a Louisville law firm was dismissed on Friday.

In a summary judgment ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky found that law firm Borders & Borders PLC followed the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) while operating title insurance agencies from 2006 to 2011, according to a NEWS release.

Morgan Ward, a partner with Stites & Harbison PLLC and one of the attorneys who defended Borders & Borders, said: “The CFPB was overreaching, and it’s unfair to target a small firm as part of a regulatory agenda.”

The case “appears to be the CFPB’s first loss on the merits at the federal trial court level,” according to the release.

The CFPB sued Borders & Borders in 2013 after the firm refused to agree with a punitive consent decree levied by the agency. The CFPB alleged that the firm and principals Harry Borders, John Borders Jr. and J. David Borders accepted kickbacks in exchange for referrals of real-estate closing services.

Borders & Borders operated nine title insurance agencies as joint ventures with local real estate and mortgage brokerage companies, according to the lawsuit, as was allowed under RESPA’s safe harbor for affiliated business arrangements. Those companies referred home buyers to Borders & Borders for settlement services, and the firm then would have the title insurance issued by one of the joint ventures.

The profits from the arrangement were split among the title insurance agencies’ owners — Borders & Borders, its principals and the referring company, according to the lawsuit.

Morgan Ward, a partner with Stites & Harbison PLLC and one of the attorneys who defended Borders & Borders, said that under RESPA, it is illegal to pay for referrals unless the law firm and mortgage broker share owners, as was the case with Borders & Borders. Consumers also must be aware of and agree with the arrangement.

Ward said the CFPB viewed RESPA’s safe harbor for affiliated business arrangements as a loophole and decided to try to close it through the courts instead of going to Congress to change the law.

“This really was a David versus Goliath kind of case,” Ward said. The CFPB “tried to send a chilling effect to the marketplace by punishing a family-owned local law firm.”

CFPB Finalizes Updates to “Know Before You Owe” Mortgage Disclosure

Press Release
July 7, 2017

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today finalized updates to its “Know Before You Owe” mortgage disclosure rule with amendments that are intended to formalize guidance in the rule, and provide greater clarity and certainty. The changes will facilitate implementation of the Know Before You Owe rule by the mortgage industry. The CFPB is also releasing a limited follow-up proposal to address an additional implementation issue.

“A mortgage is one of the largest financial decisions a consumer will ever make, and CFPB’s rules help ensure consumers have the easy-to-understand information they need before making a decision that will significantly impact their financial lives,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Our updates will clarify parts of our mortgage disclosure rule to make for a smoother implementation process for lenders and consumers.”

The Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule took effect Oct. 3, 2015. The CFPB’s rule created new, streamlined forms that consumers receive when applying for and closing on a mortgage. In addition to clarifications and technical corrections, the amendments that the Bureau is finalizing today address a handful of other issues within the rule, including:

Tolerances for the total of payments: Before the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule, the total of payments disclosure was determined using the finance charge as part of the calculation. The Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule changed the total of payments calculation so that it did not make specific use of the finance charge. The Bureau is now finalizing updates to include tolerance provisions for the total of payments that parallel the tolerances for the finance charge and disclosures affected by the finance charge.

Housing assistance lending: The Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule gave a partial exemption from disclosure requirements to certain housing assistance loans, which are originated primarily by housing finance agencies. The Bureau’s update, as finalized, promotes housing assistance lending by clarifying that recording fees and transfer taxes may be charged in connection with those transactions without losing eligibility for the partial exemption. The update also excludes recording fees and transfer taxes from the exemption’s limits on costs. Through the update, more housing assistance loans will qualify for the partial exemption, which should encourage these loans.

Cooperatives: The Bureau is finalizing updates to extend the rule’s coverage to include all cooperative units. Currently, the rule only covers transactions secured by real property, as defined under state law. Cooperatives are sometimes treated as personal property under state law and sometimes as real property. By including all cooperatives in the rule, the Bureau is simplifying compliance and ensuring that more consumers benefit from the rule.

Privacy and sharing of information: The Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule requires creditors to provide certain mortgage disclosures to the consumer. The Bureau has received many questions about sharing the disclosures provided to consumers with third parties to the transaction, including the seller and real estate brokers. The Bureau understands that it is usual, accepted, and appropriate for creditors and settlement agents to provide a Closing Disclosure to consumers, sellers, and their real estate brokers or other agents. The Bureau is finalizing additional commentary to clarify how a creditor may provide separate disclosure forms to the consumer and the seller.

The finalized amendments are available at:
http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201707_cfpb_Final-Rule_Amendments-to-Federal-Mortgage-Disclosure-Requirements_TILA.pdf

In addition to the final rule, the CFPB is issuing a proposal addressing when a creditor may use a Closing Disclosure, instead of a Loan Estimate, to determine if an estimated closing cost was disclosed in good faith and within tolerance. Comments are due 60 days after the proposal’s publication in the Federal Register and will be weighed carefully before a final regulation is issued.

The proposal is available at:
http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201707_cfpb_Proposed-Rule_Amendments-to-Federal-Mortgage-Disclosure-Requirements_TILA.pdf

Info On Home Closing

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