Online Land Title Classes Now Available

With a great deal of effort, I am proud to announce arrival of new online courses for the title industry. My first few are now available and I will have a number of others in the near future.

As you know, I specialize in teaching title insurance, title abstracting, title examination, legal descriptions and all things “geek” in the title world.  I love land titles. I love the history. I love the mystery of finding the ownership and all the title issues. Insuring title, closing title, etc. Every title is different and I love it all from the search through the closing.

Try them out and look for more Classes to come online soon.

Best Regards,  Jeanne

American Ingenuity is Still at Work in Courthouses

I was in Michigan last week speaking to an amazing group. The company developed special cameras, made in Germany, to take to Courthouses around the country to image public records. The amazing thing is that their cameras read the humps and bumps in those enormous tract books by refocusing the images as they cross the page. In other words, they don’t have to take the books apart. They work in teams, 24/7, traveling with the cameras to wherever they are needed. Some of the team scan the pages, others carefully proof the images for clarity, and they can even create the grantor grantee books and tract books. I am very proud of these people. Lets keep our jobs in the US and lets continue to invent new and better ways of doing the same old tasks.

Thoughtful Article Relates Directly to the Title Business

We all know the title business has changed. Not long ago title insurance was a thorough, labor intensive search of title that uncovered and then repaired title for the homeowner. Now it is an outsourced take-a-quick-peek-at-the-last-deed-of-record and put out a title commitment. Then when all those unresolved problems show up, let’s-just-insure-over-all-those-title- problems-until-they-go-away! I personally feel that the title underwriters have taken a shortcut by no longer researching the title. Yes, it does save the shareholders money up front, but in the long run, will it cost more in claims than the savings.

Forbes Magazine has a great article, Why Amazon Can’t make a Kindle” on what can happen with outsourcing. I see a lot of parallels with the title industry as we outsource posting of title plants and preparation of title commitments. We are losing the skilled trade abstractors, closers, and examiners to save a buck. No one is teaching basic skills any more. I’ll be interested in what you think.

State Abstractor Exam – I passed!

I just got through with the exam and I passed. I think it was close though. It was tougher than I imagined it would be. The main stumbling block was the wording of the questions. You warned us about that. Two were questions I should have been able to answer easily, survey questions, but they were worded in a way I couldn’t understand.

I was allowed 240 minutes to complete the exam. Way more than enough time. I went through each question carefully at least twice and finished in 64 minutes. It was a computer exam and the results were provided upon completion.

Your seminar was crucial in my passing the exam. The material was a great studying guide. I think I have read through it about a dozen times over the last 3 days. Now I just have to get that insurance figured out…. Thanks,

Matt Young

Foreclosure Mill Sold to China

Read more at  Bloomberg News

Attorney David Stern made about $146 million when he sold his non-legal foreclosure business to a company originally formed to do business in China, according to a regulatory filing. The non-legal foreclosure businesses are paid fixed fees for work, such as $400 for title searches, according to the regulatory filing and Stern’s remarks at the investor conference, as quoted in the securities lawsuit. Profit, of course, depends on cutting costs and boosting volume. The business is also reported to be supported by an operation in the Philippines that provides data entry and document preparation, according to the filing. The company was renamed DJSP Enterprises.

105 More Title Insurance Closings Undone

MANHATTAN—Laurence Lewitas, owner and president of Gotham Abstract LLC has been indicted for stealing more than $6.7 million from more than 105 real estate transactions. According to documents filed in court, Gotham was a title abstract company that, among other things, sold title insurance. By acting as a title agent for various title insurance companies. In one case, Gotham received $2.7 million from 38 King Street LLC, a group of owners of a residential property in Manhattan, to hold in escrow until 38 King was ready to complete the purchase of a new property. The money was never deposited into a separate escrow account, according to prosecutors. Within days of being deposited, the money was stolen and transferred among various accounts.

More at North Country Gazette.

Fidelity Settles FTC’s Complaint of Anti-Competition Due to Purchase of Title Plants, Subject to Public Comment

July 17, 2010
WASHINGTON, July 16 — The Federal Trade Commission issued the following news release:
To settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its 2008 acquisition of three LandAmerica Financial, Inc. subsidiaries was anticompetitive, Fidelity National Financial, Inc. will sell several title plants and related assets in the Portland, Oregon, and Detroit, Michigan, metropolitan areas, and in four other Oregon counties.
Title plants are databases used by abstractors, title insurers, title insurance agents, and others to determine the ownership of, and interests in, real property in connection with underwriting and issuance of title insurance policies and for other purposes.

According to the FTC, Fidelity’s acquisition of the LandAmerica assets was anticompetitive in several local markets for the provision of title insurance information services by title plants.
The FTC’s complaint charges the acquisition reduced competition in six geographic areas: 1) the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area, consisting of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties; 2) Benton County, Oregon; 3) Jackson County, Oregon; 4) Marion County, Oregon; 5) Linn County, Oregon; and 6) the Detroit, Michigan, metropolitan area consisting of Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties.
In the Portland, Oregon, area, the complaint alleges the acquisition left Fidelity with a controlling interest in the title plant that is the sole provider of title insurance information services. In the three other Oregon counties, the acquisition reduced the number of independent title plants from four to three.
In the Detroit metropolitan area, the FTC contends the acquisition may give Fidelity the power to affect the competitive significance of Data Trace, an independent title services provider, and the only firm in these counties other than Fidelity with a complete and up-to-date title plant.
The FTC’s proposed settlement order will replace the competition lost through Fidelity’s acquisition of LandAmerica’s title insurance subsidiaries. First, it requires Fidelity to sell part of its ownership in the joint title plant in Portland, Oregon, to Northwest Title. This will ensure Fidelity does not own a majority of the only title plant serving the Portland market.
Second, it requires Fidelity to sell a copy of the data from each of the title plants serving Oregon’s Benton, Jackson, Linn, and Marion counties to Northwest Title. This will restore the number of independent title plant owners in each county to four – the same number as before the acquisition.
Third, the proposed order requires Fidelity to sell a copy of the title data in the three Detroit-area counties that LandAmerica provided to Data Trace before the acquisition to an FTC-approved buyer. This will limit Fidelity’s ability to affect the competitive significance of Data Trace, an ability that Fidelity gained through its acquisition LandAmerica’s assets.
Finally, the order requires Fidelity to notify the FTC before acquiring 50 percent or more of any joint title plant in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas – states where Fidelity’s acquisition of LandAmerica’s subsidiaries has increased Fidelity’s ownership interest in title plants.
The FTC vote approving the complaint and proposed settlement order was 5-0. The order will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until August 16, 2010, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be sent to: FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To submit a comment electronically, please click on: https://public.commentworks.com/ftc/fidelitynationalfinancial.
NOTE: The Commission issues a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The issuance of a complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondent has violated the law. A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.
Copies of the complaint, consent order, and an analysis to aid in public comment can be found on the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to [email protected], or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 383, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read “Competition Counts” at http://www.ftc.gov/competitioncounts.

NALTEA Abstractor Certification PREP Class

The National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors
invites all area abstractors to attend our National Certified Abstractor Examination Prep Seminar and Meet and Greet.

Date: Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Check In: 7:30 A.M. to 8:00 A.M

Seminar: 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (with a 1 hour break for lunch at noon)

Meet & Greet: 7:30 A.M to 4 P.M.

Place: Marriott Courtyard in Deerfield, IL
800 Lake Cook Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
(1 mile east of I-94 Tri-State Tollway, Lake Cook Road at Pfingsten Road)

Cost for Meet & Greet: Free! Stop in and meet some of the board members and officers of NALTEA! Ask questions,
receive answers, and take home some fabulous promotional items!

Seminar Fee: $50.00 (current members and future members)

A limited number of copies of Principles of Abstracting, Searching and land Records Management (National Edition) by author Jeanine W.Johnson will be available at the NALTEA reduced rate of $85.00.

Interested in finding out more about NALTEA? Stop in any time during 7:30 A.M and 4 P.M. on May 22nd at the Marriott Courtyard in Deerfield, Illinois. Sit in on the exam prep seminar for a while (no charge for a peek). See for yourself how our certification program may help promote your knowledge and skills to the greater title insurance industry.

Snacks and promotional items will be provided courtesy of NALTEA.

Please RSVP at [email protected] and let us know whether you will be joining us for the seminar or the Meet and Greet or both. Payment for the seminar and/or study guide is due at the event. Personal checks are welcome.

We look forward to meeting you. In the meantime, please visit us at http://www.naltea.org .
By Pat Scott, Sales Manager at OConnor Title Guaranty, Inc.

Buy 2 Seminars Get 1 Free!

Time is running out, but there is still time to register. We are running a special for the April 12-13th Seminar. For the next 24 hours buy 2 and get 1 free!

Annual Principles of Abstracting Class slated for May 4-5

The annual Minnesota “Principles of Abstracting and Land Records Management” two day course is being offered on May 4th and 5th in St Paul, MN at the Country Inn and Suites. The course is designed for County Recorders, Title Insurers, Abstractors, and those who deal in land titles. Participants have included Homeland Security professionals who place towers on various sites, Dept of Transportation professionals who deal in Right of Way projects, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and various Utility companies that place easements such as Excel Energy and  Comcast.

The two day course will help prepare attendees to improve their land title search skills, stay in touch with changes in laws, or prepare for the state abstractor licensing examination.  Topics this year include foreclosures, short searches and comprehensive name searching. You can register by mail or online at http://www.landrecs.com/pages/seminar-list.php

Info On Home Closing

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