continuing education

Fannie Mae Offers New Resource for Home Buyers and real estate professionals

Fannie is offering a new resource for Buyers and Real Estate Professionals  – a HomePath Buyers Guide.  The guide will help home buyers navigate the process of purchasing a home.  The information includes basic home buying and HomePath financing information, and frequent questions about the sales process, including a new home buyers checklist.

You may listen to the episodes on your computer or by downloading the file from Fannie Mae at their education site,

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

Real Estate Titles US – Inexpensive Title Education

A new online education company, (RETUS) has been formed specifically for title professionals. Its purpose is to provide high quality, inexpensive education for those involved with real estate titles. That includes: Closers, Abstractors and Title Searchers, County Recorders, Real Property Attorneys, Title Examiners, Title Agencies and Title Insurance Underwriters. The company offers primarily Professional Development courses for its customers, as most states have no education requirements for these professionals, but also offers some continuing education classes for those states that require CE. Additional License and Pre-license courses are planned for the future.

“RETUS Online courses provide quality education at lower costs for the consumer, as they don’t have to spend money for hotels, meals or travel, and they have the flexibility of working on their own timeframe. Even 15-20 minutes can be very worthwhile in studying important title concepts- and they can enter and exit courses as time allows.” 

The online courses have all been prepared by subject matter experts in the land title field, some being written or edited by Jeanine W. (Jeanne) Johnson. Courses coming soon include

  •  “A Settlement Agents Guide to Closing,” which will cover the full spectum of closing, including the newest changes to the HUD-1 Settlement Statement;
  •   “Introduction to Title Insurance and Land Titles,” that gives a history of title insurance and is a primer of key concepts in the title industry;
  •  “Real Property Ownership and Land Title Use,” which covers legal descriptions, platting, land use controls, rights of the government in planning. Especially helpful in dealing with new construction, land development and commercial properties.

Take a free test drive of the new title education courses for your state by clicking on your state, then the information button on the US MAP.

Does Title Industry Need More Government Oversight?

Yesterday, My Fox News in Minnesota, reported a MN Commerce Department raid, where officials found thousands of mortgage closings that were never completed at two additional title companies – Title Source Mortgage Company and Home Sweet Home Equity. The raid showed that “more than 3,000 homes nationwide” were affected. The Commerce Department revoked the license of the companies, whose owners allegedly spent some of the money for a suite at the Minnesota Vikings games, and $20,000 in political contributions.

I am not sure what all that means, but I would estimate that once again, the title insurance underwriter(s) will be up to their proverbial necks with trouble from owners, lenders and the secondary market, because:

• Thousands of homeowners have unfiled deeds. Of record, they have no title to their houses. They will be hard pressed to sell their homes, refinance, etc.
Unwarranted Foreclosures will be forced. Money collected to pay off mortgages was likely not sent to the appropriate lender, causing these houses to be forced into foreclosure, through no fault of the owners.
Unpaid monetary items on each closing will be a huge problem. Taxes, assessments, homeowner association dues, child support liens, mechanic’s liens, and other title issues, while collected at these closings, will remain unpaid on these homes until the title mess is cleaned up on each home. Penalties and interest accrue on many of these daily.
• Likely hundreds of lenders have unsecured mortgage loans on these 3,000 properties, because the mortgages have not been recorded at the respective county. These lenders will have loans unsalable on the secondary market, because no mortgage notes and collateral packages have been provided to the end lender. And, at a mere $260,000 per transaction, that would be about $780,000,000. worth of headaches on this one title agent.

I have long been outspoken in my concerns about the quality of title work, and signing of inept and unethical title agents, but hand in hand goes the similar responsibility about the quality and integrity of closing the transaction. Title Agents need to be both knowledgeable and ethical. Title agents handle Billions of dollars each year of the public’s money. The licensing and oversight of Title Agents is obviously not being appropriately handled by the five national title underwriters.

It seems to be time for state legislatures to step in. Why not fund State oversight of title companies by assessing significant enough penalties to really make them do the right thing. Title companies need oversight of funds, regular education and continuing education in laws and ethics, and they need a big stick to make it happen.

The new Gov't Accounting Office Report on Title Ins.

New From the Government Accounting Office (GAO)
A brief recap by Jeanine Johnson

See GAO for full Report
“TITLE INSURANCE Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of the Title Industry and Better Protect Consumers”

The U.S. title insurance market is highly concentrated at the insurer level, but market characteristics varied across states. In 2005, for example, five insurers accounted for 92 percent of the national market, with most states dominated by two or three large insurers. Variations across states included the way title agents conducted their searches as well as the number of affiliated business arrangements (ABA) in which real estate agents, brokers, and others have a stake in a title agency. Finally, premiums varied across states due to cost and market variations that can also make understanding and overseeing title insurance markets a challenge on the national level.

Mix of Affiliated and Independent Agents Differs by State
• Use of Affiliated Business Arrangements Appears to Be Increasing
• Title Agents’ Responsibilities Also Differ across States
• Premiums Are Difficult to Compare across Markets
• Multiple Factors Raise Questions about the Extent of Competition and the Reasonableness of Prices in the Title Insurance Industry
• Consumers find it difficult to shop for title insurance, therefore, they put little pressure on insurers and agents to compete based on price

Potential for Problems:
• title agents do not market to consumers, who pay for title insurance, but to
those in the position to refer consumers to particular title agents, thus
creating potential conflicts of interest;
• a number of recent investigations by HUD and state regulatory officials
have identified instances of alleged illegal activities within the title
industry that appear to reduce price competition and could indicate
excessive prices;
• as property values or loan amounts increase, prices paid for title insurance
by consumers appear to increase faster than insurers’ and agents’ costs;
• in states where agents’ search and examination services are not included
in the premium paid by consumers, it is not clear that additional amounts
paid to title agents are fully supported by underlying costs

Alleged Illegal Activities Appear to Reduce Competition and Could Indicate Excessive Prices Paid by Consumers
Examples of Allegedly Illegal Referral Fees Described in Investigations by HUD and State Insurance Regulators
• A title agent paid real estate agents’ business training and printing expenses.
• A title agent provided trips, entertainment, and catering for entities involved in real estate transactions.
• A title agent contributed to a pool of funds that was given away in a drawing among real estate agents.
• A title agent paid an excessive rate to rent a conference room from a real estate company.
• Title agents provided free or below-cost marketing services to real estate agents.

Allegedly Illegal Captive Reinsurance Arrangements Could Indicate Consumers Were Paying Excessive Prices
• A Number of Investigations Found ABAs Allegedly Being Used to Pay Referral Fees, Raising Questions about the Cost and Benefits of ABAs to Consumers.
• As Coverage Amounts Increase, Premiums Paid by Consumers Appear to Increase Faster Than Insurer and Agent Costs
• States’ Enforcement of Antikickback and Referral Fee Provisions Was Uneven
• HUD Officials Expressed Concern over Lack of Enforcement Authority for Violations of Section 8 RESPA
• HUD, State Regulators, and Industry Stakeholders Have Developed Proposals for Improving the Regulation and Sale of Title Insurance

Recommendations for Executive Action
1. expanding the sections of the home-buyer information booklet on title agents, ABAs and available title insurance discounts;
2. evaluating the costs and benefits to consumers of title agents’ operating as ABAs;
3. clarifying regulations concerning referral fees and ABAs; and
4. developing a more formalized coordination plan with state insurance, real
estate, and mortgage banking regulators on RESPA enforcement efforts. strengthening the regulation of title agents through means such as establishing meaningful requirements for capitalization, licensing, and continuing education;
5. improving the oversight of title agents, including those operating as ABAs, through means such as more detailed audits and the collection of data that would allow in-depth analyses of agents’ costs and revenues;
6. increasing the transparency of title insurance prices to consumers, which could include evaluating the competitive benefits of using state or industry Web sites to publicize complete title insurance price information, including amounts charged by title agents;
7. identifying approaches to increase cooperation among state insurance, real estate, and other regulators in the oversight of title insurance sales and marketing practices.


Many of you have contacted me as to whether any of the classes you have taken from me in title exam, abstracting, or legal descriptions qualify for the Closers License. They apparently do not. So, I am putting together a class to meet the commerce department requirements. Please contact me with questions. My understanding is that the state requires all closers to hold a closers license.

FYI, Here is the response from Commerce regarding closer licensing classes:


To obtain a Minnesota Real Estate Closing Agent License, an individual must submit proof of completing a course approved by the Minnesota Department of Commerce for either real estate pre-license education or real estate continuing education which covers at least 8 hours of subject matter relating to real estate closing.

Real estate closing is a topic which is covered in the real estate pre-license education courses required to be completed in order to obtain a Minnesota Real Estate Broker or Salesperson License. Therefore, a copy of a Minnesota Real Estate Broker or Salesperson License will also be acceptable as proof of the completion of the required 8 hours of real estate closing education.

Licensing Division
Minnesota Department of Commerce”

Dearborn Publishing Touts Title Book for Real Estate Schools

From: Dearborn Real Estate Education [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 2:50 PM
To: Melissa Kleeman
Subject: Build Your Client Base in a Softening Real Estate Market

Add Value by Offering Education to Agents with a Turnkey Course –Title Insurance for Real Estate Professionals
Looking for ways to have agents and brokers switch their alliances to you and your members? Give them a reason. Show them you truly know the Title Insurance business not just with the products you sell, but with the industry knowledge you possess.

Dearborn Real Estate Education, the leading publisher in real estate training for nearly 50 years, has created Title Insurance for Real Estate Professionals, a basic overview of the industry, giving you one more way to do just that.

Created as a course-in-a-box, Title Insurance for Real Estate Professionals is available with everything from booklets for students to instructor resources with PowerPoint slides from which to teach, including suggested topics and time per subject, and more, all designed as a “non- commercial” way to build relationships with real estate professionals.

The course was designed to be taught for real estate continuing education credit,* or as an educational seminar that can be given in a “lunch and learn” type setting. Spend quality time educating agents, establish yourself as an industry expert and then add a few minutes at the beginning or end of the course to tell them about the benefits of your organization.

Written by industry expert Jeanie W. Johnson, the course takes fundamentals and applies them to real life closing and title scenarios. When completed, professionals will be able to:

Explain what title insurance does and does not do
Identify red flag title issues for customers when they are listing, selling, mortgaging and closing property
Explain title work in plain English to agents, sellers, buyers and borrowers
Explain how liens and encumbrances legally attach to property
Determine how to remove unwanted items on title
Follow how title companies investigate and put together title work
Explain how title companies protect themselves and their customers from mishandling of closing funds, fraud, forgery, and a host of title issues
Jeanine W. (Jeanne) Johnson worked for over twenty- five years as a real estate agent and closer, then as an abstractor, closer, examiner, and Vice President of Old Republic National Title. She has authored a number of books, most notably Principles of Abstracting and Land Records Management; Title Examination for Title Insurers; Reading and Drawing Legal Descriptions; and most recently Title Insurance for Real Estate Professionals. She currently authors, consults, conducts seminars, and speaks at conventions and association meetings.

To learn more about offering this course in a box, and about bulk discounts, call your account representative at (800) 621-9621.

*In order to offer an approved continuing education course for credit, the course and instructors must be approved by the state in which the course is being offered. For information on how to do this, contact your account rep or state real estate commission.

email: [email protected]

phone: 800-621-9621


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Info On Home Closing

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