PLTA is proud to offer The Title Report RSS feed for visitors
The Title Report is the title insurance industry’s premier
source of market intelligence on issues that matter to today’s title agent and
settlement services professional. It provides up-to-the-minute,
nationwide reporting on title insurance, settlement services, e-commerce
and title technology, real estate market trends, fraud reports, ratings
actions and earnings reports, mergers and acquisitions, niche markets,
competitive business strategies and regulatory and legislative updates.
The Mortgage Bankers Association released its mid-year rankings of commercial and multifamily mortgage servicers’ volumes as of June 30. Wells Fargo and PNC Real Estate/Midland Loan Services top the list. Read on to see who else makes an appearance.
The U.S. title insurance industry reported declines in title operating revenues and profits for the first half of 2014 as the industry continued to deal with lower mortgage refinancing volumes. Harsh winter weather and higher interest rates in the first quarter also contributed to lower mortgage and real estate market activity over the first six months of 2014, according to Fitch Ratings.
Fitch’s Glombicki analyzes the big four
Zacks Rank, a stock-rating system, downgraded Fidelity National Financial Inc. a notch to Rank 5, Strong Sell. According to Zacks, FNF has been experiencing a downward estimate revision because of sluggish second quarter 2013 results and a weak outlook for the upcoming quarters.
Larry Burtness, Washoe County Recorder and vice president of the Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) said he is electronically recording 55 percent of the total volume of documents that come through his office. He expects to increase that to 80 percent.
There are currently more than 1,140 of 3,600 recording jurisdictions in the country eRecording including Hawaii and Alaska.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price report said the data through June shows a sustained slowdown in price increases. Committee Chairman David Blitzer said this data, combined with other indicators, points to a more normal housing sector.
First International Title hired new staffers for its Sarasota, Kissimmee and Inverness branches. Keep reading to learn more.
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced its latest residential construction statistics August 19. Most indicators show increase between June and July.
Wells Fargo began accepting applications through Oct. 1 from young companies interested in joining the new Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator, a semiannual boot camp for innovators whose technology ideas in payments, deposits, fraud, operations and other fields could shape future customer experiences in financial services.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau selected its participants for its mortgage eClosing pilot program. Keep reading to find out who.
A recent survey commissioned by a global information technology (IT) security vendor finds that preventing data leaks and preserving continuity of business systems during interruptions rank high on the list of many global businesses.
The survey, “Global IT Security Risks Survey 2014-Virtualization,” by global firm Kaspersky Lab, polled nearly 4,000 representatives in 27 countries who work at mid-sized to “very large” firms about the obstacles their management and IT teams face, specifically when building and maintaining a reliable, smooth-running IT infrastructure.
The FHFA is seeking comment from industry stakeholders as well as members of Congress and the public on its plan, which sets forth three goals — “maintain, reduce and build” — to guide the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported the total volume of mortgage refinances increased slightly in June as mortgage rates decreased from May. Keep reading to learn more.
Greater Maryland Title, a title insurance agency joint venture of Title Alliance Ltd., announced the appointment of a new manager and processor. Read on to see who.
The cost of recorded documents has been the subject of much debate, including at this year’s Association for Title Information Management’s (ATIM) 29th Annual Conference in Portland, Ore. October Research, LLC attended the event to learn more about this segment of the industry.
The session, “The Answer’s Money; So, What’s the Question? – A Clerk and Recorder Round Table” was moderated by Jim Harper, president and co-founder of PFA Inc., a high technology company specializing in migrating and preserving real property records. Included in the round table were Bill Burgess, Marion County Clerk in Oregon; Christine Walker, Jackson County Clerk in Oregon; Dianne Wilson, Fort Bend County Clerk in Texas and Joyce Mascena, Town of Glastonbury Clerk in Connecticut.
Hillsborough Title’s family of companies is adding a REO Division to its Florida operations. Newly appointed division manager Tanya Loper told The Title Report she wants to take the stigma out of REO sales.
In a state that has been historically resistant to eRecording, Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish is now accepting the technology with Simplifile.
A residential retail and wholesale lender will expand into four new markets to extend a wide range of product offerings underserved borrowers. Read on for more details.
The MISMO Residential Standards Governance Committee announced the schedule for the next two releases of the MISMO Residential Data Standard. Keep reading for the dates and details.
Commercial real estate transaction metrics are trending in a positive direction, with deal volume and pricing shifting upward as cap rate and risk premiums decline according to Auction.com’s Q2 2014 Commercial Real Estate Market Monitor Report.
“The picture continues to brighten for the commercial real estate market, as more investors take advantage of the current low-interest rate environment and drive transaction volume and pricing upward across all of the major sectors,” said Auction.com Executive Vice President Rick Sharga.
ResWare is now fully integrated with reQuire’s Release Tracking service. Keep reading to learn more about this partnership.
Luis Michael Mendez, 44, and Wilkie Perez, 39, each plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Darrin Gayles in the Southern District of Florida.
All-cash sales accounted were down from a three-year high in the second quarter according to RealtyTrac’s Q2 2014 U.S. Institutional Investor and Cash Sales Report. Institutional investors also are down from the previous quarter. Keep reading for more analysis of these niche sales in the industry.
Stewart released its newest version of Virtual Underwriter system. This tool provides databases, manuals, forms and real estate practices that streamline the process. Keep reading to learn more about this updated technology.
RynohLive released a new whitepaper focusing on the safekeeping of escrow accounts, entitled “Six Steps to Total Escrow Security.” Here experts from the company outline how agents can use technology to prevent fraud, embezzlement, defalcation and errors.
“One of the main areas of risk for the title insurance industry right now is escrow accounts,” said Dick Reass, president and founder of RynohLive.
Disaster recovery preparation needs to be about more than preparing for hurricanes and tornadoes, according to Agility Recovery experts Bob Boyd, Mark Norton and Scott Teel. Man-made disasters are far more common and can cause a significant interruption in business. In Part 2 of this two-part series, the experts explain how to get started.
Disaster recovery preparation needs to be about more than preparing for hurricanes and tornadoes according to Agility Recovery experts Bob Boyd, Mark Norton and Scott Teel. Man-made disasters are far more common and can cause a significant interruption in business. Keep reading to learn how your business can be prepared for all kinds of disasters.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency published a request for input on the proposed structure for a single security that would be issued and guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
TSS Software, a technology solutions provider, announced the integration of Title Express with First American SMS’ TrustLink platform. Keep reading to learn more.
Two defendants involved in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that targeted Charlotte-area homes were sentenced to prison according to the Charlotte Division of the FBI. Keep reading to learn more.
The latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Market Index revealed the housing recovery is moving forward.
eRecording is gaining in popularity across the country, but there are still some barriers to full acceptance of the technology. Simplifile's National Sales Manager Vicki DiPasquale and CSC President Karl Klessig spoke to The Title Report about these barriers and what's to come for this part of the industry.
Stewart completed the acquisition of DataQuick Lending Solutions collateral valuation assets.
RealtyTrac, a source for comprehensive housing data, released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for July 2014. According to the report, foreclosures are decreasing in most areas of the country. Keep reading to learn more.
North American Title Agency is growing its New Jersey and Northeast operations with new offices and people. Keep reading to learn more about this expansion.
Title insurers in the U.S. reported a meaningful reduction in first half 2014 profits versus the prior year. The decline is because of a weak first quarter with negative effects from severe winter weather on economic activity and higher interest rates on mortgage refinancing volume. Favorably, commercial activity remains robust, although unlikely to fully offset other unfavorable trends.
The title insurance industry is dominated by four large publicly traded companies: Fidelity National Financial (Fidelity), First American Financial Corp. (First American), Old Republic International (Old Republic) and Stewart Information Services Corp (Stewart).
RealtyTrac, a provider of real estate data and analytics, released a report Aug. 7 that shows housing affordability for many median-income households has dropped below historical averages. What the report shows is that while there might not be a need to sound the alarm for dangerously low affordability in most markets at the moment, there has been a shift away from the peak buying climate that some areas have enjoyed over the last several years.
Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Carol Galante will step down from her position at the end of this calendar year to accept a position at the University of California Berkley. She will have served two years.
As commissioner she had direct responsibility for oversight and administration of the FHA’s trillion dollar insurance portfolio, which includes single family and multifamily housing as well as insured health care facilities.
The Mortgage Banker’s Association recently released its National Delinquency Survey for the first half of 2014. According to its data, delinquency rates fell to their lowest level in more than six years. Keep reading to learn more.
Pioneer Technology Group announced a new director of business development with more than 15 years of experience in land records and court systems. Keep reading to learn about the company’s newest addition.
Earle Thompson has been promoted to senior vice president, agency division with WFG National Title Insurance Company.
Title Alliance has opened its first title agency partnership in Florida with the Keller Williams Marco Island Market Center of Marco Island, Fla. This is the 38th joint venture title office for the company, and its 19th partnership with Keller Williams.
Title Alliance opens first joint venture in Indiana
“Our particular niche is different from most out there,” Jim Campbell, partner at Title Alliance told The Title Report
Alliant National Title Insurance Co., a title insurance underwriter partnering with independent agents, appointed a new senior vice president and regional underwriting counsel. Keep reading to find out who.
Simplifile announced Aug. 6 that Lincoln County, Wyo., is eRecording—the second jurisdiction in the state to implement eRecording with the company.
CoreLogic released its monthly reports on home prices and completed foreclosures. Read to see how the housing industry did year-over-year.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently wrote a letter to the inspector general (IG) for the Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) addressing the bureau’s policy of publishing unverified consumer complaints and the IG’s upcoming audit of that database.
Elle Mae, a provider of innovative on-demand software solutions and services for the residential mortgage industry, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AllRegs, an information provider for the mortgage industry, for $30 million in cash, subject to certain price adjustments.
Results collected during the inaugural quarterly Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey show greater consumer mortgage demand in the second quarter of the year along with a steady and positive near-term mortgage demand outlook, and a divergence between larger and smaller lenders in underwriting credit standards.
This new industry research initiative tracks insights into current lending activities and market expectations among senior mortgage executives at Fannie Mae’s lending institution partners.
Christopher Chasse, 42, formerly of Foxboro, Mass., was charged in federal court in connection with fraudulent mortgage loans used to purchase residential properties. He was indicted on 10 counts of wire fraud.
The average fees that consumers pay to close on a mortgage have increased for the second year in a row, according to Bankrate’s annual closing cost survey. Fees charged by third parties haven’t changed much. The increase is coming from lenders. Keep reading to learn more.
Land Title and Escrow now is operating under the TitleOne brand as a result of being acquired by the company in March. Larry Roberts, the former president of Land Title and Escrow, said he’s excited about the change.
Corporation Service Co. launched new enhancements to its ePrepare electronic document preparation application. Keep reading to learn about this improved industry tool.
Avenue 365 Lender Services expanded its national sales team with the appointment of Pauldie Howrigan as vice president and national account manager. Keep reading to learn about the company’s newest hire.
Investors Title Co. announced its results for the second quarter ended June 30. Net income attributable to the company decreased 15.8 percent to $3,373,598 or $1.65 per diluted share, compared with $4,005,675, or $1.92 per diluted share, for the prior year quarter.
Investors receives ‘Excellent’ rating from A.M. Best
Secure Settlements Inc., a data intelligence and risk analytics company for the mortgage industry, is now offering a new program enhancement in association with RFIB Group Ltd. and certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London for Mortgage Settlement Insurance. MSI is an insurance policy that covers lenders utilizing SSI’s ClosingGuard service against losses arising at the closing table.
Secure Settlements Inc. enhances Closing Guard
Nationwide Title Clearing has instituted additional best practices above and beyond the National Notary Association’s (NNA) Code of Professional Responsibility for notaries. Myron Finely, chief legal officer, told The Title Report this policy will ensure full compliance and correct notary practices can be made easy by implementing simple standards known to be effective in assisting notaries to comply with the law.
New mortgage signing standards announced by group of lender, title leaders
Accurate Group, a provider of real estate appraisal, title and compliance services, launched its EquityRenew solution to help banks accelerate processing of home equity lines of credit that will reset over the next three years. Keep reading to learn more about this tool.
Entrust Solutions added a new executive vice president and opened an office in Birmingham, Ala., as a result of a merger. This is the company’s second merger in 2014. Keep reading to learn more about this company.
LenderLive Network, a mortgage services provider, appointed a new senior vice president, national sales manager to the company’s settlement services division.
Fidelity National Financial, a provider of title insurance, technology and transaction services to the real estate and mortgage industries, reports its operating results for the three-month and six month periods ending June 30.
Total revenues for core operations was $1.7 billion in the second quarter versus $1.6 billion in the second quarter of 2013. The second adjusted core diluted earnings per share (EPS) decreased from 67 cents in the second quarter of 2014 to 47 cents in the second quarter of 2014.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency is extending the deadline for its request for input on guarantee fees. Keep reading to learn more.
The Pioneer Technology Group, a developer of software solutions and services, announced its County Tax Deed Sale System, TaxSmart, is now live in Hernando County, Fla. Policy and Project Specialist for the county, Samantha Haun, said she’s excited to have a product that streamlines tax deed processes. Keep reading to learn more.
Ernst Publishing Co., a provider of technology and closing cost data for the real estate and finances industries, named a new director of product management. Keep reading for more information.
Stewart Information Services Corporation reported net earnings attributable to Stewart of $6.3 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, for the second quarter 2014, compared to earnings of $26.9 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, for the second quarter 2013.
Second quarter 2014 results included a charge of $10.5 million, or $0.42 per share, recorded in the title segment relating to a previously announced litigation settlement, as well as approximately $3.2 million, or $0.13 per share, of aggregate costs recorded in the corporate segment related primarily to acquisition-related costs.
Wetzel Trott is second acquisition by Stewart in April
Rande Yeager, chairman and chief executive officer of Old Republic Title Insurance companies said the title company experienced a nice profit rebound in the second quarter during the second quarter earnings announcement. Read on to see how this part of the business performed.
The Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group said the economy showed growth in the remainder of 2014 won’t be strong enough to offset the weak activity from the first two quarters of the year. However, Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan said housing data points to a continued but modest rebound in the housing market.
“Recent housing activity picked up seasonally as we expected, yet many indicators remain near or below the levels for the same period last year,” Duncan said.
CoreLogic unveiled two new product enhancements at its RiskSummit Client Conference. The company will now produce a new report, Cash Investor Trends to track and report on cash and investors sales and increase coverage of its CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indexes. Keep reading to learn more.
Integrated Mortgage Solutions appointed a new senior vice president to further develop its growing portfolio of regional and national accounts. Keep reading to learn more.
WFG National Title Insurance Co. added an agency sales consultant to provide support services in Southeast Region. Keep reading to learn more.
First American Financial, a global provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions, announced its financial results for the second quarter and first half of 2014. Total revenue was down 11 percent compared to 2013, partly due to a 57 percent drop in refinance volume. This did stabilize in the first quarter and slightly increased in the second quarter.
Net income in the current quarter (second quarter) was $50.6 million, or 47 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $34.7 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2013.
Todd Bjorklund, a leader in the real estate and mortgage industries, passed away on July 19 at the age of 56. Bjorklund was an entrepreneur, having started his first business when he was only 18 years old.
North American Title Company recently announced the creation of its new national commercial division. John Shafer, newly appointed director of the division told The Title Report that the company hopes to make this division a one-stop shop for customers and expand nationwide.
First National Title Insurance Co. announced an almost 50 percent increase in revenue year-over-year in the second quarter. Keep reading for further results.
Alliant National Title Insurance Co., appointed Tom Weyant as continuous improvement manager. Read on to see what improvements he will be making.
RealtyTrac, a source for comprehensive housing data, released its U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report for the second quarter of 2014, which shows that 9.1 million U.S. residential properties were seriously underwater. Keep reading to learn more.
“The Stone Age didn’t end because humanity ran out of stones,” Ronald Bailey, a well-known American libertarian science writer, once said.
The quote is now posted in the offices of Winged Foot Title LLC in Fort Myers, Fl., and the company’s owner and attorney, Chris Black, recently led a panel discussion at October Research LLC’s National Settlement Services (NS3) conference in New Orleans, where he added to the statement: “It ended because people innovated.”
The topics of innovation and creativity were the theme of Black’s presentation during a session at the 10th annual conference titled, “Partnerships, Cooperation and Creative Thinking: Encountering Ways to Add to Your Revenue Stream.”
The new national account manager at Avenue 365 Lender services will aid the company is entering into strategic relationships with leading mid-tier lenders and credit unions. Read on to learn more.
Simplifile is offering eRecording services in four more jurisdictions across the country. Title companies, banks and attorneys will be able to electronically scan, upload, submit and track the status of documents sent to the county for recording via the internet. Read on to learn where.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing a new policy that would empower consumers to publicly voice their complaints about consumer financial products and services, according to a release sent out by the agency. Publishing consumer narratives would provide important context to the complaint, help the public to detect specific trends in the market, aid consumer decision-making and drive improved consumer service.
Housing had a reprieve from its recent run of poor performance, as home sales, housing starts and credit availability picked up slightly in the May and June periods according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Forecast Commentary for July. However, a 42 percent decrease in overall mortgage originations is expected in 2014. Keep reading for more information.
October Research, LLC recently hosted its 2014 National Settlement Services Summit in New Orleans where Dan Miller, chief executive officer at RightNow Consulting, gave title agents insights on how to meet the needs of their best customers.
“The next five to seven years are going to be the most exciting and opportunistic years in your business,” Miller said.
Sun Title, a tech-savvy title agency in Michigan, is making the closing process easier for the consumer with its new EZ-Read Title Commitment. Sun Title President and Co-Owner Lawrence Duthler said it will save everyone time and energy from the very beginning of the transaction.
SoftPro, a title, closing and escrow software company, announced a new integration with Fidelity National Title’s TitleWave system. Through the SoftPro 360 exchange platform, agents of the Fidelity National Title family of underwriters can now seamlessly order and retrieve products from TitleWave, Fidelity’s online title search order and retrieval system, directly from SoftPro.
Corporation Service Co. (CSC) announced several new jurisdictions have adopted eRecording. Keep reading to learn which ones.
RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for real estate data, released its Midyear 2014 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows a total of 613,874 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in the first half of 2014, a 19 percent decrease from the previous six months and down 23 percent from the first half of 2013.
The report also includes new foreclosure activity data from June, when a total 107,194 U.S. properties had a foreclosure filing, down 2 percent from the previous month and down 16 percent from a year ago to lowest level since July 2006, before the housing price bubble burst.
Jackie Hoyt bought the assets of Hillsboro Title Co. two years ago and changed its corporate name to KWYK Inc. – Know What You Know Inc. She was working for the company through the housing collapse when the company went from 14 offices to four. The owners started looking for buyers and Hoyt raised her hand.
“I didn’t want to see someone from out of town or venture capitalists come in and purchase the company,” she told The Title Report.
The Mortgage Bankers Association Builder Application Survey data for June 2014 shows mortgage applications for new home purchases decreased by 5 percent relative to the previous month.
OneTitle National Guaranty Co. Inc. appointed a new executive vice president to oversee all underwriting, legal, fraud prevention and regulatory affairs.
Title Professionals and Abstract Co. was acquired by Title Midwest. Keep reading to learn more.
A Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System’s Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, more commonly known as the Beige Book, was released July 16.
All 12 districts indicated that economic activity continued to expand since the previous report.
The Miami, Fla. Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that Karl Oreste, 56, of Miramar, pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert Scola, Jr., to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.
Growth in cyber-crime has continued, if not accelerated in the financial services industry according to the recently released report, “Transforming cybersecurity: New approaches for an evolving threat landscape” by Deloitte Center for Financial Services.
According to this report, U.S. financial services companies lost, on average, $23.6 million from cybersecurity breaches in 2013, which represents the highest average loss across all industries.
In the wake of upcoming industry sea changes brought about by federal regulators, there are many unchartered waters to navigate — but it’s important to stay the course when it comes to achieving and maintaining efficiencies in your title operations, a panel of industry leaders told attendees of October Research, LLC’s National Settlement Services Summit (NS3) in New Orleans.
During the three-day annual conference and networking event — celebrating its 10th anniversary in fine style in The Big Easy — three representatives of settlement service technology companies spoke on the subject of reducing title production costs in a session titled, “Revealing the Cost of Title Services: Facts That Will Guide You in Streamlined Operations.”
Old Republic International Corp. (ORI) will hold a conference call at 3 p.m. ET July 24 to discuss its second-quarter results. The call can be accessed live on Old Republic’s website, oldrepublic.com, or on a listen-only phone line at 888-438-5535.
Mark Bilbrey, president of Old Republic Title Insurance Co., said earnings were positive in the title group at $4.7 million despite the significant downturn in the first quarter. Commercial business remained strong and market share continued to increase.
Old Republic CEO says title business a powerful Q1 earnings contributor
North American Title Co., one of the largest real estate settlement service providers, added several industry experts to its roster this summer. Its underwriter, North American Title Insurance Co., has also added executives in Florida.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently approved The Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA) drafted by Dianne Fienstein, D-Calif. and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
“Cyber-attacks present the greatest threat to our national and economic security today, and the magnitude of the threat is growing,” Feinstein said. “Every week we hear about the theft of personal information from retailers and trade secrets from innovative businesses, as well as ongoing efforts by foreign nations to hack government networks. This bill is an important step toward curbing these dangerous cyber attackers.”
Beacon Default Management Inc., a trustee company providing non-judicial foreclosure services in the Western United States, appointed Tina Suihkonen as the company’s new president. She will join the team of commercial banking, title insurance and loan workout experts.
CoreLogic, a global property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider, released its May CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 8.8 percent in May 2014 compared to May 2013. Keep reading for more information.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Treasury released its June edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard – a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. The latest data show progress among key indicators, including growing entity and rebound in the sale of new and existing homes.
While this scorecard notes positive overall trends in the housing market, officials caution that more work needs to be done as the economy recovers from the Great Recession.
National Title Insurance Co. added a new agency sales representative in the company’s Midwest region. She has 17 years of experience and received her bachelor degree in business administration from the University of Texas, Austin.