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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.
WFG National Title Insurance Co. added a senior vice president, senior auditor to its compliance and audit department.
Overall U.S. foreclosure activity is down 23 percent year-to-date through October 2013, but foreclosure activity on homes in the $5 million-plus value range is up 61 percent from the same period in 2012.
CoreLogic, a residential property information, analytics and services provider, released its October National Foreclosure Report which provides data on completed U.S. foreclosures and the national foreclosure inventory. According to CoreLogic, there were 48,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in October 2013, down from 68,000 in October 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 30 percent. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures decreased 25.6 percent, from 64,000 reported in September.
Lennar Corp. will release earnings for the fourth quarter and year ended Nov.30, before the market opens on Dec. 18. Additionally the company will hold a conference call at 11 a.m. Dec. 18 ET.
TSS Software Corp., a technology solutions provider to the title and settlement services industry, was acquired by Fist American Professional Real Estate Services, a provider of real estate transaction-based products and services. This acquisition makes significant additional resources available to their respective customers to help them meet the challenges of an increasingly dynamic market.
Fidelity National Financial, a provider of title insurance and transaction services to the real estate and mortgage industries, is identifying strategic alternatives for its portfolio company investments.
Title insurance premiums rose 14 percent compared to the third quarter of 2012 according to data collected by the American Land Title Association. The organization’s third-quarter market share analysis showed the title industry generated $3.4 billion in title insurance premiums during the third quarter of 2013 compared to $3 billion during the third quarter of 2012.
Fitch Ratings rated the U.S. title insurance industry outlook in a recent special report. It highlights key factors affecting title insurer ratings, assesses industry prospects for 2014 and reviews financial performance in 2013.
Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts indicated the economy continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace from early October through mid-November. Activity in the New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Dallas districts grew at a moderate pace, while Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City and San Francisco cited modest growth. Boston reported that economic activity continued to expand.
Darryl Turner, a speaker at the annual NAILTA conference in New Orleans, shared tips on creating a more positive workplace that’s open to change.
Entrust Solutions, a title insurance servicing company, started initial discussions with lenders regarding their centralized disbursing program. By acting as an independent third party, the company is allowing lenders to work with any agent or attorney and create a safe environment for them and the consumer.
Stewart National Title Services announced the addition of a new commercial business development officer in the Seattle office. He will be responsible for developing new customers and accounts in the area.
Pioneer Technology Group announced a signed agreement for Landmark Official Record Systems in Merrimack County, NH. The new system will improve efficiency and enhance land records access for title companies and the public in Merrimack County.
Data through September 2013 showed the U.S. National Home Price Index rose 3.2 percent in the third quarter of 2013 and 11.2 percent over the last four quarters.
WFG National Title Insurance Co. appointed two new leaders to its national commercial services group.
MortgageDocs, a national signing service company, integrated with Adeptive Software’s ResWare platform, allowing clients to order notary services directly through the ResWare system.
LenderLive Network Inc., an end-to-end mortgage services provider, implemented Adeptive’s ResWare platform provided by Windward Consulting | Software LLC. The new platform empowers LenderLive to effectively identify all tasks that need to be completed in real-time and perform them more efficiently.
Cynthia McGovern, founder of Orange Leaf Consulting, Dave Ross, principal Bazooka Communications, and Michael Tafoya, CEO of Title 365 spoke on the October Research webinar, “Entering New Markets.” They explained the importance of research and data, hiring the right people and local regulations.
No one can deny the title industry is in an era of regulation and compliance. Everyone in the business is increasing employee and vendor oversight and training. Mortgage lending is evolving too as a result of increased oversight from regulators and increased spotlight on the vendors and the third-parties they work with. All of these changes open the door for different opportunities. Mortgage lending is growing in complexity, and with refinance transactions dropping and interest rates increasing, strategies are changing.
Bulletins by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have made lenders responsible for the actions of their third-party providers. Lenders, in turn, will start to place more requirements on the shoulders of their title providers.
Technology can assist title companies in assuring accuracy and transparency in their work product while also helping them grow. Linear Title & Closing, for example, has been in business since 2005, and was founded with a strong vision of changing the way that title agents operate within the traditional title agent marketplace.
The board of directors of Old Republic International Corp. declared a quarterly cash dividend on the common stock of 18 cents per share.
The New Year is approaching. Are you ready for 2014’s regulatory environment?
The legal publications at October Research, LLC have teamed up to host a 90-minute federal regulatory outlook webinar for mortgage, title insurance and settlement services professionals. Regulatory Outlook 2014: Compliance, Enforcement and Pressure Points airs Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. ET. This in-depth training features two top compliance attorneys who will educate participants on significant regulations impacting the industry in 2014.
Speakers Mitch Kider, of Weiner Brodsky Sidman Kider PC, and Marx Sterbcow, of The Sterbcow Law Group, will define significant regulations, what companies should be doing now to prepare and what the regulatory landscape will look like as we move into yet another year of complying with thousands of pages of new regulations.
More applications for home construction were issued in October than at any time in the past five years, a sign the U.S. residential real-estate market is gaining momentum heading into 2014.
Applications for U.S. home loans dipped in the latest week, dropping for a fourth straight week, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The land title industry is in a great debate between the values of affiliated business and one stop shopping and the independent agents who call such arrangements anti-competitive. The Title Report discussed the matter with Anthony Affatati, president of NAILTA and Barbara Griest, 2013 chair of RESPRO and Sue Johnson, president and executive director of RESPRO.
Real Estate Data Shield announced its strategic partnership with Security Compliance Associates. This will enable Real Estate Data Shield to offer on-site security assessments and ALTA Best Practice Pillar No. 3 certifications.
RealtyTrac released its October 2013 U.S. Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report showing that U.S. residential properties, including single family homes, condominiums and townhouses, sold at an estimated annualized pace of 5.6 million, a two percent increase from the previous month and up 13 percent from October 2012.
Knight Barry Title Group is now operating out of 31 offices, 27 of which are in Wisconsin. So far this year the company has open two new offices in Madison, two in the North Woods and one in Crystal Lake, Ill.
Mortgage applications decreased 2.3 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Nov. 15. This week’s results include an adjustment to account for the Veteran’s Day holiday.
Title industry professionals shared their thoughts on the new mortgage disclosure forms released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many are relieved to have 20 months to implement the changes and others have a few concerns.
U.S. District Judge William Shubb sentenced Brandon Hanly, 33, of Redding, Calif., to four years in prison for a mortgage fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner announced.
CoreLogic, a residential property information, analytics and services provider, released its November MarketPulse report where economists discuss significant trends in residential mortgage performance in 2013.
Indecomm Global Services is enabling lenders and title agents to use its Trusted Submitter status to e-record as well as paper record in the regular system at the Bureau of Conveyances in the state of Hawaii.
Landtech Data Corp. announced the North American AgentLink – Landtech integration for both policy jackets and CPL download requests are now available in the latest release of the Landtech XML Settlement System. Clients will now be able to request and receive North American Title Insurance Co. policy jackets and CPLs from within their Landtech XML Settlement System.
Stewart Information Services Corp.’s board of directors declared a cash dividend of 10 cents a share, payable Dec. 27, to common stockholders of record on Dec. 9.
Cloudstar, a provider of security, compliance and cloud technology systems for the land title industry hired a new strategic account manager.
North American Title Group appointed a new senior vice president, general counsel with 20 years of experience in real estate.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against Republic Mortgage Insurance Corporation (RMIC), for allegedly paying illegal kickbacks to mortgage lenders in exchange for business. The CFPB filed a complaint and proposed consent order against RMIC to stop these practices. The proposed order will require RMIC to pay a $100,000 penalty to the CFPB, and follows four similar actions announced earlier this year.
The wait is finally over. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released the new mortgage disclosure forms and their implementing rule. The final rule provides answers to many of the industry’s long-standing questions about the RESPA/Truth in Lending Act proposal released last year.
We’ve discussed best practices, vetting, lender liability, data security, RESPA/TILA reform, the impact of QM and a litany of other issues and ideas that seem to signal a mortgage and settlement industry that is either evolving, in flux or both. But at no time has anyone brought up the notarization and signing of documents that often finalizes a mortgage transaction. Turns out, they were waiting for the Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Convention & Expo.
Secure Settlements Inc., a data intelligence and risk analytics company for the mortgage industry specializing in third-party vetting and ongoing monitoring, is now offering lenders more options for how it charges for its services. The company also added a new mobile app and achieved SSAE Audit Certification. Keep reading to learn about these changes.
RealtyTrac released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for October, which shows foreclosure filings, default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions were reported on 133,919 U.S. properties in October.
Simplifile, an electronic recording service provider, announced that customers may submit documents for e-recording in New York City, enabling faster, cost-effective recording for local and national document submitters.
North American Title Insurance Co. added two state agency managers. Each will be responsible for expanding the company’s agency client base.
Mortgage Bankers Association’s Application Survey data for October 2013 shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased by 11 percent relative to the previous month.
Cloudstar hired a new strategic account manager with 28 years of leadership in the land title industry delivering responsive service, industry expertise and client advocacy.
Title365 Company, a provider of title insurance and escrow services, announced the appointment of a new senior vice president of national sales to focus on the development of title and closing services, data and analytics and technology services for the National Solutions Division.
Indecomm Global Services announced it was now offering eRecording to lenders and title agents in more than 500 counties nationwide.
The Closing Agent, powered by Barry Miller Law, announced its recent acquisition of Title America of Central Florida. Effective Nov. 1, former Title America owner Cassie Fleming will be officially joining The Closing Agent team.
Virginia-based reQuire LLC, the nation's leading online release tracking
and reporting company, announced a new chief operating officer and the
appointment for a new chief strategy officer position.
Illinois-based Metropolitan Title Agency is opening a second office in
Byron, Ill., and adding three new key team members. Metropolitan Title
Agency is a title agency specializing in comprehensive title insurance
and escrow services for properties in Illinois.
J. Allen Fine, Chairman of the Board of Investors Title Co., announced
that the company's board of directors has declared a cash dividend.
Investors Title is a publicly held North Carolina company whose stock is
traded on The NASDAQ Global Market.
RealtyTrac announced the hire of a new senior vice president of revenue
generation and operations. He will be tasked with overseeing the website
and call center as well as growing and improving revenue for the
The National Association of Independent Land Title Agents is gathered in
New Orleans at the historical Hotel Monteleone for the group's Sixth
Annual National Conference. The first day was educational with a variety of speakers including
Meredith Iler from Helping a Hero, Darryl Turner, chief executive
officer of Darryl Turner Companies and Brian Webster, originations
program manager, from the Consumers Financial Protection Bureau.
Stewart’s Chief Executive Officer Matt Morris said the company is
taking a longer term view with a higher level of service going into
2014. He said, “We’re in the seventh inning. We haven’t completed all
the plans we set out for yet, but we’re happy to see the progress we've
Morris said the company has made a lot of changes in the
past year, to its customers’ and the company’s benefit. 2012 was a strong year financially, more than 1,500
agents have taken advantage of the Stewart Trusted Provider Program, and the company is now offering
escrow security bonds to add further assurances.
“People are saying we provide the services
they need, and we’re always the first ones out there, making them
aware,” Morris said. “I think that’s rewarding because they are part of
the highest-quality agency network. They can now market themselves as
such. That’s how the Trusted Provider network came to happen. We have
done a significant amount of work in developing the highest standard
Echoworx Corp. announced its partnership with Cloudstar to provide email encryption solutions to Cloudstar customers leveraging the OneWorld Email Encryption platform. Following the integration of Echoworx OneWorld, Cloudstar will begin offering encryption solutions to its customers before the end of the fourth quarter 2013.
A Lender Processing Services executive vice president was appointed to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) board of directors.
Fidelity National Financial acquired Northern Nevada Title Co. on Nov. 1. The name will remain the same and all 13 employees will remain with the company.
The Pennsylvania Land Title Association’s (PLTA) recent survey indicates professionals involved in real estate transactions in Pennsylvania want a change to the current property tax clearance process.
Fidelity National Financial Inc. announced that Chief Executive Officer George Scanlon will be transitioning from that role effective Dec. 7. Current President, Raymond Quirk was named the company’s new chief executive officer and Brent Bickett, executive vice president, corporate finance was named the company’s president.
“George has done an excellent job leading the company for the last three years and the company’s profitability and shareholder returns have improved under his leadership,” said Chairman William Foley, II. “As we are working towards the closing and integration of Lender Processing Services, Inc., we have decided to reallocate the CEO responsibilities to Randy and Brent.”
Capital Land Settlements, a multi-state title insurance and settlement company, increased its footprint in Florida by adding a title insurance veteran and opening a new Miami office.
Virginia’s Smyth County is now accepting electronic land documents for recording through Simplifile, an e-recording provider.
Mortgage applications increased 6.4 percent from one week earlier according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly mortgage applications survey for the week ending Oct. 25.
CoreLogic, a residential property information, analytics and services provider, released its September CoreLogic Home Price Index report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 12 percent on a year-over-year basis in Sept. 2013 compared to Sept. 2012. This change represents the 19th consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in home prices nationally.
Webinar offers guidance on beginning business in a new state
While title companies develop business strategies for 2014, many will look toward growth opportunities and expansion into new markets. But what is required to grow your footprint successfully? How do you manage the business expansion, and when is the right time to grow?
The Title Report is hosting a 75-minute webinar to answer these questions and guide you through numerous considerations when planning your business for that next step. Entering New Markets in 2014: Where to Go, How to Get There, Tools You’ll Need airs Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, at 2 p.m. ET. The webinar features industry professionals who will offer insight on moving toward growth; resources and tools needed for sustainable growth; and what it takes to begin business in a new state.
Title Financial Corp. announced the acquisition of Jackson Hole Title & Escrow in Jackson, Wyo. Jackson Hole joins Big Horn Title in Buffalo, Wyo., and Gillette Title Services in Gillette, Wyo., as Title Financial’s third acquisition since 2012.
First American Financial Corp., a global provider of title insurance and settlement services for real estate transactions, announced its board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of 12 cents per common share.
The cash dividend is payable on Dec. 16, 2013 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 9, 2013.
Investors Title Co. announced third quarter earnings including its net income increase of 74.7 percent to $5.5 million, or $2.66 per diluted share, compared with $3.2 million, or $1.50 per diluted share, for the prior year's quarter.
A lot is changing in the industry, from the regulatory environment to the way industry professionals are doing business. Things are rapidly changing for the lending industry as well, and they will continue to look to their service providers to do their best to protect what is most important to them.
During a session at the American Land Title Association Annual Convention, industry experts shared how to do just that.
The National Association of Home Builders discusses economics and housing policy in its “Eye on the Economy: Slowing Sales” report. Keep reading to see details.
A new report from RealtyTrac, a provider of real estate analysis and data, has shown that Americans are currently favoring age over beauty — in terms of their real estate purchases anyway.
The Aging Homes Analysis shows that most U.S. single family homes were built before 1990, and these pre-1990 homes made up the majority of 2013 year-to-date sales. Keep reading to see the full results of the study.
Mason Title & Escrow expanded its Bay County operations to serve the real estate community more effectively. It relocated its Beach office from Front Beach Road to Grand Panama in September.
United Lender Services announced the appointment of a new account manager. The new hire brings more than 15 years of experience in mortgage banking, with a focus on third-party vendor and account management.
Republic Mortgage Insurance Co. plans to raise new funds in the capital markets and use substantially all of it to recapitalize its three mortgage insurance carriers. The additional capital is intended to fully support existing policies, pay off deferred claim obligations, exit a “state of supervision” in North Carolina insurance regulations and resume underwriting of new business in early 2014.
This plan would arrange for a full and fair exit from the mortgage insurance market for Old Republic International and its shareholders, thus allowing the company to move forward with a clear focus on its core General and Title Insurance Operations.
A title company owner pled guilty to criminal charges for stealing $5.3 million entrusted to him as a settlement agent to pay off multiple mortgage loans in connection with real estate closings he handled.
Adeptive Software, the makers of ResWare, announced a strategic partnership with Cloudstar. Title agents will now be able to offer simple, secure access to ResWare in the cloud.
Alliant National Title Insurance Co. hired a new vice president for Florida agent training and business development.
SoftPro, a provider of title, closing and escrow software, announce that its SoftPro 360 business exchange platform has reached its one millionth transaction.
CoreLogic released an analysis of home price trends during the second quarter of 2013 in more than 380 U.S. markets based on the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indexes. It indicates that home prices increased by 10.1 percent in second quarter of 2013 compared to a year ago.
LPS released its latest Home Price Index report looking at August residential real estate transactions, which reports a 9 percent increase in home values from this point last year.
Ruth Dillingham, special counsel at First American Title, and Carl Pry, senior director at Treliant Risk Advisors, hosted a workshop at this year’s ALTA Annual Convention discussing the effects new regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau(CFPB) have on lenders.
Dillingham said she was providing the briefest, tips-of-the-wave-tops, view of how these regulations are going to change things in the industry.
A.M. Best reports the substantial growth in premium and greatly improved underwriting performance indicates that the title industry finally may have stabilized, and title insurers – after several years of reducing expenses and strengthening balance sheets – are poised to take advantage of more favorable market conditions should the real estate and housing markets continue to rebound.
Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. will be moving its headquarters from its current local in Winter Park, Fla. to a larger facility in Maitland, Fla. to accommodate the company’s growth.
Chris Black, owner of Winged Foot Title LLC created an eight-step program to improve the consumer experience. He learned that 70 percent of consumers leave the closing table without a basic understanding of the title insurance process. He said since real estate transactions are likely the most financially substantial transaction most will take part in, the least he could do was provide a basic understanding of what professionals in the title insurance business do for them.
Cornerstone Management Solutions hired the past president of the Florida Land Title Association as state director of Florida.
RealtyTrac’s first-ever Real Estate Investor Purchase and Finance Patterns report includes information on the volume of properties purchased, breakdown of cash versus financed purchases, property situation, investor purchases by property value and the number of investor-purchased properties sold.
RedVision, a provider of title searches and real property research solutions, entered into a preferred vendor agreement with TrackerPro. This integration enables streamlined digital delivery of RedVision products through the TrackerPro software.
RealtyTrac, a source for comprehensive housing data, released its Sept. 2013 U.S. Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report. It shows U.S. residential properties sales were up two percent from August and up 14 percent from the same time last year.
DataMotion is partnering with Fidelity National Title Group to bring email encryption services to its settlement agents.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is making lenders supervise and oversee their third party vendors and levying hard financial penalties to those that don’t. Gerry Alt, president of LOGS Network and Brian O’Reilly, president and managing director of the Collingwood Group were invited to discuss the topic at this year’s Mortgage Regulatory Forum.
O’Reilly said vendor management now involves testing and ensuring the vendor has familiarity with and properly applies the consumer protection laws that the lender or servicer are subject to.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is making consumer complaint management a priority. To address this, First American SMS created Rizolv.
First American Financial’s Chief Executive Officer Dennis Gilmore announced the company’s third quarter earnings along with Craig Barberio, director of investor relations and Mark Seaton, the chief financial officer. They said they were optimistic going into the new year.
According to Gilmore, total revenues in the third quarter were $1.3 billion, up 8 percent compared to last year. This increase was driven by continued strength in the purchase and commercial markets, as well as growth in the agency business. The earnings per share were $0.59 per share. This quarter’s results include $7 million of realized investment losses which impacted EPS by $0.04.
Old Republic International Chief Executive Officer Al Zucaro announced the company’s third quarter earnings along with Scott Eckstein, MWW Group, Scott Rager, president and chief operating officer, Karl Mueller, senior vice president and chief financial officer and Rande Yeager, chairman and chief executive officer, Old Republic Title Insurance Companies. Zucaro said Q3 2013 presents the third consecutive quarterly postings of profitability since the onset of the great recession in mid-2007.
“The earnings of the company are obviously benefiting to a great degree as a result of the changes that are occurring in the mortgage guaranty run-off and the Consumer Credit Indemnity (CCI) run-off,” said Zucaro. “Those are the big drivers in both the third quarter and the year-to-date period. And of course, the turnaround is represented by the complete flip-flop in the profitability of the Republic Financial Indemnity Group (RFIG)[NM1] run off. And of course, the very positive earnings momentum that’s occurring in our title business as it grows by leaps and bounds.”
Fidelity National Financial Inc. is exercising its option to adjust the consideration mix in the previously announced merger with Lender Processing Services Inc. The company will now pay $511 million in cash and decrease the stock component of the total consideration by an equal amount.
Fidelity National Financial’s Chief Executive Officer George Scanlon said the third quarter was another strong quarter for the title insurance business. The market made a noticeable shift to a purchase-dominated market, as the level of refinance activity came down dramatically. The company generated a 14.2 percent adjusted pretax title margin, nearly equal to the 14.4 percent title margin in the third quarter of 2012. Keep reading for further details.
Stewart Information Services Corp. Chief Executive Officer Matt Morris said the company’s third quarter results reflect a changing industry environment. Title operations delivered a 12.3 percent pretax margin, up from 10.8 percent in the prior year quarter. This was the best third quarter for commercial revenues since 2007. Keep reading for more details.
CATIC Chief Executive Officer Rich Patterson and Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ed Browne discuss the benefits of the attorney-only model and their plans to expand their market share in New England states.
The Legal Description is hosting an exclusive 75-minute webinar on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. ET to train title insurance and settlement services professionals on proven methods and practices designed to prevent against theft, legal trouble and loss of business that stem from day-to-day escrow practices.
Title and escrow professionals are encouraged to join us for Escrow Security: A Pathway to Protecting Your Assets and hear specifics on escrow accounting and vulnerabilities, sound take-aways and essential information needed to safeguard internal systems and customer accounts. Participants will hear from industry experts Dick Reass, of Reliant Title and RynohLive, and Brent Scheer, of Agents National Title Insurance Co., who will address internal and external threats and best practices for transactions.
Fidelity National Financial announced its plans to make a public offering of its common stock. The offering will be made under the company’s effective shelf registration filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission covering the issuance from time to time of various securities of the company.
TitleOne, a title and escrow company based in Idaho, completed an independent audit for Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16.