ALTA Continues Consumer-education Campaign on Pandora

In an effort to educate consumers about the benefits of title insurance, ALTA has continued its advertising campaign on Pandora—a streaming and automated music service.

ALTA is targeting 25- to 34-year-old first-time homebuyers in specific markets. During the latest campaign (which starts Aug. 23 and runs through Sept. 6), ALTA is focusing on this demographic in Austin, Texas and Portland, Ore. Earlier this year, ALTA ran advertisements in Denver, Minneapolis, Charlotte and Philadelphia. All of the cities are ranked by the National Association of Realtors as top metros for first-time homebuyers.

The ad informs the listener to purchase an owner’s title insurance policy to protect their property rights and directs them to ALTA’s Home Closing 101 website (www.homeclosing101.org). The ad campaigns have resulted in more than an 80 percent increase in page views of the website.

You can listen to the ad here: 


Here’s what the ad looks like:


More information: Can Micro Targeting Work in the Title Industry?


Ins and Outs of ALTA’s Best Practices Maturity Model



By Cynthia Blair and Lori Dorman

Reaching and documenting full compliance with ALTA’s Best Practices can be a struggle for small and large business owners alike. Completing an assessment and noting all the areas where improvement is needed to be fully compliant can be daunting.

Following an assessment, do you know what steps your company can take to improve its practices? If not, the newest tool in the ALTA’s Best Practices toolbox—the Best Practices Maturity Model—can help! The Maturity Model measures your company’s procedures against the Best Practices to help you determine your compliance. Instead of a strict “pass/fail” system, the Maturity Model provides a spectrum of compliance levels that allow you to assess the strength of your company’s procedures and help you determine whether you follow your procedures consistently. We’ll describe the different levels of compliance in the Maturity Model and how you can create a plan to reach “Optimization.”

The Maturity Model is a great tool to help businesses analyze their level of compliance with the various pillars, track incremental progress and easily identify areas of concern. The Maturity Model is another tool for businesses to achieve full compliance with the Best Practices. Attend this session to learn all you need to know to use this tool for your business!

Cynthia Blair NTP is a founding member of the law firm Blair Cato Pickren Casterline LLC. She can be reached at cynthia@blaircato.com. Lori Dorman is director of Risk Management at Agents National Title Insurance Company. She can be reached at ldorman@agentstitle.com. Blair and Dorman will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "The Ins and Outs of ALTA’s Best Practices Maturity Model" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

The Millennial Elephant in the Room



By Andrew Acker

If you're scared, intimidated, or annoyed when you hear the word Millennials, then join the club. And I'm one of them. Brace for it, one in three workers today are Millennials (age 18-34). It’s a fact that they’re now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. It's also a fact that they have a bad reputation; but that doesn't mean it's true. Actually, I bet when you were first entering the workforce and "growing up," the generation ahead of you had less then positive things to say. That cycle of criticism seems to be the pattern of judgment in our culture.

Millennials might not share the same traits and work styles as prior generations, but they do have unique strengths and perspectives that can be invaluable, especially to a veteran industry. Their styles and routines might not be what what companies are used to and what we as leaders are used to managing, but the reality of it can’t be ignored.

One clear challenge we see will be learning how to recruit and attract the best Millennials. On other side of the Millennial employment coin will be the important step of transferring knowledge from a highly experienced generation to a new, motivated generation of workers.

Whether we like it or not, Millennials aren't just a trend that we can sit back and observe and wait to pass by (like PokemonGo, frosted tips, Beanie Babies or pet rocks). The shift is happening. As leaders, we get to decide how we want to narrate the story. At our session, we plan to dive into this topic and discuss the challenges in recruiting Millennials and provide tips for hiring your next generation of workers. We’ll also talk about how to best train new employees and maximize the current experts on your team.

If you're excited by about topic and don't want to wait for the conference to dive into more of the details, I'd encourage you to check out some blogs and books below:

Andrew Acker is chief operating officer of D. Bello Associates. He can be reached at aacker@dbelloassociates.com. Acker and Rich Griffin, vice president of North American Title Company, will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Targeting and Training Future Employees" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

Engaging an Evolving Customer



By Cynthia McGovern and Linda Grahovec

When it comes to effective sales performance, relying on what you did 10 years ago … five years ago … or even LAST year just doesn’t cut it anymore.

That’s not because YOU aren’t as good as you used to be (remember, you’re getting better, not older!), but the world of buying and selling is changing at an incredibly rapid pace.

We’re not just talking about selling to new generational groups like Millennials. ALL of our customers are evolving, in their needs, their diversity, their knowledge and their sophistication.

They are better educated than any previous consumer group, and expect to be able to engage with you at every step within the transaction—you need to be ready! 

They use social media to seek out peer reviews and advice before making even the simplest purchase decision. If you’re not using these tools effectively, you’re likely to get “swiped left” and left behind.

Your customer groups are changing before your eyes, demographically as well as behaviorally. You need to be able to move smoothly from Baby Boomers through Generations X, Y, and Z—and whoever comes next!

You need to understand gender differences in the marketplace, as well as cultural diversity and how it impacts buyer behavior, not to mention the growing roles that family and community play in the process.  

And perhaps most importantly, you need to stay abreast of advances in technology, especially the tools your customers use to communicate. 

Your company’s digital presence has become far more important than its storefront.  Is your website current, and accessible to users on any device? Does it reinforce your brand?

Are you using social media to your advantage? How do your customers interact through the platforms you use. How do you respond?

Your sales process needs to evolve right along with your customer base. Creating, building, sustaining and maintaining relationships, as well as cultivating business with EVERY type of customer, has never been more critical.

Are you ready to take a big step forward in your customer relationship management?  Make “Engaging an Evolving Customer” a must-see at ALTA 2016!

Cynthia McGovern is president of Orange Leaf Consulting. She can be reached at cmcgovern@orangeleaf.com. Linda Grahovec is vice president of Communications, Education, and Marketing at Fidelity National Title Group. She can be reached at linda.grahovec@fnf.com. McGovern and Grahovec will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Engaging an Evolving Customer" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

A Culture of Compliance



By Steve Day and Ted Rogers

As the independent representative to the settlement transaction, we need to instill a sense of confidence in the consumer. A key to this is the development of a culture of compliance within our organizations.

In today’s environment, operations struggle with the challenge of increased regulatory scrutiny and enforcement, while noting others in the marketplace that choose to deal in questionable activities to gain market presences.

Due to the social media world, one ethical lapse by a member of an organization can almost instantaneously expose it to the entire online world. By seeking to create a culture of compliance within their operations, leading edge companies are taking proactive steps to avoid the embarrassment and potential loss of business that can result. 

Most importantly, this direction must be a focus for every employee within our organizations—which is certainly a challenge!

At ALTA’s Annual Convention, we will have an open discussion on the challenges, internally and externally, to a culture of compliance, highlight the dangers of non-compliance, and focus on marketing our agencies as focused on the best interest of the consumer!

Steve Day is executive vice president and division manager of Fidelity National Title Group. He can be reached at steven.day@fnf.com. Ted Rogers is president and CEO of The Security Title Guarantee Corporation of Baltimore. He can be reached at trogers@esecuritytitle.com. Day and Rogers will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "A Culture of Compliance - Yes, Good Guys are Successful!" during ALTA's 2016 Annual Convention. Click here to register.

Don’t Work Overtime to Understand the Department of Labor’s New Rules



By Lukas Clary

Are you sure you’re paying your exempt employees enough? Even if you are right now, you might not be come Dec. 1, 2016.  The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced its long-awaited final rule updating the definitions of most types of exempt employees under federal law. 

While there are several important provisions in the new rule, the most important for employers is the new minimum salary threshold for “white collar” exempt employees—those who are classified as exempt under the executive/managerial, administrative, or professional standards.  Federal law will soon require these employees earn at least $47,476 annually ($913 per week) to qualify for the exemptions.  This marks a significant jump from the previous federal minimum of $23,660 ($455 per week). 

The DOL estimates that more than 4 million workers currently classified as exempt will no longer qualify at their current salaries come Dec. 1. The new salary requirements will particularly impact employers in regions of the country with lower median incomes, and employers in states that have adopted more employee-friendly overtime laws on top of federal law. Employers will have to assess how to manage costs in light of the new laws while keeping up with closing volumes. 

This topic will be addressed at the ALTA Annual Convention on Oct. 6,at 3 p.m. The session will provide a briefing on both federal and state classification rules, a discussion of how title professionals are treated under these rules, provide a method for documenting compliance and defending challenges, and help employers ensure they are in compliance.

Lukas Clary is an associate of Weintraub Tobin. He can be reached at lclary@weintraub.com. Clary will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Don’t Work Overtime to Understand the Department of Labor’s New Rules" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

The Answers to all Your Burning TRID Questions



By Ruth Dillingham and Leslie Wyatt

It’s been one year since the CFPB’s Know Before You Owe mortgage initiative was implemented … are you a TRID expert yet?  In case you are wondering, TRID stands for TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule. Overall the title industry has managed to adapt and comply with the new rules and regulations quite smoothly. A lot of good things have come out of TRID. Communication between lenders and settlement agents has greatly increased. The relationship between the settlement agent and realtor is more cohesive. The closing disclosure form provides greater transparency to the consumer. While things have gone smoother than most in our industry had anticipated there are still a lot of unknowns out there:

  • Who should get the Closing Disclosure Form vs a Settlement Statement?
  • Do the recently proposed amendments to TRID from the CFPB affect you and your organization?
  • Have you worked through any technical issues you might have had?
  • With so many portals out there are you using the right one?
  • How did the implementation of TRID affect the secondary market?

Question, questions, questions! This session will help you learn what lingering TRID questions are still out there and highlight what the biggest industry issues are to date.  We will focus on what we can expect from the CFPB moving forward, from enforcement actions to possible additional TRID amendments. Gain the tools you’ll need to navigate through this new era of closings.

Ruth Dillingham is special counsel for First American Title Insurance Company in the New England region. She can be reached at rdillingham@firstam.com. Leslie Wyatt is director of Industry Relations at SoftPro Corporation. She can be reached at leslie.wyatt@softprocorp.com. Dillingham and Wyatt will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "The Answers to All Your Burning TRID Questions" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

Boom, Boom, Boom—What Drives the Commercial Real Estate Economy Today



By Mark Fleming

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” - Mark Twain

The commercial real estate market has, for the most part, been driven by the overall health of the economy. As aggregate economic demand surges, so does demand for office, retail, hotel, and industrial real estate.. Even multifamily real estate demand, driven by household formation and the the ease with which owned housing can be substituted for multifamily rental housing, has been driven by the economy for the last two decades. 

But, is the cyclical link between commercial real estate markets and economic performance still  an accurate model? Or are the demographic influences of Millennials, the Echo-Boomers, and Baby Boomers causing fundamental changes in the behavior of commercial real estate markets? The preferences of these generational cohorts for urban living, convenient access to social amenities, and the specific types of housing desired are influencing all real estate markets in meaningful ways, separate from just economic fundamentals.

Yet, these economic influences are not to be forgotten. There is no doubt that the economic recovery has helped to power commercial real estate growth to its recent boom years. But, how different generations want to shop, play and live are increasingly important demographic influences that need to be considered when looking at commercial real estate trends.

As a real estate economist, I am frequently surprised by how much time I spend evaluating demographic trends. They do say “timing is everything” and the demographic transitions occurring now are powerfully influencing our markets. Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” So, what do we know for sure about Echo-Boomers, Baby-Boomers, and what it means for commercial real estate booms? Come to this session and listen to a leading industry economist discuss the influences of generational booms  and what they mean for commercial real estate markets across the country.

Mark Fleming serves as the chief economist for First American Financial Corporation. He can be reached at mfleming@firstam.com. Fleming will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "The Commercial Real Estate Economy" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

You’ve Been Breached—Now What?



By Chris Hacker

You’ve already had a breach. The email that shouldn’t have been sent. The attachment that shouldn’t have been opened. The fake login page that stole your password. Odds are high that you or someone in your company has had one of these happen already. Fortunately, in most cases, these breaches have been small, remedied immediately, and, luckily, have not involved protected data.

But what if it wasn’t a small leak? What if it did involve protected data? Like all businesses today, large and small, your company has been targeted by cybercriminals.  If your company was hacked, do you know what to do right now? Tomorrow? The day after? Do you know if your actions will increase your liability or harm your customers?  Many of you reading this do not.

Many company employees have no idea what to do because there’s no plan in place to follow. When you leave this session in October, you’ll know what to do first, second and last. You’ll know whether, how and when to notify your consumer customers. And you’ll have an outlined plan that will set you up to recover from the breach—a plan that is the difference between successfully rebuilding your customers’ trust and losing it forever.

Make no mistake, in the next few years, you will likely use this plan or find yourself wishing you had one. We look forward to sharing with you a usable plan, specific tales of both woe and success in handling breaches, as well as a few nuggets on how to make it harder for the crooks to crack your company. We look forward to seeing you there.

Chris Hacker is the co-founder of ShortTrack. He can be reached at chris@myshorttrack.com. Hacker and Cheryl Cowherd, senior underwriting counsel for Agents National Title Insurance Company, will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "You’ve Been Breached, Now What? " during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

Optimize Your Consumer Complaint Process



By Elizabeth M. Russo

We tend to pride ourselves on excellent customer service. This means that we listen to customer complaints, learn from our mistakes and respond in a timely manner. As technology advances and digital channels become widely used, the way we handle customer complaints must change as well.

This Engagement Lab will discuss how you can manage customer service in the digital age. We’ll walk through the process of auditing your digital presence and help you build a plan for responding to complaints made via Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook, etc. Millennial homebuyers (aged 18 to 35) are especially dependent on these platforms and often use them solely to interact with customer service.

We’ll also discuss the benefits of complaints and the value of a well-documented complaint log so that you’ll be ready to defend complaints filed with the BBB and CFPB. 

Good business depends on customer loyalty and referrals. Come join us and discuss how you can prepare your business to meet the demands of the next generation of buyers!

Elizabeth Russo is president of MCP Title Services LLC. She can be reached at erusso@mcptitle.com. Russo will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Optimize Your Consumer Complaint Process" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.