Scam Alert: ALTA Mailing Database

ALTA would like to inform its members about fraudulent emails coming from marketing firms indicating that they are selling contact information of companies listed in ALTA’s database.

The email scam asks if the recipient would like to acquire an ALTA list. This scam claims it includes lists for title insurance companies and title abstractors. Mailing list scams try to snag unsuspecting businesses with offers of lists of potential new clients.

ALTA has not provided its list to these companies. Lists can only be legally acquired after ALTA approves marketing pieces that are to be physically mailed to offices. ALTA prohibits anyone other than the association from calling and emailing companies on the ALTA membership list for marketing purposes.

ALTA is reaching out to the domain registrars to alert them of the abuse. This type of advertising violates the federal Lanham Act. ALTA also plans to report the fraudulent domains to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center.

To protect yourself, do not open attachments or click links included in suspicious email. You should also not respond or even “unsubscribe” to messages that seem suspicious.

Here's an example of the fraudulent email:



MBA Cuts 2017 Q1 Origination Forecast

Following the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise rates a quarter point, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) lowered its origination forecast for the first quarter of 2017.

“We have adjusted the path of interest rates upwards a bit more quickly in 2017 reflecting the fact that the recent rate increase following the election has been sustained,” the MBA reported.

Forecast Commentary Dec 2016The total volume of one- to four-family mortgage loan originations is expected to reach $352 billion in the first quarter, according to the MBA’s December Mortgage Finance Forecast. This is down from the $365 billion in first-quarter volume the MBA had predicted in November. The lower forecast remains higher than the $350 billion in origination volume recorded in the first quarter of 2016.

The biggest drop off will be experienced in the refinance channel as rates have moved higher, forcing a more rapid decrease in an already slow refinance market. The MBA reported that refinance volume is now expected to reach $140 billion in the first quarter, down from the November forecast of $145 billion. The MBA also projected that purchase origination volume will total $212 billion, down from its prediction of $220 billion last month.

“We still forecast $1.10 trillion in purchase mortgage originations during 2017, an 11 percent increase from 2016,” the MBA reported. “Strong household formation coupled with further job growth, rising wages, and continuing home price appreciation will drive growth in purchase originations in the coming years.”


What’s Your One Thing for 2017?

By Michelle Korsmo

We are busy. Every one of us can talk about being bombarded by emails, phone calls, texts, and meetings. The various and simultaneous demands distract us from our most important work—if we even take the time to think about what our most important work should be. While we all want fewer things sidetracking us, there’s an innate desire to do and achieve more. It’s a perplexing dichotomy.

In the book The One Thing, Gary Keller details how to limit the distractions and achieve more. His book opens with an ancient proverb that says “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” So true. What follows is a simple path to achieving results for what is most important to you. It resonated with me when I thought back on times when my work has been effective.

Think about times when you have excelled. You’ve probably achieved great success when you narrowed your concentration to one thing. Results were likely muddled when your focus wandered.

Defining your One Thing isn’t easy. It’s hard to let go of the things we’ve convinced ourselves that matter. This extra noise blurs our thinking and sidetracks success. Everything that must be done is not equal. The book encourages us to avoid being “busy,” and focus on being productive. Robert Koch highlights this philosophy in his book The 80/20 Principle, based on the Pareto Principle, which asserts that “a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards.” What does this mean to you? The majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do. So, a to-do list can become a success list if it’s prioritized.

As your trade association, there are many issues we could focus on. But to be effective, as the One Thing stresses, we must narrow our attention. To do this, ALTA’s Board of Governors and executive team develop our strategic priorities each year. This is our One Thing. By constantly returning to the strategic priorities, the entire association is focused on the key topics that will affect our members in their business and regulatory environment.

So, what’s your One Thing? We’d like to hear from you. Here are a few questions to help you get focused:

  • What’s the One Thing I can do to relieve my stress?
  • What’s the One Thing I can do to further my career?
  • What’s the One Thing I can do to make my company more competitive?
  • What’s the One Thing I can do to improve our customer experience?

By cutting through the clutter and concentrating on what really matters, you’ll achieve exceptional results. Strive to prioritize. The rest will fall into place. Success is built sequentially—One Thing at a time.

1027875Michelle Korsmo is ALTA’s chief executive officer. She can be reached at mkorsmo@alta.org.


Best Practices Maturity Model: Another Take on Best Practices Assessment Reports

ALTA's Best Practices Maturity Model is a resource to help companies identify areas of their policies and procedures that can be enhanced to better meet the Best Practices.

To use the Maturity Model, a company must first undergo a Best Practices assessment that tests the company’s policies and procedures to the ALTA Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices and the Best Practices Assessment Procedures. The Maturity Model in no way changes the work that must be performed as part of the Best Practices assessment. Rather, the Maturity Model offers an alternative method of reporting the results of a Best Practices assessment.

After the company undergoes a Best Practices assessment, the company may plot its assessment results on the Maturity Model. Rather than focusing on a pass or fail designation, the Maturity Model features a spectrum of compliance levels that range from having no policies and procedures in place (“Ad Hoc”) to having policies and procedures that are fully compliant with the ALTA Best Practices (“Optimized”).

The Maturity Model allows companies to determine how their procedures measure against the ALTA Best Practices.  If a company is fully compliant with the Best Practices, it should be in the “Optimized” category of the Maturity Model for each Best Practice. Using the Maturity Model as an assessment report helps companies identify ways to improve their policies and procedures to meet the Best Practices.

To learn more about the different compliance levels featured within the Maturity Model, check out the graphic below:

BCL Defined - web


You may view Maturity Model and its accompanying Maturity Model Explainer, which details how to use this new tool, by visiting www.alta.org/bestpractices. As a reminder, the Best Practices Maturity Model is subject to an open comment period that closes on Friday, July 29, 2016. You may submit comments or feedback to bestpracties@alta.org.


Survey: Risk of Mortgage Fraud, Misrepresentations or Defects Continues to Decline

Defect, fraud and misrepresentation risk is falling across the United States, and decreasing to very low levels in some markets, according to First American’s latest Loan Application Defect Index.

Data shows that the frequency of defects, fraudulence and misrepresentation in the information submitted in mortgage loan applications decreased 1.4 percent in September as compared with August. Since last year, the defect index has decreased by 14.8 percent.

“The widespread implementation of data- and technology-enabled loan manufacturing processes is benefiting consumers across the country,” says Chief Economist Mark Fleming. “The mortgage finance industry continues to improve, producing loans with fewer defects and producing those loans right the first time.”

According to Fleming, more data-driven evidence is mounting that the Millennial first-time homebuyer is playing an increasingly important role in the housing and mortgage finance markets.

“The market is in transition toward a greater volume of riskier purchase loans, away from a market dominated by lower risk refinance loans,” Fleming added. “Yet, overall the defect index continues to decline, which is a testament to the effort the mortgage finance industry is making to improve the loan production process.”

The Defect Index reflects estimated mortgage loan defect rates over time, by geography and by loan type. It’s available as an interactive tool that can be tailored to showcase trends by category, including amortization type, lien position, loan purpose, property and transaction types, as well as state and market comparisons of mortgage loan defect levels.

State Highlights

The five states with the highest year-over-year increase in defect frequency are

  • Maine (+25.5 percent)
  • North Dakota (+14.8 percent)
  • South Dakota (+11.3 percent)
  • Vermont (+10.4 percent)
  • Missouri (+7.2 percent)

The five states with the highest year-over-year decrease in defect frequency are

  • Michigan (-26.5 percent)
  • Florida (-24.2 percent)
  • California (-21.0 percent)
  • Oklahoma (-19.8 percent)
  • Nevada (-19.7 percent)



Go Where Your Customers Are


With so many consumers obtaining information on their phones and through social media, make sure to take advantage of the member-exclusive content provided by ALTA in the Hombuyer Guide. The guide includes nearly 70 items that title professionals can use to explain the benefits of title insurance.


How (Un)Lucky are You? One in Three Cyberattacks Result in a Security Breach

One in three targeted cyberattacks over the past 12 months results in a security breach, according a new survey from Accenture.


Despite this alarming number of incidents, 75 percent of respondents were “confident” they were doing the right things with their security strategies, and a similar number said security is “completely embedded” in their cultures, with support from the highest-level executives. Disconnect between the number of incidents and feeling confident about security strategies, according to Accenture, highlights the need for a “reboot” and for companies to “embrace an end-to-end approach to recognizing threats and minimizing exposure.

In the report titled "Building Confidence: Facing the Cybersecurity Conundrum," Accenture surveyed 2,000 enterprise security practitioners representing companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more in 15 countries about their perceptions of cyber risks, the effectiveness of current security efforts and the adequacy of existing investments. The survey reveals that the length of time taken to detect these security breaches often compounds the problem, as more than half of executives (51 percent) disclose that it takes months to detect sophisticated breaches, and as many as a third of all successful breaches are not discovered at all by the security team.

“Cyberattacks are a constant operational reality across every industry today and our survey reveals that catching criminal behavior requires more than the best practices and perspectives of the past,” said Kevin Richards, managing director, Accenture Security, North America. “There needs to be a fundamentally different approach to security protection starting with identifying and prioritizing key company assets across the entire value chain. It is also clear that the need for organizations to take a comprehensive end-to-end approach to digital security—one that integrates cyber defense deeply into the enterprise—has never been greater.”

Additionally, the survey found that internal security teams discover only 65 percent of effective breaches, with employees, law enforcement and “white hats” (e.g., “ethical” hackers) finding most of the rest.

Part of the security challenge is prioritizing where to focus resources to effectively protect the organization. More than 50 percent of survey respondents say internal breaches made by malicious insiders have the greatest cybersecurity impact. Even so, two out of three respondents say they lack confidence in their organizations’ abilities to monitor internally for breach activities.

More Information


Check Out This Video on ALTA's New Website

Highlights of ALTA's New Responsive Website

Check out this graphic for a quick primer on what to expect when you visit ALTA's redesigned website:



ALTA Members Recognized for Creative Use of HOP

During ALTA ONE earlier this month, two member companies were recognized for their creative use of the Homebuyer Outreach Program (HOP).

HOP was developed to help ALTA members easily communicate the benefits of owner’s title insurance with homebuyers, real estate agents and others.

Receiving a complimentary registration to ALTA ONE was Boone Central Title Company in Columbia, Mo.

Force field flyer     Protectables party

Inspired by the force-field flyer in the HOP material and the animated movie Incredibles, Boone Title developed a “Protectables” theme and created a flyer telling homebuyers that the company is the protective shield for Missouri’s property rights. The company also held an open house where employees put on three separate skits that represented their processes of research, closing and policy using the “Protectable” theme.” Because of their efforts using the HOP material, the company was recognized as a finalist for Small Business of the Year in Columbia.

Also recognized and receiving a free registration to one of ALTA’s 2017 Innovation Boot Camps was Olympic Peninsula Title in Port Angeles, Wash. Olympic Title used the We Are ALTA Manifesto as inspiration for a radio advertisement that ran in their market. You can listen to Olympic Peninsula Title's ad here: