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.

How to Become a Savvy Shopper for Your Insurance



By Andrew Agati and Derek Diaz

Title insurance companies provide lenders and homeowners with valuable protection against risk. But who protects title companies from the risks they face? It is supposed to be commercial insurers, though products like errors and omissions coverage; crime, computer fraud, and cyber policies; excess insurance; and reinsurance coverage. But to obtain meaningful protection, you have to understand the types of claims title companies typically encounter, how courts interpret their insurance policies and how to overcome typical roadblocks that are used to deny coverage. This seminar will equip you with that knowledge.

At ALTA’s 2016 Annual Convention during our Engagement Lab titled “How to Become a Savvy Shopper for Your Insurance,” we will discuss the types of claims title companies face, including those stemming from class actions. We also will discuss related insurance coverage issues and how to maximize coverage—both before and after a claim is made—under a variety of different policies.

Andrew Agati is a partner with Hahn, Loeser & Parks LLP. He can be reached at aagati@hahnlaw.com. Derek Diaz is a partner in the Cleveland office of Hahn, Loeser & Parks LLP. He can be reached at ddiaz@hahnlaw.com. Agati and Diaz will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "How to Become a Savvy Shopper for Your Insurance" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

How Does Your Business Measure Up?



By Craig Haskins and Brent Scheer

Both of us admittedly love spreadsheets. In fact, one of us has a personal goal to be named to the Accounting Hall of Fame. We work in an industry that sells title insurance as the main meal—but really—it’s a data industry with a side of title insurance.

During the Notable session titled "How Does Your Business Measure Up?” we will discuss business metrics for the title industry. Since it seems to be all about speed to accurate financial data, measuring that data can be the hardest part and finding the right data to measure may be right in front of you. 

  • What is your labor cost each period?
  • Do you track turn-time and measure your company against itself for different time periods?
  • How many title orders or closings do you complete per full-time examiner or closer?
  • What is your facilities cost per year?

These things, plus many more, are metrics tracked by title agents. How does your company stack up?  And by the way, what does the underwriter look at?

While it’s impossible to give you an apple-to-apple analysis due to market differentiation, we will discuss how tracking these metrics helps agents and why some numbers-wonk owners simply cannot live without them. And just go ahead and try buying or selling a title agency without knowing these metrics off the top of your head. It’s tough.

In addition to these measurements, find out why and how to review your company’s monthly, quarterly and/or annual financial statements. Don’t worry this session isn’t only about cash flow and balance sheets. While it’s not necessarily interactive, audience participation and feedback will keep this numbers-nerd session informative and entertaining. Our goal is to find the inner number nerd in you, wrap your mind around the data and then leave you with the questions to take home.

Craig Haskins is chief operating officer of Knight Barry Title. He can be reached at craig@knightbarry.com. Brent Scheer is chief financial officer of Agents National Title Insurance Company. He can be reached at bscheer@agentstitle.com. Haskins and Scheer will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "How Does Your Business Measure Up?" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.


Internal Best Practices Assessment: The Most Valuable Thing You Can Do For Your Business



By Kirsten Pollock and Nicole Plath

ALTA Best Practices is a common phrase in the title insurance industry. It is the golden standard for how we conduct our business and an excellent way to demonstrate how you can meet vendor-management requirements of your lending community. We have always worked in an industry driven by regulations. Now, more than ever, we are heavily focused on our compliance, especially with Best Practices. ALTA has provided a variety of tools for title insurance and settlement companies to help meet these standards, including the Assessment Readiness Guides, Assessment Procedures, and Compliance Management Report to name a few. In addition to these valuable resources, ALTA has recently developed the Best Practices Maturity Model. This invaluable tool can help you navigate the road to compliance and help make sure you stay on course.

Becoming Best Practices compliant is not something that happens overnight. It is a continual process that takes time to develop. And you might think that once you are deemed “compliant,” the journey is over, but it’s not. Compliance is a process, not a single point in time. Join us for an Engagement Lab at the 2016 ALTA Annual Convention to learn about how you can utilize this new resource to help your company meet compliance and stay that way. We will walk you through how to evaluate where you are and where you need to go. Let us help take the stress of compliance away with tips and tricks of managing compliance in your title company.

Kirsten Pollock is vice president and audit director of Investors Title Insurance Company. She can be reached at kpollock@invtitle.com. Nicole Plath is CEO of Fortune Title Agency. She can be reached at nicole@fortunereo.com. Pollock and Plath will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "An Internal Best Practices Assessment, aka the Most Valuable Thing You Can Do For Your Business" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

Transitioning Within a New Market



By Mark Brumbelow

“You read a book from beginning to end. You run a business in the opposite way. You start with the end, and then you do everything you must to reach it.” – Harold S. Geneen 

As you think about how the next generation of your business will unfold, it is important to be mindful of the end game. Whether you are considering transitioning to family members, selling to investors or growing through strategic acquisition, “Transitioning Within a New Market” will offer a thoughtful examination of the critical factors that drive the value of your business and its future success. You will learn about:

  • The common components of every succession plan.
  • The importance of identifying and developing the right team members to step into leadership roles and how to expand the candidate pool, if necessary.
  • The role family dynamics play in the success or failure of a succession plan.
  • The impact taxes have on a succession plan and ways to get the best tax treatment for your particular situation. 

While this session will not provide all the answers, it should get us asking the right questions. What components of your business generate value? What are the most tax-effective strategies for transferring business ownership to the next generation of leaders? What happens if ownership and leadership pass to different people? How can I create wealth for retirement and retain some control of the company’s decision making?

Peter Drucker, one of the leading thinkers in management and business philosophy, once said that “plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” In that context, I hope this course will encourage each participant to adopt a plan, and then get to work to make it happen.

Mark Brumbelow is senior manager of Tax Services at Pershing Yoakley & Associates. He can be reached at mbrumbelow@pyapc.com. Brumbelow will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Transitioning Within a New Market " during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

It’s Getting Easier to Speak Our Customers’ Language

HOP Logo


By  Sandra Bell, Bill Burding and Laura Francesconi

What would you do if your doctor told you it’s important to ingest an 81mg non-steroidal anti-inflammatory on a quotidian basis to inhibit myocardial infarction or a transient ischemic event? You’d thank her profusely, wouldn’t you? Probably not, unless you did some work to realize that she’d told you to take a low-dose aspirin daily to prevent heart attack or stroke.

It’s probably similar to what a homebuyer hears when they’re told that the title search and exam process identified adverse recorded interests on their property for which we are taking curative action and that the subsequent policy we will provide will grant indemnification against financial loss caused by an interest, defect, lien or encumbrance not included as a specific exception. Yup, like that.

That’s why our industry is working hard to help consumers understand what an owner’s title policy is and really does for them. As part of ALTA’s Homebuyer Outreach Program (HOP), we’re working together to help people better understand why the policy they’re buying is of value and importance. By using simple ways to communicate this, and by offering straightforward educational tools that you can quickly access, use and brand, helping homebuyers realize the benefit of an owner’s policy is getting simpler.

Come join us to talk about how we can all easily share with homebuyers the risks we reduce and the property rights we protect, and what customizable tools are available to you. Then, together, we can all start to speak our homebuyers’ language.

Sandra Bell is vice president of Marketing and Communications at First American Title Insurance Company. She can be reached at sbell@firstam.com. Bill Burding is executive vice president and general counsel of Orange Coast Title Company. He can be reached at billburding@octitle.com. Laura Francesconi is senior vice president of Meridian Title Corporation. She can be reached at lfrancesconi@meridiantitle.com. Bell, Burding, and Francesconi will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Find-Buy-Protect: Explaining the Importance of Owner’s Title Insurance" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.

Create Your Own Education Materials with ALTAprints.com



By Eric Schneider NTP

So, you have heard about this “HOP” thing that ALTA has created. And you even attended a presentation on the program and how it helps you reach out to consumers, lenders and real estate agents. And you have seen the really cool handouts, placards and posters that can be used to display information. And you vaguely recall something about a website where you can create your own materials.

But either you were afraid of taking the plunge and working your way through the internet, or you just haven’t had the time to explore the site.

During ALTA’s 2016 Annual Convention, I’ll participate in an Engagement Lab titled “Create Your Own Education Materials with ALTAprints.com.” We will spend a half hour together walking through the various features available on the ALTAprints.com website. We will show how you can customize materials for your interactions with homebuyers and their real estate agents and lenders. Bring along your own laptop or tablet, along with your questions and ideas. You’ll leave feeling ready to apply your creative juices to make something that will stand out in your own market!

Anyone can put together fantastic looking presentations and informative correspondence with minimum computer skills. Spoiler Alert: your instructor is not a computer geek (just a title geek). If he can use ALTAprints.com, so can you! So help your company to communicate with customers and see the positive impact it makes in your business. See you in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 12-12:30 p.m.

Eric Schneider is managing attorney for Lakeside Title Company. He can be reached at eschneider@lakesidetitle.com. Schneider will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "Create Your Own Education Materials with ALTAprints.com" during ALTA's Annual Convention. Click here to register.