Share Your #GoodDeeds

GooddeedsCommunity is not based on our ability to physically see and touch each other, but rather the connection and care we show for each other—especially in times of need. ALTA would like to hear how you are continuing to serve your customers and communities during this uncertain and unprecedented time. We know how involved you are in your local market even when there’s not a pandemic, so we know you are actively involved in helping those that might need it most. We would like to highlight all the great volunteerism that is happening across our industry and the creative ways you’ve modified processes to get deals closed. 

Here are three ways you can share your story with us:

  1. Email your story at communications@alta.org.
  2. Post your story in the comments section on our blog.
  3. Share your story on Facebook or Instagram, use #GoodDeeds and tag ALTA.

03/02/2021

Share Tips, Best Practices About Wire Fraud During National Consumer Protection Week

Ncpw-2021-banner

Title and settlement professionals can join the Federal Trade Commission and more than 100 groups and organizations participating in the 23rd annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), which lasts through March 6.

NCPW is a coordinated campaign designed to focus on the importance of keeping consumers informed while providing them with free resources explaining their rights in the marketplace.

This year, the FTC and its partners will participate in a series of events including webinars, Facebook Live events, and Twitter chats throughout the week. These virtual events will cover a range of topics, including avoiding coronavirus scams, government imposters and cyber fraud.

ALTA encourages members to join the discussion by alerting consumers about the danger of wire transfer fraud when buying a home or refinancing. Click here to access tools and resources ALTA has developed to educate consumers about wire fraud

Share on Social

You can use This messages-- or create your own-- and share on social media:

  • [ORGANIZATION] is promoting consumer education during National Consumer Protection Week. Check out this AARP podcast to learn how to protect your money when buying a home or refinancing! https://bit.ly/3821Gmx #closingscams #wirefraud #NCPW2021

What's Coming Up

Thursday, March 4

1 p.m. ET:

Participate in the FTC's “Slam the Scam” Twitter chat in Spanish with @laFTC, @USAGovEspanol(link is external), and @SeguroSocial(link is external) on avoiding COVID-19 and imposter scams. Use the hashtag #OjoConLasEstafas(link is external) and #NCPW2021(link is external) to follow the conversation.

Topics will include avoiding online scams, including phishing, tech support scams and COVID-19 scams.

1 p.m. ET: Join the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and AARP’s
Fraud Watch Network for a webinar on Cyber Scams & Older Adults (link is external).
3 p.m. ET: Participate in our “Slam the Scam” Twitter chat in English with @FTC (link is external)@USAGov (link is external)@SocialSecurity (link is external). Use the hashtag #SlamTheScamChat (link is external) and #NCPW2021 (link is external) to follow the conversation.
7 p.m. ET Join the FTC for a Facebook Live (link is external) with colleagues from the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General on how to spot and avoid Social Security scams. Please join the FTC and ask questions.

 

 

 

02/11/2021

Multifamily Housing Down in 2021 but Will Rebound in 2022

Regulatory and supply-side challenges coupled with slowing rent growth and rising vacancy rates will weaken the multifamily construction market in 2021. However, the development market should stabilize by 2022, according to economists from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"Though the multifamily sector is performing much better than nonresidential construction, developers are facing stiff headwinds in 2021," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "Shortages and delays in obtaining building materials, rising lumber and OSB prices, labor shortages and a more ominous regulatory climate will aggravate affordability woes and delay delivery times."

NAHB analysis of Census data reveals that 34 percent of total multifamily construction occurred in lower density, lower cost markets in 2020. "These areas have outpaced higher density markets over the past four quarters and we anticipate this trend will continue this year," said Dietz.

Turning to the forecast, multifamily starts are expected to fall 11 percent this year to 349,000 units from a projected total of 392,000 in 2020. The downturn will be short-lived, as multifamily production is expected to post modest gains in 2022, up 5 percent to 365,000 units.

After four years of a steady, upward trajectory, rent growth flattened in 2020. "Due in part to pandemic-related issues, rent growth in December 2020 was up just 0.4 percent from a year ago," said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB's assistant vice president of forecasting and analysis.

Looking at another metric, four of the top five multifamily markets, as measured by the number of permits, posted yearly declines from November 2019 to November 2020.

The New York-Newark-Jersey City region, the largest in the nation, registered a 14 percent drop in permits. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland, Texas, was down 10 percent, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., fell 16 percent and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, posted the sharpest decline at 46 percent.  Meanwhile, Austin-Round Rock, Texas, the No. 2 market in the nation, posted a robust 54 percent increase in permits.

Commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE forecasted a return to pre-COVID vacancy levels and a 6 percent increase in net effective rents in 2021, with a full market recovery occurring in early 2022. The economic rebound will lead to rising multifamily demand, largely from “unbundling”—certain renters moving out of their parents’ homes or those of friends as job opportunities provide more financial flexibility to live independently. Demand levels in 2021 likely will fall short of pre-COVID peaks in 2018 and 2019 but should rise significantly from 2020.

MULTIFAMILY INVESTMENT

Mutifamily graph

*2020 forecast is based on actual numbers through September. Source: CBRE Research, Real Capital Analytics (historical), Q4 2020.

According to CBRE, development will remain robust this year. Most of 2021’s scheduled deliveries were started before COVID-19 and likely will reach 280,000 units on top of the estimated 300,000-unit total this year. This level of new supply will temper improvement in Class A vacancies and rents in many markets.

With steadily improving market conditions, multifamily investment volume is expected to increase in 2021. CBRE predicted U.S. multifamily investment volume will reach about $148 billion next year, lower than 2019’s record level of $191 billion but a 33% gain over the 2020 estimate of $111 billion.

CBRE reported that suburban assets in the Midwest and Southeast regions will provide the best opportunities for solid market performance and achieving expected revenues next year. In the Midwest, Indianapolis was the best-performing market in 2020. Memphis, Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Louisville and St. Louis also were among the best in the country.

Meanwhile, most Southeast metros weathered the 2020 recession relatively well, according to CBRE. The leaders were Greensboro, Jacksonville, Richmond and Virginia Beach. Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh and Tampa also performed relatively well and are positioned for solid performance in 2021.

Multifamily segments that had greater market deterioration in 2020—such as Class A assets in urban submarkets, particularly in gateway cities—may not stabilize until well into 2021 and present more investment risk, CBRE predicted.

CBRE said the most impacted metros in 2020 were San Francisco, San Jose and New York. Other underperformers included Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Oakland, Austin, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Orlando. Among these, investors may favor high-tech markets for their potential quicker economic recovery, but tech firms’ remote working policies may not restore multifamily demand as quickly.

02/10/2021

What Is Business Email Compromise?

BEC

Business email compromise (BEC) is one of the most financially damaging online crimes. It exploits the fact that so many on email to conduct business. The FBI reported losses due to BEC totaled $1.7 billion in 2019. Data for 2020 is expected to be released in March.

In a BEC scam, criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request, like in these examples:

  • A vendor your company regularly deals with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address.
  • A company CEO asks her assistant to purchase dozens of gift cards to send out as employee rewards. She asks for the serial numbers so she can email them out right away.
  • A homebuyer receives a message from his title company with instructions on how to wire his down payment.

Versions of these scenarios happened to real victims. All the messages were fake. And in each case, thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars were sent to criminals instead.

To carry out a BEC, scammers might:

  • Spoof an email account or website. Slight variations on legitimate addresses (john.kelly@examplecompany.com vs. john.kelley@examplecompany.com) fool victims into thinking fake accounts are authentic.
  • Send spearphishing emails. These messages look like they’re from a trusted sender to trick victims into revealing confidential information. That information lets criminals access company accounts, calendars, and data that gives them the details they need to carry out the BEC schemes.
  • Use malware. Malicious software can infiltrate company networks and gain access to legitimate email threads about billing and invoices. That information is used to time requests or send messages so accountants or financial officers don’t question payment requests. Malware also lets criminals gain undetected access to a victim’s data, including passwords and financial account information.

Tips to Protect Yourself

  • Be careful with what information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing things like pet names, schools you attended, links to family members, and your birthday, you can give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.
  • Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message asking you to update or verify account information. Look up the company’s phone number on your own (don’t use the one a potential scammer is providing), and call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.
  • Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Set up multi-factor authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.
  • Verify payment and purchase requests in person if possible or by calling the person to make sure it is legitimate. You should verify any change in account number or payment procedures with the person making the request.
  • Be especially wary if the requestor is pressing you to act quickly.

How to Report 

If you or your company fall victim to a BEC scam, it’s important to act quickly:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and request that they contact the financial institution where the transfer was sent.
  • Contact your local FBI field office to report the crime.
  • File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

02/09/2021

Stay Vigilant Against Business Email Compromise, Phishing Emails

The combination of a global pandemic coupled with a world full of remote workers led to a 660 percent increase in phishing attempts since March 1, 2020, according to ID Agent.

Like title and settlement companies, email from ALTA staff can be spoofed. As a reminder, ALTA will never ask for personal information. Do not click on any links and delete the phishing email if you receive an email asking for this information. If you happen to click on a link or open an attachment from a phishing email, contact your IT department. Below is an example of a recent email that was spoofed by a criminal. Note the fake email domain (@aaltta.com):

Steve

Red Flags

Title and settlement companies can protect themselves by increasing staff awareness about these scams. According to the FBI, businesses that deploy robust internal prevention techniques at all levels (especially training front-line employees who may be targeted by initial phishing attempts), have proven highly successful in recognizing and deflecting email scam attempts. Here are some red flags:

  • A customer’s seemingly legitimate emailed transaction instructions contain different language, timing, and amounts than previously verified and authentic transaction instructions.
  • Transaction instructions originate from an email account closely resembling a known customer’s email account; however, the email address has been slightly altered by adding, changing, or deleting one or more characters. For example:
    • Legitimate email: john-doe@abc.com
    • Fraudulent email: john-doe@bcd.com
  • Emailed transaction instructions direct payment to a known beneficiary; however, the beneficiary’s account information is different from what was previously used.
  • Emailed transaction instructions direct wire transfers to a foreign bank account that has been documented in customer complaints as the destination of fraudulent transactions.
  • Emailed transaction instructions direct payment to a beneficiary with which the customer has no payment history or documented business relationship, and the payment is in an amount similar to or in excess of payments sent to beneficiaries whom the customer has historically paid.
  • Emailed transaction instructions include markings, assertions, or language designating the transaction request as “Urgent,” “Secret,” or “Confidential.”
  • Emailed transaction instructions are delivered in a way that would give the financial institution limited time or opportunity to confirm the authenticity of the requested transaction.
  • Emailed transaction instructions originate from a customer’s employee who is a newly authorized person on the account or is an authorized person who has not previously sent wire transfer instructions.

What If You Get Phished?

According to the FTC, companies impersonated as part of an email phishing scam should notify customers as soon as possible, contact law enforcement, provide resources for affected consumers and review their own security practices. Offering immediate advice and support can help companies retain customer goodwill. Here are tips on how to respond if your business is impersonated in a phishing scam:

Notify consumers of the scam. If you are alerted to a phishing scam in which fraudsters are impersonating your business, inform your customers as soon as possible. If your business has a social media presence, announce the scam on your social media sites and warn customers to ignore suspicious emails or texts purporting to be from your company. You can also inform your customers of the phishing scam by email or letter. The important point is to remind your customers that legitimate businesses like yours would never solicit sensitive personal information through insecure channels like email or text messages.

Contact law enforcement. If you become aware that criminals are impersonating your business, report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Suggest that affected customers forward any phishing emails impersonating your business to the Anti Phishing Working Group (www.antiphishing.org), a public-private partnership against cybercrime.

Provide resources for affected consumers. If consumers believe they may be victims of identity theft because of a phishing scam, direct them to identitytheft.gov/, where they can report and get resources to help them recover from identity theft. For more information about recommended computer security practices, direct consumers to resources on the FTC’s consumer information site, where they can learn how to protect themselves online and avoid future phishing attacks.

Phishing-aba-infographic-780px

02/02/2021

ALTA Member Profile: From Bartender to Innovative Title Company Owner

Member profile photo Mo ChoumilMo Choumil | Founder/CEO | ATG Title

How long have you been in the title industry and how did you get started in this profession?

It’s been 27 years already! I actually started as an abstractor back in 1993, but kept my focus sharp and decided to take the proverbial plunge and launch a title company in 2001.

What excites you about what you do or what is the most challenging aspect of your job?

My typical business day involves meeting people for coffees/lunches. I mostly meet with business partners, office managers at different locations, and recruit prospects. I’m mostly excited about growing the company—not only financially, but also culturally. I’m also motivated by self-development, for both the team and myself. I’m always looking for ways to improve systems and processes to increase efficiency and enhance our user’s experience.

What’s your best industry “war” story?

My best story revolves around COVID-19 and how we managed to not only survive, but also thrive. Thanks to systems we put in place prior to the pandemic, we’ve mobilized all operations to function remotely. Companies should always be proactive and have a longer-term vision. This helps tremendously under a crisis such as the one we’re facing now.

Why is the title industry a great career opportunity for those entering the workforce?

It’s a great niche industry that provides ongoing challenges and constant learning experiences. Things can become challenging, but the rewards are endless when you help navigate a customer through the title process.

What advice do you have for professionals starting their career in the industry?

Find a mentor in the company you are working for. There are plenty of successful veterans that want to share their knowledge and wisdom.

How has the industry evolved since you began your career? How has your company had to change in order to remain competitive?

Since the beginning, I’ve always looked for ways to utilize technology in order help improve efficiency. I’ve always put an emphasis on enhancing user experience. Unfortunately, the industry was super slow to adopt tech. I’m glad that the industry has finally evolved over the past few years.

What have you learned about yourself or your company since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?

I’ve learned a lot about and have been impressed by the agility and preparedness of my team. I am glad to have a team that appreciates all the technologies we’ve adopted in the past few years. It really came through in helping us to adapt and switch to remote workforce within a few days. They’ve also been able to handle a massive influx of business despite the pandemic’s effect on daily life.

Which ALTA committees do you participate in? Why do you participate?

I participate on the Homeowner Outreach Program Committee. We are big on educating the consumer. This committee made sense as they are founded on this very principle of educating consumers.

Tell us something that others in the industry may not know about you.

I used to be a bartender! And most don’t know that I’m originally from Casablanca, Morocco.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?

Tony Robbins. Simply put, he is the best business development/life coach that there’s ever been. He teaches not only lessons to grow business and self-motivation, but also personal finance and wealth creation.

What’s your favorite movie and book? Why?

My favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption. The movie displays how the power of hope provides a reason for the inmates to continue to live. Basically, it teaches you to never give up. As for my favorite book, it has to be Rich Dad Poor Dad. Author Robert Kiyosaki discusses how to truly develop wealth. The book proves that rich aren't born rich. That concept is a myth, and everyone should understand that.

What’s in your music playlist?

Lots of reggae. I’m big on Bob Marley. I also like techno dance music from artists such as the Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren. I’m also a fan of some 80s music as well.

ALTA Member Profiles

Know someone who ALTA should consider for a member profile? Send your suggestions to communications@alta.org.

01/12/2021

Ready to Serve Aces for Title Industry

ALTA President Bill Burding NTP Eager to Defend Industry

Bill Burding cover_altTalk to Bill Burding NTP and you’d never know he was born and raised in New York. A move to Arizona while in junior high not only led to him ditching his goalie mask for a tennis racket, but it also opened the door to a successful career in the title industry.

“There wasn’t much hockey in Arizona at the time,” Burding said. “I went from about 20 minutes outside of New York City to an extremely rural part of Arizona. We lived in the middle of nowhere and attended a three-room schoolhouse. It was a culture shock.”

The change of scenery and solitude provided the perfect opportunity to help Burding develop his tennis skills. At the age of 15, he took a job as a tennis pro teaching other kids his age.

“Play tennis is kind of all I did,” he said. “You could play people at all varying ages, and when you didn’t have anyone to play, the club had a ball machine so I could hit for hours.”

Spending time on the court, Burding had the opportunity to face off with players with varied backgrounds and skills. One player he recalls was Ken Rosewall, a professional tennis player who had won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.

“He would just hit with me and offer tips,” Burding said.

Over the years, Burding would have the opportunity to hit balls with tennis royalty, including John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. He also was able to play with celebrities such as Elton John, Clint Eastwood and Charles Shultz.

Burding’s work ethic on the court easily transferred to the principles he has followed during his career in the title industry. Serving as general counsel for California-based Orange Coast Title Co., Burding was installed in October as ALTA’s 2020-21 president.

“Bill has the confidence, resilience and legal acumen that is essential to leading ALTA and its members through a global pandemic and economic recession,” said ALTA CEO Diane Tomb. “He will help enhance the understanding of the title insurance industry with government agencies and policymakers focused on federal real estate and housing policy and collaborate with industry stakeholders and partners on laws and advocacy efforts regarding data privacy and digital closing adoption. The challenges we’re facing require Bill’s experience and foresight to help our member companies excel in an ever-changing business and regulatory environment.”

Finding the Right Fit

Coming out of high school nationally ranked, Burding had numerous academic and athletic scholarship offers to play tennis at lower-tier Division I colleges across the country. He just wanted to find the right fit. Burding eventually enrolled at Claremont in Southern California. After deciding Claremont wasn’t what he was looking for, Burding planned to accept a scholarship offer at the University of California San Diego.

On the way to San Diego, Burding got in a car accident in Whittier. Without any money, Burding called Whittier College’s tennis coach to ask for help. The coach offered to let Burding stay on campus for free. Shortly after that, the coach let Burding practice with the college’s tennis team.

“I started warming up with the team, and I’m thinking these are really nice guys, I could do this,” Burding said.

After practice, Burding went to the Admissions Office and applied. Within a week he was enrolled and playing tennis at Whittier.

“What was nice is that we were Division III, but we played against a lot of Division I schools,” Burding said. “I got a chance to have a really good level of competition without having to get to get on a plane and fly all over the country to play.”

In the classroom, Burding studied political science and Russian history. Why Russian history? The first reason, according to Burding, was that the professor’s wife was an amazing cook. With only three students enrolled, the class would often be held at the professor’s house and they would be treated to some home cooking. The second (and more relevant) reason was that Burding was considering going to the Harvard Kennedy School.

“I just thought Russia was our major adversary and it would be beneficial for me to know what our major rival was doing,” he said. “If I was to get into government or go into the state department it would be beneficial for me to understand the psyche of our major foe in the world.”

After graduating from college cum laude, Burding attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. With his law degree, he spent the next five years in private practice. But much like his experience at Claremont, Burding wasn’t enjoying what he was doing. After handling two major trials involving RICO and federal racketeering charges, he decided a change was needed.

“I couldn’t see doing it for the rest of my life,” he said.

An offer to serve as the attorney for the Village of Vail tempted Burding. “That would have been an amazing lifestyle. Lot of skiing. I gave that serious thought before I declined it,” he said.

‘No Idea What I Was Doing’

Then he got connected with a family member who owned a Denver-based title company, but was considering dissolving it. Burding looked at the financials and thought it sounded a lot more interesting than practicing law, “even though I had no idea what I was doing.”

So, armed with the basic knowledge of real estate he learned in law school, Burding bought a half interest in National Title in 1993. He jumped right in—answering phones, conducting searches and doing examinations. He then turned to the escrow side of the business.

“I did almost everything and learned the business from the ground up,” Burding said.

The title company almost exclusively handled commercial transactions. This meant Burding was often jumping on a plane to handle high-profile hotel deals in New York or Las Vegas. One notable deal was the Ritz-Carlton in Aspen.

“I learned a lot, but eventually sold the company after five years and didn’t know what I was going to do with my time afterward,” Burding said.

He planned to take some time off, but his rest didn’t last long. Through sheer blind luck, Burding’s resume made its way to Rich Macaluso, president of Orange Coast Title. Less than two weeks after interviewing, Burding was running Orange Coast’s operations in Arizona.

“I didn’t even know Orange Coast at the time,” Burding said.

He spent a year commuting for the Arizona job, before relocating back to Southern California. It’s been his time at Orange Coast over the past two decades that cemented his passion for title insurance. There’s a reason why everybody jokes that the title industry is Hotel California, because once you’re in, you’re in.

“You can check out, but you can never leave,” Burding said, riffing off the Eagles’ song.

Industry Mentor

With nearly 30 years now in the industry, Burding views Macaluso as his industry mentor.

“Rich allowed me to create my place at Orange Coast. I’m forever grateful for that,” Burding said. “He has given me the freedom to do what needs to be done for the company. He’s allowed me to color outside the lines.”

Macaluso volleyed back the compliments, saying how proud everyone at Orange Coast is of Bill’s work at ALTA.

“He has provided our industry with a lot of energy and time, along with all of his great integrity, skill, knowledge, experience, leadership and understanding—the same qualities that have made him a great general counsel for Orange Coast,” Macaluso said. “Bill’s contributions to Orange Coast and ALTA have been enormous and will continue to be this year and beyond.”

The two were instrumental in developing the title company’s core values, called The OCT Way.

“We’ve done a series of videos, it’s on the walls of our of our offices and it’s how we think about getting deals done,” Burding said. “The OCT Way permeates every single decision that I make, from when we talk to clients, how we talk to clients and how we deal with underwriting. All those core bedrock principles are utilized every single time that I work on something at Orange Coast.”

Mike Marconi, chief operating officer for Orange Coast Title, also recognized Burding’s loyalty and commitment to do whatever it takes is at the core of his contributions to their company.

“It shows in everything he does, from his work as general counsel to serving on the board of our title insurer,” Marconi said. “This includes finding creative yet safe ways to close each transaction for the consumer. Bill also has a firm understanding of local issues that affect all states such as remote online notarization and working toward a national solution.”

What’s the day in a life of a general counsel?

According to Burding, “There’s so much that I do that’s very non-general-counsel-ish.” 

He’s handled mergers and acquisitions, managed companies and handled underwriting. He also oversees the company’s HR department and chairs its COVID-19 task force.

Having been a goalie when playing hockey during his youth, Burding compares his role in the industry to his time between the pipes.

“I feel like a goalie because every day I go into the net and never know what’s going to be thrown at me,” he said. “I love that. I absolutely love that.”

Bill and CherylState Involvement

Like most ALTA presidents, Burding has been also heavily involved at the state level with the California Land Title Association, where he was awarded the 2010 and 2016 President’s Awards for outstanding contribution to the California title insurance industry. In 2007, Burding helped negotiate the state’s current anti-rebate legislation. His efforts garnered the attention of Anne Anastasi, who served as ALTA’s 2010-11 president.

“We were at the CLTA convention and playing golf,” Burding said. “She asked if I’d get involved at ALTA. We had a nice round of golf and we did not win. I think I’m the only person who doesn’t win a golf tournament with Anne.”

Already participating in ALTA’s Title Counsel, a round of golf with ALTA’s then CEO Kurt Pfotenhauer led to Burding becoming more involved at the national level.

“I thought I was just going to be chair of one of the committees. I didn’t think I was going to be on the Board,” Burding said.
In addition to the Board, Burding has served on the Agents Section and numerous committees. He also served as chair of ALTA’s Title Insurance Political Action Committee (TIPAC).

“If you’re in this industry, you’re vested in it. Contributing to TIPAC gives you access. Without access, we can’t tell our story. And, unfortunately, that’s just the way things are.”

Amazed at how resilient the industry has been during COVID, Burding praised companies for how they retooled business models to meet the needs of customers.

While remote online notarization hasn’t been utilized on a large scale by lenders (California doesn’t have RON legislation), Burding said his company is having customers sign many of their documents prior to closing. This has allowed closers to spend more time on the phone working with customers.
“We’re never going back to the old way of doing business,” Burding said. “It doesn’t make any sense. We’re going to continue doing what we do now. We’re so much more efficient. I think the consumer wants the transaction to be completely painless.”

Areas of Focus

Putting the pandemic aside, Burding said wire transfer fraud remains a top concern for the industry, especially since fraudsters have upped their game during COVID. Burding family

“They know that we’re running huge volumes through the trust accounts, so the number of attempted frauds has gone up astronomically during the health crisis,” he said. “If you’re not careful of what you’re doing, you can lose money out the back door as easily as it comes in.”

This is one of the major reasons why Burding was such a proponent of the development of the ALTA Marketplace, which is an online repository that helps connect members with vendors that provide essential services such as solutions to help prevent wire fraud.

“Most small agents don’t have the luxury of a sophisticated IT department,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that these agents had a resource to find vendors. Marketplace basically has done the research for you and provides the contact information of people to call. Small title agencies are so vital to what we do as an industry because they cover most of the rural locations. I know with the amount of resources that I have, I’m very fortunate. I want to make sure that small agencies have the same access to resources, or at least the same access to information that we have.”

Another key priority is to continue the success of ALTA’s Tell Our Story initiative, which is a public awareness campaign launched in 2020 to communicate with target audiences about the industry and the value it provides.

“ALTA has done a phenomenal job, even before I came on the Board,” Burding said. “Now when we meet with members of Congress, they know who we are and ask for our opinions on bills. We have become the middle ground and voice of reason because of our expertise.” ■

Jeremy Yohe is ALTA’s vice president of communications. He can be reached at jyohe@alta.org.

Six Questions With Bill Burding

  1. Tell us something that others in the industry may not know about you? I was “detained” by the U.S. Secret Service for hitting Alexander Haig, the Secretary of State at the time, in the head with a tennis ball.
  2. Bill and daughterWhat are some of your personal and professional highlights? I missed my personal goal of getting to all 50 states by the time I was 50 by six months, but at least I made it. I also had a goal of 50 countries by 50 and that I achieved. I am also working at going to every NFL and MLB stadium. I think I can do it in the next few years. During my senior year in college, I won the Political Science and History awards, and I was the Scholar Athlete of the year for Whittier College and made Academic All American. As a practicing lawyer, I argued a case of original jurisdiction before the Colorado Supreme Court. Professionally, I am proud of receiving the President’s Award twice from the California Land Title Association for service to the association. One thing I enjoy every year (pre-COVID) is a trip with my daughter Alissandra to see a New Orleans Saints game. It is always a highlight of the year.
  3. If there was an emergency and you could grab  only one item from your house or office, what would it be and why? Nothing. We came close to losing our home to wildfires a couple of years ago when I was at ALTA ONE in Miami. All I could think about was that everyone, human and canine, got out safely. It was amazing how irrelevant all material things became.
  4. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why? Nelson Mandela. In college, I did Model United Nations and led the South African delegation. I got the opportunity to understand the perspectives of both sides of the racial tension. After college, I continued to read about South Africa and eventually was able to spend time there. What an amazing country. My favorite place in the world!
  5. What’s your favorite book/movie/TV series? Book: I tend to follow authors instead of individual books. My favorites are Steve Coll (Ghost Wars), John Feinstein (A Good Walk Ruined) and AJ Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically). TV Series: I love comedies and my favorites tend to be in the past, Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier and Married With Children. That said, I loved Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. Something about watching those shows is relaxing. Movies: My two favorite movies are complete opposites. Spellbound and There’s Something About Mary. One very chilling and the other so very funny.
  6. What’s in your music playlist? My playlist is stuck in the past. I listen to Genesis, Matchbox 20, Live, Go-Go’s, Collective Soul and Daughtry. The “newer” music I listen to are Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran. This may explain the “Happy” debacle, which I may never live down.

01/11/2021

How to Reset Your Password on ALTA Website

In December, ALTA implemented a new database to manage membership information and purchases. For security purposes, you need to create a new password if you have not done so already.

To reset your password, click here.

You will get a box that looks like this:

Forgot password

You will be prompted to enter your email address so that ALTA can send a link to create your new password.

You will be taken to this page after clicking the link in the email:

Change password

You can login and ignore these steps if you already have reset your password.

Please contact ALTA at service@alta.org should you have any questions or need further assistance.

01/05/2021

Notary Singing Agent Blueprint Provides 13,600 Meals to Feeding America

Notary Singing Agent (NSA) Blueprint provided 13,600 meals to Feeding America.

The company hosted its annual fundraiser online throughout November. With an estimated 54 million people facing hunger, NSA Blueprint contributed directly to the largest network of foodbanks in the United States.

“We are especially proud of our team and donors for stepping up and making an impact of almost 14,000 meals where it counts,” said Jon Snedeker, director of NSA Blueprint. “Our notary signing platform shares a great responsibility in helping others, and what better time than right here, right now. Loan signing agents continue to play a critical role both in their communities and as experts at the closing table for real estate transactions.”

12/22/2020

Alert: Spoofed Email Appears to Come from ALTA

Fake_emailALTA is alerting its members to delete a phishing email with the subject line “December 2020 edition of Title Insurance Law Newsletter.”

The email appears to come from Jeremy Yohe. ALTA encourages you to delete the email. Do not click any links in the email. In addition, you should block the domain of the email or the IP address that it is coming from. Once the scammers catch on, they will likely switch email domains.

You can be sure that your information is safe. This is a phishing email and our system was not breached.

12/01/2020

Giving Thanks for #GoodDeeds

Alliance title

Closing the Hunger Gap

Since 2012, Idaho-based Alliance Title & Escrow has held its companywide food drive campaign, Closing the Hunger Gap. The company’s branches throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana gather non-perishable food items and monetary donations to help their local communities fight hunger. This year, the company and its branches collected 13,023 pounds of non-perishable food items and $74,289 in donations. Over the years, the campaign has resulted in the collection of 230,376 pounds of food and $275,565.24 in donations.

Western title

Feeding Families

For the fourth year in a row, Western Title Co. united the title and escrow industry in northern Nevada to help families in need over Thanksgiving.

Through the campaign, seven companies and employees made financial donations of $13,374. The donations provided food for more than 260 families through vouchers to a Raley’s Grocery stores.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our tradition to help the community we love and showcase the #GoodDeeds our industry does every month,” said Patrick Harris of Wester Title.

Catic

Pink Falcons

Over the past several months, CATIC and its employees have participated in several fundraising/community events. Most notably, the company was a sponsor of the Susan G. Komen More Than Pink Walk, which helps support loved ones affected by breast cancer. CATIC’s Pink Falcons was Connecticut’s top fund-raising team.

“Our team also established a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, where a small group of dedicated employees helped the non-profit organization in fulfilling its vision of building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with people and families in need of affordable housing,” said Wayne Grant of CATIC.