As part of the nationwide shock and concern over failures in the foreclosure process, last weekend’s New York Times contained an Article on the imporantance of Title Insurance. There was also a related blog post on Ron Lieber’s blog, asking readers to share their experiences. There were dozens of comments, and I joined in. Since you might have missed it, here’s my response on the importance of title insurance:

Unfortunately, the title insurance industry has failed to educate the consumer on the importance of the title insurance product so it is understandable that there is much confusion as to coverage and frustration over the cost. The role of the title insurer and its agents is to eliminate the risk of the hazard of litigation. In other words, all the due diligence work is done up front before the policy is issued so that a claim will hopefully never be made in the future – this is what the consumer is paying for. And just because a homeowner has a title insurance policy doesn’t mean that she is free from the aggravation and disruption that a claim will bring. The premium is paid one time but the policy has no end date. The policy is good as long as the policy holder retains title to the property. A casualty insurer sends its policy holder a renewal notice each and every year. A title insurer issues an Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance once, for one fee, and has no idea when that policy will expire.

The point is not to feel that you’ve gotten your monies worth if a claim is filed and paid, the point is that you got your monies worth when there is never a need to file a claim.

As far as shopping. It is quite simple. All real estate is local so use a local, licensed, independent title insurance agent. Keep your transaction free of potential conflict and hire a real estate agent, mortgage lender, and title insurance provider that are not affiliated. If applying for a mortgage through a national lender and not using a local representative, do not allow the lender to choose your title insurance provider. You will most likely end-up with a Notary Public at closing who has no knowledge of the title insurance profession as well as local ordinances.

A real estate transaction is one of the most important financial agreements a consumer will ever make in a life-time; unfortunately, we as a society have diminished its importance by eliminating the checks and balances.

What do you think?

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Checkout the weak justifications for builder owned ABA’s at www.regulations.gov and search on FR-5352. You will be directed to comments submitted to HUD regarding its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Strengthening and Clarifying RESPA’s “Required Use” prohibition.

I was happy to see comments disapproving of ABA’s, even from real estate agents. And of course, the many comments in support of ABA’s. The one-stop shopping mantra and how efficient communication is when the parties are affiliated versus non-affiliates goes on and on. Really? You are kidding me? Do you think the independent providers don’t have email and the technology in place to run an efficient operation? Do independents lack communication skills? Get real.

The deadline for submissions was September 1. Here is what I submitted. Enjoy!

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Hello from our Nation’s Capital.   I am a first-timer here at the ALTA Federal Conference.  It has been quite a number of years since I visited this beautiful City.   I like the pulse, the hustle and bustle, not as frantic as New York but with focus and with purpose.

I often wonder if our industry has a pulse.  I discovered that the answer is “yes.”  Within the few hours of my arrival I had the pleasure of meeting ALTA colleagues from all across the nation whose passion for protecting the American dream shines through.

This afternoon we should see a lot of this passion when we attend a session titled: RESPA Dialogue with HUD Officials.   I want to be front and center for this one.

Heading off to an ALTA-sponsored Congressional Briefing and meeting more people who realize that if we don’t get involved now and promote and educate others in what it is that we do, these “others” will gladly step in to help us along.  The health of our business requires us to be proactive and not reactive.

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Eliminate Your Exposure to the Elements!

by Francine D'Elia Wirsching

As a title insurance professional, the reality of unprecedented back to back snow storms in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions means one thing for your business: Don’t rely on verbal information when obtaining figures from a condominium or homeowners’ association.

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The New HUD-1 – I’m Embarrassed

by Francine D'Elia Wirsching

Yesterday I conducted my first closings using the new HUD-1. And, for the first time in my life, I felt like a scam artist (if a scam artist has a conscience). Make no mistake, I am serious. I found myself cringing while explaining the “improved” HUD-1 and apologizing to the consumers for the LACK of transparency in what I was asking them to sign.

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Beware of Title Express Glitches

by Francine D'Elia Wirsching

Warning: Do not wait until you have your first settlement that requires use of the new HUD-1 before trying out your software. I promised myself I would create a “dummy” file so I could run the new HUD-1 through the ringer. Unfortunately, I never got to it.

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Top 10 Clearing Title Posts from 2009

by Dave Wirsching

In case you missed them throughout the year, the most popular posts from 2009.

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Irony Alert: Foreclosure.com Files for Bankruptcy

by Dave Wirsching

For fans of Irony everywhere – it looks like the parent company for Foreclosure.com has filed for bankruptcy: parent company of Foreclosure.com, FFS Data, has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on December 23rd. The company cites $9.1 million in assets versus $27.5 of debt and $15.7 million income so far.

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The Gift that Just Keeps on Giving or All Together Now, If I Had a Hammer…

by Francine D'Elia Wirsching

The lending and title insurance industries have been diligently preparing for RESPA Reform. Seminars, webinars, out with the old, in with the new, suit up your’re in! I am not sure if it was the Department of Housing and Urban Development or some obscure federal agency with extra bodies who came up with the new regulations, but in speaking with colleagues, including lenders, none of us can fathom that anyone involved had significant mortgage and real estate closing experience.

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Fidelity Misses Q3 Expectations

by Dave Wirsching

RTTNews – Breaking News, financial breaking News, Positive EPS Surprises, Stock research …. Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (FNF), reported a swing to profit in the third quarter on higher revenues and lower expenses. However, the profit per share was lower than Wall Street expectations.

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