After a month of incremental increases, fixed mortgage rates took their biggest leap since this summer.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.91 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.85 percent a week ago and 3.47 percent...
It looks like would-be homeowners are in luck. According to CoreLogic’s most recent U.S. Home Price Insights report, home prices are stalling—and it could mean more affordable real estate is on the horizon.
How to avoid losing your home settlement funds in a wire fraud
Q: Three weeks ago we were given wire instructions by our escrow company and had no reason to believe that they were not real.
Our escrow officer was extremely busy and impossible to reach via telephone. She was always available via email and text. Unfortunately, we received instructions via email and confirmation via text, and it was encrypted with DocuSign authentication. We wired almost $500,000 and even sent confirmation to her as requested. Later that day we stopped by to drop off a document that had been notarized to her office and learned that they had not received...
U.S. housing market not without challenges, but on solid growth path.
Many Americans remain locked out of access to the mortgage market.
Yet household debt now at 20-year lows is boding well for the economy and housing market.
With the Great Recession now eight years behind us, many investors have lately been taking stock of the housing market. More than a few respected institutional investors see great prospects for growth in the industry, and the fundamentals for U.S. housing market growth indeed look promising. The industry's outlook isn't without major challenges, however, which should be addressed. With that said...
Passwords are critical gateways to your company’s databases and networks. But they’re also potential open doors for hackers. Up there with “password” and “qwerty” in the Hack Me Hall of Fame are passwords that are short common terms like team names, dog breeds, dates and other easy-to-guess options. They’re risky on two fronts, according to the Federal Trade Commission. First, an up-to-no-good insider will take one look at the screensaver of an employee's adorable sheepdog Ralphie and immediately try “sheepdog” and “Ralphie.” Second, common words are particularly susceptible to dictionary attacks, the tech equivalent of the million monkeys at a million typewriters that systematically try every conceivable word until they hit pay dirt. When creating passwords, remind your employees to skip those obvious choices. This is one time when good spelling can lead to bad results.
Longer passwords are better, of course, but they can be harder to remember. So how can businesses balance security and practicality? The FTC suggests considering the passphrase as an alternative. Hackers aren’t likely to guess a nonsense word like “iwtraranaped,” but the guy in the next office who plays in a Kiss cover band on weekends will instantly...
The national ALTA Title & Settlement Agent Registry (ALTA Registry) is a searchable online database of underwriter-confirmed title agent companies, real estate attorneys, and underwriter direct offices.
Lenders and their vendors, title agents, underwriters, and other participants in the closing process must be able to identify each other and communicate in a timely and consistent manner throughout the mortgage transaction. Because there has been no unique ID number used across the industry to help match provider records in different databases, communication has often been difficult and costly for the title industry and its customers. This challenge can also impact compliance and vendor oversight requirements and the need for collaboration throughout the transaction.
As the national trade association for the land title insurance industry, ALTA is perfectly positioned to develop and maintain this industry utility. ALTA offers a unique 7-digit identifier, the ALTA ID, which is automatically assigned to each new database record as a permanent ID number and is never changed, reassigned, or reused. Branch offices have their own ALTA IDs and may be connected to primary business locations with no requirement for consecutive or numerically correlated ALTA ID numbers. ALTA ID numbers are available for free to title agents and to real estate attorneys.
Bipartisan push begins in Congress to change part of CFPB’s TRID rule
Reps. French Hill and Ruben Kihuen lead effort on changing title insurance issue
October 6, 2017
In an increasingly rare moment of bipartisanship, two Congressmen from opposite sides of the political aisle are partnering to push for a change to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule, also called the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures rule, or TRID.
On the Republican side, the effort is being led by Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas, ...
Despite higher rates, millennial borrowers took out mortgage loans at higher amounts than they did a year ago, according to data from the Millennial Tracker released by Ellie Mae.
Millennial borrowers closed loans in August with an average amount of $185,919, a slight increase from the $184,113 average loan amount in August last year. The change comes in spite of an increase in the average 30-year note rate to 4.211% from 3.706%. ...
American Land Title Association Applauds Bipartisan Bill to Help Consumers Understand True Cost of Real Estate Transaction
Washington, D.C., Oct. 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Land Title Association (ALTA), the national trade association of the land title insurance industry, applauds U.S. Reps. French Hill and Ruben Kihuen for introducing a bipartisan bill to correct the inaccurate disclosure of title insurance premiums on the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) and help consumers understand the true cost of their real estate transaction.
The TRID Improvement Act of 2017 amends the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to allow the accurate disclosure of title insurance premiums and discounts to homebuyers. Under the current regulation, the CFPB does not allow title insurance companies to disclose available discounts for lenders title insurance...
ALTA-supported Bipartisan Bill to Fix TRID Introduced in House
October 5, 2017
U.S. Reps. French Hill and Ruben Kihuen introduced today an ALTA-supported bipartisan bill to correct the inaccurate disclosure of title insurance premiums on the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) and help consumers understand the true cost of their real estate transaction.
The TRID Improvement Act of 2017 amends the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to allow the accurate disclosure of title insurance premiums and discounts to homebuyers. Under the current regulation, the CFPB does not allow title insurance companies to disclose available discounts for lenders title insurance on the government mandated disclosures.
Cohn: 'People don't buy homes because of the mortgage deduction'
White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn on Thursday pushed back against criticism that Republicans' tax plan could hurt the real-estate market, saying, "People don't buy homes because of the mortgage deduction."
The key to take down scammers: Here are a few surefire security tricks
"Think before the click"
If a settlement agent believes cybersecurity is something only the big banks and other high profile financial institutions need to be concerned with, think again. Small businesses have a big target on their backs. In fact, ...
Dustan Myrex saw nothing suspicious when he received an email that appeared to be from the closing attorney’s office concerning the wire transfer needed before he bought his house a couple of weeks ago.
It was a Wednesday morning and he had discussed the details surrounding the closing costs with the office the day before.
So when the new email stated “revised wiring instructions is (sic) attached, let me know when the wire is sent,” Myrex followed...
Finalized TRID Rule Applies to All Residential Deals Involving Cooperatives
In July, the CFPB finalized a uniform rule regarding the application of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) requirements for cooperative units.
Under the existing rule, coverage of cooperative units depended on whether cooperatives were classified as real property under state law. Cooperatives are sometimes treated as personal property under state law and sometimes as real property. Because state law sometimes treats cooperatives differently for different purposes...
NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM GRANTED 3 MONTH EXTENSION
September 8, 2017
President Donald Trump signed a three-month extension to the National Flood Insurance Program on Friday, giving Congress more time to come up with a long-term financial solution for the program.
Trump signed the extension, which was included in H.R. 601, after the House passed the extension in a legislative package on Friday that also provides funding for hurricane relief and other priorities. With this new extension, the program will now expire on Dec. 8, 2017.
Freddie Macannounced a new enhanced relief refinancing offering intended to aid borrowers who are making their mortgage payments on time, but are unable to participate in the GSE’s “no cast-out” refinance program due to having a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio above maximum requirements. The new program will be effective for mortgages with applications on or after November 1, 2018.
In order to be eligible for the Enhanced Relief Refinance Program, mortgages must be owned or securitized by Freddie Mac, possess a note date on or after October 1, 2017, and not currently hold the status of being a Freddie Mac Relief Refinance Mortgage. In addition, mortgages must not have been...
Draft Bill to Fix TRID Discussed During Congressional Hearing
September 7, 2017
A draft bill expected to be introduced by U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) that would correct the inaccurate disclosure of title insurance premiums on the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) was discussed Sept. 7 during a Congressional hearing titled “Legislative Proposals for a More Efficient Federal Financial Regulatory Regime."
Called the TRID Improvement Act of 2017, the bill would amend the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to allow for the calculation of a simultaneous issue discount when disclosing title insurance premiums. It also would change the period in which a creditor is allowed...
Home prices 'overvalued' in a third of U.S. markets
Homes are now overvalued in more than a third of the nation’s 100 largest metros and nearly half of the country’s top 50 markets, CoreLogic reported.
As of July, home prices in 34 percent of the top 100 cities exceeded their long-run level, the company said. In the top 50 markets, 46 percent were overvalued. In these cities, the prices have risen by 10 percent or more...
PRIA Conference Discusses eRecording and Predictable Recording Fees
The Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) held its annual conference last week in Nashville, TN. Attendees included county recorders, title professionals, lenders and vendors. Topics of discussion centered on emerging technologies and the modernization of property records. Online notary was the focus of many conversations, as documents notarized via webcam are now legal in a few states (including Montana and Virginia, and soon in Texas and Nevada). E-recording and predictable recording fees were also highlighted at the conference. According to PRIA, 1,700 counties around the United States are now e-recording. Predictable recording fees are also becoming more common around the country. Currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia have some sort of predictable recording fee structure. PRIA attendees participated in a workgroup meeting to discuss necessary steps in promoting adoption of predictable recording fees by state legislatures. If you have any questions please contact Elizabeth Blosser, ALTA's director of grassroots and state government affairs, at email@example.com.
TRID Fix a Topic in Congressional Hearing Thursday, September 7
TRID will be on Congress' radar Thursday at a hearing entitled, "Legislative Proposals for a More Efficient Federal Financial Regulatory Regime." The TRID Improvement Act of 2017, a yet-to-be-introduced discussion draft of a bill by Rep. French Hill (R-AR), will be a topic of conversation in the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.
ALTA has been working closely with Rep. Hill's office on the legislation. The bill amends the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to allow for the calculation of a simultaneous issue discount when disclosing title insurance premiums. The bill also amends RESPA and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) to change the period in which a creditor is allowed to cure a good-faith violation on a Loan Estimate or Closing Disclosure from 60 to 210 days after consummation to match the cure period for QM, or a Qualified Mortgage.
Terminating Easements in States East of the Mississippi River
August 24, 2017
By Adam Leitman Bailey and Israel Katz
One of this century’s most common sources of real estate litigation in the states east of the Mississippi River is easements. In urban areas, entire development projects have been halted as a result of easement agreements, many of them ancient. In our nation’s system of transferring title, in which each parcel of land is transferred with all of the rights of their predecessor owners (no matter how old), these disputes will continue. This article discusses how to terminate easements and...
Feds target luxury real estate wire transfers in money laundering investigation
Nearly one-third of cash sales tied to "illicit activity
The federal government is again expanding its investigation into whether foreign buyers are using shell companies to buy luxury U.S. real estate to launder money after its investigation found that potentially illicit activity is behind more than 30% of cash...
Title and settlement 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 the company’s security practices...
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) renewed and expanded existing Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that require U.S. title insurance companies—along with their subsidiaries and agents—to identify the individuals behind companies used to conduct high-end, all-cash real estate transactions in certain major jurisdictions.
Following the recent enactment of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act, FinCEN revised the GTOs to capture a broader range of transactions, including those involving wire transfers. The order also includes transactions above...
Agent Has No E&O Coverage for Theft of Escrow Money by Email Impostor
August 22, 2017
A U.S. district court in Maryland recently ruled that an exclusion in a title agent errors and omissions policy for "insufficiency in the amount of escrow funds" has been held to negate the carrier's duty to defend or indemnify the agent for the theft of the seller's money by impersonation and fraud.
Hardly a day goes by without news of some new cyber attack. Less reported—but equally as concerning—are coverage denials under cyber-insurance policies for losses that were plainly caused by computer hackers. Here are some examples, and the lessons
TRID Amendments and Proposal Published in Federal Register
August 15, 2017
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s amendments and proposal to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule were published to the Federal Register on Aug. 11.
The official effective date of the amendments is Oct. 10, 2017. From that date until Oct. 1, 2018, each lending institution will get to choose which of the amendments to comply with. Title and settlement companies will need to be...
This information is not a substitute for legal advice, is for your reference only, and is not intended to represent the only approach to any particular issue. This information should not be construed as legal, financial or business advice, and users should consult legal counsel and subject-matter experts to be sure that the policies adopted and implemented meet the requirements unique to your company.
Is there a recommended “look back” period when performing a Best Practices assessment?
ALTA does not recommend a specific “look back” period for Best Practices assessments. When determining an appropriate look back period for assessments, it is important to consider...
As president and chief executive officer of Texas-based Rattikin Title Company, Jack Rattikin III has plenty of things that occupy his attention. Third-party vendor oversight and threats to the rating structure in Texas are two top-of-mind issues, but they’re not what keeps Rattikin up at night. Over the past year, a new threat has emerged to become the main reason for late-night tossing and turning for title and settlement professionals: phishing and wire fraud.
“I make it clear in every staff meeting and in front of our closing that wire fraud is our number one concern,” Rattikin said. “It’s not just closing deals and searching titles anymore. There’s a lot of risk that we have...