Joseph Shepherd, Esq.
As I write this message, it’s hard to believe that the first half of 2015 is already behind us. I suppose the big news since our last newsletter is that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has delayed the implementation of the new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule until October 3. At the risk of repeating myself, are you ready? Do you know how the regulatory changes currently scheduled to take effect October 3, 2015 will impact your job, your clients’ jobs, and your lenders’ business processes? Are you comfortable answering the questions that your clients are going to be asking you, including discussions as to why they are receiving multiple Closing Disclosure Statements and the value of owner’s title insurance?
The two-month delay in the implementation of TRID is the breathing room that should be used by everyone in our industry to make sure we are well versed and ready for the changes that inevitably will be coming our way. Do not delay in talking to your realtor and lender clients! Use this time to learn how they will be dealing with TRID, and what that will mean for you and your operations. Make sure that you are the go-to person for your customers regarding how the CFPB and new regulations will impact their business. Take a critical look at your own offices and put the business processes in place now to ensure as easy a transition as possible in October and November. Remember, this is not a form change; it is a fundamental change in how the business of residential real estate transactions are handled. Last, but certainly not least, please make sure that your offices are in compliance with the American Land Title Association’s Best Practices.
At this point, all settlement companies and attorneys should have their Best Practice manuals completed, and should be continually updating and enhancing them. You should be prepared to provide any lender who asks for it, evidence of your compliance with all seven Best Practices pillars, and at the very least, you should complete the ALTA self-certification. Also, if you have not taken the opportunity to visit the American Land Title Association website (www.alta.org/cfbp), please do so. There is valuable news and information there to help ensure your CFPB readiness. October will be here before we know it! Don’t let yourself fall behind in preparing.
2015 was both an interesting and busy year legislatively in Annapolis. This year, there was a larger than usual batch of freshman senators and representatives. Despite this, our Second Annual Lobby Day, on February 3, and our Annual Legislative Reception, on February 19, were both great successes, giving us valuable face-time with our elected officials. I am happy to report that we once again successfully helped to defeat the “Transfer on Death Act,” and we accomplished our goal of obtaining a sponsor for an MLTA bill to statutorily provide a framework in Maryland for filing and litigating suits to quiet title to real property. Although the “quiet title bill” did not pass both houses in its first year (which is extremely rare), we are reasonably optimistic that it will pass next year and be signed by the governor. Overall, it was a very successful legislative session. Many thanks to Susan Zuhowski, Bill O’Connell, Jim Cosgrove, Paul Rieger, Bill Pitcher, and the entire MLTA Legislative Committee for all their hard work!
This year your MLTA Board has begun an initiative of becoming more involved with other organizations within the real estate industry, and TRID has provided an excellent backdrop for this. In June, Kathee Brown and Sherry Blyton from the Membership Committee attended, and Steve Buckman, Past President, participated in a panel discussion at the joint Maryland Mortgage Bankers Association and Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors meeting. The topic was TRID and how those two groups would be impacted by the new regulation. Further, Steve Buckman and other MLTA Board members have been working with SMAR, GBBR, GCAR, and other realtor groups in regards to amending the standard residential sales contracts around the State to include mention of enhanced owner’s title insurance policies, so that such policies can be quoted to the consumer, and included in both the new Loan Estimates and Closing Disclosure Statements. These interactions with others in our industry provide greater visibility for the MLTA, as well as opportunities to advance causes important to all title professionals.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the American Land Title Association’s Title Action Network (TAN). TAN is the premier grassroots organization promoting the value of the land title industry and what we do for the consumer. If you won’t advocate for your industry, who will? It is critical to showcase a unified and energized voice for our industry when influencing legislators and regulators. That’s why it’s important all land title professionals join TAN. It is free and takes only a minute to join. TAN provides easy-to-understand advocacy alerts on issues impacting you, your business, and your customers. TAN focuses on ensuring state and federal legislators understand the value of the title industry. You can join today at www.alta.org/tan/join.
Finally, please plan on joining your friends and colleagues at the 2015 MLTA Fall Convention September 10 – 12, at The Grand Hotel & Spa, in Ocean City, Maryland. This convention is the single best opportunity to network with others in the industry, gain valuable knowledge during the eight hours of continuing education, and visit with vendors and service providers who can enhance the efficiency and sustainability of your individual operations. You can register at the following link; http://mdlta.og/Aboutus/Conventions/tabib/113/Default.aspx, or learn more about the convention at the MLTA website; http://mdlta.org.