November 6, 2013
Dear MLTA Members,
This past Friday, November 1, 2013, I officially became President of the Maryland Land Title Association. Ten years ago, I served as President of the District of Columbia Land Title Association, but since that time, the title industry has undergone fundamental changes, and further changes are coming. It will be my duty to guide our Association and its members through these changing times.
Before the year is out, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will be issuing its final rule that will integrate the mortgages disclosures required under the Real Estate Procedures Act (RESPA) with the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA). Congress mandated this combination under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act. Thus, the settlement statement that was revamped in 2010 and the TILA disclosures will be integrated into one unified disclosure. While this combination will fundamentally change the way we do business, I am confident that our membership will adapt. Furthermore, I pledge to you that your Association will help you make this transition. To that end, in February 2014, as part of our District of Columbia seminar, several experts on the Integrative Disclosure Rule, such as Bart Shapiro, Esquire, the former head of the RESPA office at HUD and a former attorney at the CFPB together with Steve Gottheim, Esquire, legislative counsel at ALTA, will participate. We are also hopeful that a senior attorney from the CFPB will participate in a panel discussion.
In early October, Joe Shepherd and I had the opportunity to attend the annual American Land Title Association conference in Palm Beach, Florida. We met with several officers of other state associations, and it was clear that our Association is one of the strongest and most active associations in the country. Having been a member of the MLTA for the past 20 years, this fact did not surprise me. Not only did we have the opportunity to learn about the new integrated CFPB Rule in seminars, we also had the opportunity to spend considerable time discussing it in informal settings with several present and former CFPB attorneys. All of them had some role in drafting the proposed rule, and two of them are intimately involved in the promulgation of the final rule and the implementation. While no secrets were disclosed, the conference proved to be an educational experience that will help us to assist our members to move forward.
The other takeaway from the conference was ALTA’s Best Practices policies. Lenders and regulators are looking to regulate the title industry to insure that we are handling the process in a professional manner, safeguarding the personal data of clients, and handling settlement funds appropriately. To that end, I urge you to read and implement ALTA’s Best Practices policies that may be found at www.alta.org/bestpractices/index.cfm. This represents a common sense approach to our ever-changing environment.
We currently plan to head up the Coastal Highway from Ocean City and convene our Fall Convention, in September 2014, at the Sands Hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The convention will begin on September 15th(Monday) and end late in the afternoon on September 16th (Tuesday). The Convention Committee, in conjunction with the Board, decided that a convention held at the beginning of the week would make more sense considering the nature of the title business. We also decided to shorten the convention to two days with the same number of educational credits that we normally offer over three days.
There are other innovations and changes coming your way. To name just two, we are exploring the development of a new, robust website that will meet the Association’s needs now and into the future, and are also exploring the debut of online educational seminars for credit.
In December, our Education Committee has an excellent seminar planned in Annapolis. The topic will be title issues in handling distressed properties, e.g., foreclosures, short sales, and deeds-in-lieu. Also, our Pre-licensing Committee has a class scheduled in December in Linthicum. I am proud to say our pre-licensing class pass rate is the highest of any class offered in the state.
In conclusion, thank you for your confidence in me. I look forward to continuing to move our Association forward. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance to you.
My email address is Buckman@BuckmanLegal.com.
Steven M. Buckman