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Best Practices

Nearly 550 Title Professionals Attend ALTA Webinar on Best Practices

November 29, 2012

Nearly 550 title professionals attended a Nov. 20 webinar that reviewed ALTA’s Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices and how they can be used to meet market needs and allow title and settlement agents to continue serving as the vital independent third party to the real estate transaction.

Participating on the webinar were Frank Pellegrini, ALTA’s president; Chris Abbinante, ALTA’s immediate past president; and Michelle Korsmo, ALTA’s CEO. The presentation was followed by a 20-minute question and answer session.

The webinar addressed how market demands on lenders are impacting settlement service providers. It provided details on the best practices, covered survey results of what best practices title professionals already have in place and next steps.

Korsmo said a common question ALTA receives regarding the best practices is “What’s next?”

“Right now, ALTA is in conversations trying to get a good sense of what the industry is looking for and what the industry is capable of providing,” Korsmo said. “We’ve had conversations with lenders to get a better understanding of what they need to mitigate risk.”

In conversations with ALTA, lenders have shared three main concerns. First, lenders are looking to manage regulatory compliance (with an eye toward enforcement risk). “The more we can help minimize regulatory risk and increase regulatory compliance, the more we are serving the client,” Korsmo said.

Second, lenders also are looking to manage financial risk. This involved protecting escrow funds and non-public private information. Third, due to the financial crisis, lenders are looking for help in restoring their reputation. “So many consumers think of settlement companies as an arm of the lender,” Korsmo said. “The more we can do to help our level of professionalism and managing that reputation, the stronger we will be.”

Korsmo stressed that while title professionals already follow the majority of the best practices, but that companies need to have written documentation of policies and procedures. As an example, if a data breach occurs, companies need a written policy detailing the procedure of how to handle it.

“ALTA is in the process of developing model business policies and will provide them to members,” Korsmo said.

Offering advice on areas of concern, Korsmo advised companies to have a process in place to refund consumers if they overpaid a fee. Companies also need to have documentation for rates.

“The CFPB wants to make sure consumers are not harmed in any financial transaction,” Korsmo said. “The easiest way to do this is monitor rates consumers are being charged.”

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American Land Title Association
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Washington, D.C. 20036-5828
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