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A Message From the President

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July/August 1998 - Volume 77, Number 4

The U.S. land titling business is undergoing dramatic change. To meet the needs of the lending community, members of the ALTA® are integrating products and services necessary to close a real estate transaction into a one-stop shopping format. This bundling concept, by the title company overseeing the real estate transaction, is receiving widespread acceptance and proving to be efficient and cost effective. Our industry has invested heavily to bring these services together for the benefit of consumers. We are also improving turn times for delivery of our products in the face of explosive growth in the volume of real estate transactions processed.

As a by-product of processing a title, our industry is also keeping the public record accurate and up to date by identifying corrective measures that must be accomplished to properly transfer the title.

Having had the opportunity to study the real estate conveyancing process in multiple countries on three continents, I am confident that the U.S. title insurance industry facilitates one of the most efficient systems in the world.

We not only process real estate transactions efficiently to get them closed, but afford unparalleled protection in the event the customer experiences a claim. The title insurance company corrects the title problem and/or reimburses the consumer for any covered loss they may sustain.

In most countries, the risk of title failure is the owner’s. Even where some government protection may exist, consumers must retain counsel to defend their titles and spend considerable time attempting recovery from the government of any loss they may have suffered.

The world is becoming a much smaller community. Businesses are expanding globally. Lenders overseas are buying interests in U.S. lenders. Our lenders are opening offices or purchasing existing foreign lending operations. It is important that the title industry replicate itself and create overseas, the kind of efficiencies and assurances on which U.S.-based lenders and owners of real estate have come to rely. If we do not meet the global needs of our customers, we could risk another less efficient system becoming the "standard" of the world, including the U.S.! It’s clearly time to let our light shine and strut our stuff! Members of this association have family ties in other countries and would have an interest in spreading our "know how" to those countries. This is our chance to expand business opportunities for ALTA® members and, at the same time, do something that will be good for the world.

I recall one associate insurance commissioner marveling at the benefits achieved through the efforts of the U.S. title industry. He challenged us to help create systems to facilitate private ownership of homes in other countries. U.S. homeowners live peaceably with their neighbors, maintain their properties, support the government and pay taxes to support the welfare of their communities. The title industry is the key to supporting our real estate system making the American dream possible.

Today, interest in establishing secondary mortgage markets is blossoming around the world. Many countries have sent delegations seeking advice from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on how to run a secondary mortgage system. Unfortunately, the importance of title insurance to the secondary market process sometimes never surfaces.

We are at a unique time in history when ALTA® members can be a part of exporting the American dream around the world. As a result, I have appointed a special International Development Committee chaired by Mark Winter, vice chair of the Government Affairs Committee, to study the scope and direction of ALTA® and determine if we should broaden the scope of the Association to encompass the global marketplace. It is my belief that we must raise the visibility of ALTA® as the premier organization in the world when it comes to land titling issues. I would like to see other countries consult with ALTA® on the real estate process, including introducing title assurances on mortgages sold on global secondary markets. The International Development Committee will study these opportunities and present their recommendations to the Board of Governors.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my four years moving through the chairs in this organization and having the opportunity to serve as your President. From you, I have gained a greater understanding of title issues and your concerns. I thank you for your valuable input. Becky and I are grateful for the warm hospitality and genuine friendship of the ALTA® family. Each state convention gave us a treasure of new and wonderful friends. You have enriched and blessed our lives.

It will be our pleasure to host you at the American Land Title Association®’s Annual meeting in New York City October 13 through 17 at the fabulous Marriott Marquis Hotel in the heart of Times Square. Please make your convention plans now  we’ll be excited to see you there!


Malcolm S. Morris

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