OHIO LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION
n President’s Message 1 n Director’s Message 2
n The Boardwalk 3
n DC Photos 4
n Spring Seminar Photos 6 n Underwriter Article 9
by Sam Halkias
I ended my April message with a bold prediction. After 17 years of watching and cheering for our
Columbus Blue Jackets, I predicted this was the year they make it to the Stanley Cup finals. Well Pittsburgh eliminated the Jackets in the first round, not by outplaying the Jackets, but managing to capitalize on their goal scoring opportunities. The experienced Pittsburgh team, who also happen to be last year’s Stanley Cup Champions, knew that the only thing that really mattered was the final score. To say this year’s Blue Jacket team was a failure would be wrong, as this season was by far the best ever, filled with record- winning streaks and plenty of exciting action. So, the Jackets must wait yet another year to make it to the top of the NHL, and will I be there supporting and cheering them on.
Well now that my concession speech is over I’ll move on to Washington DC and the ALTA Advocacy Summit. Ohio was well represented with Rob Skidmore, John Voso, Russ Kutell, Mark Bennett and me as we and 200 other title representatives from all over the country descended on Capitol Hill. ALTA chose the Watergate Hotel for the meeting, made famous for a major political scandal that occurred following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the hotel’s office complex in 1972 and President Richard Nixon’s Administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. Curiosity got the best of me as I had to ask one of the hotel employees just exactly where the famous break-in occurred as I walked out the front lobby door. He immediately pointed up to the second floor just above the lobby entrance, and told me the perpetrators rented a hotel room directly above the covered entrance to the lobby, opened the window and walked about fifty feet over to the attached Office complex, pried open the window and the rest is the reason why every scandal from that point on ends in “-GATE”. Today the windows of the hotel do not open. I bet they wish they had thought of that when it was first built.
We spent the first two days in meetings at the hotel preparing for our appointments with our U.S. Senators and Representatives on Wednesday. One of the highlights was a surprise guest speaker Dr. Ben Carson, the newly appointed Director of HUD and recent Presidential Candidate. Dr. Carson gave a brief speech on HUD’s housing initiatives and his role as Director. While a 15-minute speech is hardy a keynote, it was great to see a top government official take time out of his busy day to address our industry. Kudo’s to our ALTA staff for obtaining Dr. Carson!
continued on page 4
O H I O L A N D T I T L E A S S O C I AT I O N
SERVING THE NEEDS OF OHIO’S LAND TITLE INDUSTRY SINCE 1910.
OHIO LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION
OLTA Board Takes Steps to Increase Value for Membership
In the past six months, the OLTA Board of Trustees has identified goals and initiatives for the Association to enhance membership value. You may have noticed we solicited title agency members for the number of staff they employ. The Board, at its last meeting, approved a new dues structure for 2018 that will be based on the number of employees that an agency has rather than the number of annual title orders. This new structure will allow more of your employees to be active in OLTA, receive communications and take advantage of continuing education.
And speaking of continuing education, we are in the process of expanding the on- demand library of webinars on the OLTA website. This expanded library will help licensed title agents earn continuing education – for CIE, CIE ethics and CLE credit.
Watch for more details in the coming months as more course offerings are added.
Additionally, the Board has committed to continue to create effective and fun networking opportunities at both Spring Seminar and Annual Convention. These events are not only an opportunity to learn but also to make connections with others in the title industry.
It’s Busy Season for the Ohio General Assembly
OLTA is either lobbying or monitoring a number of amendments in the state’s biennial budget bill including good funds, electronic notarization and recording fees. These provisions, whether they remain in current form, will have an effect on your daily business operating in the title industry.
What can you do to get involved to help ensure these outcomes are positive ones? First, you can become an OLTA Advocate. By completing the form at https://
you can make OLTA aware of relationships you have with legislators, employees at the Department of Insurance and more. Perhaps you went to college or are neighbors with a member of the General Assembly. Let us know who you know!
By joining the OLTA Advocate Program you can let us know how you’re willing to help OLTA’s advocacy efforts – whether it’s calling a legislator, emailing a legislator, meeting with a legislator or attending a fundraiser.
Second, you can help strengthen the voice of Ohio’s title industry by making an OLTPAC donation online anytime by using your personal credit card at https://
olta.site-ym.com/donations/donate.asp?id=4707. Legislators are about to enter their summer fundraising season. This is an opportunity for you to have one-on- one time with your legislators in the district and let them know about your business and the importance of the title industry in preserving the integrity of the real estate transaction. In addition to making a donation to OLTPAC, let us know if you are interested in attending a fundraiser on behalf of OLTAPAC. We need you to amplify our voice!
As always, please contact me with your questions and concerns at 614-501-1100 x 3187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Mark Bennett, CAE, IOM
“ ... YOU CAN HELP STRENGTHEN THE VOICE OF OHIO’S TITLE INDUSTRY BY MAKING AN OLTPAC DONATION ONLINE ANYTIME ... ”
Title Topics is the official publication of the Ohio Land Title Association.
The views expressed are not necessarily those of the association, its staff, officers or trustees. Articles may not be reprinted without the consent of OLTA.
Announcements, including new hires and promotions, may be submitted to the OLTA office
for publication in Title Topics. Announcements should include the name, his/her position, company and other relevant information. Items
should not be self-promoting or commercial.
Submissions are subject to acceptance and editing by the editor of Title Topics.
OLTA PUBLICATIONS CHAIR Tom Fiegl
ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE TO Ohio Land Title Association
1100-H Brandywine Blvd Zanesville, OH 43701-7303 Toll Free: 888-292-OLTA (6582) Phone: 740-450-1315 • Fax: 740-452-2552
Email: Info@OLTA.org Web: www.OLTA.org OLTA OFFICERS & TRUSTEES
President – Samuel Halkias President-Elect – Russell Kutell, Esq.
Secretary/Treasurer – Stan Hunter Immediate Past President – Donald P. McFadden, Esq.
Executive Director – Mark A. Bennett, CAE Trustee – Chip Brigham, Esq.
Trustee – Charles Cain, Esq.
Trustee – Paul DePascale, Esq.
Trustee – Jeffrey Gammell, Esq.
Trustee – William Heer, Esq.
Trustee – Dione Joseph, Esq.
Government Affairs Consultants – Robert K. Schmitz
Chad Hawley Troy Judy
Hurricanes are Unpredictable and Disastrous: The Need for a Rainy Day Fund
by Russell J. Kutell, Esq., Frost Brown Todd LLC
Advocates for the new legislation state that “title insurance consumers have almost no choices”. To shield themselves from this storm, the TLTA has spent much time, money, and effort to educate both the general public and state officials on the reality of the filed-rate system in the state. As part of this, the TLTA has created a toolbox containing many documents educating the public and responding to questions raised by the proponents of the legislation.
Interestingly, the title industry has gained some unusual supporters. The Texas state associations for realtors, builders, and bankers have all joined forces with the TLTA, along with trade associations for oil and gas producers and small businesses. At the same time, the Texas Apartment Association and the Texas Hotel & Lodging Associations, two well-known trade associations, are supporting the proposed legislation.
Despite the industry supporters, it is clear that the TLTA has spent much time and energy on defeating the legislation but, maybe even more importantly, the TLTA and the rest of the Texas title industry have spent a vast amount of money to oppose the wealthy supporters of the proposed changes.
So, how many of you think that such a scenario could relatively easily occur in Ohio? I have to imagine there are many wealthy developers in our state, just as in Texas, who would like to see lower premium rates. Don’t you think we should plan for this possible future contingency? How many of you think that having a war chest for a situation such as Texas is experiencing now is necessary? I for one do. The Texas experience also reminds us how important it is for the entire industry to support OLTAPAC. Again, it is better to be a well-known industry trade association which contributes to the political process before a storm of legislation occurs than playing damage control after a hurricane.
Earlier this month, I had the most amazing experience
participating in the ALTA Advocacy Summit, an experience that I hope you can all experience. Learning about the hot topics in DC and the industry and seeing our government at work, was truly fascinating. However, the topic that most impacted me is one that could impact all of us in Ohio ... and not in a good way ... it is what is currently occurring in Texas.
As many of you may not know, Texas has faced a typhoon in terms of proposed legislation attempting to convert Texas from a filed-rate state to either a “file and use” state or a flex-band rate system. The proposed statutes apparently resulted from several wealthy commercial developers wanting to overturn the existing filed-rate system. Texas S.B. 372 would result in the Texas Commissioner of Insurance no longer setting rates. Rather, rates would be filed by each underwriter based upon a “file and use”
system. Texas H.B. 4239 would result in the creation of a flex- band system which would require the Commissioner of Insurance to still fix and promulgate rates but would also set flexible-rate bands which would state a range of premiums around the fixed rate at which the underwriters could sell title insurance products.
An underwriter would then need to file a premium rate within the flexible band at which it would sell title insurance products. This filing would need actuarial support and could not be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.
The commercial developers behind the new legislation apparently are willing to spend whatever it takes to have this legislation passed. In response, the Texas Land Title Association (TLTA) and many under- writers who write in Texas have hired separate lobbyists to oppose the legislation. The costs have been astronomical.
On top of this, the industry has been faced with an onslaught of bad publicity. The Texas title industry has been described as “a broken system” in which “consumers are [not] protected with reasonable regulations”.
continued from page 1
Tuesday evening was highlighted by a tour of our National Mall. We enjoyed dinner on the grounds and then toured the Vietnam, WWII and Korean War memorials, and ended up at the Lincoln Memorial. Our tour guide was young lady named “Ingabjorn”, who proudly proclaimed her American Citizenship but referred to her Nordic background as the
“Viking Princess Warrior”! She gave us a great tour and pointed out many things I had never known about each memorial we visited. I even found out how the WWII phrase
“Kilroy was here” began. If you do not know then you’ll just have to go to DC and see for yourself, or ask me next time you see me. It’s a great story! Also notable as we walked the park were the thousands of people visiting the Mall. It was 10 pm when we got to the Lincoln Memorial and there were still thousands of people of all ages just hanging out. Great to see that people are still very interested in our Nation’s History.
Now for the big day on Capitol Hill. ALTA schedules meetings with each State’s members of Congress in advance and prepares talking points for us to discuss. Our Ohio schedule began with Senator Sherrod Brown’s office, followed by a visit to the office of Senator Rob Portman.
After discussing ALTA’s talking points we headed over to the House of Representatives offices just down from the street. It was a beautiful sunny day and as we were walking over to our next visit we just happened to see Senator Bernie Sanders walking directly at us. While only a pleasant greeting was exchanged between us and the Senator, it was a very memorable moment of our experience. It happened so fast none of us could get our cell phones out to get a picture, but it really did happen!
The afternoon was packed with visits to four of Ohio’s sixteen Representatives. We visited the offices of Pat Tiberi, Joyce Beatty, Bob Gibbs and James Renacci. We discussed the need for clarification of CFPB rules, including disclosure of title insurance under TRID; Clearer rules from CFPB on how to properly prepare and distribute the new CDs; encourage the CFPB to provide Consumer warning about wire fraud; and the importance of keeping 1031 exchanges in any revision of the tax laws. While we wish we could have visited with all of Ohio Representatives, I can assure you ALTA is constantly lobbying for our Industry all year. At least one member of our group lives in one of the Representative’s districts, further driving home the importance of Constituent Advocacy to each representative.
If you cannot attend ALTA’s Advocacy Summit next year, please consider participating in OLTA’s legislative Day and become a State Advocate for your title industry. It is an experience you will never regret!
OLTA REPRESENTATIVES ATTEND THE ALTA ADVOCACY SUMMIT IN
Mark Bennett, Sam Halkias and Russ Kutell in between appointments on Capitol Hill at the ALTA Advocacy Summit.
The Ohio Delegation and ALTA meets with Rep. Jim Renacci. L-R John Voso, Dan Mennenoh, Michelle Korsmo, Rep. Renacci, Sam Halkias, Mark Bennett and Rob Skidmore.
H H H
Old Republic Title’s policy-issuing underwriters are Old Republic National Title Insurance Company and American Guaranty Title Insurance Company | © 2016 Old Republic Title | 3/16
Senior Vice President East Central Division
JStipanovich@oldrepublictitle.com T: 216.524.5700
Corporate Plaza II
6480 Rockside Woods Blvd. S, Ste. 290 Independence, OH 44131-2309 oldrepublictitle.com
Top: OLTA Board Members Networking during the Monday Evening Reception at Franklin Park Conservatory (Jeffrey Gammell, Paul DePascale and Dione Joseph) Middle: Title Claims Panel and the Latest Hot Button Issues (Moderator Monica Russell; Panelists: Warren “Rip” Robinson, Mike Wypasek and Mindy Turner) Bottom: Lunch during OLTA’s Spring Seminar
OHIO LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION
Spring Seminar Exhibitors and Sponsors
Corporation Service Company Fidelity National Title
RynohLive Simplifile Crown Search Services
eRecording Partners Network ShortTrack
Fidelity National Title First American Title
North American Title Insurance Co.
Old Republic Specialized Agency Solutions
Simplifile SoftPro Westcor
eRecording Partners Network (ePN)
Agents National Title Insurance Conestoga Title Insurance Co.
EnTitle Insurance Co.
Fidelity National Title Group First American Title Insurance Co./
Ohio Bar Title Insurance Investors Title Insurance Co.
North American Title Insurance Co.
Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.
Stewart Title Guaranty Co.
Westcor Land Title Insurance Co.
WFG National Title Insurance Co.
Spring Seminar Exhibitors and Sponsors
Our Regulators Want us to Explain Our Products:
How the Homebuyer Outreach Program Can Help You Explain an Owner’s Policy
by Elizabeth Berg, Agents National Title
the NAIC has been drafting a guide to title insurance to be published on its website. Stay tuned for the publication.
The Ohio Department of Insurance refrains from answering the question on its website about what an owner’s policy is, but instead requires our industry to provide notices to homebuyers who choose not to purchase an owner’s policy at the time of purchase. R.C. §3953.30. The notice itself is entitled “Notice of Availability of Owner’s Title Insurance.” Available at http://
app1_20110826_1511.pdf. While the form does provide detail and the additional cost estimates for the title insurance policy, it does not provide the clear benefits to the homebuyer.
All of these various publications and regulations tell us one thing: our regulators want us to discuss the products we are selling to consumers. We are the experts about our industry, and we should tell our own story.
This is where the Homebuyer Outreach Program by ALTA can assist title agents in Ohio. Wayne Stanley from ALTA recently spoke to OLTA and provided us with an overview of the HOP Program. On the ALTA website under “Business Tools” there is a tab for the Homebuyer Outreach Program. There you will see all of the print advertisements full ALTA members can access.
These materials can be tailored for your business and even include your logo and contact information. Recently, ALTA even added HOP materials in Spanish.
Our regulators want us to explain our products. It is up to us to communicate with the consumer and enable our lender and realtor partners to explain owner’s policies correctly.
We all agree there are a lot of regulations that govern our daily interactions with the consumer. Recently, our industry has focused (rightly so) on TRID and its effects on our daily operations. Part of the new disclosure included the words
“Optional” next to an Owner’s Policy of title insurance. While an owner’s policy always has been optional, this word created anxiety for all of us because we know that without an owner’s policy, the homebuyer does not have title insurance protection.
It is not “optional” if a person wants coverage. Despite the
“optional language,” our regulators have been telling our story for us.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has answered the question “What is owner’s title insurance?” for us. Available at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/164/what-isowners- title-insurance.html. They also have information on owning a home that includes a checklist for closing; unfortunately this checklist does not describe the owner’s policy or title insurance benefits. Available at https://www.consumerfinance.
gov/owning-a-home/ and https://www.consumerfinance.gov/
owning-a-home/process/close/. The checklist focuses on the loan process and does not delve into the reasons homeowners want an owner’s policy.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also provides information to the consumer about our industry.
For example, the association developed a template for different states to use entitled “How to Buy Title Insurance in [Insert State].” Available at http://www.naic.org/documents/
The association published a “Consumer Alert” on “The Vitals on Title Insurance.” Available at http://www.naic.org/documents/
HHH OLTAPAC DONATION FORM HHH
Send your contribution to: OLTAPAC • 1100-H Brandywine Blvd • Zanesville, OH 43701-7303
Contributions to OLTAPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Completing this form serves Management notice that you agree to be contacted by mail, phone, fax and/or email.
Home Address ___________________________________________
City_______________________ State _______ ZIP+4 ___________
Company Address ________________________________________
City_______________________ State _______ ZIP+4 ___________
q Chairman’s Club ... $ 1000.00 q Gold Club ... $ 500.00 q President’s Club ... $ 250.00 q Sponsor ... $ 100.00 q Active ... $ 50.00 q Supporting ... $ 25.00 q Other ... $ ______
METHOD OF PAYMENT (payment due at time of order)
q Make checks payable to OLTAPAC
All payments in US funds drawn on US banks. $25 fee charged for returned checks.
To pay by credit card, please visit www.OLTA.org and Sign In (located in the upper right corner). OLTA currently accepts the following credit cards: MasterCard, American Express, Discover and VISA. OLTA is unable to accept credit cards by phone, fax email or by mail.
If you do not remember your Username or Password, use the Reset Your Password on the OLTA web site by entering the email address associated with your member record. Please contact the OLTA office at (888) 292-6582 if you have any questions or have trouble logging in. We appreciate your support of the Ohio Land Title Association.
FOR OFFICE USE ONLY
Recd ________ Ck# _________ Amt $ ________ ACKD _________