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  • February 24, 2015 10:38 AM | Michael Russo (Administrator)

    DISB Insurance Commissioner Philip Barlow has responded to DCLTA's letter regarding the proposed DC settlement agent rate examination.  The response can be read at the following link: DISB's Response to DCLTA 021915.

    While I am certain you will agree that the response is somewhat disappointing, it also sheds some light on DISB and Mr. Barlow's expectations from the process.  In particular, Mr. Barlow states, as follows: "I also want to reiterate that the purpose of looking at
    information from individual producers is not intended to be a compliance audit. Rather, we are using the examination format as the safest and most effective method of getting the information needed for Mr. Birnbaum' s charge and to better enable the DISB understand the elements necessary to carry out our responsibilities under District law for reviewing rate filings."  He also notes his interest in DCLTA's future presentation on rate avoidance issues specific to DC settlement practice. 

    We are preparing the presentation and hope to get a date on the calendar for March to meet again with DISB for this presentation.  DCLTA will need your assistance in preparing for this.  In particular we are looking for an "in the DC trenches" perspective on your most pervasive DC risk avoidance problems; practical examples of these issues; and, any memos, guidelines or other written material that will illustrate the problems or necessary remedial processes.   In our last letter to DISB we included an outline of some such issues.  A copy can be reviewed at this link: DC Title Considerations.  Please contact me if you are able to assist us in moving this process forward.  

    As always if you have any questions let us know and if you are able to help, please do hesitate to contact me.

    Regards,

    DC Land Title Association

    Mike Russo, President

    mailto:russo@CouncilBaradel.com
  • February 16, 2015 5:59 PM | Michael Russo (Administrator)


    Through the enormous effort of Amy Klein, Roy Kaufman and Betsy Russo and with the generous cooperation and contribution of many members,  DCLTA has responded to DISB with our comments regarding their proposed settlement agent Rate Exam Questions.  Our response can be read at this link:DCLTA Letter to DISB with attachments 2/16/2015.

    We are planning to follow up with a presentation to DISB regarding risk avoidance obligations and other activities unique to being a responsible settlement agent in the District of Columbia.  We will be calling on members once again to assist with that process.

    We are hopeful that DISB will choose to continue this important dialogue.  However, DISB is free to proceed as it chooses.  We will continue to keep you informed of developments as we learn of them.  Likewise, we ask you to contact us with any questions, comments or observations you may have.

    Regards,

    DC Land Title Association

    Mike Russo, President.
  • January 23, 2015 5:41 PM | Michael Russo (Administrator)


    All:

      I want to update you regarding the meeting on Thursday January 22 with DISB Associate Commissioner Philip Barlow and Actuary Robert Nkojo and Birny Birnbaum the independent contractor retained by DISB to conduct the rate examination.    The meeting was also attended by Justin Ailes and Wayne Stanley with ALTA, Donna F. Shuler and Tessa Edison with Answer Title, Ben Soto with Premium Title, Todd Ewing with Federal Title, Amy Klein with District Title and Elizabeth Russo with MCP Title Services, LLC. 

     The bottom line is: DISB will be sending questionnaires to at least 10 DC settlement companies whom they will select and will expect answers about how these agents conduct their business.  Agents will be selected by DISB and DISB states that responses will be kept confidential.  DISB’s examiner will then visit the 10 selected companies and spend about 4 hours interviewing employees and following up on the questions and answers.  This process is permitted in a regulated industry, as ours now is, and cannot be avoided. 


    The proposed questions can be found at this link:
    DISB - draft request to title agents 1-22-15.pdf


     Once DISB gets this information it will publish a report on the industry in DC and will make recommendations as to whether DC policy premium rates are too high.  THIS WILL HAPPEN. 

    The question for DCLTA and its members is: What can we do about it?  Our concern is that if DISB’s examination is not comprehensive enough they will fail to determine the nature and scope of all the work DC agents perform and expenses they incur to provide first class service to the DC community.

     

    Phillip Barlow invited the agents to volunteer examination of their business operations and or to share any information that they believe would be useful for DISB’s understanding of the business, even if the information is not included in the draft requests, attached above.  DISB would like information about title issues unique to DC.  DCLTA WILL NEED YOUR COOPERATION IN PROVIDING THIS INFORMATION EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT ONE OF THE SELECTED AGENTS.

     

    We urge you to review the draft questions and provide me with your concerns as soon as possible.  Also, I need your comments on how best to inform DISB of the realities of our industry in DC.    Finally, please let me know whether you would be willing to provide DCLTA with your own company’s answers to these questions – even if you are not one of the selected companies – so that we can compile the responses and forward them to DISB (without identifying your agency).

       

    THE ENTIRE BILLING STRUCTURE WILL CHANGE FOR AGENTS IN DC.  THE QUESTION IS HOW IT WILL AFFECT EACH OF OUR MEMBER AGENTS AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO INFLUENCE THAT CHANGE. DCLTA cannot help without your cooperation.

     

    We encourage you to get involved and have a voice in the process.

     

    Regards,

     

    Mike Russo,

    President, DC Land Title Association.


    DISB - draft request to title agents 1-22-15.pdf

  • January 09, 2015 4:29 PM | John Reid (Administrator)

    As most settlement agents and attorneys know too well, escrowing the correct amount for outstanding utility bills is crucial during residential transactions when final bills are not available until after closing has occurred.

    To assist our members, I have attached the preferred form to request the outstanding DC Water balance prior to closing.

    Certified Balance Request Form (2).docx


  • December 23, 2014 3:03 PM | John Reid (Administrator)

    Dear John,

    If you are contemplating a career move while between your various holiday over-indulgences, attached are some job vacancy announcements that may be of interest to you!

    Warm Holiday Wishes,

    DCLTA

    ROD-Examiner Position.pdf

    ROD-Lead Examiner Position.pdf


  • December 22, 2014 11:55 AM | Michael Russo (Administrator)

    DCLTA MEMBER INPUT NEEDED FOR DISB MARKET CONDUCT EXAMINATION OF TITLE INSURANCE RATES

                  As many of you are aware the District of Columbia’s Department of Insurance, Security and Banking (DISB) is conducting a market conduct examination of the DC’s title insurance rates. The stated goal of this examination is to “evaluat[e] DC title insurance rates and examining issues related to the operating environment in DC for title insurers and title agents…to identify all title insurance and settlement service activities to ensure that expenses associated with each set of activities are segregated or assigned to just those activities. … to examine all title insurance and settlement expenses to perform any evaluation of the reasonableness of the agent commission.”

                Specifically, it is currently not clear to the DISB “why DC title insurers are paying 80 to 85% of the risk rate title   premium in commissions to title agents.  District of Columbia Title Rate Examination: Revised Follow Up Questions, November 6, 2014.  DISB is seeking to identify the specific roles and activities of settlement   agents in a settlement of DC property so that they can assess the cost to the consumer of products and services to consumers.

                  To assist in this process and to make sure that all of our membership has a voice in the process, I am inviting any interested settlement company member, or any member in any aspect of our industry, to volunteer to communicate with DISB’s representatives to educate them on the realities of their respective roles in our industry.  It is my goal that the governmental unit that regulates our industry is acutely aware of the work, professional judgment, training and experience that goes into bringing a high quality experience and insurance product to the citizens of the District of Columbia.

                  Participation in this process will require only a modest time commitment from settlement agents and should be concluded in the next several weeks.  If you are able to participate in this important process affecting our industry please contact me at your next convenience at Russo@CouncilBaradel.com.

    Thank you and have a great holiday season.

    Mike Russo

    President, DC Land Title Association.

  • October 08, 2014 1:51 PM | John Reid (Administrator)

    ROD has posted on its website general recording requirements for commercial refinances and modifications/amendments.  The requirements are in line with OTR’s Notice of May 2014, and hopefully answer the questions of commercial filers in terms of required supporting documentations.

     

    The purpose of this document is to mainly enforce a uniform, standard way of the information presented on the statement to the FP7.   A standardized statement to the FP-7 will assist filers to submit relevant information and to present them in an order that facilitates an effective and accurate review by ROD examiners.  

     

    Below is the link to the newly posted document.  Please feel free to contact the ROD management staff if there are any questions.  Please share this email with your colleagues.  Thank you!

     

     

    http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/service/otr-recorder-deeds

  • September 24, 2014 1:35 PM | Michael Russo (Administrator)

    EMAIL FROM IDA WILLIAMS, Esq., DC RECORDER OF DEED -- Final Draft of Part J of FP-7


    Attached is the final draft of Part J of FP-7 which reflects some of the suggestions from the DCLTA membership.  Thank you everyone for your comments!

    The revised FP7 form is targeted to be on ROD’s website in a couple of weeks.  It will be the only FP7 form that ROD will accept as of January 1, 2015, so please keep it in mind when conducting settlements close to the end of this calendar year.   

    As usual, myself and ROD Deputy Amy Conn will be more than happy to answer your questions on this matter.

     

    Ida Williams, Esq.

    Recorder of Deeds

    Office of the Recorder of Deeds

    Real Property Tax Administration

    Office of Tax and Revenue

    1101 4th St SW-5W

    Washington D.C. 20024

    Direct phone: (202) 442-8610

    ida.williams@dc.gov

  • September 16, 2014 11:06 AM | Michael Russo (Administrator)

    MESSAGE FROM IDA WILLIAMS, DC RECORDER OF DEEDS:

    I would like to get the attention of DCLTA members about a new OTR notice on purchase money deeds of trust.  The notice is very simple and straightforward in requiring full compliance with DC Code 42-1103(b-1)(2).  Below is the link to the notice.  This notice is the precursor to the upcoming notice and changes in the FP-7.  Please feel free to contact me if there are any questions.

     http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/page/otr-notices

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