The Future is Here; Let’s Embrace It
The adoption and implementation of remote online notarization (RON) received a tremendous boost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Buyers, sellers and title agents are looking to close transactions in the safest way possible. According to the American Land Title Association (ALTA), “Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have either passed a RON law or issued an executive order pertaining to remotely notarizing documents. Some have done both.”
In December of 2020, ALTA reported that RON use had increased 547 percent during the year compared to 2019. If you are a “Star Trek” fan, the lightning-fast adoption of RON – as well as alternative remote closing methods such as Remote Ink-Signed Notarization (RIN) – has felt like the title industry has gone from cruising to warp speed in a nanosecond. It can even feel tempting to utter one of the show’s classic lines like “Beam me up, Scotty!” when thinking about such transformative change.
But let us back up a bit. As the automobile was invented and became a commonplace form of transportation, society built an accompanying infrastructure – including roads, highways, bridges and tunnels. The same is needed for RON. However, it takes time to develop secure and accessible technology that everyone can use. It requires effort to garner the acceptance of the county recorders who must be ready, willing and able to record native electronic instruments. Creating uniform laws to ensure interstate legal recognition and consumer confidence is also no easy matter.
Properly building out RON infrastructure necessitates the continuous collaboration of numerous parties, including individuals, industries and organizations. For example, MISMO, the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization, has been working on standards concerning credential analysis, borrower identification, audio-visual requirements (including the recording of the electronic notarization process) and audit trails. PRIA, the Property Record Industry Association, has been developing national standards and best practices for the land records industry. ALTA and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) have also joined forces to establish model RON legislation. Finally, there are numerous other stakeholders not identified here who have, and are, tirelessly working to enable the requisite RON infrastructure.
Currently, the federal Senate bill (SB) 3533, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (otherwise known as the SECURE Notarization Act), is pending. If passed in 2021, the SECURE Notarization Act will permit RON across the nation and provide for minimum standards and interstate recognition. To track the progress of the SECURE Notarization Act, click on the link provided for SB 3533.
Another good resource for tracking the evolution of RON is the DLA Piper financial services alert, which is constantly updated. You can also subscribe to their mailing list to receive alerts via email.
During this time of rapid transition, it is important to keep abreast of the latest RON developments, to “boldly go” forth and not end up like another classic science fiction show: “Lost in Space.”
The future is here; let’s embrace it!
Patrick Hagler Receives the October Research 2020 Philanthropy Award at NS3.
Denver, Colo. – (Sept. 2, 2020) Patrick Hagler, State Council-Georgia, Alliant National Title Insurance Co., has received the 2020 Philanthropy Award from October Research, LLC. The award was presented today at the 2020 National Settlement Services Summit (NS3).
The Philanthropy Award honors professionals in the title, underwriting, lending and settlement services industries for exemplary accomplishment in the area of philanthropy.
“It’s an honor to recognize Patrick Hagler for his philanthropic work outside of the office,” October Research CEO and Publisher Erica Meyer said. “We were impressed at his dedication in helping the homeless, specifically the youth, in his community.”
Currently, Hagler runs a non-profit called Loving Hands of Hope, which focuses on providing homeless teens and young adults with essential items such as clothing and hygiene kits. He is a long-time supporter of Lost and Found Youth Atlanta, an organization that facilitates counseling and other services for homeless young adults. He also volunteers with their 24-hour hotline that helps children find places to sleep and access to hot meals.
Other non-profit work includes volunteering at the Dr. Anise Mabry Foundation’s diploma program, Chris 180, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Backpack in the Park. Lastly, Hagler is a Toy Party volunteer for the Kid in All of Us organization.
Receiving this award is incredibly meaningful to me,” says Hagler, commenting on the accolade. “I was deeply affected when I started doing this work five years ago. You see people who are just looking for a little bit of compassion. Devoting some of my time to spreading warmth, love and hope is the least I can do, and I am humbled to have that work acknowledged by October Research and others in my field.”
Read More About Loving Hands of Hope.
NS3brings together more than 700 professionals from across the country for an educational experience unlike any other. For three days a roster of expert speakers and noted industry veterans share their experience with their partners across the real estate transaction.
NS3 2020 offers multiple educational tracks focused on innovation, compliance and cybersecurity. Attendees return year after year to earn CE/CLE credits, learn about the latest strategies to advance their businesses and to stay current on regulatory developments.
Alliant National distinguishes itself from competitors by combining strong underwriting capability with independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets. The result is a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities, and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced, and continuously growing.
Visit alliantnational.com for additional information.
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ABOUT ALLIANT NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY
The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent® – Alliant National believes in empowering people to thrive.
The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 500+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 25 states and the District of Columbia, with annual revenues exceeding $126 million.
One expert says fear of a recession could lead to one.
over a recession could be the cause of the next recession, according to Analyticom President
Dan Geller, developer of the theory of money anxiety.
explains that an increase in money anxiety can lower consumer confidence and
cause a recession by reducing consumer consumption by just 5%. Since consumer
consumption makes up about 70% of gross domestic product, a 5% reduction in
spending equals 3.5% of GDP, which is greater than the projected GDP for 2019.
In July 2019, the Money
Anxiety Index was flat at 44, the same as June, but slightly higher than May’s
42.7 points. While these figures are relatively low and don’t point to an
immediate recession, Geller explained that the constant hype about a recession
could increase the level of money anxiety.
“An example of how
recession hype can increase peoples’ perceived anxiety and reduce their
confidence in the economy can be seen in the preliminary August figures of the
Michigan Survey of Consumer Sentiment,” Geller explained. “The August index
decreased 6.4% from the previous month indicating that the level of consumer
confidence in the economy dropped in the first couple weeks of August.”
“Since the Michigan
index is based on what people think about the economy, in the form of a
questionnaire, it is highly likely that the recent recession hype influenced
the respondents’ confidence about the economy,” he explained.
Nearly half of experts
surveyed by Zillow back
in 2018 said they expect the next recession to begin sometime in 2020, according to the company’s Home Price Expectations
Survey, a quarterly survey of more than 100 real estate experts and economists.
Since then, the talk
surrounding recession has only increased as more and more experts begin to
predict a recession by late 2019 or early 2020.
There were several dire
warnings this week about the economic dangers posed by President Donald Trump’s
ramped-up trade war with China.
“On a scale of 1-10,
it’s an 11,” Cowen Managing
Director Chris Krueger said in a note to investors, describing the economic ramifications of the trade war.
In July, Zillow’s
panel of more than 100 housing experts and economists said the next
recession is expected to hit in 2020. A few even said it may begin later in 2019,
while another substantial portion predict that a recession will occur in 2021.
But unlike last time, the housing market won’t be the cause.
Amy Gregory has a passion to protect, and when a customer at
Paramount Title was defrauded of $130,000, Amy pulled out all the stops to
track down the funds and then went above and beyond to ensure no customer of
hers would ever fall victim to wire fraud again.
Our story begins with an innocuous email delivered to our
homebyer on June 18, which appeared to come from the lender’s office. The email
informed our buyer that a representative from Paramount Title would call her to
confirm receipt of the funds to close.
Someone called the buyer, but it wasn’t us. A fraudster
named “Jimmy” on the other end of the line confirmed wire instructions for a
specific bank account, with the account name referencing Paramount Title, and
instructed our buyer to send funds in the amount of $130,000.
Our buyer wired the funds.
The following day our buyer checked her account and saw the
wire had been returned to her account. She replied to the email thread with the
fraudster from the previous day asking if she knew what happened and why the
funds were returned.
The fraudster told her the company’s escrow account was
under its annual tax audit and that is why her funds were returned. Then he
gave our buyer new wiring instructions for another bank account. Our buyer
called “Jimmy,” who confirmed the new writing instructions were correct.
Our buyer wired the funds again.
On June 20, our buyer received another email from the
fraudster stating there was an issue with the wire. The fraudster asked our
buyer to call her bank and request a hold be lifted off the wire. Tragically,
our buyer called her bank and obtained the federal reference number for the
The next day a representative from the receiving bank called
to say they flagged her wire transfer and they were not going to release the
funds yet because it looked suspicious.
That’s when our buyer decided to look up the title company. She then called us, the real Paramount Title, and shared her story. Our office confirmed we don’t employ anybody by the name of “Jimmy” – and this was most definitely a case of wire fraud.
This is where Amy swoops into the picture.
Amy was quick to discuss all options for our buyer to report
the crime, including offering to report the issue on her behalf. Amy contacted our
US Secret Service agent (YES, we actually have a US Secret Service agent in our
rolodex to help us in these “special” circumstances), finally reaching him at
10 o’clock at night to discuss the details of the file.
Amy wanted to see if the agent could provide any assistance
on what our buyer could do to get her money back. She conferenced in our buyer,
so she could speak directly with the agent. The agent then offered to call the
“fraudsters” bank and see how they could help.
On June 22, thanks to Amy’s tireless efforts driven by a
passion to protect, the full amount of the wire was returned to our buyer. Our
buyer closed on her home two weeks later.
“I spoke with the client shortly after the ordeal was over,
and she expressed to me how good it felt that someone had her back through the
process,” said Andrea Somers, Compliance Officer for the Florida Agency
Network. “Amy truly goes above and beyond in everything that she does.”
But our story doesn’t end there, because Amy went above and
beyond to ensure no customer of hers would ever fall victim to wire fraud
First, she implemented the website “www.inquirebeforeyouwire.com,”
a message we now we blast everywhere we can. When we receive a new contract, our
customer is informed of this very real threat. When a customer receives an
email from us, they see the Inquire Before You Wire image. It doesn’t matter
how small, or big, the transaction is.
She also implemented additional processes where phone calls
are made to the contacts on each file, to discuss wire fraud, the current fraud
trends being seen in our industry and to lay out exactly how the client will
receive wire instructions.
What’s more, Amy decided to go one step further by achieving
the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certification. This
achievement demonstrates Amy’s commitment and leadership in protecting our
clients and our industry. Amy feels we have a duty to protect and serve the
Amy’s passion to protect pushes our team to uphold the same
standard of care, to protect and try to prevent tragic situations involving
wire fraud from occurring on our watch again.
Must-See Educational Sessions at ALTA ONE 2019
ALTA ONE is next week, October 22-25th at the
Fairmont Hotel in Austin, Texas. It’s an important event bringing together
leaders in the title industry to swap new ideas and business practices in
educational sessions that really work.
As always, there’s a lot of content! ALTA ONE will cover a range
of hot topics, so which sessions are a must-attend?
We enlisted the help of Nathan Marinchick, Director of Research
and Educational Programming at Alliant National, to help identify the top 10
education sessions you may want to place on your ALTA ONE dance card next week.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
9:00 am – 10:00 am OMNI SESSION: THE POWER OF PURPOSE
CEO, Diane Tomb, will share her vision for the coming year and what she sees as
the industry’s greatness opportunities and weaknesses. And Entrepreneur, author
and “ad man” Roy Spence will help ignite your “epiphany of purpose” during this
keynote — Have you found your purpose? What motivates you? What truly drives
your company? Discover and fulfill your purpose.
10:30 am – 11:30 am NOTABLE:
TEXAS TITLE AGENTS ARE ROCKING WITH RON
In 2018, Texas became the 3rd
state to permit remote online notarization. This session will provide a
first-hand perspective on implementing RON in your operation. As RON becomes
legal in your state you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from early
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm ENGAGEMENT LAB: COMMERCIAL BUSINESS:
GETTING YOUR FEET WET WITHOUT SINKING THE BOAT
This lab is designed to demonstrate how your title and closing
skills and experience have given you a solid foundation to explore the world of
commercial real estate transactions with confidence.
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm NOTABLE: RESPA 411
This session will review the latest cases and enforcement
actions on RESPA, affiliated businesses, and marketing services agreements.
Come with your questions and discuss the latest trends in RESPA compliance. Experts
will address the future of the CFPB and enforcement actions.
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm ENGAGEMENT LAB: BUILDING A FLEXIBLE
Our industry is facing significant changes from a staffing standpoint. How do you face the challenges of finding new people when you have a retirement or just the everyday turnover? What does flexibility in your workforce look like and how can you successfully adapt your business to recruit and retain new staff through these changes? Join this lab to discuss these challenges and brainstorm solutions.
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm ENGAGEMENT LAB: CULTURE AUDIT WITH ALLIANT NATIONAL’S BOB GRUBB
Culture is central to the health of an organization. However,
it is often invisible to those in it, making it difficult to understand what
our culture is, and more importantly, what areas require improvement. This is
why a culture audit is a good idea. Join this lab to learn how this process
works and what to do with the results.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
8:45 am – 10:00 am OMNI SESSION: FROM THE DARK WEB TO WALLSTREET (SPONSORED BY INCENTER TECHNOLOGY)
Fraud keeps us up at night. Listen to two local law enforcement detectives
involved in a headline-making case in which money was stolen, then recovered,
through a wire fraud incident. Additionally, an Austin based Realtor will
discuss how unsuspecting clients can fall victim to wire fraud schemes. And Cybersecurity
is top-of-mind for all of us, whether we’re thinking about our professional or
personal lives. The director of cybersecurity for Morgan Stanley Wealth
Management and Investment Technology, Rachel Wilson, knows exactly the dangers
you face. Wilson will share her expertise on how best to protect your business
and avoid falling prey to scams and attacks.
10:30 am – 11:30 am NOTABLE: PROPOSED ALTA POLICY FORMS – WHAT’S COVERED, WHAT’S NOT?Title insurance is what we sell, so it’s imperative to know when coverages change. Hear from two ALTA Forms Committee experts about the proposed updates to the 2006 policies. You will be introduced to the new versions, know why changes were made, and what they mean for your business.
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm NOTABLE: THE
UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF DIGITAL CLOSINGS
Often when we talk about digital closings,
we talk about what’s in it for the consumer or lender. But you should also
focus on the benefits that digital closing can bring to your operation. In this
session, learn how digital closing technology can change your workflow and
improve efficiency – while also providing the more convenient and prompt
closing your consumers and lenders want.
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm NOTABLE: 8 LEGIT WAYS TO MARKET YOUR CULTURE TO HUMANS UNDER 40
If you’re job searching and under the age of 40, you’re probably not going to get excited about a job that offers “competitive benefits” and a “standard work week” with “two weeks of paid vacation.” Sorry, title pros! The new wave of employees has different expectations and you do have to adapt and market your values differently. Take home 8 great ideas to attract talented employees for your business.