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Title Industry Responds to COVID-19: Our Title Is Protection

Title insurance professionals take pride in protecting their customers by ensuring that their home is theirs when they make one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the title insurance industry has stepped up even more to help their communities. Whether it’s volunteerism, or innovation to get deals closed during this time of social distancing, the title industry is here to provide protection today, tomorrow, and forever.

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Know Before you Owe Finalized

By Frank Pellegrini

In late April the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized an amendment to its “Know Before You Owe” mortgage disclosure rule that addresses when mortgage lenders with a valid justification may pass on increased closing costs to consumers and disclose them on a Closing Disclosure.

The Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule took effect Oct. 3, 2015. The Bureau’s rule created new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms that consumers receive when applying for and closing on a mortgage loan. The Bureau heard feedback from the industry that they needed clarification on when creditors may pass on increased costs to consumers and disclose them on a Closing Disclosure.

Specifically, a timing restriction on when the creditor may use a Closing Disclosure to communicate closing cost increases to the consumer could prevent a creditor from charging the consumer for those cost increases despite a valid reason for doing so, such as a changed circumstance or borrower request. In response, in July 2017 the Bureau proposed an amendment removing that particular timing restriction. After considering public comment on the proposal, the rule is now finalized and in effect.

Visit consumerfinance.gov to review the final rule.

ALTA Applauds Reps. Duffy and Perlmutter for Bill Requiring CFPB to Issue Useful, Timely Regulatory Guidance
The American Land Title Association released the following statement in response to the introduction of HR 5534, the Give Useful Information to Define Effective Compliance Act (GUIDE Compliance Act), a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO):
“We thank Reps. Sean Duffy and Ed Perlmutter for introducing bipartisan legislation that would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue useful guidance to the consumer financial laws it regulates,” said Michelle Korsmo, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “Having the CFPB provide more clarity to the regulations it enforces, such as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), allows ALTA members to better serve consumers and deliver peace of mind to homebuyers every day.

“Regulations create the rules of the road for consumers and business, and when everyone understands the rules, markets operate more efficiently. Regulations should support business activity in ways that maximize benefits for consumers, and we believe this bill helps achieve this.”

What Do Consumers Really Want from the Mortgage Process? 
Consumers are getting more comfortable with a digital mortgage process but still want someone to hold their hand and explain things to them when buying a home, according to Ellie Mae’s second annual Borrower Insights Survey, cited in a blog post by ALTA.

Ellie Mae surveyed 3,006 U.S. adults who are current homeowners and renters above the age of 18. With a focus on driving a true digital mortgage experience, Ellie Mae was interested in learning about borrower expectations and experiences with online components of the mortgage process. Overall findings showed that borrowers across all generations are expecting digital options to be part of their loan process, but would still like the capability and flexibility of speaking to a lender, when needed.

The majority (61 percent) of respondents expected to be able to apply for and complete a mortgage application fully online, while a combined 57 percent still prefer to communicate with the lender via phone or in person.

Without a doubt, technology can be used as a catalyst to spend less time on the process and paperwork, allowing title and settlement companies to focus on delivering an efficient and secure closing. But don’t forget that personal touch. It has always been a big part of our business, and that has not changed.

Record-Setting Canadian Real Estate Market is Sending CRE Investors South of the Border too
While foreign investment in U.S. commercial real estate has declined considerably from its 2015 peak, spurred by a strong dollar, inflated real estate pricing and Chinese regulatory pressure to slow the flow of outbound capital, Canada has reclaimed its place as the top source of foreign capital last year, Bisnow reported.

Real Capital Analytics data revealed Canadian investors bought nearly $21 billion in U.S. real estate in 2017, a 51 percent increase over the previous year. More Canadian investors are turning to the U.S. for opportunities even as investment in Canadian real estate has been on a blistering pace the past two years.

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This story first appeared in the third quarter 2018 edition of Assurance News from Prairie Title.
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