To see how our industry is continuing to protect and serve our clients and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, watch this video

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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SPRING HAS SPRUNG. Will the Market Pick Up?

My Perspective

By Frank Pellegrini

As we all know, the state of the residential real estate market is not great overall, primarily due to low inventory of homes for sale and attendant affordability issues. There was some good news, nationally, in late March when NAR reported that existing-home sales rebounded 3.0 percent in February despite consistently low inventory levels and faster price growth.

Unfortunately for those of us in the middle o the country and those on the East Coast, most of the gains in existing home sales were seen in the West and South. Let’s hope our local pattern starts to change as we move through the second quarter of the year and our traditional home buying season unfolds. Really, there’s not much else to say.

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In other news, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation on April 3 announced implementation of a new rule on the Disclosure of Financial Interest form. Initially, IDFPR announced that the new rule would be effective immediately, but the next day changed the effective date to May 15 after successful appeals by ILTA and other industry organizations. The crux of IDFPR’s new guidance is: “The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Financial Institutions announces that the Disclosure of Financial Interest form, also known as the DS-1 form, has been revised.

“The Title Insurance Act (Act) authorizes the Department to prepare the disclosure form so that a producer of title business (usually the attorneys, real estate brokers or lenders in transactions) discloses their financial interest to any home seller and buyer involved in the closing process. This includes the title
insurer, independent escrowee or title agent/agency involved in the closing.”

For each transaction, the title insurer (underwriter), “Must review and approve the disclosure, including accurately verifying the
percentage the agent will receive for statutorily authorized services that the agent will perform, including an estimate of the fee.”

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And then there were two. When I started in this business in the ‘80s there were six or seven prominent, independent national underwriters. With Fidelity National Financial’s impending purchase of Stewart Title, there are now two huge underwriter groups, First
American and FNF’s title companies where the brand names remain and compete against each other: Chicago Title, Fidelity National
Title, Ticor Title, Commonwealth, Lawyer’s Title, and now Stewart.

I’m taking this trip down memory not because I feel the current underwriter situation is a negative. It’s the opposite, actually. We’re
proud to offer a mix of underwriting options from Chicago Title, Commonwealth and Fidelity to Westcor and local underwriter Attorneys Title. We feel that range of choices serves our clients well.

Here’s to the good new days where a local company like Prairie Title is able to offer you a wide array of underwriter choices.

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A final note: I had the opportunity recently to speak to several groups of Realtors and lenders on a variety of topics including taxation and the commercial real estate underwriting process. I enjoy taking advantage of opportunities to share my experiences in the industry. Feel free to call or email me if you would like me to make a presentation on a real estate or legal topic. I’m always raring to go!

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This story first appeared in the 2nd Quarter 2018 edition of Assurance News from Prairie Title.