After a record breaking Convention, LLTA is preparing for 2019 and Beyond

Thank you to everyone who made our 2018 convention so great. It was awesome seeing everyone in New Orleans. If it seemed like there were more of you in attendance this year, it’s because there were. That’s right. The Louisiana Land Title Association is proud to announce that this year’s convention set a record for attendance! (Maybe you saw this excited tweet from our president Marx Sterbcow.)

One of those in the crowd was Chris Freeman, the editorial director of The Title Report. We caught up with him after the event. We were glad to see Chris again and are excited to see what he writes about our convention.

This is not the first time the publication has come to our event, but Chris said he specifically chose to attend this year because of the “strong program” we had lined up. Chris was not disappointed, calling the event “outstanding.” We hope those who joined us in the French Quarter felt the same way.

One of the lessons Chris said he was taking away from New Orleans was the importance of compliance in our industry now more than ever, even if the first two years of the Trump presidency has given the impression that regulations have loosened.

“Compliance never stops, and despite the public appearance of an easing of regulations, the supervisory actions continue, and the good work by our industry must continue to be done,” he said.

We also asked Chris about what title agents should be preparing for in 2019, and his answer is one that we’re sure is familiar: Agents need to be ready for the increased use of technology in the mortgage process.

“As lenders and settlement agents look to maximize profits in a higher-rate, slower-sales environment, there will be a growing focus on doing as much digitally in the mortgage process as possible to cut down on costs and closing times,” Chris told us.

“Agents won’t have to be doing full eClosing/eNote transactions with remote online notarization tomorrow -- but given all our work to upgrade technology platforms when we complied with TRID -- we should leverage that to the best of our ability and digitize the process as much as possible,” Chris added.

You should see multiple pieces from Chris based on what he heard at our convention in future issues of The Title Report and its sister publication, The Legal Description.      

The Louisiana Land Title Association leadership is grateful for all our members and friends for making 2018, and especially our convention, great for the association. We’re already working hard to make sure 2019 is even better for all of our members and the organization itself.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from all of us at LLTA, and we can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us.

Posted 12/19/2018

Sign up today and save: Join us in the Big Easy for the 2018 LLTA convention

The best time of the year is upon us. No, we’re not talking about the approaching holidays or even football season – it’s time to get ready for the LLTA annual convention.

This year’s event takes place Dec. 5-7 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. There’s no better mix of networking, education and fun all year! President Marx Sterbcow and the rest of the Louisiana Land Title Association board have worked hard for months getting this together and we’re excitedly putting the finishing touches on everything for you.

Attendees can earn up to a total of 12.5 continuing education credits at various convention sessions geared toward helping you in every facet of your business. There is a total of 12 sessions planned throughout the three days, and we’ve lined up speakers from every part of our industry. It won’t be all work and no play though, we promise. The convention’s tentative schedule is here, but we can summarize the event for you in two words: Productive Awesomeness.

Our keynote speaker will be First American’s chief economist, Mark Fleming. He’ll be giving us a forecast for 2019 and beyond while the rest of our speakers will be addressing ways you and your business can thrive regardless of factors beyond your control. We’re bringing in an all-star team of tech experts, underwriters, lenders, Realtors and industry advocates with us to the Hotel Monteleone, and they all want to meet you and help you succeed.      

LLTA members, their guests and even non-members are welcome at this great event. If you’re passionate about the land title business and protecting property rights, we want to see you in New Orleans. It’s going to be a great time. Whether you celebrate with us every year, have taken a break recently or would be a first-time attendee, we want you there with us next month.

Register online today! If you have any questions about the event or the Louisiana Land Title Association, contact us. LLTA has a special room rate at the Hotel Monteleone until Nov. 6. Rates for the convention itself will increase on Nov. 16, so don’t delay.

See you in the French Quarter!

Posted 10/15/2018

LLTA-supported proposal that would give us more guidance clears first hurdles

The GUIDE Compliance Act, a federal bill proposal supported by the American Land Title Association and the Louisiana Land Title Association is closer to becoming law.  Officially known as the “Give Useful Information to Define Effective Compliance Act,” H.R. 5534 was introduced in April by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, a Republican from Wisconsin, and immediately gained bipartisan support. It was passed out of the House Committee on Financial Services with a 38-14 vote in late September.

The GUIDE Act was one of two proposals that title insurance colleagues pushed for during ALTA’s annual Advocacy Summit in May.   Marx Sterbcow, LLTA’s president, and one of our board members, Brent Laliberte, were among the summit’s attendees.

All of us are glad to have Marx and Brent working on behalf of LLTA.   Getting better direction from the CFPB would certain benefit title companies and their customers, Marx pointed out earlier this month.

“Anything that helps bring clear guidance to the residential real estate industry would be terrific. Uncertainty and confusion as to what the regulations are creates a difficult business environment for companies,” Marx said after the bill passed out of committee.   “Formal guidance is always better than gotcha guidance which is why we hope this bill is passed and signed into law.”     

U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) have also introduced a companion bill to the GUIDE Act, S. 3443.   Past ALTA President Steve Day, who testified in front of a subcommittee for the House proposal in June, also applauded the Senate bill.  

“This legislation would create a more formal process at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for issuing useful guidance to complement the consumer financial laws it enforces,” Day said in a statement released by ALTA. “Having the CFPB provide more clarity to regulations, 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 guidelines, markets operate more efficiently.”

In his previous Capitol Hill appearance, Day outlined several reasons the GUIDE Act was needed for consumers and title and escrow companies. According to his written testimony the bill calls for these six things.

  1. Issue guidance that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the purpose of the law it is responsible for, including facilitating compliance
  2. Publish in the Federal Register within one year of enactment the definitions, criteria, timelines and process for issuing each type of guidance the Bureau shall provide, with a final rule required within 18 months of enactment
  3. Allow industry to rely on guidance in good faith 
  4. Establish a process and time frames for requests for guidance, including time limits to provide answers in response to requests for guidance
  5. Create a process for amending or revoking guidance, including a process for public notice and comment
  6. Develop guidelines for determining the size of any civil money penalties

Bottom line is passing the GUIDE Act would officially gives the CFPB responsibility that many in the industry already think it should already have. If it becomes law it would be good for LLTA members, the entire title insurance industry, and most importantly, the consumer.

Several other industry groups, in addition to ALTA, have given their support to the GUIDE Act including the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and the National Association of Home Builders. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on future progress of the GUIDE Act. Please contact LLTA with any specific questions you have about the legislation. If you are so inclined, communicate your support for the GUIDE Compliance Act to your local Congressional delegation by joining the Title Action Network at for free today.

Posted 9/19/2018

Wire fraud: It’s that important to be the focus of LLTA’s first blog

Welcome to the new Louisiana Land Title Association blog! We’re excited you’re here, and we promise to use this space to keep our members informed about trends and issues that affect you and your business. Our first topic needs no introduction though – it’s a problem that’s been around for years and probably keeps most of you up at night – we’re talking about wire fraud.

Why did we decide to devote our first blog to such an already-publicized issue? Because we know just how prevalent and damaging fraud can be. Scams have always been around in our industry, but now the crime often starts on a computer that’s thousands of miles away from its target. Business Email Compromise (BEC)/Email Account Compromise (EAC) scams accounted for more than more than $675 million lost in 2017, according to the FBI. Fraud is especially devastating for real estate transactions simply because of the sheer amount of money involved.

Despite the title industry’s best efforts, wire fraud continues to be a top concern for us, and these criminals are getting smarter and more sophisticated when it comes to wire transfer fraud originating on the Internet.  LLTA knows you’ve already taken lots of steps to protect your company and valued customers from a security standpoint. In fact, some of you are probably thinking you’ve done everything that there is to be done. However, what is going to help us win the battle is awareness, and that means we need to keep talking about it. Recently, there have been reports about arrests from the FBI for some of these criminals. Unfortunately, our work isn’t done. Make sure your employees, vendors and customers all know how to stay protected. It’s all about making sure you and your clients are not the next victim.

ALTA unveils new ‘Rapid Response’ Plan for fraud

The American Land Title Association has done education and awareness campaigns about fraud and what you can do to protect yourself. There are several videos on the subject on ALTA’s YouTube page that you can share on your social media channels and with your team.

ALTA’s latest act was launching a 10-step Rapid Response Plan this summer that they want title companies and closing agents to follow if they are hit by suspected scammers. The plan, put together by the association’s Information Security Committee, advises companies to have early discussions about who needs to be contacted and how if such an incident occurs. (We second this recommendation. Planning is always good.) In cases of fraud, “time is of the essence and every minute and second counts.” This detailed plan has already gotten a lot of publicity around the industry and from ALTA itself, but we wanted to highlight it again. We know summer is a very busy time for lots of you!

Wire fraud and other real estate scams are threats for every one of your customers – and anyone else involved in a transaction. All of us in Louisiana and beyond need to act to fend off cyber threats. If one person involved in the real estate transaction is compromised, it’s a problem for all of us.

Need more help protecting you and your company from wire fraud? Contact the Louisiana Land Title Association today, and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Louisiana Land Title Association, Post Office Box 14806, Baton Rouge, LA 70898 ~ Phone:  225-291-2806

Some of the photographs used on this site were created by Randy Roussel, a long time member of LLTA.

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