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  • 05/16/2020 8:21 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    On Friday, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, issued Directive 2020-10 delaying the Department of Financial Services enforcement of the submission of the 2020 Title Data Call until September 1, 2020. With many agencies and industry representatives focusing on the health and safety of their employees, consumers and families, this brings relief to the annual submission pressure.

    With the added time to submit, Agencies should use this time to review the revised Agency Data Callspreadsheets and adjust any internal processes accordingly. As you will recall, FLTA has worked diligently with the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) through numerous workshops the past couple years in order to make your compliance with the Data Call easier and to improve the data being collected by the Data Call.  Quality information on the financial requirements of title insurance agents is critical to the state’s ability to set fair rates.  Thanks to the collaborative effort of FLTA members and OIR, you will find that the Report Lines have been simplified and better clarified. In a big win, “Schedule C’ was also eliminated along with the “Agency Comments” section. Filling out Schedule C was very challenging; often brought frustration and confusion to the industry; and the information contained in Schedule C was either unnecessary or duplicative of other areas in the Data Call submission.  We are very grateful to OIR that Schedule C has been removed and believe this will allow the industry submissions to be more efficient and consistent.  

    We are often asked, “will the data call ever end?” The answer in short, is “no, but for good reason.”  F.S. 627.782(7) calls for the Financial Services Commission to review premium rates “no less frequently than once every 3 years, and shall, based upon the review required by this subsection, revise the premium if the results of the review so warrant.”  In order to perform the Commission’s review, F.S. 627.782(8) states “Each title insurance agency and insurer licensed to do business in this state and each insurer’s direct or retail business in this state shall maintain and submit information, including revenue, loss, and expense data, as the office determines necessary to assist in the analysis of title insurance premium rates, title search costs, and the condition of the title insurance industry in this state. Such information shall be transmitted to the office annually by May 31 of the year after the reporting year. The commission shall adopt rules relating to the collection and analysis of the data from the title insurance industry.”

    The Agency Data Call is vitally important to the state’s determination of a fair promulgated rate for title insurance.  As agents earn up to 70% of the premium, the agent’s activities and financial picture must be understood by regulators in order to determine a promulgated rate for title insurance premiums that is fair to consumers and allows title agencies to earn a rate of return on their capital.  It defends the portion of insurance revenue earned by the agency or underwriter.  In this way, Florida’s promulgated rate protects the public by setting a fair rate and assuring the availability of title agents (both attorneys and title agencies) serving all areas of the state and providing competition on settlement service charges. Your attention and diligence in complying with the Agency Data Call will reward both title insurance agents and the public.

  • 04/06/2020 1:22 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    The Florida Land Title Association has launched it's first on-demand self study course for Continued Education credit, Getting Ready for RON, with Brenda Cannon at Alliant National Title Insurance Company. In December 2019, FLTA began online education with providing Florida's 2-hour certification course to become a state approved Remote Online Notary. 

    Getting Ready for RON is a 1-hour CE course that was originally presented live in December. Students who are looking for CE credit and wanting information on RON, but not interested in becoming an online notary will find this course informational in nature.


    Now, with offering on-demand self study courses registered students will be able to take previously recorded live webinars as an on-demand option and receive credit from the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and/or The Florida Bar. There is a fee for the CE/CLE courses, but FLTA members will receive member-only pricing by logging into their FLTA account and visiting www.flta.org/webinars to access this information. For a variety of reasons coupons will not be available for all course offerings and will be noted as such.

    Once a CE course is completed, students will be required to submit an "Attendance Affidavit" to FLTA before credit may be issued to DFS. The affidavit is including in the final section of the course. Florida attorneys will continue to self-report to the Florida Bar when approved for CLE.

    Overtime it is the goal of the FLTA Education Committee to build the library of on-demand options to include relevant offerings including topics like the requirement for an ethics course.

    Visit the FLTA School for information.

  • 03/31/2020 11:29 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Repost: Link to Blog Post

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac modified their single-family seller guides including temporary requirements for remote online notarizations (RON) and powers of attorney.

    Remote Online Notarization

    The new RON requirements for both the government sponsored entities go into effect immediately. The requirements between Fannie and Freddie have slight differences, but both require the system used for the remote notarization must meet the following minimum standards:

    • at least two-factor identity authentication, including using a government-issued photo ID that has a signature, credential analysis and identity-proofing
    • tamper-sealed notarized documents and system security sufficient to (A) prevent interference with the authenticity, integrity and security of the notarial ceremony or corruption or loss of the recording of the same, and (B) protect the communication technology, electronic record and backup record from unauthorized use
    • the remote online notary must keep a secure electronic journal of the notarial act including evidence of identity of the principal (a video and audio conference can be the basis for satisfactory evidence of identification) and maintain a backup of the electronic record
    • recording of the notarial ceremony with storage for the minimum period required by applicable laws or if no period is specified in the applicable law, for seven years

    Fannie Mae includes a list of states where lenders may sell loans closed with RON:

    Fannie_RON_states

    Powers of Attorney

    Due to COVID-19, the temporary requirements allow the use of POA to execute loan and closing documents for loans with applications dates on or before May 17, 2020.

    Fannie Mae’s POA requirements include:

    • All powers of attorney must include the address of the mortgaged property.
    • The existing Selling Guide conditions allowing persons “connected to the transaction” to serve as an attorney-in-fact or agent in refinance transactions will also now apply to purchase transactions as well as limited cash-out refinances. This includes all the related current requirements applicable to limited cash-out refinance transactions involving these persons in the Selling Guide (that is, excluding lender employees, limiting by loan amount and property location, requiring a recorded Internet session after the borrower has received proposed loan documents, and mandating retention of the recording).
    • Unless a recorded Internet session described in the paragraph above is required, a power of attorney may only be used in a purchase transaction with a note date on or after April 7, 2020, if, after the Closing Disclosure or other closing statement, as applicable, has been delivered to the borrower before closing, an employee of the lender or settlement agent explains the terms of the loan to the borrower(s) to confirm that each borrower understands them. This discussion must take place in person, telephonically, or using a video conference system, and must be memorialized by an acknowledgment by the borrowers of his or her understanding of the terms of the loan. The acknowledgment may be in writing or in a recording of the telephonic or video discussion.
    • Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Selling Guide or this Lender Letter, for purchase transactions the attorney-in-fact or agent may not be the property seller, any relative of the property seller, or any direct or indirect employee or agent of the property seller, unless in any such instance such person is also a relative of the borrower.
    • Whenever an attorney-in-fact or agent is an employee of the insuring title insurer or is an employee of the policy-issuing agent of the insuring title insurer, such title insurer must have issued a closing protection letter (or similar contractual protection) for the transaction for such policy issuing agent.
    • Whenever a power of attorney is used at closing, whether authorized under the Selling Guide or under the standards in this Lender Letter, the provisions of B1-1-01, Application Package Documentation requiring the borrower’s personal signature of the initial Form 1003 continue to apply if the initial Form 1003 can be signed personally (including through the United States Postal Service or commercial delivery service), or signed electronically as permitted by the Selling Guide. If the initial Form 1003 cannot be timely signed by the borrower in these ways, then it must be signed by the holder of such power of attorney.
    • Provided the power of attorney is not required to be notarized under applicable law (for example, the law governing the creation of the power of attorney, or the law of the location of the mortgaged property), the power of attorney is not required to be notarized if the transaction is a limited cash-out refinance unless
      • the attorney-in-fact or agent named in the power of attorney is employed by, or otherwise represents or is affiliated with, the title insurance company that will issue the lender’s title insurance policy, and
      • such title insurance company is affiliated with the lender.
    • If a power of attorney is required to be notarized, it may be remotely notarized in accordance with A2-5.1-03, Electronic Records, Signatures, and Transactions (as revised by this Lender Letter) with the additional flexibility that it may be remotely notarized in all jurisdictions, even if not expressly permitted by the Guide, as long as the power of attorney is not required to be recorded. If the power of attorney is required to be recorded, it may be remotely notarized only in the jurisdictions permitted by A2-5.1-03 (as revised by the table below).
    • The limitations in B8-5-05 requiring at least one borrower signature of the note and security instrument are suspended.
    • Under the Guide to Delivering eMortgages to Fannie Mae, powers of attorney are not permitted to be used in connection with loans with electronic notes (eNotes). Fannie Mae is revising the eMortgage Guide effective April 20, 2020 to permit eNotes to be delivered in transactions in which a printed or electronic power of attorney is used on the same conditions as those applying to paper notes, except that the power of attorney must accompany the eNote through MERS® eDelivery. In anticipation of the change in the eMortgage Guide, lenders that are authorized to deliver eNotes may begin permitting the use of powers of attorney consistent with B8-5-05 and this Lender Letter immediately, provided that the eNote and related power of attorney may not be delivered to Fannie Mae through MERS eDelivery or submitted to Loan Delivery until after April 20, 2020.

    According to Freddie Mac, sellers may allow use of a POA to close a mortgage or e-mortgage, except for cash-out refinance mortgages and Texas Equity Section 50(a)(6) mortgages, in accordance with the temporary flexibilities listed in the following chart:

    Freddie_POA_requirements


  • 03/25/2020 10:44 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    In a time of uncertainty it is important for the industry to focus on their families, employees and businesses. On Monday, March 23rd, FLTA submitted a letter to Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier requesting for this years Title Data Call be delayed to September 30, 2020.


    Each year the Data Call is due on May 31st for the prior year's data. Due to the improvements made and necessary approval process at the State's office, this year's application was not available until late February when normally available in early January. Now, amid the pandemic of COVID-19, we ask for consideration in delaying this year's submission deadline.


    We continue to thank our state and local leaders for their leadership and guidance during this unprecedented time.

    March 23, 2020

    Dear CFO Patronis:

    We would like to thank you for your leadership and diligent attention to the issues affecting Florida during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    As the pandemic continues, the economic ramifications are becoming clear and it is more important than ever for citizens to focus on their families and businesses.

    Each year, Florida licensed Title Agencies and Title Insurance Underwriters under Florida Administrative Rule 69O-186.013 and 69O-186.014 are required to submit Data Call reports by May 31st. With the recent approved improvements to the Agents Data Call, the submission form was delayed for public use until late-February when normally available at the first of January. This has caused its own delay and rush to meet the required deadline.

    With the recent State of Emergency and Executive Orders issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the local stay-in-place orders called by local municipalities and the need for small business owners to focus on their families, employees and businesses, we respectfully request consideration to delay the due date from May 31st to September 30, 2020, for the 2019 submission of the Florida Title Data Call for both Title Agents and Title Insurance Underwriters. To issue an initial delay of 30-days knowing there is a strong probability for additional time delays to be added will only add to the stress of the industry.

    In these difficult times, we know the economic ramifications of this pandemic will be substantial but believe this step will help to support the individuals and entities involved in the process as a whole.

    We thank you in advance for your consideration and attention to this matter and will be available for any questions you may have.

    Sincerely,

    Nancy Baumann                                   Scott Merritt

    FLTA President                                    Executive Director

    cc: David Altmaier, Insurance Commissioner



  • 03/24/2020 11:09 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    In a joint letter to Florida Governor DeSantis, the Florida Land Title Association, Florida Realtors®, and the Florida Home Builders Association call for real estate transactions and title recording services to be "essential businesses" when considering closures or stay-in-place orders. Additionally, the organizations focus on the ability to continue recordation with County Recorders and Comptrollers.

    March 20, 2020

    Dear Governor DeSantis:

    On behalf of the undersigned groups we would like to thank you for your leadership and diligent attention to the issues affecting Florida during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    As the pandemic continues, the economic ramifications are becoming clear.  Our organizations are concerned that interruptions to certain essential government services could have severe negative economic ramifications for citizens at a time when they are already under stress. As you know, the real estate industry is central to the overall health of the economy.

    In particular, we request that you consider real estate transactions and title recording be declared as essential services which should remain active, with steps taken in order to minimize any risk to workers.  These businesses provide services that are legally mandated by contract and they work with the financial industry in processing escrow payments.  In addition, we request that the recording and other work of the County Clerk and Comptrollers Recorders be declared an essential service which should remain open.  Steps to ensure safety could include permitting recording of documents only submitted online or through electronic platforms and by mail or in-person delivery by appointment only with appropriate safeguards, for the duration of the crisis.

    The reasons for this are self-evident.  In the absence of a functioning county recorder, real estate transactions, many of which are already in progress, might not be able to be closed. This would result in additional and significant hardships to the persons involved especially those who are buying or selling a home.  Also, with record low interest rates, there is also likely going to be an opportunity for many Florida homeowners to refinance at the lower rates, which would provide immediate economic relief to homeowners dealing with the challenges of these times. Without a functioning recorder’s office that opportunity could be lost.

    We respectfully request that your office ensure that any emergency orders that are pending at the state or county level declare that  the work of the County Clerk and Comptroller Recorders are an essential service and that they shall remain open and continue to conduct business, of course with safeguards for their employees during the ongoing crisis.

    In these difficult times, we know the economic ramifications of this pandemic will be substantial, but believe this step will help to support the individuals and entities involved in real estate and lending transactions and the economy as a whole.

    Sincerely,

    Florida Realtors®

    Florida Land Title Association       

    Florida Home Builders Association


  • 09/11/2019 8:43 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Guest Writer David Eisenberg, CIO, First International Title 

    Equifax has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over its 2017 data breach which affected 147 million Americans. This includes as much as $425 million for individual compensation. You could qualify for some form of compensation as a result of this settlement.

    The Equifax Data Breach Settlement website has a look-up tool where you can find out whether your data was compromised and then file a claim online. If you have been compromised, you can sign up for TEN YEARS of free credit monitoring (4 years of three-bureau plus 6 years of one-bureau) or up to $125 (if you can submit documents proving loss).

    Check your eligibility here: https://eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com

    If you don't do anything, you relinquish your right to sue Equifax in the future and you give up on the $125 or 10 years of free credit monitoring provided by the settlement. Your deadline to opt out is November 19 and your deadline to file a claim based on this settlement is January 22.

    If the Equifax Settlement eligibility look-up tool reveals that you have been a victim of their breach then can you get credit monitoring for free or $125. If you prefer $125 you would need to provide sufficient documentation proving financial loss due to the breach and upload that documentation onto the website. Even if you have proof (IRS documentation, etc.), ten years of credit monitoring is worth much more than $125. In my opinion, the only reason to take the money is if you had significant loss due to identify theft and can prove it was caused by the Equifax breach, and you intend to sue for that loss. Or, if you can provide documentation and you already have credit monitoring elsewhere, then take the cash.

    “Credit monitoring” is often not what you might think it is… it’s not a “lock” or “freeze” but rather a way of getting alerted when changes are made to your credit in one of the three major reporting agencies… which is still a good thing. On the other hand, Locks and Freezes prevent  your credit report from reaching someone who orders it, such as when you decide to get a new car or open a new credit card. It may be burdensome to un-Lock or un-Freeze your account when you need to but often the benefits outweigh the inconvenience, knowing no one can access your credit data without your intervention. Deciding which one is right for you is something you’ll need to think about but, at a minimum, I always suggest signing up for credit monitoring even if it’s a few bucks per year.

    Remember, the law also entitles you to 1 free credit report every 12 months. Whether or not you sign up for anything you should absolutely take advantage of this for yourself, and all your family members, once a year to review the information for accuracy. It’s free, it’s the law, and only ONE website is legitimate: https://www.annualcreditreport.com.

  • 08/15/2019 10:37 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Keynote Speaker, Hernando de Soto Announced

    FLTA is excited to announce this year's convention keynote speaker - a not to miss!

    Hernando de Soto is currently president of the “Instituto Libertad y Democracia”, based in Lima, Peru, considered by The Economist one of the two most important think tanks in the world. The Time magazine chose him as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in its special May 1999 issue "Leaders for the New Millennium" and included him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004.


    In the early 1990s, he led the effort to insert Peru into the global economy; and with his team ILD (Instituto Libertad y Democracia) wrote and promoted more than 187 laws that gave the poorest Peruvians access to economic opportunities, including titles to their properties and businesses. He also created the National Office of Ombudsman to defend the constitutional and human rights of the Peruvian people.

    Don't miss your opportunity to hear Mr. de Soto!

    Register Today - Price Increase Sept. 1

    Keynote Sponsors:

       


  • 08/15/2019 10:33 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Keynote Speaker, Hernando de Soto Announced

    FLTA is excited to announce this year's convention keynote speaker - a not to miss!

    Hernando de Soto is currently president of the “Instituto Libertad y Democracia”, based in Lima, Peru, considered by The Economist one of the two most important think tanks in the world. The Time magazine chose him as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in its special May 1999 issue "Leaders for the New Millennium" and included him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004.


    In the early 1990s, he led the effort to insert Peru into the global economy; and with his team ILD (Instituto Libertad y Democracia) wrote and promoted more than 187 laws that gave the poorest Peruvians access to economic opportunities, including titles to their properties and businesses. He also created the National Office of Ombudsman to defend the constitutional and human rights of the Peruvian people.

    Don't miss your opportunity to hear Mr. de Soto!

    Register Today - Price Increase Sept. 1

    Keynote Sponsors:

       

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    Unlawful Inducement Town Hall in Pensacola with Networking Reception


    Last week, more than 100 attendees had the opportunity to ask questions in Orlando. In September will be coming to Pensacola. Don't miss your opportunity to ask questions and network!

    Due to Space, Please Register in Advance

    Attendees will have a better understanding of:

    • Rule 69B-186.010 - Unlawful Inducements Related to Title Insurance Transactions
      • Understanding the Rules Purpose
    • Activities Constituting and Not Constituting Unlawful Inducements
      • Clearer understanding of a Rebate and/or an Inducement
      • Promotional, Advertising, and Marketing Activities
    • Areas Where Title Agents are Not Prohibited from Affixing Notice to Contracts
    • Your questions
    Registration

    September 12

    1-3 p.m. Town Hall

    Networking Reception Immediately Following


    Pensacola Country Club

    1500 Bayshore Dr., Pensacola, FL 32507

    Open to members and non-members.


    Reception Sponsored by

         

    Photo credit: Southern Title

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    FLTA Cyber Road Show

    4 Speakers + 3 Days + 3 Cities

    New - 4 DFS CE Credits Approved

    CLE Applied For

    Sponsored by

      

    Presenters

    Frank Laisch, Ample Insurance

    Avoiding Cyber Exposure in Real Estate

    Stewart Holley, Vialok

    Intro to Cyber Fraud for Title Agents

    David Eisenberg, First International Title

    How to Create Real World Security Policies

    Matthew Froning, Safe LLC

    Understanding Cyber Regulatory Compliance &

    the Components of a Good Cybersecurity Program 

    This September members will have the opportunity to hear from experienced professionals and consultants covering cyber exposure, basics to cyber fraud, overview on building a cyber policy and understand cyber regulatory compliance.

    When it comes to cyber security you don't want to be left behind. Space is limited, register today!

    Select your city and register today:

    Tampa 9/17

    North Orlando 9/18

    Ft. Lauderdale 9/19

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    Office of Insurance Regulation to Host Agent Data Call Workshop


    The Office of Insurance Regulation has officially announceda workshop for Thursday, August 22nd in the Larson Building, Tallahassee, on the Agent Data Call.

    The Office initiated a data call in 2014 regarding the collection of data for the adoption of title insurance rates pursuant to Sections 624.307 and 627.782, FS, and Chapter 69O-186.013-14, FAC. The purpose of this workshop is to review suggested amendments from both the Office and interested parties as the Office considers amending Rules 69O-186.013 and 69O-186.014, FAC.

    This workshop will be the continuation of ongoing improvements with additional rule making hearings to follow. 

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    2020 FLTA Committee Registration


    Have you considered becoming more involved in your association? The time is now. We are only stronger with your input and involvement. Committee sign-up open through August 30th.

    Note: Registering is not a guarantee of committee seat. Committee Members are approved by the Board with limited availability.

    2020 FLTA Committees (log-in required):

    1. Claims Prevention, Avoidance and Education Committee
    2. Cyber Security Committee
    3. Education Committee
    4. Forms Committee
    5. Government Affairs
    6. Membership Committee

    Above committees are open to FLTA members. Registration open through August 30. Maximum of 3 committees per registrant.

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    Register for Upcoming Events


    DFS Unlawful Inducement Town Hall(s)

    Cyber Road Show

    Annual Convention

    Registration Open - November 11-13, 2019, St. Petersburg, Florida

  • 07/17/2019 8:07 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Department of Financial Services Adds Real Estate and Builder Open House Compliance

    The Department of Financial Services has added a compliance tab and statement for Real Estate and Builder Open Houses on their Title Insurance Agent Compliance page.

    Compliance Statement:

    Our Department receives a high volume of questions from the title insurance industry. Unfortunately, these questions do not always use consistent terminology making it difficult to determine the true situation and resulting question. It is very important when we communicate with each other that we know what the other is talking about so we can assist the other. Sometimes taking time to describe the term or situation you have a question about will assist the Department with answering your question. This is particularly true when it comes to compliance questions. An example of the areas in which we often get ambiguous questions are real estate open houses. With this situation in mind, here is some guidance that we will try to keep as simple but still provide helpful guidance.

    Read full statement.

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    Pinellas County Property Appraiser Issues Statement Following New Redaction Law

    It is recommended to identify early on whether you’re dealing with a property owner that has a protected address and, therefore, is exempt from public records disclosure. Knowing early on and taking the appropriate steps will ensure that your/their transaction, appraisal or project is not delayed.

    Effective July 1st, 2019, an amendment to Section 119.071 Florida Statues – Public Records expands information exempted from public record by further defining the term “home address”. Real estate, legal, title, lending, appraisal, construction professionals and others should be aware of how this law change will impact their business.

    Read more.

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    FLTA Cyber Road Show Launched

    4 Speakers + 3 Days + 3 Cities

    Reserve your seat today. Sponsored by Flag Insurance Services and Qualia, FLTA is launching it's first road show. This September members will have the opportunity to hear from experienced professionals and consultants covering cyber exposure, basics to cyber fraud, overview on building a cyber policy and understand cyber regulatory compliance.

    When it comes to cyber security you don't want to be left behind. Space is limited, register today!

    Select your city and register today:

    Tampa 9/17

    North Orlando 9/18

    Ft. Lauderdale 9/19

    Exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities available.

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    Ygrene Presents PACE and Responds to Questions

    In June, FLTA members and future members attended a presentation by Ygrene to better understand Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). During the presentation members raised  questions in which the Ygrene team has now implemented. Specifically, prior to the meeting the pay off quote would include the payoff amount, but did not include the next year's assessed amount causing agents to withhold an uncertain amount for final payment.

    As a result, Ygrene's payoff quote now includes the next year's taxed amount (assessment) giving a complete payoff. 

    FLTA would like to thank Ygrene for presenting and collaborating to make these swift adjustments.

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    Report all cyber fraud attempts to ic3.

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    2 Ways to Report Unlawful Inducements

    See something, say something. 

    FLTA has worked hard in offering feedback over the years to help amend the Unlawful Inducement and Rebate Rule and now, as an added value, representatives may submit anonymously by emailing Anonymous@FLTA.org. Through this process FLTA will remove your information and  forward your complaint directly to DFS for their consideration.

    When submitting through normal channels or anonymously it is vitally important to:

    • include as much information as possible;
    • include specific details of events
    • include photos, documents, flyers, etc.

    Furthermore, when submitting a complaint anonymously it is also important to understand you will not receive status updates of the progress being made in your case. Of course, you may still request to be anonymous when submitting directly to DFS. Ways to submit a complaint:

    Submit to FLTA Anonymously:

    Submit directly to DFS:

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    Register for Upcoming Events

    DFS Unlawful Inducement Town Hall(s)

    • 8/8/19 Maitland, FL (SOLD OUT)
    • 9/12/19 Pensacola/Panama City Area  -  Save the Date

    Cyber Road Show


    Annual Convention

    Registration Open - November 11-13, 2019, St. Petersburg, Florida

  • 07/16/2019 5:13 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    For more information view DFS Compliance Information: Title Insurance Agents Page.

    Real Estate and Builder Open Houses

    Our Department receives a high volume of questions from the title insurance industry. Unfortunately, these questions do not always use consistent terminology making it difficult to determine the true situation and resulting question. It is very important when we communicate with each other that we know what the other is talking about so we can assist the other. Sometimes taking time to describe the term or situation you have a question about will assist the Department with answering your question. This is particularly true when it comes to compliance questions. An example of the areas in which we often get ambiguous questions are real estate open houses. With this situation in mind, here is some guidance that we will try to keep as simple but still provide helpful guidance.

    A title agent/agency may market its services to anyone, including real estate agents/brokers and lenders who will be a significant source of new business. The key is that the title agent/agency must market itself and not the broker, lender, or anyone else.

    There are multiple types of open houses:

    REALTOR:

    • Brokers Open/Brokers Open House: When a real estate broker shows homes they have listed to their realtors or other realtors. Realtor caravans would be an example. (non-public)
    • Open House: When a Realtor holds an open house for a home which they have listed to promote the home for sale to consumers. (public)

    BUILDER:

    • Builders Model Homes: Open House/Parade of Homes Event: When a builder hosts an event in a model home to promote the home to Realtors and/or consumers.

    A Brokers Open, Brokers Open House, and certain Builders events are times when a title agency should be extra cautious of violating the Florida Insurance Code and RESPA. No members of the general public, no sellers, and no buyers are in attendance. A byproduct of this meeting will be the discussions the brokers have with each other where they let each other know about the inventory each one has available for sale. The thinking is that one of the other brokers may have a buyer that will be more receptive to paying the full asking price.

    An Open House to the public is different than those detailed above because this is an opportunity for the title agent/agency to take full advantage of their audience to explain what they do and why they are better at doing it than any other title agent/agency.

    Regardless of the event type, the title agency may only advertise its own services and not perform any of the duties or functions of the broker selling the home. The title agency may have food and beverages, but that must be accompanied by materials showing what the title agency does and can do for the consumer. A title agency may NOT just drop off food or solely provide food/beverages for these events. A title agency MUST attend the event and promote its agency during the event. The title agency cannot describe the home, give tours to people visiting the home, distribute flyers about the home, "man the event" without a Realtor or builder sales associate present, promote any broker listings, etc., as these are duties and functions of the real estate broker, Realtor or builder sales associate.

    Marketing these open houses and others' events by the title agent/agency are prohibited. Licensees and persons subject to the Florida Insurance Code should refamiliarize themselves with it for compliance. Specifically, Rule 69B-186.010, F.A.C., regarding guidance in this area should be reviewed prior to any title agent/agency considering promoting open houses on their Facebook or other social media or other types of solicitation at the title agency's own time, resources and expenses, no matter how quick and inexpensive.

    Any licensee of the Department of Financial Services found to have conducted these acts is subject to discipline for violation of the Florida Insurance Code. Any other person will be referred to the appropriate state or federal agency/board, etc.

    Violations by the title insurance industry can be reported toTitle@MyFloridaCFO.com. Please email or forward as much information as you can. Please note that this guidance is not all-inclusive and any person subject to the Florida Insurance Code and/or RESPA should seek legal advice or contact their association prior to proceeding with any regulated activity.

    [See Section 626.9541, F.S. and Rule 69B-186.010, F.A.C.]

     For more information view DFS Compliance Information: Title Insurance Agents Page 

     

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