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Orlando-based title-insurance company has tips for buying short-sale properties

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Jerry W. Jackson |Sentinel Staff Writer Charles J. Kovaleski, president of Orlando-based Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund Inc., has some advice for people interested in trying their luck at buying a home that's headed for foreclosure through a technique called a "short sale."

That's where a lender agrees to accept less than is owed when a property is sold.

The practice has been around for years but has accelerated in recent months, Kovaleski said, especially as nearly one in five U.S. mortgage borrowers owe lenders more than their homes are worth, according to a recent report by First American CoreLogic -- and nearly one in three in Florida.

For buyers interested in the short-sales market, there are deals to be had, but only if the consumer expends the effort to understand the process.

Here are some tips from Kovaleski, whose company, known …

Title Insurance Company Comes to The Aid of Consumers By Cutting Rates 35 procent

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Consumers Can Now Purchase Title Insurance Directly at ENTITLEDIRECT.com Saving 35 Percent While Monitoring Their Real Estate Closing Process

Within the last year, credit has tightened and mortgage rates have increased. Consumers buying a home or refinancing are trying to figure out new ways to save money. Even though title insurance is only one part of the real estate closing process, its cost is considerable. ENTITLEDIRECT.com has launched a new concept which gives consumers, for the first time, the ability to purchase title insurance directly and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.Over the last two years, Americans spent over $30 billion on title insurance when they bought, sold, or refinanced their homes.1 Many do not understand exactly how the closing process works and know even less about title insurance. Consumers just rely on their agent, broker, or lawyer to handle everything for them. Many government regulators have openly criticized both the high cost consumers pay f…

Direct to Borrowers - Title Insurance for Sale Online

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In the midst of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, one that originated in the home mortgage market, it is nice to be able to report some good news. EnTitle Direct Insurance is now selling title insurance directly to borrowers online, with premiums that it claims undercut existing insurers by about 35 percent. EDI also offers borrowers a free way to avoid what to many is the worst part of the mortgage experience -- "pile-of-paper shock." That's the shock that results when borrowers receive a stack of documents at closing, most of which they have not seen before, and which they are expected to sign while the other participants tap their fingers impatiently. EDI provides a Web-based tool it calls Control Panel to allow borrowers to control the flow of documents and information from start to closing. I was a paid consultant to EDI in 2007 but not since, and I have no financial interest in the company. Title insurance premiums have always been substantially higher …

There Has Been A Lot Of Talk These Days About Title Insurance Policies In Jamaica.

While This Concept Is New To Jamaica It Is Standard In Most States Of The United States Of America, Where Title Insurance Policies Are Taken Out Against Financial Loss From Defects In Title To Real Property And From The Invalidity Or Unenforceability Of Mortgage Liens.

As I understand it, there is a very good reason why title insurance is standard in many states. Most states have a system of document recording in which no governmental official makes any determination of who owns the title or whether the instruments transferring it are valid. Consequently, if a person acquires an interest in land, whether by purchasing same or by a mortgage, there is the risk that there may be competing claims to these interests which, at the time of acquisition, are unknown. These competing interests include liens and encumbrances on the title. There may also be no right of access to the land. Title insurance, therefore, gives the person acquiring the interest insurance coverage in relation to the state …

LandAmerica to Conduct New Jersey Title Insurance Operations Under LandAmerica Brand Name

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LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. (LFG:LFG News, chart, profile, more Last:

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LFG, , ) announces that it is now doing business in New Jersey as LandAmerica NJ Title Insurance Company. The change became effective on September 15, 2008. This change is another step in LandAmerica's transformation of its collection of independent businesses into an integrated and unified operating company. Unifying its businesses under the LandAmerica name reflects the company's success in the marketplace and the growing recognition of the LandAmerica brand in New Jersey and across the country. LandAmerica is the only real estate transaction services company to have been ranked number one in the Mortgage Services Industry for two years in a row on Fortune's(R) list of Most Admired Companies.������…

Donegal to acquire stock of Conestoga Title Insurance

A subsidiary of Donegal Mutual Insurance Co. will acquire from Lancaster-based Conestoga Financial Corp. the outstanding capital stock of Conestoga Title Insurance Co. and its affiliates that provide title-insurance services.

The state commissioner of insurance and the shareholders of Conestoga Financial have approved the acquisition.The transaction is scheduled to close Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Donegal Mutual is an East Donegal Township-based mutual fire-insurance and casualty-insurance company. The company is a subsidiary of Donegal Group Inc., an insurance-holding company in Lancaster County.

Title firm ready to do battle

CHICAGO - It could be the tip of an iceberg.Ticor Title, one of the largest title insurance firms in the country, is suing Countrywide Home Loans, the nation's largest home lender, saying it shouldn't have to pay out on a title policy because of Countrywide's gross negligence.The suit, filed last month in Cook County Chancery Court, concerns just one Chicago mortgage made by Countrywide in 2007, but the implications are enormous, say real estate and title insurance experts.If title insurers refuse to honor their policies, "You would have chaos," predicts Chicago real estate attorney Tom McNulty of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg. The fate of tens of thousands of troubled properties nationwide would be thrown into limbo while lenders and title insurers duke it out. Other deals would be held up because buyers and sellers would be reluctant to proceed without title insurance to protect their investment.When it works smoothly, title insurance protects lenders and borrow…

Title agencies merge

GREENE Albany-based New York Bankers Title Agency East LLC and Binghamton-based NBT Settlement Services LLC formed a strategic alliance and merged July 31, the companies announced.

The new agency is called Land Record Services LLC, headquartered at 116 Everett Road in Albany. The business also will operate from branches in Greene and Friendsville, Pa.Title insurance will continue to be underwritten by Northeast Investors Title Insurance Co. and Investors Title Insurance Co.My-Ly Nguyen

Title firm ready to do battle

By Susan Chandler |Chicago Tribune reporter

It could be the tip of an iceberg.

Ticor Title, one of the largest title insurance firms in the country, is suing Countrywide Home Loans, the nation's largest home lender, saying it shouldn't have to pay out on a title policy because of Countrywide's gross negligence.

The suit, filed last month in Cook County Chancery Court, concerns just one Chicago mortgage made by Countrywide in 2007, but the implications are enormous, say real estate and title insurance experts.

If title insurers refuse to honor their policies, "You would have chaos," predicts Chicago real estate attorney Tom McNulty of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg. The fate of tens of thousands of troubled properties around the country would be thrown into limbo while lenders and title insurers duke it out. Other deals would be held up because buyers and sellers would be reluctant to move forward without title insurance to protect their investment.

When it works smoothl…

Insurance commissioner monitoring Mercury Cos. deal

The Colorado Division of Insurance is monitoring the sale of Mercury Cos.’ Colorado businesses to ensure that consumers are protected, state officials said Friday.On Aug. 5, Denver-based Mercury Cos. announced that it had sold four local title insurance agencies — Security Title Guaranty Co., United Title Co., First American Heritage Title and Title America Inc. — to Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. of Jacksonville, Fla., a major nationwide underwriter.The sale occurred just days after Mercury closed operations in California, Arizona and Texas.“Our goal is to work with the new owners and the title agencies to ensure consumers’ rights are protected,” Marcy Morrison, the state insurance commissioner, said in a statement. “Purchasing a home, and securing the title to that home, is an important step for anyone, and the Division of Insurance is committed to making sure that the consumers’ interests remain intact during the transition. In the best-case scenario — a smooth transfer of f…

Real Estate and Credit Woes Take Toll on Title Insurers: Report

In some ways, the title insurance business isn’t really all that complex. Revenues depend primarily on just two inter-related factors: the level of house prices, and the demand for housing. And, of course, both are suffering in one of the worst housing corrections in U.S. history thus far — lower prices and shrinking demand have helped push transaction volumes down dramatically for anyone in the business of underwriting title insurance policies. All of which leads to the obvious conclusion: the ability of title insurers to control expenses in a declining revenue environment is critical to maintaining profitability. And those companies that possess a flexible cost structure, are more proactive in expense management and have access to capital can expect to weather the current down cycle better than others, according to an assessment released Monday by A.M. Best Company.
Title insurance isn’t a highly-fragmented industry, either: five national writers control nearly 95 percent of industry …

A.M. Best Special Report: Real Estate and Credit Woes Take Toll on Title Insurers

Title insurance revenues depend on both the level of house prices and the demand for housing. Thus, the ongoing slowdown in real estate activity combined with tightening mortgage market conditions and the worsening U.S. economy have been a significant drag on the title industry's revenues.

The ability of title insurers to control expenses in a declining revenue environment is critical to maintaining profitability. Thus, those companies that possess a flexible cost structure, are more proactive in expense management and have access to capital can expect to weather the current down cycle better than others. This dynamic will influence the course of A.M. Best's future rating actions as the industry works its way through the current challenging environment.

The outlook for the title insurance industry for the balance of 2008 and for 2009 remains negative, and any improvement will depend largely on the length and depth of the housing downturn.

-- Direct prem…

Law tries to limit ties between agents and financial service providers

By Tom KellyReal estate agents are clearly the most influential people in every real estate transaction, and their power is not reserved for buyers and sellers. It extends to all professionals involved.

That position of influence becomes magnified in a slower housing market. Everybody is desperate for deals. And, while real estate agents typically offer beneficial referrals, consumers should always remember that they have a choice when picking the various players in the home-buying process -- appraisal, credit report, title report, escrow company, mortgage company, etc. These choices often start with the selection of a title company in the standard purchase and sale agreement. This may seem like a "who cares" decision, but the competition is fierce.

How much do title companies want to be the company of choice in your purchase and sale agreement, commonly known as an earnest-money agreement? A few years ago a title insurance company offered to furnish a real estate brokers'…

Financial Title closes its 57 offices

Financial Title of Citrus Heights has closed all 57 of its California offices, including some in the Bay Area. But a state official said its customers will continue to have their titles processed by the company's insurer and shouldn't be greatly inconvenienced. First Title and its insurer - First American Title Insurance - notified the California Department of Insurance of the closings Wednesday morning, according to the agency's spokesman, Darrel Ng. He said he wasn't able to comment in detail about the reasons for the closings, but said it stemmed from financial considerations and not any enforcement action by the department. "With the lower volume of housing sales, it's part of the normal business cycle for there to be a reduction in the number of companies needed to service that," he said. Ng said state officials have been sent to Financial Title offices to ensure that all title transactions will continue to be processed appropriately by First America…

What Is Title Insurance For And Why Is It Important To Have It

Purchasing a home can already be a stressful and confusing process especially when it comes to understanding all the different closing costs associated with it. When you buy a home or you refinance your mortgage you will be required to buy title insurance before the closing on the new mortgage. The title insurance is there to protect the mortgage lenders from any third party claims on the property, in other words it protects them from any losses that could happen if there is a dispute on the title. There are two different types of this insurance that you need to know about.The first type of title insurance is the one that the mortgage lenders requires you to get to protect them from financial losses should there be an unexpected problem related to the title of the property. This type of insurance will not protect you, the homeowner. This is what the second type is for because it will protect you instead of the lender.The insurance for you is not required but it is a very good idea to …

Ratings Recap: Am. Merchants, LandAmerica, RSUI Indemnity

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has withdrawn its 'Api' (public information) financial strength rating on American Merchants Casualty Co. - a sister company to Endurance Specialty Insurance Ltd., Endurance American Specialty Insurance Co., Endurance Reinsurance Corp. of America, and Endurance Worldwide Insurance Ltd., all of which have 'A' financial strength ratings. "The withdrawal eliminates possible confusion concerning the assignment of a pi assessment to a part of this interactively rated group," explained credit analyst Taoufik Gharib. "Maintaining a pi assessment might wrongly imply that Standard & Poor's has access only to public information." S&P added that the withdrawal of the assessment should not be viewed as expressing a negative opinion on American Merchants Casualty Co. "given that its financial information is included in the assessment of the overall group's financial strength rating."Standard &a…

Americas Watchdog Expands Its U.S. Investigation of Title Insurance Companies/Home Builders

Americas Watchdog and its National Mortgage Complaint Center are expanding their national investigation of title insurance companies over billing U.S. homeowners. The focus on this investigation will be national or regional U.S. home builders setting up phony title insurance companies and actual title insurance companies charging junk mortgage fees when a consumer gets a mortgage to finance or refinance a home. According to Americas Watchdog, "We think U.S. home builders and title insurance companies gouge most U.S. consumers with junk mortgage fees and we are talking the gloves of on what we see as a multi-billion dollar problem." Homeowners who feel like they were over charged can call the National Mortgage Complaint Center anytime at 866-714-6466 or visit their web site at http://NationalMortgageComplaintCenter.com. (PRWEB) July 29, 2008 -- Am…

Executive Title Insurance Services, Inc. Changes Name to Stewart Title

FORT MEYERS, Fla., Jul 25, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) ----With 11 locations, Executive Title Insurance Services, Inc. has served the title industry needs of southwest Florida for the past 27 years. Today Executive Title announced the change of their name to Stewart Title, the parent company who has owned the company for eight years. Stewart is an international company with more than a century of underwriting expertise, financial strength, innovative technology, superior service and consistent real estate closings. "We have been a part of the Stewart family for many years, and are excited to officially become Stewart Title in our name as well," said Doug Stevens, senior vice president, Executive Title Insurance Services, Inc. "With an established reputation for superior client service and expertise in the industry, this is thrilling new change for our company." "Although their name is changing, they will continue to offer title policies backed by a title und…

Fidelity National Financial starts title insurance business in Mexico

Fidelity National Financial, a provider of title insurance, specialty insurance, claims management services and information services, has opened its title insurance operation in Mexico, which is named Fidelity National Title de Mexico.

Juan Arroyuelo has been appointed vice president and general manager and Gerardo Martinez has been named as a vice president and CFO of Fidelity National Title de Mexico. Additionally, Luis Unikel, a former risk manager at GE Real Estate, has been named as a vice president and chief underwriter. Fidelity Title Mexico has its principal office in Mexico City. Raymond Quirk, president of Fidelity National Financial (FNF), said: "We believe Mexico presents a great opportunity for FNF to expand its direct operations to serve the vibrant Mexican market. "Our local management team is experienced in Mexican title insurance and highly regarded by the Mexican real estate community. They will provide the same level of industry leading service that has ear…

Insurance for Art Collectors Covers Ownership Disputes

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By KATE TAYLOR
http://www.nysun.com/arts/insurance-for-art-collectors-covers-ownership/81553/
It's a collector's nightmare:(Heuichul Kim)">Heuichul KimSALESMAN Gifford Miller sells art title insurance through a company he formed called Liberty Art Title. You buy a valuable painting from a reputable dealer and hang it on your wall. Years later, you learn that the painting was once stolen, decades before you bought it. The original owner sues you, and before you know it you've both lost your investment and racked up tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. You can sue your dealer to try to recover your loss, but that drags the legal mess out even longer.Disputes over ownership of artworks are common, often protracted, and costly. Well-publicized cases involving theft and Holocaust restitution have drawn attention to the risks involved in not knowing every place your art has been. But collectors can find themselves dragged into court over less sensational issues, too.…

Title insurance not a necessity for homeowners

We're deeply concerned that The Vancouver Sun's view, expressed in the June 25 editorial, Rising real estate fraud makes title insurance essential, is causing unnecessary panic among B.C. homeowners.The Land Title and Survey Authority reported that over the past 18 years it processed 15 million transactions. In that time, two claims related to land ownership fraud were resolved and only 14 claims related to mortgage fraud were filed.Contrary to your assertions, the authority says there's been no increase in the number of fraud cases and that cases of attempted fraud are rare. We're not aware of any cases in B.C. that required an innocent owner to pay off a fraudulently obtained mortgage. Typically, when a homeowner is asked to pay for title insurance on a mortgage, that insurance protects the lending institution, not the homeowner. Realtors have a high level of confidence in our land title system and believe the wholesale promotion of title insurance adds unnecessarily…

God Bless America And Title Insurance

The easy part is God Bless America. Each time I hear that phrase I think of my experience of going into East Berlin through barricaded "Checkpoint Charley". We were on a tour setup by our hotel manager. The Communists wanted to show some Americans how they had built up parts of East Berlin. As we entered the communist side our bus was boarded by the military. They took our passports and wallets and counted our money. Upon returning our wallets we were informed if we didn't return with all of our money we wouldn't be allowed to re-enter West Berlin. We assumed they were afraid we would give money to locals that they would use to buy their way out. Wow! I wanted the tour to go back to the West side right then.With that said, how so on God Bless Title Insurance. From previous posts on this blog I have seen some not so loving statements regarding title insurance. However, I can cite several home owners now are very happy they have title insurance. From speaking with the …

Diamond to manage state title insurance offices

Richard Diamond of Brookline has been promoted to Massachusetts manager of First American Title Insurance Company. He will oversee the day-to-day operations of First American’s state offices, which provide services to attorney agents, lenders and real estate brokers in the commonwealth.Diamond joined First American in 1988. He has held numerous positions, most recently as vice president and regional information technology director for the Northeast Division since 1998.He is a member of the National Title Standardization Committee, the American Land Title Association, Title Technology Committee and the East Coast Title Technology Group for First American Title. He is a periodic guest lecturer for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education in Boston, and a member of the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Technology Committee.Diamond currently serves on the Executive Board of Massachusetts Title, the oldest title insurance company in the United States. He speaks regularly throughout …

Making Sure Your Art Is Yours

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For collectors, buying title insurance can offer peace of mind or a full settlement if it turns out their artwork has a murky pastby Tatyana Gershkovich
On May 8 the champagne was flowing at the Manhattan galleries of Bonham's auction house in anticipation of the upcoming spring sales. The mood was confident, as both buyers and sellers anticipated a successful season. While many of the guests were members of long standing in the close-knit art world, there were also some newcomers, and it's not quite clear how welcome some of them will be. "Here come the ARIS people!" is how Lawrence Shindell says he and his team were greeted when they arrived. Unlike most of the other attendees, Shindell deals not in art, but in insurance. The former lawyer is chairman and CEO of ARIS Title, which he founded in 2000 with Judith Pearson, his sister, who has an extensive insurance background. Based in Manhattan, ARIS offers a new product called "art title insurance," which …