AGENT SPOTLIGHT: CentraLand Title Company

Jerry Secrest and Thomas Baird founded CentraLand Title Company in the 1980s and have worked hard to turn a process often perceived as impersonal and frustrating into a positive experience. Charlene Burk is a native Central Texas resident. She became president of CentraLand Title Company in 2017 after being with them for over 20 years. She strives to bring surprise-free closings to all of CentraLand’s closings. Gaining respect in a region like theirs requires integrity and dependability, and CentraLand has been in this business long enough to have it down to a science.

CentraLand has two offices located in Temple and Belton. Each year CentraLand puts together an Economic summit and this year was their 13th annual summit bringing in over 300 plus local real estate industry professionals.

“CentraLand is honored to have been a part of First National since the beginning. Chris Phillip’s leadership and vision inspired us to partner with First National and we have been thrilled to see the success.  For an independent agent, there is incredible value in a close working relationship with your underwriter and FNTI makes us here at Centraland feel like part of the family. Family that works together, plays together and supports one another. FNTI’s underwriting support and educational opportunities are stellar and truly a cut above. We at Centraland can’t wait to be part of the next chapter at FNTI.”

We are proud to call CentraLand one of our agents.

For more information about CentraLand Title Company go to
www.centralandtitle.com

Education & Training | Texas Endorsement Chart Provides Valuable Information

Ever get confused on which endorsement is used with what policy and the rules in which they are associated?

Well, we have a new chart that explains this and more!!  Attached HERE is the Texas Endorsement Chart showing the endorsement type, procedural rule, rate and rate rule, policy type, and a description of coverage. Both the procedural rules and rate rules are hyperlinked within the pdf to the Texas Title Insurance Basic Manual located on the Texas Department of Insurance website.

We hope you find this chart and information useful in your day-to-day practices.

Message from the CEO | First National Title Insurance Company Attends NS3

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in a panel discussion at the National Settlement Services Summit (NS3) conference in Phoenix, AZ. NS3 has been sponsoring this annual three-day conference for the past 15 years, and this was the largest and most successful to date.  With over 700 attendees, vendors, and sponsors, title insurance and related conversations were bountiful. The information presented was relevant, timely, and extremely important. I would recommend this conference for any agents looking to increase their knowledge of the latest technologies and techniques in our industry.

I was fortunate to be on the “Independent Underwriter Panel” with David Townsend, president of Agents National Title Insurance Company and Mary O’Donnell, CEO of Westcor Land Title Insurance Company. Our wide-ranging conversation included our thoughts on innovative trends, customer service training, knowing your customer, reinsurance, the value proposition of the independent underwriter, and the qualities we look for in our independent agents. While we had similar ideas as it related to the independent agents, we each had different approaches based on our own company philosophies. 

One of the areas in which I spoke out about was reinsurance. The reinsurance programs that the independent underwriters now have access to have dramatically changed the playing field. I emphasized that independent agents no longer have to rely on one of the big four underwriters to handle their large commercial transactions. As a matter of fact, First National Title Insurance Company (FNTI) can now insure transactions up to $200 million.  Over the past two years, we have worked with our reinsurance broker in Chicago to connect with a London-based Facultative Reinsurer called Fidelis. Fidelis is an A.M. Best rated (A- excellent) reinsurer with capital and surplus of $1.3 billion.  And its stated mission is to disrupt the domestic title insurance reinsurance market by providing options to regional title insurers like FNTI. This is an exciting development in FNTI’s growth strategy and will allow our independent agents an option to write more commercial business on us. I recognize that there will be a challenge every time an independent agent places FNTI on that $100 million commercial contract. And that challenge will be to convince the lender, lender’s attorney, buyer and buyer’s attorney that there are alternatives. We need to convince these clients that it is no longer necessary to simply check the Fidelity, First American, Old Republic, and Stewart Title “box.” It is my job and the FNTI staff’s job to change that habit.  We have the marketing materials, the supporting documentation, and the desire to be market disrupters. Let us talk to your commercial clients and convince them that our reinsurance program is as safe and secure as any of the large underwriters. If we can disrupt this market, we can begin to loosen the strangle hold the national underwriters have on our industry.  The independent agents and underwriters can chip away at the 85 percent national market share controlled by just four (maybe three) underwriters. 

Our panel did reach a consensus on the value proposition of the independent underwriter. We all agreed that service levels, personal touch, and willingness to help close transactions were our greatest assets. The only way we can out-perform the behemoth national corporate giants is to out-service them as well and be the underwriters the independents look to for answers, solutions, and a willingness to partner with them. The future of a competitive title industry depends upon the success of the independent, entrepreneurial agent. And whether the nationals like it or not, we are here to knock them off their pedestals. 

FNTI plans to disrupt the commercial underwriting market, and we need your help to accomplish this mission. Please consider the options when you get your next commercial contract, and let FNTI insure your transaction. As always, our company motto that we “…do business with those we know, like, and trust” still rings true. It is a motto we live by. We want you to know us, like us, and especially trust us. And thank you for your business.

DJ’s Motivational Mondays | Fireworks and Gratefulness

As we celebrate this month the foundation of our country with fireworks, Barbecue, and festivities, I like to focus on the pride I feel in how great our country has become and how grateful I am to live in the United States of America. 

John Adams, one of our founding fathers and second President, was adamant we celebrate our Independence from one end of the continent to the other with “guns, bonfires, and illuminations” as a morale booster.  As I drove around my hometown on Thursday evening, I saw so many people lining the streets setting up to watch the fireworks.  There were cars and trucks everywhere, in medians of highways and on the sides of roads with barbeque grills, corn hole games, music playing waiting for the 9:15pm start of the show.  It is such a great feeling to see people, young and old share in the gratefulness of what we have in America.

To be grateful is a feeling of appreciation, kindness and thankfulness.  When we feel a sense of indebtedness or appreciation for anything, we should let those who we feel that towards know it.  This is a learned behavior and must be taught to generation after generation since our human nature is to focus on our individual needs and wants.  When people have helped us meet personal or corporate goals and needs, we must show them how grateful we are to them for their help or sacrifice.  As Americans, we benefit from so many sacrifices made by our ancestors, military service men, first responders, and people who have passed on the spirit of hope and dreams so many other countries do not have bestowed to them.  I think John Adams was referring to a type of celebration including a showing of pride and gratefulness on Independence Day; that we all stand together to watch the parades and fireworks that symbolize how grateful we are to have the life we have here in America. 

We all play our own part in how this country progresses, and all our efforts team up to create the greatness or the lack there of at times, but this is the United States of America, the land of the free, which we should all be grateful.  Here is to the Red, White and Blue!

David Hays Throws Out the First Pitch

FNTI Underwriting Counsel, David Hays, took to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Cleburne Railroaders’ game on behalf of our agent, Trinity Abstract and Title Company in Cleburne, Texas.  Hays avoided the blooper reel and threw the ball smoothly right over home plate.  Suzanne Tinsley attended the fun event, which was an entertaining night for at the stadium the title company’s customers including a behind-the-scenes tour and food and beverages on the pavilion overlooking the evening game.


George’s Update | Summer of our Content

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” –Sam Keen

“Summer, summertime. Time to sit back and unwind.” –DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

“I propose to fight out of this if it takes all summer.” – Ulysses S. Grant

“The harder the summer; the better the winter.” – G Title and the Disciples of Awesome

Summertime—for many it’s the time of the year that the kids are out of school, vacations are taken, and batteries are recharged.

For those of us who have chosen the title industry as our career (If you think you might do something else—think again! Once you are in, you are never getting out!), summer is the time to ramp up and close a ton of deals, issue a lot of policies, and make the American Dream happen.  With that comes hours upon hours of blood (hopefully not), sweat, and maybe a few tears (of joy, I hope).  Reviewing the numbers to date, it looks like a long, crazy summer is in store for us.

Congratulations! Keep in mind that this upcoming busy summer is due to your efforts all year round. 

Know that we are here with you and please ask for anything you might need. 

Get ready for a wild summer!

George

AGENT SPOTLIGHT: Coastal Land Title, LLC

Serving Clients and Building Relationships on the Coast

Jeff Boll started Coastal Land Title in 2015 and soon after became an agent for FNTI through his long-standing relationship of trust with FNTI Florida Agency Manager Jay Hansli. Coastal Land Title is a full-service, attorney-run title agency providing comprehensive services to individuals, companies, and lenders involved in real estate transactions. In December 2018, Coastal issued the largest title policy with FNTI in the state of Florida. Coastal’s mission is one of building enduring relationships by providing timely, accurate, and reliable service to its clients.

Jeff graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 2005. Upon graduating from law school, he accepted the position of general counsel for a regional title company working there for the next ten years. Jeff then made the decision to open his own title company with an office in Perdido Key along with a second location in South Walton County off 30-A.  Jeff, and his wife Stephanie, enjoy beach time, playing golf, and welcomed twin boys on February 11, 2019.

FNTI would like to Congratulate Coastal Land Title, LLC for being an exemplary agent and our “Agent Spotlight” this month.

For more information about Coastal Land Title, LLC go to
http://www.coastallandtitle.com/

Out and About: FNTI Texas Agency Team Attends the TLTA Annual Conference and Business Meeting

The Texas Agency and Leadership Teams traveled to Bastrop recently to attend the TLTA Annual Business Conference and Business Meeting.  This year’s Conference featured nationally-celebrated speakers and industry professionals who shared ideas on industry trends, regulatory updates, leadership, growth and the effect of technology on our industry. The team looks forward to sharing these tools with our family of agents. 

Underwriting Q&A: Rollback taxes and supplemental taxes – TEXAS

Q: Are “AG” rollback taxes the only type of rollback tax that can be assessed for the collection of prior years’ ad valorem taxes and are they covered in a title policy?

A: There are several types of rollback taxes, or supplemental taxes, which will capture and assess taxes for prior years.  The types of rollbacks that we most frequently see are the rollbacks that are commonly referred to as “Ag” rollback taxes.  This type of rollback of taxes is more likely to be for the loss of an open-space or wildlife management special valuation, rather than a true Ag special use valuation that requires the land to be devoted exclusively for agriculture, which must be the owner’s occupation and primary source of income to be eligible. This category of exemptions is actually a group of special use valuations rather than true exemptions.  The loss of the open space (1-d-1) status or the wildlife management status can result in a 5 year tax rollback, to recover the difference between the amount actually paid in those 5 prior years and what would have been due if a market value valuation had been utilized.  The loss of an Ag special use valuation can result in a 3 year tax rollback bill.

The tax exception found in Texas title policies does not cover the rollback taxes when there is a change in use or ownership that causes the loss of the special use valuation:

Standby fees, taxes and assessments by any taxing authority for the year ___, and subsequent years; and subsequent taxes and assessments by any taxing authority for prior years due to change in land usage or ownership, but not those taxes or assessments for prior years because of an exemption granted to a previous owner of the property under Section 11.13, Texas Tax Code, or because of improvements not assessed for a previous tax year.

Procedural Rule P-20.B provides the parameters for amendment of the tax exception in a Lender Policy if the property is under Ag.  The Owner’s Policy may not be amended to remove the exception for rollback taxes.

  1. In connection with the issuance or amendment (after issuance) of any Loan Policy or of any Loan Title Policy Binder on Interim Construction Loan (Interim Binder), and upon payment of the premium required under Rate Rule R-19, the words: “and subsequent taxes and assessments by any taxing authority for prior years due to change in land usage or ownership”, as contained in the standard tax exception may be deleted by:
    1. Deletion of such words upon the policy or binder form, either by checking the appropriate box on a Form T-2 or T-2R or by lining through the words or by producing an electronic form with the words; or
    1. By attachment to the policy or binder of endorsement form T-30.

The deletion of the above phrase from the standard tax exception is hereafter referred to as “insure or insuring against rollback taxes”.

  • A Company may not insure against rollback taxes unless:
    • The Company has satisfactory evidence in its file that the assessed taxes for the current year are not based on an agriculture or open-space valuation; or
    • (i) The rollback taxes have been assessed by all of the taxing authorities;

(ii) The rollback taxes are collected at closing by the Company, and

(iii) The Company will pay the roll back taxes in the ordinary course of business.

The other types of rollback taxes or supplemental taxes that we encounter are:

  • Omitted improvements – Section 25.21(a), Tax Code:  (OMITTED PROPERTY).  (a)  If the chief appraiser discovers that real property was omitted from an appraisal roll in any one of the five preceding years or that personal property was omitted from an appraisal roll in one of the two preceding years, he shall appraise the property as of January 1 of each year that it was omitted and enter the property and its appraised value in the appraisal records.
  • Church sale – Section 11.201, Tax Code: (ADDITIONAL TAX ON SALE OF CERTAIN RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION PROPERTY.  (a)  If land is sold or otherwise transferred to another person in a year in which the land receives an exemption under Section 11.20(a)(6), an additional tax is imposed on the land equal to the tax that would have been imposed on the land had the land been taxed for each of the five years preceding the year in which the sale or transfer occurs in which the land received an exemption under that subsection, plus interest at an annual rate of seven percent calculated from the dates on which the taxes would have become due.

(b)  A tax lien attaches to the land on the date the sale or transfer occurs to  secure payment of the tax and interest imposed by this section and any    penalties incurred.  The lien exists in favor of all taxing units for which the tax is imposed); and

  • Retroactive removal of an improper exemption – Section 11.43(i), Tax Code:  (i)  If the chief appraiser discovers that an exemption that is not required to be claimed annually has been erroneously allowed in any one of the five preceding years, the chief appraiser shall add the property or appraised value that was erroneously exempted for each year to the appraisal roll as provided by Section 25.21 of this code for other property that escapes taxation.  If an exemption that was erroneously allowed did not apply to all taxing units in which the property was located, the chief appraiser shall note on the appraisal records, for each prior year, the taxing units that gave the exemption and are entitled to impose taxes on the property or value that escaped taxation.

Note that the tax exception in the Texas title policy has an EXCEPTION TO THE EXCEPTION – in other words, coverage is given for taxes or assessments for prior years because of an exemption granted to a previous owner of the property under Section 11.13, Texas Tax Code, or because of improvements not assessed for a previous tax year.

To clarify, insurance coverage is provided in a title policy when a Section 11.13 exemption (residence homestead, or over 65 or disabled residence homestead exemption), is carried improperly and is later removed and a supplemental tax bill issued to recover full taxes for the years the exemption was improperly carried.  The same is true for a supplemental tax bill issued for omitted improvements.