Out and About: CE with Legend Title and Abstract!

FNTI had a great turn out at Legend Title and Abstract in Laredo, TX for a CE class with 32 in attendance! Sean Everest, VP & Underwriting Counsel, was the instructor. Way to get educated Legend!

Sean, Hector Ramos (President), Jamie Barker
Liz and Jamie signing in class attendees
Lunch after!

AGENT SPOTLIGHT: Belinda Rivera and Las Cruces Abstract & Title Company

This month we’d like to highlight, Belinda Rivera, with Las Cruces Abstract & Title Company!

She received the “2019 Realtors Choice Award” this month! Brad Foreman, Principal at Las Cruces Abstract & Title Company, and FNTI would love to publicly congratulate her on this honor!

Belinda Rivera began her career at Las Cruces Abstract & Title Company in 1983, eventually took a position with another company and was very successful throughout the years in the Title and Abstract industry.

She eventually made a full circle coming back to TCNM, LLC dba Las Cruces Abstract & Title Company in 2017.  This month she was honored by Las Cruces Association of Realtors with the “2019 Realtors Choice Award”, an honor that is well deserved!  Pictured below is Belinda and her assistant Monique at the awards ceremony. 

Thanks for doing business with FNTI and for your amazing achievement, Belinda! Congratulations!

Message from the CEO | First National Title Insurance vs. the Big Four

After taking a few months off from my monthly Blog, it is time to get back to sharing news about First National Title Insurance Company (FNTI).  I also want to use this forum to share what I think is important in the title industry and how it relates to our customers—the independent agent.  I keep reading about the record profits and record revenues of the “Big Four” underwriters and wonder if you feel the same way I do when I read these glowing press releases.  Personally, I’m irritated every time they brag about their success.  Not because I’m jealous or envious, but because I am baffled that independent agents keep supporting their biggest competitors.  I am proud of FNTI’s steady growth and strong financial results, yet it is a mere drop in the bucket when compared to the Big Four.  All of us–the independent agent and the regional underwriters—are trying to increase our market share, hire talented people, keep our costs down, and drive revenue up.  And yet 80 percent of every revenue dollar goes to one of the Big Four. 

I think the time is ripe for change and this is the decade to make that change.  Our service, experience, and dedication to the independent agents far exceed that of the Big Four.  It is also time to get the message out that, through our relationship with re insurers ATRA and Fidelis, FNTI and many of the regional underwriters have the same insuring capacity as the Big Four.  The need for you to keep your biggest competitor happy so that you can have the “privilege of occasionally sharing” a small percentage of those large commercial transactions is no longer a necessity.  FNTI has the capacity to write $200 million transactions, and we are spending considerable time and resources to get the word out to the national lenders and their counsels.  The reinsurance market is getting disrupted, and you will see a positive difference in the acceptability of underwriters like FNTI in the very near future.

Although the national underwriters took more of your business in 2019, I am proud to report that many of you chose to support FNTI.  That led to another successful year for our company.  Interest rates stayed low and the volume of business was strong throughout the year.  We continued to grow our revenues and reached $134 million in gross premiums–placing us at #9 in the market share rankings of underwriters.  Remember that $134 million pales in comparison to $1.2 billion in gross premiums of the Big Four. 

We have big plans for this decade.  Our territory is expanding, as we recently received our Certificates of Authority to do business in Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee.  We are committed to growing a national company that is better suited to meet the needs of the independent agent and to compete with the other national underwriters.  There is a change in the market—and change creates opportunities.  The industry is evolving with new technologies, new players, and new ways to do business, and we want to be the underwriter that helps the independent agents find, partner with, and create these new opportunities.  Watch for future Blogs about these opportunities.

I am thankful for every milestone our company reaches and recognize that they are only possible because of the hard-working independent agent family that chooses FNTI daily.  

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. 

We are all looking forward to another busy and prosperous year.  Let us help you compete and win in this changing market.

LATEST NEWS: #FNTIUglySweater 2019 Contest Winners!

Another great year of holiday cheer! Thank you again for everyone who participated! We have the best agents out there! #FNTIUglySweater

CONTEST WINNERS!

Grand Prize:

Monarch Title – Fulshear Office


1st Place:

Great American Title – Cooper Office (Lesley Kotlarz)

2nd Place:

CentraLand Title – Nicole Stairs

3rd Place:

Great American Title – Claudia Molina

Thank you again everyone and congratulations to our winners this year! We had so much with you all! Happy Holidays!

Other participants who we have to show off! Thank you!

Underwriting Q&A: Is a title company responsible for obtaining and paying for services at a closing settlement to assist customers with disabilities?

Q: Is a title company responsible for obtaining and paying for services at a closing settlement to assist customers with disabilities?

Answer: Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA requires real estate professionals and entities to provide effective communication to customers with vision, hearing or speech disabilities. Title III of the ADA prohibits places of “public accommodation” from discriminating against people with disabilities and generally includes businesses that are open to the public to provide goods or services.

In regards to the closing of a real estate transaction, the title company is providing services to the parties. If a party has a disability that would require additional steps to achieve effective communication during the closing, the title company must accommodate the party by providing auxiliary aid or services. This could include a sign language interpreter, assistive listening devices, oral interpreter, tactile interpreters for deaf-blind individuals or text based services. Public accommodations (the title company) must obtain and pay for any auxiliary aid or service necessary to achieve effective communication.

Effective communication will vary with each specific transaction and with each individual customer (i.e., the ADA does not guarantee the right to a sign language interpreter, but rather, to effective communication). If an interpreter is used, the interpreter must be “qualified”, which means they are capable of interpreting effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. The public accommodation should consult with individuals with disabilities whenever possible to determine what type of auxiliary aid is needed to ensure effective communication, but the ultimate decision lies with the public accommodation. The ADA does not require a public accommodation to furnish an auxiliary aid or service if it would constitute an undue burden, however, this is a tough standard to meet.

The title company should expect to obtain and pay for these services, considering it part of overhead (although there may be tax credits or deductions available for certain businesses). Any violations of the ADA could subject the title company to legal action and civil penalties.

It’s Back! FNTI’s 3rd Annual Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest!

Please join First National Title Insurance for an
UGLY SWEATER CONTEST

December 9th – 20th
*Winners will be announced Monday, December 23rd*

Post a photo to Facebook wearing your Ugly Holiday Sweater for a chance to win a prize!

GRAND PRIZE – FNTI WILL TREAT YOUR OFFICE TO LUNCH!
1st Place – $250
2nd Place – $100
3rd Place – $50

Contest Rules:
1. Post a photo wearing your ugly Holiday sweater on Facebook
2. Include the Hashtag #FNTIUGLYSWEATER to be entered
**(Entries without a hashtag will not be entered)**

Good luck!

Underwriting Q&A: What in the world is PACA and PSA?

Q: What in the world is PACA and PSA?

A: “PACA” refers to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, while “PSA” refers to the Packers and Stockyards Act.

These statutes were designed to protect agricultural and livestock producers who were commonly subjected to wrongful/unfair business practices. Over time, these statutes were strengthened to add trust provisions for the benefit of unpaid sellers and suppliers, putting them at an advantage over the buyers’ other creditor’s (otherwise they would just be treated as an unsecured creditor). The trust acts as a lien over the perishable agricultural commodities, products derived from those commodities, and any proceeds from the sale of those commodities, until full payment is received. The statutory trust arises automatically and no documentation is typically recorded in the Public Records to inform parties of its existence.

These statutes can pose risks in an insured transaction as they create a trust for the benefit of unpaid sellers and suppliers of perishable agricultural commodities (“PACA Trust”) and poultry, poultry products, livestock, dairy, and meat products (“PSA Trust”). Property acquired or commingled with trust funds may subject that property to the PACA/PSA trust (i.e., funds used to pay down a mortgage or funds used to build improvements). For this reason, the title commitment involving, the purchase, lease, or financing of property owned by a party who may be subject to these statutes, typically includes the following exception:

Any right, interest or claim that may exist or be asserted against the Title pursuant to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930 (7 U.S.C. 499a, et seq.), the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 (7 U.S.C. 181, et seq.) or any similar federal or state laws.

When Do These Statutes Apply?

PACA applies to transactions involving “perishable agricultural commodities”, which can be generally defined as fresh fruits and vegetables of every kind and character (whether or not frozen or packed in ice). The PACA trust applies to “perishable agricultural commodities” received by a commission merchant, dealer, or broker. The definitions of commission merchant, dealer or broker could include: food, produce, and grocery wholesalers; grocery stores; food and produce packers; and restaurants.

PSA applies to the sale of poultry, poultry products, livestock, dairy and meat products. The PSA trust applies to packers and live poultry dealers which may include: poultry, livestock or swine farms; meat and poultry packing facilities; and grocery stores.

Summary

The trusts created under these statutes extend beyond the products or produce themselves and extend to assets purchased with the trust proceeds. The statutory trusts do not appear to create a lien on real property, per the terms of the statutes, however, a New York decision has imposed a lien on real property resulting from a PACA Trust. Therefore, these statutes must be taken into consideration when dealing with a party who may be subject to the PACA/PSA trusts.