I want to welcome our attendees, vendors and loyal sponsors to our/ your 7th Annual Education Conference in the historic city of Savannah, Georgia. Ranked by history as the first colonial and state Capitol its history dates back to the 16th century as a leading port city coveted by both Spain and later England. Founded by the Spanish and abandoned in the late 1500’s. General Oglethorpe arrived in the colony to provide England with a buffer between Spanish Florida and French Louisiana and established religious freedom and tolerance welcoming Irish and French Catholics, English Protestants and Sephardic Jews.
In some ways NAILTA history parallels to the Georgia history. Paraphrasing Edmund Burke encroachment occurs when industry professionals do nothing. We were founded by independent purist in 2009 to provide a buffer zone of sorts and representation of all independent industry stake holders who wish to be free of joint ventures, marketing agreements and bad actors in our industry who are in part of reverse competition. Lacking effective representation they prepared an agenda to begin addressing the problems that were being encountered by both settlement agents and consumer alike.
The growth has been slow but consistent made up of dedicated volunteers who recognized the deficiencies they advocated on both the national and state level for change in the status quo and education for the consumer. Dealing with regulators as well as legislators the first lobby day was initiated in 2009 with the policy and legislation committee taking the lead. Since that time we have been hosting 2 per year increasing our viability with legislators on both sides of the aisle.
As word spread of our existence various title professionals asked to establish state associations and affiliations with NAILTA and in 2010 we welcomed Ohio (OAITA) and Louisiana (LAILTA) followed by Kentucky, New Jersey , Indiana and our newest addition Michigan. In 2011 we welcomed our first affiliation, EIC from California well as NALTEA and our membership continued to grow.
NAILTA has continually addressed issues head on such as non-compliant affiliated businesses, joint ventures, third party vetting, marketing agreements, addressing house and senate committee(s) and dealing with inaccurate statements referencing our industry. Issuing white papers and mission statements the position on the independent settlement service provider and title agent was made apparent. Asked to testify at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, (NAIAC), in regards to affiliated business we opened up positive dialogue within our industry. In a recent House Finance Committee hearing NAILTA’s white paper was referenced and entered into the congressional record and quoted by members of congress.
Always ready to take the fight to those who wish to undermine the independent agents the PLA committee crafted a bill that is currently being sponsored by Congressman Ellison and being shopped for co sponsors as we speak. Our lobbying efforts have been focused on defeating various House and Senate bills dealing with the three percent cap and fees earned by affiliates, current TILA requirements and third party vetting. Regardless of weather conditions or strength of our adversaries the all-volunteer NAILTA lobbying team presented a cogent argument and either helped defeat or shelving legislation that would have harmed our members as well as the consumer.
Hearing what has been accomplished in a relatively short period of time you would imagine a large well oiled network of diligent dedicated individuals with a great deal of time available to them. That my Friends is far from the truth Instead all that has been accomplished by ten members of your team. Ten. Ten. It has a ring of loneliness attached to it.
How could only ten people carry the load for over 100,000 members of our industry? Is the industry not aware of what is occurring? Can there be so many individuals who would thrive on the accomplishments of the few without involvement or contributing to the effort? Is it the malaise that is becoming more evident in our industry that creates this vacuum? Are we less than realtors, lenders and the like who respond with activists, contributions or both when their livelihood is threatened ? Has the industry been defeated mentally and we just hang out day to day waiting for what you think is the inevitable?
Well my Friends you are dead wrong. If we must, the few will continue to carry the many. What does it take to reach you and support a movement that represents you with actions and commitment? Maybe you should look at us as an E& O insurance policy where we respond to the errors made by legislators and cover the omissions made by the regulators. We can also be a fidelity bond insuring consistent representation of your agenda and that of the consumer and maintaining the values of our industry. It’s your choice whether to spend less than $ 20.00 a month on an organization that represents your agenda or continue with the status quo.
What our industry needs is committed partners. Partnerships who work together to make our industry what it was before. An industry of professionals who placed a value on accuracy, service and contributing to the greater good of the economy as well as the well being of the consumer.
A partnership that retains the individual solvency of the organization in the members it represents and pools their collective strength, knowledge and political capital to bring about positive and lasting change. Where the Abstractors works with the escrow agent, title agent, realtors, lender and the legal profession and collaborates on their individual needs and collectively brings about change. Where the technology sector begins to recognize the deficiencies that exist and with input from the industry collaborates for a more improved technological way of doing business.
This my Friends is where we need to go—– where we must go together or face the inevitable consequences it’s in your hands. Thank you for your support and may we all prosper.
Anthony L. Affatati, Sr.
For The Board of Directors
National Association of Independent Land Title Agents