This is another important update on the pending legislation known as the Mortgage Choice Act and efforts by the affiliated business lobby to decrease your efforts to compete for settlement business and to raise the cost of closings for American consumers.

Members of NAILTA were in Washington DC on February 24th to meet with members of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee to discuss potential bill alternatives to H.R. 3211, H.R. 1077 and S. 949. Our Policy and Legislative Affairs team will be back in Washington DC on March 11, 2014 to meet with more members of Congress to continue the fight against RESPRO and the banking lobby’s efforts to modify Dodd-Frank to favor their affiliated business arrangements.

Our all-volunteer contingent of independent settlement professionals have over 40 meetings scheduled in one day with members of the House and Senate concerning the issues important to you and your livelihood. No other trade organization is working this hard for your interests.

The Mortgage Choice Act is the pro-affiliated business arrangement bill that is designed to modify the Dodd-Frank Act’s qualified mortgage provision and exempt all points and fees charged by lender affiliates from the 3% cap on points and fees for qualified mortgages. It was introduced in the House as H.R. 3211 and in the Senate as S. 949. NAILTA opposes both pieces of legislation.

Who is Fighting For the Affiliates?

RESPRO, the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Credit Unions, Quicken Loans, and others linked to the lending industry. Each of these trade organizations has an army of lobbyists who are pushing members of Congress to sponsor and endorse H.R. 3211, H.R. 1077 and S. 949.

ALTA, as you know, has publicly stated that they are “not lobbying for or against the Mortgage Choice Act.” Even though ALTA is publicly neutral on the pending legislation, they have filed four consecutive quarters worth of public lobbying disclosures that indicate they are, in fact, directly lobbying Congress on H.R. 3211, H.R. 1077 and S. 949. Copies of the latest lobbying disclosure can be found here.  In the 4Q of 2013 alone, ALTA spent $140,000.00 lobbying on measures that included the Mortgage Choice Act.

What are they telling members of Congress about you? Who are they going to bat for? Does their “neutrality” support you or the underwriters and large affiliated agents who support RESPRO?

Do not be fooled. ALTA members, including Fidelity National Tiltle Group, Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Old Republic National Title Company, WFG National Title Company, Orange Coast Title Company, North American Title Group, Agents National Title Insurance Company, Investors Title Insurance Company, Alliant National Title Insurance Company and United General Title Insurance Company, are also proud members and supporters of RESPRO.

Want to know what these companies and ALTA are telling Congress about independent land title agents? Ask them. You deserve to know who is looking out for your interests and advocating for you.

Who is Fighting Against H.R. 3211 and S. 949?

NAILTA, the Center for Responsible Lending, the Consumer Federation of America, and public interest groups from around the country. Moreover, H.R. 3211’s predecessor bill known as H.R. 1077 was formally opposed by the Escrow Institute of California, the Indiana Land Title Association and the Louisiana Land Title Association.

The argument against H.R. 3211 and S. 949 is simple: the pending bills increase the cost of title insurance and decrease the amount of choice and competition. Simply put, the pending legislation is a money grab to support the continued growth of affiliated business in America. The bills do not improve the settlement process. The bills do not improve the insurance product. Rather, this is an attempt by those outside the title industry to further reduce competition from within.

No consumer will receive a lower cost closing as a result of this legislation. Instead, the cost of affiliation will continue to be passed along to the consumer in the form of higher premium and non-premium related costs. Lenders and their affilates will reap their rewards, but independent title agents and American consumers will be left to fend for themselves.

What Can You Do?

The pressure is higher than ever. The Mortgage Choice Act will be decided this year. Do your part. Help us over the next three business days to flood Washington D.C. and Capitol Hill with your phone calls and faxes. Your colleagues are volunteering their time, money and efforts to tell your story in person. Show your gratitude by taking a moment to call every member of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee today!

Call your congressional representative and tell them you do not support H.R. 3211 and S. 949. Here is a list of phone numbers for the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee. Get on the phone and have your voice heard today!

The House exchange is 1 (202) 225-xxxx and the Senate is 1 (202) 224-xxxx.

We challenge each of you to make at least ten phone calls from the enclosed list and one call to your own congressional representative. Remember, if they do not hear from you, they do not know there’s a problem.