Welcome to the September Edition of Virginia Title Center's Title Notes E-Blast.  It is our hope that you will find the information contained herein to be relevant and timely.  Please let us know what you think.  We want to hear from you.
Thank you,

Patti Dickerson
Director of Marketing & Communications
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September 2013
Title Notes E-Blast



Managing and Assessing Environmental Risk Associated with Real Property Used as Collateral 




While brownfields, commercial, and industrial properties have a higher likelihood of contamination than residential or new development, all real estate, regardless of use, can pose environmental risk. 


For lending institutions, environmental risk is an important consideration in evaluating overall credit risk.  Environmental issues can (among other concerns) impact borrower financial stability, limit property use and development, disrupt site access, create bodily and property injury liability associated with the collateral or other properties, and damage a bank's reputation, brand and image. 


There are ways banks can assess and limit exposure to environmental risk associated with collateral, including proper site assessment, lender liability protections and programs, and contractual agreements.


In the September FREE webinar, Williams Mullen environmental attorney Lynne Rhode will discuss these issues and answer your questions about managing environmental risk associated with property used as collateral.


Lynne C. Rhode, Attorney

Williams Mullen

Read More About Lynne's Background

With experience in all aspects of environmental law, Lynne Rhode can help you or your business work through all issues relating to the environment. She can help you comply with federal and state regulations and guide you through the permitting process. She has worked on projects related to brownfields redevelopment, water development, and alternative and renewable energy. She has also worked on issues regarding waste management issues, all appropriate inquiry in real estate transactions, and environmental litigation.  Lynne also has experience in general complex litigation, energy, local government and land use, government affairs, and animal law matters.


Lynne has been recognized for her accomplishments in her environmental law practice by several publications. She has been named a Virginia Leading Lawyer in Environmental Law by Chambers USA and a Virginia "Rising Star" in Environmental & Natural Resources by Virginia Super Lawyers. She was also given the 2009 James C. Roberts Outstanding Achievement in Pro Bono Award. In 2011, she served on the Department of Environmental Quality's Combustion Regulatory Advisory Panel.


Lynne received an M.S. from The London School of Economics, her J.D. from the University of Virginia, and her B.A. from the University of North Carolina.

Click here to reserve your seat! 

Kay Slusher,
Settlement Processor and Closer,
Roanoke Office

Virginia Title Center welcomed Kay to the team on September 4th.  Kay was a legal assistant for 20 plus years at a prominent law firm in Floyd, Virginia, where she handled all aspects of real estate settlement, formation of corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships, and preparation of trusts, powers of attorney, wills, petitions and orders.  Most recently, she was the team leader of the Document Preparation Team for StellarOne Bank and was responsible for overseeing the processing and closing of Commercial and Business Banking loans, modifications, and renewals.


In her role as VTC Settlement Processor, Kay is responsible for coordinating and performing all aspects of residential and commercial real estate closings.


Kay resides in Riner, Virginia.  She and her husband, Michael, live on a 50 acre farm where they raise beef cattle.  She enjoys spending time with her husband and family, listening to music, participating in the hand bell choir at her church, teaching Sunday school, camping, and gardening. 


Welcome Kay to the team by e-mail or call her at 800.468.5811.


Click here to view information about other members of the VTC team.


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray spoke at the American Mortgage Conference, discussing the Qualified Mortgage rule.

As I am sure you are well aware, two of our mortgage rules will be extremely important in addressing some of the most serious problems that have undermined the mortgage market. The Ability-to-Repay rule (also known as the Qualified Mortgage or QM rule) is designed to end many irresponsible lending practices by making sure that consumers are getting mortgages they can actually afford to pay back. Our servicing rules contain provisions designed to ensure, among other objectives, a fairer and more effective process for troubled borrowers who face the potential loss of their homes.

Through extensive discussions with community banks and credit unions, we came to recognize that most of their traditional lending practices should not be put into question by the Ability-to-Repay rule. Especially where smaller institutions make loans that they keep in their own portfolios, they have every incentive to pay close attention to the borrower's ability to repay the loan. They are more immediately subject to community norms, and their underwriting standards did not deteriorate in the heady days before the financial crisis; indeed, they often lost market share to those engaged in the more irresponsible lending practices of that era. So we avoided a "one-size-fits-all" approach by proposing and then finalizing specific provisions to meet the special circumstances of smaller mortgage lenders.

Qualified mortgages cover the vast majority of loans made in today's market, but they are by no means all of the mortgage market. This point is important and it should not be misunderstood. There are plenty of good loans made every year that are non-QM. For example, loans made to borrowers with considerable other assets may not meet the 43 percent debt-to-income ratio, be eligible for purchase by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), or qualify under the small creditor exemption, but nonetheless are based on sound underwriting standards and routinely perform well over time.


Read Cordray's full remarks.

AEI Releases Public Opinion Survey Covering Banks, Regulation

AEI's latest Public Opinion Study, now available as an ebook!


"Five Years After the Crash: What Americans Think about Wall Street, Banks, Business, and Free Enterprise" examines public opinion in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 crash and in the years since.


How have attitudes changed toward America's financial system? By comparing hundreds of survey questions from major pollsters, we provide an informative account of how Americans felt about business five years ago and how they feel now.

Much of the blame for the crisis was directed at large financial institutions, typically lumped in the public mind as "Wall Street." How deep-seated is public frustration? Did the anger toward Wall Street spread to other sectors of the business world? Has confidence been restored? This ebook surveys a variety of polling data to answer those questions. 

Other major topics include confidence in banks, preferences on government regulation of business, and the health of the free enterprise system. Every poll cited in the text is included in the appendix.


From the report, on banks:

Before the financial crisis hit, confidence in banks was clearly slipping, most likely tied to the recession. In 2008, before the crash, Gallup found that 32 percent had high confidence in banks. That dropped to 22 percent in 2009 and held at 23 percent in 2010 and 2011, hitting an all-time low point of 21 percent in 2012. In Gallup's latest June 2013 question, 26 percent had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in banks, the highest level of strong confidence since 2008.

On regulation responses:


Polls show Americans have grown more skeptical in the last five years of government regulation of business. They still want the feds to crack down on Wall Street and the financial institutions they see as responsible for the crash. But on the whole, antiregulatory sentiment is high.

Today, antiregulatory sentiment extends beyond a preference for less regulation. On balance, most think regulation actually harms business. Pew asks whether government regulation of industry is necessary to protect the public interest or does more harm than good. In February 2012, 40 percent said it was necessary, while 52 percent said it does more harm than good.


Click here to access the full report.

What Homebuyers Need to Know About Title Insurance
At some point during the homebuying process, the topic of title insurance is likely to come up. Like most types of insurance, title insurance is better to have and not use than need it and not have it available. But what is it, why do you need it, and how does it work?


What is title insurance?

Title insurance is a specialized insurance policy that protects you and your mortgage lender against mistakes made in a title search. If you find a home and there's not a clear title to it, title insurance protects the bank - and you - if there's a problem. A clear title means you'll be able to occupy and use the property the way you want, and that you're able to sell or pledge your property as security for a loan.


There are generally two types of title insurance: lender's and owner's title insurance. The lender's policy is usually based on the dollar amount of your loan and protects the lender's interests in the property against a problem with the title. The policy coverage decreases each year and goes away as the loan is paid off.


As its name suggests, the homeowner buys owner's title insurance, which is in the amount of the real estate purchase, for a one-time fee at closing. It lasts as long as you own or have an interest in the property. Owner's title insurance fully protects the homeowner in the event that there's a problem with the title that wasn't discovered during the title search. This type of insurance also pays for any legal fees involved in defending a claim to your title. Think of owner's title insurance as helping to protect your equity, or your investment, in a home.


It's better to be safe

Title insurance is a safeguard against loss arising from hazards and defects already existing in the title. While claims on title insurance are rare compared to other types of insurance, they still happen and can be complicated legal issues to fix.


For example, one of the most common title-insurance claims is for the cost of back property taxes that the title company missed in researching a sale. Another example is when there's not a clear title to the house, especially in cases of divorce. These scenarios might sound minor, but they can cost thousands in fees without title insurance.


Are you buying a newly built home and think there's a clear title? Many consumers think they're the first owner if they're building a home on a lot, but it's just as likely there were prior owners of the land. A title search will uncover any existing liens, and a survey can determine the boundaries of the property you're buying for your new house.


For more information on the benefits of investing in Title Insurance, contact Bobby Fothergill at 800.468.5811 or by e-mail

Plats and Surveys, Surveys and Plats...
The Ins and Outs....


When underwriting surveys and plats, similarities and differences can often cause confusion. This is due, in part, to terms that are often used interchangeably. Let's try to wade through some of the basics to organize the facts.


A plat is a map of a subdivision. Its purpose is to depict the entire subdivision's neighborhood. Often, a plat is where common areas, street dedications, restrictions and similar issues are addressed. Plats should be recorded and must always be excepted to on a policy's Schedule B due to the nature of the matters they address. If the plat is available for review, or if specific matters are reported in the title search or opinion, they should be excepted to specifically on Schedule B of the policy.


A survey most often depicts one or two specific pieces of property. It picks up detailed characteristics of the insured premises, such as: wells, railroads, creeks, easements and encroachments. A survey is sometimes referred to as a "plat of survey" and is sometimes filed of record. If the underwriter is reviewing the survey, the exception listing matters of survey on Schedule B of the policy should include the survey's recording information.


Requirements and Exceptions Related to Survey Coverage for Lender's and Owner's Policies 
provided by Gail Duffy, Title Services Manager, Virginia Title Center 


Unsure about the proper Requirements and Exceptions related to Survey Coverage for Lender's and Owner's policies? Read on!


Survey Coverage Without a New Survey Alternative:  The following applies to a lender's policy where coverage is being extended to an institutional lender only, with a coverage amount of less than $5 million;

  • If a Satisfactory and Current survey is not furnished, a loan policy can be issued without a survey exception if, at any time in the chain of title, the property has been surveyed by a registered land surveyor and is described consistently with such survey.
  • A Satisfactory survey is defined as a survey which contains a Registered or Licensed Surveyor's signature and seal.
  • A Current survey is defined as drawn and prepared [dated] within the last 12 months unless there are indications that the facts shown on said survey have changed enough to warrant an exception.

At least one of the following items is required for obtaining lender only Survey coverage using "No New Survey":

  • The legal description must reference a recorded plat of the EXACT parcel, no "less and except" allowed OR the legal description may reference an unrecorded survey by a Registered Land Surveyor; and or
  • The legal description must refer to a metes and bounds description of the exact parcel to be insured, which may or may not recite 'as shown on survey by ______, L.S., dated ______' and no copy of the survey has to be presented, and the date is irrelevant.


Survey Coverage - Owners Policy: Full survey coverage can be extended to the Owner only when the underwriter is in receipt of a Satisfactory and Current survey. However, there are alternatives to a Satisfactory and Current survey that are acceptable in order to extend full survey coverage to an Owner.


A survey, which is older than 12 months and accompanied by an Owner's Affidavit Regarding Survey Form may be considered "current" in certain situations:

  • In a refinance transaction where the survey is less than 5 years old.
  • In a purchase transaction where the Owner's Affidavit Regarding Survey is executed by the current owner/seller.

Typically this type of full survey coverage is only used on residential transactions, but upon appropriate approval, may be given on a Commercial transaction.


If a Satisfactory and Current survey is not furnished and/or the transaction does not qualify for Survey Coverage without a New Survey Alternative, the loan and owner's policies must contain the exception:


S-11-06 Any encroachment, encumbrance, violation, variation, or adverse circumstance affecting the Title that would be disclosed by an accurate and complete land survey of the Land. The term "encroachment" includes encroachment of existing improvements located onto the Land onto adjoining land, and encroachments onto the Land of existing improvements located on adjoining land. Paragraph 2 (c) of the Covered Risks is hereby deleted.

Need more clarity or do you want to learn more details about the Survey Coverage for lender's and owner's policies? Email Gail Duffy, or call any VTC Underwriter at 1.800.468.5811. 


What's it to Be? "I" or "Me?"


Generally, choosing between "I" or "me" is a relatively easy process when the subject of a sentence of singular. For example, you wouldn't say, "The searcher gave I the abstract." In this case, it is pretty clear that "me" is the appropriate pronoun to use. Matters are complicated, however, when plural subjects are introduced such as "the settlement agent and I." In this case, one might hesitate and consider stating, "the searcher gave the settlement agent and I the abstract" or "the searcher gave the settlement agent and me the abstract." The trick to remember is to remove the second subject and determine whether "I" or "me" would be used if there were the only one subject. It is clear, in this case, that, "The searcher gave the settlement agent and me the abstract" since you would say, "The searcher gave me the abstract."


If you rewrote the sentence, then "the settlement agent and I" may be appropriate. For example, "The settlement agent and I received the abstract from the searcher." Again, the general rule of removing the second subject works since you would say, "I received the abstract from the searcher," and not, "Me received the abstract from the searcher."



Did you know that a basic exclusion on most title insurance policies involves "acts of the

insured?" In other words, if an insured performs an action that adversely affects title, such as granting easement rights or creating a lien, losses related to that matter may not be covered by the policy. The exact language, as provided on the ALTA 2006 policy, is provided below:


Defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims, or other matters

(a) created, suffered, assumed, or agreed to by the Insured Claimant;



"I wanted to email you to say that these ladies (Vicki Tyree, Susan Miller, Brandy Wimer) went above and beyond to get this last minute deal closed on Thursday for me. They were exceptional on keeping me informed  through emails and phone calls. I had to tell you that they are "the best of the best" in their everyday "hectic" jobs. They aim to please and make us all feel that every deal is important no matter the dollar amount or the problems that come up. You are blessed to have such valued employees.


It is these ladies that help you make Virginia Title successful!!"


Carolyn S. Kazner  

Vice President-Business Banker

Bank of Floyd

Roanoke, VA


Visit the VTC testimonials page on our website to view additional client comments.


**Remember to offer your borrowers Owners' Coverage on their most valuable investment. It's a one time premium with a lifetime of security. In addition, they will receive a reduced premium rate when they obtain it simultaneously with your Lender's Coverage.**

What Topics Are On Your Mind?

Virginia Title Center wants to provide you with pertinent information in future E-Blasts and Webinars. What questions are on your mind regarding the real estate and mortgage lending industry? What Hot Topics would you like to receive greater insights and clarity? Send Patti your thoughts.
Patti L. Dickerson                                      
Director of Marketing & Communications
Virginia Title Center, LLC
"where going the extra mile
     is nothing extra at all..."

Give Patti a call today!
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who are too busy to be looking for it."

 - Henry David Thoreau-
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