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January 2014 
Title Notes E-Blast

Welcome to a New Year!  Wishing you good health, good memories, and great success in 2014!

Please enjoy the January edition.  We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future news.

On behalf of the entire Virginia Title Center Team,

Patti Dickerson, Director of Marketing & Communications
Virginia Title Center Expands its Social Media Presence
Delivering relevant industry information to you consistently and conveniently

Check us out and stay "in the know" via these links to VTC's social media outlets:

And don't forget to bookmark the Virginia Title Center website!
Community banks: You must sell or you will die

posted by Mark Arnold, On the Mark Strategies, on CB Insight

There's a terrific scene towards the end of Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (indulge me and my not-so-subtle inner nerd here for a moment!). The evil Emperor Palpatine, after watching Darth Vader and son Luke Skywalker duel nearly to the death, learns he cannot turn young Luke to the Dark Side. His sinister leer turning to a hideous snarl, Palpatine readies his Force Lighting and hisses "And now, young Skywalker, you will die.

"Mega-cool movie moment. Now, get ready for the jump-cut to community bank land. I'm not quite as evil as Palpatine, but I'm here to tell community banks just as surely, if you don't sell, you will die.

Selling. Cross-selling. Up-selling. Customer engagement, for the more refined. Whatever you call it, your community bank must do it. We've sounded the bells on this for well over a decade now and the tipping point is passed and in the dust. If your community bank is still a mere order-taker and glorified check-cashing outlet for customers, start looking through tombstone catalogs now.

I work with community banks, large and small, across the nation. I also mystery shop a good number and have for years. I can safely tell you that there is a gap measured in light-years between community banks that actively engage with their customers and those that do not. Financial institutions that take the time to train their employees on customer engagement will develop deeper bonds with consumers. And make no mistake about it - it is a choice. Your community bank, regardless of size and scope, can freely choose not to engage customers. This choice is business suicide, but it is your choice.

Just how important is selling?     


Read more

Top 8 Financial Marketing Resolutions for a  Successful 2014   

by Jim Marous, Bank Marketing Strategy 

with introductory comments by Patti Dickerson, VTC Director of Marketing and Communications    


I am sure, like Virginia Title Center and me, you and your company have spent significant time over the last few months reflecting on the successes and challenges of 2013, and developing a strong strategic plan to excel in the face of the vast amount of change facing the banking, mortgage, real estate, and related industries in 2014. During this time of introspection, I have consistently turned to industry experts and analysts to gain a variety of perspectives to challenge my thinking. I have found that my growing engagement with social media has afforded me access to numerous thought-provoking articles.   


Following, is an article by a notable authority on financial marketing and strategic solutions in the banking sector that I felt captured the sentiments of many other experts' insights I have reviewed. Read on, and then let me know what you think.  I would enjoy hearing what new strategies, plans and goals you have established for yourself and your company in the coming year.  Please share with me


For the past three years, I have published an article on resolutions bank and credit union marketers should make for the upcoming year. While these posts have always been extremely popular and well read, many marketers still have difficulty achieving some of the most important resolutions. 


Despite this lack of success by some, I am again providing suggested resolutions for financial marketers since research shows that people who make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals.  


Read more 


ALTA Best Practice #4
Do it on time and do it right

"Do it on time and do it right!" - sounds like a lesson from your third-grade teacher, or any teacher, coach, mentor, or employer since the third grade. Every test you took in school, every term paper you turned in, and every game you ever played had a time limit and an expectation to perform at a high level during the allotted time.  


The American Land Title Association (ALTA) Best Practice #4 incorporates this standard into everyday real estate settlement policies and procedures at the office. Additionally, ALTA Best Practice #4 puts a priority on compliance with these standards and the training of staff to abide by this standard.


Read more 

Real Life Example: Why You Should ALWAYS Recommend an Owner's Title Policy to Your Clients

The Case of the Missing Titles.

Richard Wilson bought ten unclaimed lots from the State at a bargain price. He purchased an owner's title insurance policy with a policy limit of $50,000.00. When Mr. Wilson attempted to sell the lots he discovered another person claiming ownership under a separate chain of title. Mr. Wilson filed his claim with Investors Title seeking to have either ownership of the lots established in his name or compensation for his loss.

Investors Title hired a title searcher to do an exhaustive title search which determined that Mr. Wilson did not have title to eight of the ten lots he purchased from the State. In addition, the only access to the two lots for which Mr. Wilson had clear title lay across the eight lots which were not technically his. The tax value of the lost lots and the damages due to lack of access to the other lots totaled more than the limits. Investors Title paid Mr. Wilson the policy limits of $50,000.00.

VTC is frequently asked by our customers why they need owner's title insurance coverage. This is just one example of an actual title claim of a property owner insured by Investors Title Insurance Company.

For more information on how obtaining an Owner's Policy can prevent potential nightmares, contact Bobby Fothergill at 1-800-468-5811. Additional benefits of Title Insurance are available here.

Important New FHA Loan limit Changes Effective January 1, 2014
Loan limits for the country's highest-cost areas to be reduced

Important New FHA Loan Limit Changes Effective January 1, 2014


Loan limits for the country's highest-cost areas to be reduced.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that it will implement new Federal Housing Administration (FHA) single-family loan limits January 1, 2014.


The new national maximum "ceiling" loan limit for a one-unit property in a high-cost area will be reduced from $729,750 to $625,500. The current standard minimum "floor" loan limit for a one-unit property in a low-cost area will remain unchanged at $271,050.


Loan limits in other areas have also changed, with both increased and decreased loan limits in different areas.


In Special Exception Areas (Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands), the maximum "ceiling" loan limit for a one-unit property will be reduced from $1,094,625 to $938,250.


The following illustrates FHA loan limits for low-cost and high-cost areas.


Property Size
Low-Cost Area "Floor"
High-Cost Area "Ceiling"
One Unit
Two Units
Three Units
Four Units

For multiple-unit loan limit adjustments in Special Exception Areas, download the FHA's Mortgagee Letter. FHA loan limits are determined by the median home price in each county. Approximately 650 counties will have lower limits as a result of this change in the governing law.  


FHA loans are extremely popular and currently account for about 25% of all loans used to purchase homes. With an FHA loan, buyers can put down as little as 3.5%. FHA loans are available as both fixed-rate loans and adjustable-rate loans.


Additional details about this change are located on the following webpage.

"I Want My Money Now!"
Constructive Receipt Issues in a 1031 Exchange

by Carol A. Hayden, EVP Investors Title Exchange Corporation


Suppose that you have just closed a purchase transaction and recorded the deed. You inform the seller that he can pick up his sales proceeds, but the seller responds, "Oh, by the way, I want to do a 1031 exchange." Is it too late? What about the client who transfers relinquished property in a properly structured exchange, acquires replacement property with part of the exchange funds, and now wants the remaining exchange funds? Can he get his money now?


Both of these scenarios involve the possible constructive receipt of exchange funds by the taxpayer. As tax-deferred exchanges become more commonplace, it is important to recognize and  understand constructive receipt issues that could cause unexpected tax results.

The 1991 Treasury Regulations
In 1991, the IRS issued final regulations governing non-simultaneous exchanges and provided safe harbors for taxpayers to utilize.


Read the entire article
What will it be this month?
submitted by Gina Webster, Manager
Settlement Services and Agency Operations Support
Investors Title Insurance Company
CFPB Wants Your Thoughts on Mortgage Closing Process

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) seeks information on key consumer "pain points" associated with mortgage closing and how those pain points might be addressed by market innovations and technology.


The CFPB seeks to encourage the development of a more streamlined, efficient, and educational closing process as the mortgage industry increases its usage of technology, electronic signatures, and paperless processes. The next phase of CFPB's Know Before You Owe initiative aims to identify ways to improve the mortgage closing process for consumers. This project will encourage interventions that increase consumer knowledge, understanding, and confidence at closing.


The CFPB seeks information from market participants, consumers, and other stakeholders who work closely with consumers. The information will inform the CFPB's understanding of what consumers find most problematic about the current closing process and inform the CFPB's vision for an improved closing experience.


Submit comments on or before February 7, 2014.


For more additional information and instructions on how to submit your comments please click here. 

10 Leadership Resolutions to Make It a Very Good Year
by Jack and Suzy Welch

New Year resolutions -- who keeps them? Practically no one. But if you're a leader, be it of three people or 3,000, it's your flat-out responsibility to not just go into work every day and improvise around the latest crisis or email flurry or employee meltdown, but to go into work every day with a cohesive plan of action about how you're going to lead. Otherwise, why would anyone follow you, except that they simply have to?

That's no good.

So here's to 2014, and 10 resolutions to make it a very good year -- for you, and for the team you lead.

1) Get In Their Skin

From the day you become a leader, your biggest role is to build trust, respect and support from your team. A mutual respect. As long as they deliver, you will support them and stand up for them in every way -- and they know it. It's a never-ending job and you can never slip up.

2) Over-Communicate

It's your job to communicate your message, your values, what's right about what's happening, and what's wrong -- over and over and over again. There can be no lack of transparency. Everybody has to be on the same page. Even when you're ready to gag over the message, you have to keep communicating it.

Jack Welch is Executive Chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.  

Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist.

2014 Marks the Beginning of a New Era for the US Housing Market
Leveraging Technology to Move Lenders Back to Core Business

by Lisa Weaver, CMB is senior vice president of mortgage solutions for ISGN

This year undoubtedly marks the beginning of a new era for the U.S. housing market as lenders turn their focus to increased originations. Despite indications the housing finance market is improving, the industry is still faced with numerous challenges related to high origination and servicing costs, low through-put in mortgage approvals, and longer application to funding cycle times. Regulatory compliance continues to be an increasing concern for the industry. In fact, analysts expect compliance-related spending to be a major priority for financial institutions this year.


More than half of compliance rules related to the Dodd-Frank Act have yet to be defined. Moving forward, industry hurdles will not only include maintaining current compliance requirements, but also operating in a tighter regulatory environment than ever before seen while maintaining profitability. The resulting impact will be on lenders' core business-bringing loan applications through the door-as added resources will be necessary to remain compliant.


Large and small institutions need to be well equipped to handle added compliance guidelines. This is particularly the case for smaller institutions that do not have significant compliance resources on staff to navigate the changing landscape. It is clear that lenders will face complex issues in managing efficient compliance management within their organizations, but hiring more staff is not always the answer, and certainly not always feasible owing to financial restraints.


The growing costs of regulatory compliance: Is there an end in sight?
As Dodd-Frank is further defined and compliance with other federal laws and statutes increase, compliance costs will certainly continue to grow.


Read More
How Some Small Banks Thrive in a Tough Environment
by George W. Millward, Managing Director of
The Kafafian Group, Inc.

Clearly the work required to operate a profitable institution in a safe and sound manner is becoming much more difficult. Some banks have not only just survived but thrived in the more stringent environment. Others competing in the same markets have purposefully laid the basis for their future growth. Yet a few banks have not done either. External forces are important factors to strategic success, but they do not explain why some banks succeed and others do not.


Management reviews conducted by my firm, The Kafafian Group, have provided some insights into what differentiates a thriving bank from a struggling one. Here are five key takeaways from our assessments:


Plan your work, work your plan. Many banks we reviewed have had a strategy of "just existing as a community bank". Few bankers (management or board level) knew why they were in business or the type of business they wished to run. Setting and communicating....continue reading 

TITLE TIP: The Ins and Ous of ATLA Residential Limited Coverage Junior Loan Policies      
provided by Gail Duffy, Title Services Manager, Virginia Title Center  


Why Use a Junior Loan Policy?  

The ALTA Residential Limited Coverage Junior Loan Policy is designed to provide lenders making junior mortgages on residential properties with limited title insurance protection. This coverage is a title insurance choice provided to lenders who are currently obtaining non-insurance products for their junior loans. The Junior Loan Policy is designed to meet the needs of lenders who want the stability of a title insurance product but who want a product that is abbreviated in coverage and priced at a flat fixed rate so that the cost can be easily calculated.  

Exactly What is a Junior Loan Policy?

This ALTA loan policy was originally approved 10-19-1996 and revised 8-1-2012 and essentially: 

  • Gives limited coverage to a lender (and it's assignees) on a junior mortgage and/or home equity loan in a junior position;
  • The land must be one-to-four family residential property or an individual condominium unit;
  • The Policy can be issued in lieu of and in place of a commitment and prior to settlement;
  • The policy may be issued before the junior lien is recorded;
  • It serves as a report to the lender of the status of title based on the abbreviated last-owner search and includes the benefits of limited title insurance.

What does the Junior Loan Policy Cover?

That the Grantee is the named grantee on the last recorded document purporting to vest title; 

  • The insured property description is the same as that contained in the last purported vesting document;
  • Loss due to any monetary lien recorded in the public records which is not excepted from coverage on the policy; and
  • Any loss due to ad valorem taxes that appear in the tax records where the land is located and which are not excepted from coverage.  

What does the Junior Loan Policy not cover?  

  • The validity, enforceability, or effectiveness of the insured's mortgage, nor
  • Any matter recorded subsequent to the date of the policy.

For more details about the Junior Loan Policy and to find out if it is the right product for you, please contact Gail Duffy at 1.800.468.5811 or by e-mail

Pam Blake, Title Underwriter
Pam joined VTC in 1997, and enjoys the variety and challenges of underwriting title insurance, especially construction loans. She serves as the VTC Mechanics' Lien Agent liaison, handling all questions concerning the filing of Mechanics' Lien Notices on construction loans.

Pam resides in Roanoke with her daughter, mother, dog and 2 cats. She enjoys spending time with family, spoiling her daughter, her nephew and pets. 

As a member of the Parrotheads, she travels to enjoy Jimmy Buffett concerts and Key West, FL.  Pam also enjoys reading, ballroom dancing, and watching her daughter perform with the Roanoke Valley Children's Choir.

She volunteers at the League for Animal Protection, advocates for the positive image of the American Pit Bull Terrier, as well as fighting against animal cruelty and dog fighting.


You can say hello to Pam by e-mail or call her at 800.468.5811.


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


Check out our fun YouTube video that introduces the team. 

"I" vs. "me" - one of the easiest grammar rules to learn (and one of the most misused in daily conversation)    

from the Marilyn Latham blog

I admit it: this is one of my biggest pet peeves, heard everywhere from erudite scholars to less-than-brainy reality TV stars. Either way, somehow it's come to be understood that in the English language, when in doubt, use "I" and you will likely be speaking correct grammar and sound intelligent too. Not so, people!


While both are pronouns that refer to oneself, there is a simple explanation for the difference between the two (and the key to their use). Use "I" when you are the subject of a sentence; use "me" when you are the object of the sentence. Remember sentence diagrams? At their most basic: [Subject] followed by [verb] followed by [object].


What messes people up though is when you have more than one person as the subject or the object, when the sentence is "He and I went to the store." Okay, easy enough, "he and I" is correct here. But which of these sentences is correct?


- At the store, the manager congratulated he and I.
- At the store, the manager congratulated him and I.
- At the store, the manager congratulated him and me.


In the above examples, the manager is the subject and therefore, "me" is the object, and the third sentence is the correct one. "The manager congratulated him" - easy.  But add another person so it's not singular anymore and it messes people up. You wouldn't say, "the manager congratulated I" but a lot of people would have said "the manager congratulated him and I" and think they're speaking correctly when they're not.


The easiest way to tell when "I" is correct and when "me" is correct is to remove the other noun (or person) from the sentence and see if it still makes sense.


Examples of the correct use of "I"
- Georgia and I went to the beach this weekend.


I went to the beach this weekend. Me went to the beach this weekend doesn't make sense. Easy, I know.


- She and I have to make bouillabaisse.


I have to make bouillabaisse. She has to make bouillabaisse. Her has to make bouillabaisse and me has to make bouillabaisse don't make sense. Still easy, but wait.


Examples of the correct use of "me"

- Please come with Randolph and me to the monster truck rally.


Take out Randolph and it's "Please come with me to the monster truck rally." Please come with I to the monster truck rally doesn't make sense.


- I heard the diplomat talking about him and me.


(Again, take out the other person):
Correct: I heard the diplomat talking about me. I heard the diplomat talking about him.


Incorrect: I heard the diplomat talking about I, or I heard the diplomat talking about he don't make sense.


Now, go forth and speak properly! (and don't be afraid to correct others as appropriate)  


As a result of Virginia Title Center's active presence in social media, we were contacted by one of the Researchers of the Travel Channel's paranormal television series "The Dead Files" to conduct a full title search on Radford's historic Saint Albans Sanitorium?  Did you catch this episode that aired on January 3, 2014?


**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!
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."  
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson -
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