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Volume 79,  
November 2013



Dirty Deeds 

excerpted from 11/20/13


Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough was new to her job when she spotted the problem: people getting in line to file fraudulent property deeds and other documents at the county office. And not a thing Yarbrough and her staff could do about it. 


By law, the Recorder's office could not verify or authenticate documents - it could only file them for the constituents who pay the approximately $40 fee. And the shenanigans that can result from fraudulent filings often involve high-stakes items: homes.  


"To steal a home, all you have to do is doctor some paperwork up and photoshop it, bring it to the recorder's office, record it and voila - you own a home. And it happens, right here in this office," Yarbrough said. "When I walked into this office, I knew this was happening ... and I decided I couldn't just sit idly by."

Yarbrough launched a three-pronged attack: she petitioned the legislature for more power for her and other Recorders' offices to be able to stop suspicious filings, she launched a free property alert system at, and brought in a national expert to teach her employees about the crime often referred to as "paper terrorism".

"They're bullies, they're brazen, they think that nothing can touch them, they think they're entitled to everything," Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League says of the sovereign citizens often behind this crime. Sovereign citizens are an extreme, anti-government faction known for tactics that include filing inordinate numbers of documents to intentionally overwhelm a government office. (Read complete article.)




News from PREP Chapters


In every edition of the PREP Newsletter, we highlight a PREP Chapter and post an abbreviated version of their recent Chapter minutes.  You can also see what PREP Chapters are talking about by going to PRIA's PREP Chapters webpage.  


Washington State PREP:

Co-chairs: Government, Melanie Muzatko, and Business, Mike Shelton,


The Washington State PREP met on October 29, 2013.   This Chapter decided to try a Webinar Meeting for the first time, and it was a well attended and quite interactive meeting.  The agenda included a discussion about PREP Chapters across the country and what they're currently talking about, an update on the eREET system in Washington State (electronic tax affidavits), upcoming legislative changes that may again affect Recording fees collected for the homeless housing program, and a requested discussion from the WLTA President about the possibility of creating a flat fee for Recording.  The next meeting for this Chapter will be in conjunction with the Washington State Auditors Recording Conference in March, 2014.  (To read this Chapter's minutes and agendas on PRIA's PREP Webpage, click here.)       


Pending Home Sales Dipped 0.6% In October
excerpted from MortgageOrb 11/25/13

Pending home sales dipped 0.6% in October, compared to September, and were down 1.6% compared to October 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). October marked the fifth consecutive month that pending home sales declined. NAR's data reflects contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, says the government shutdown in the first half of October helped contribute to the decline in pending home sales. He points out that, in a recent NAR survey, 17% of Realtors reported delays in October, mostly from waiting for Internal Revenue Service income verification for mortgage approval. "We could rebound a bit from this level, but still face the headwinds of limited inventory and falling affordability conditions," Yun says in a release. "Job creation and a slight dialing down from current stringent mortgage underwriting standards going into 2014 can help offset the headwind factors."

Yun says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new ability-to-repay/qualified mortgage rules going into effect in January, which are expected to slow the mortgage approval process, could result in further declines in pending home sales starting next year. This, combined with the prospect of another government shutdown, "would harm both housing and the economy," he says. Still, the real estate market improved considerably in 2013. The report notes that pending homes sales are, on average, nearly 10% higher this year, compared to 2012. NAR projects that more than 5.1 million homes will be sold in 2013 - with comparable volume expected in 2014. (Read complete article.)



Washington Attorney General Goes After Second Company for Deed Scam

excerpted from ALTA News 11/26/13


After settling with a company in 2011 for preying on unsuspecting new property owners, the Washington State Attorney General's Office (AGO) has filed a Consumer Protection Act lawsuit against a California-based Local Records Office offering to sell copies of deeds for $89.


According to the lawsuit, Local Records Office mailed solicitations that said "IMPORTANT PROPERTY INFORMATION RESPOND PROMPTLY" on the front of the envelope. The return address was usually a mail drop or post office box located in the consumer's state capital. This led some consumers to believe that the letter is coming from a state government agency, according to the lawsuit.


In Washington, deeds are filed in the county where the property is located. A person can obtain a copy of a deed for as little as $1 per page from the auditor or county recorder where the property is located. Most property deeds are only one to two pages in length, so consumers should only pay a couple of dollars for a copy of their deed.


"Local Records Office uses deceptive business practices to scam consumers," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "My office is going after them to prevent consumers from being duped out of money." (Read complete article.) 


Georgia Expands eRecording in Coweta County
excerpted from the PRWeb 11/19/13

Simplifile announced its newest Georgia recording jurisdiction that has implemented eRecording - Coweta County. "We are excited to see eRecording become more widely adopted in the South and are happy to provide Simplifile customers with the ability to submit their documents more quickly and conveniently for recording in Coweta County," said Paul Clifford, president of Simplifile.


eRecording is the process of securely recording documents received via the Internet that would otherwise arrive by express mail, courier service, or delivered in person at the county to the clerk of court for recording. With eRecording document submitters including law firms, title companies, banks and other organizations who record documents like deeds and mortgages with Coweta County will be able to do everything from their office computer. Once the county receives the documents, they are able to review, stamp, record and return them back to the submitter electronically, usually within minutes. Coweta County Clerk of Court Cindy Brown represents the ninth county in the state of Georgia to offer eRecording to customers. (Read complete article.)

It's Time to Register for the PRIA 2014 Winter Symposium
"Setting Standards for Success" is the theme for the PRIA 2014 Winter Symposium and sessions will revolve around current and new PRIA standards, best practices and White Papers.

The Symposium will be held February 26-28 at the Marriott Crystal City in Arlington, Va.  Just a short 2-mile taxi ride from Ronald Reagan Airport, the hotel is convenient to  restaurants and shopping.  The online reservation portal is available on the website along with the preliminary schedule.  Room rate is $209/single or double accommodations.     


ALTA NEWS:  ALTA Awards Four New National Title Professional Designations


ALTA announced it awarded four additional National Title Professional (NTP) designations. The professional designation was received by Tim Evans of Evans Title Agency in Tipp City, Ohio; Linda Grahovec of Fidelity National Title Group in Carol Stream, Ill.; John (Jack) Robichaux of Ironclad Title in Lake Charles, La.; and Alma Rushing of Orange Coast Title Company in Santa Ana, Calif.


"I applaud these talented and dedicated members of the land title industry on their National Title Professional designations," said ALTA President Rob Chapman. "Their experience, wealth of knowledge and professionalism make them deserving recipients of this designation."


The NTP designation recognizes land title professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, experience and dedication essential to the safe and efficient transfer of real property. The designation has several elements, including industry and compliance prerequisites and training requirements. To apply for the NTP designation and for more information, please visit ALTA's NTP website at


Links to National News


The Wall Street Journal | November 25, 2013
Fewer homebuyers are signing on the dotted line. The pending home sales index, compiled by the National Association of Realtors, declined for the fifth consecutive month in October, to stand at its lowest reading since December 2012.
Reuters | November 26, 2013

U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country's biggest banks.


National Mortgage Professional Magazine | November 25, 2013

In Richard Bettencourt's most recent video, the Government Affairs Committee chair for NAMB - The Association of Mortgage Professionals -  discussed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)'s recent release of the "Know Before You Owe" mortgage document simplification.


HousingWire | November 25, 2013

Residential property sales, including single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes, continue to rise, increasing to an estimated annualized pace of 5.649 million in October.  


Join the PREP Blog and the PREP LinkedIn Group


Almost every day, we post national news articles, and PRIA and PREP Chapter information on the PREP Blog and the PRIA/PREP LinkedIn Group. You are able to stay in touch by subscribing to both sites and automatically receiving updates daily or weekly.


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The views and opinions expressed in the media, articles, comments, or links in this publication are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by the Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) or its members.  PRIA does not warrant the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information contained in this publication. If you have a complaint about something you have found in this publication, please contact PRIA by email at
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In This Issue
Dirty Deeds
News from PREP Chapters - Washington State
Pending Home Sales Dipped
Washington AGO After Second Company for Deed Scam
Georgia Expands eRecording
Register for the PRIA 2014 Winter Symposium
Links to National News
PREP Blog and PREP LinkedIn
Advertise in PRIA's Newsletters
Examples of PRIA's Products 
PREP Chapter Meetings
December 2013 -  March 2014  


      Metro Minnesota 

      Washington State

      New York

      North Central Texas  


Contact Information

Do you have questions or suggestions for this newsletter or any updated information on co-chairs, emails, phone numbers, etc. please contact us:
Carolyn Ableman
PREP Coordinator

Mark Monacelli
PREP Committee Government Co-Chair, Recorder
St Louis County, Minnesota

Madeleine Nagy

PREP Committee Business

Co-Chair, ALTA

State Government Affairs


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