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Volume 109, 
February 2015



Have CFPB Rules Stifled Mortgage Credit? The Answer's Complicated
excerpted from National Mortgage News 2/23/15

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's rules to improve mortgage underwriting took effect last year amid dire industry predictions that they would choke off the trickle of credit in an already crippled market. But so far, at least, the Apocalypse hasn't arrived.

Although the CFPB's "qualified mortgage" and ability-to-repay rules remain one of the most contentious rulemakings since the Dodd-Frank Act was enacted five years ago, credit availability appears to be gradually widening since they were implemented, according to multiple different studies.


"We didn't expect the ability-to-repay/Qualified Mortgage rule to have a large, immediate impact on the market. And nothing we've seen would suggest that there has been a large impact in terms of access to credit and people being able to do the kind of lending they were doing before," said David Silberman, the CFPB's associate director for research, markets and regulation, in an interview.  "If anything, there's been a gradual loosening of credit, but at a very slow pace." (Read complete article.) 



News from PREP Chapters


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


Co-Chairs: Government, Holly Vaughn at and Business, Jason Somers at


The Central Florida PREP Chapter met on February 17, 2015. The primary topics at this meeting included: 1) an overview of legal descriptions, plats, and surveys, by Teresa Brown, Residential Production Manager for Fidelity National Title Group, and, 2) county and title company news updates provided by Lake, Brevard, Volusia, Orange and Seminole counties and by Fidelity National Title Group. The Chapter will meet again on May 19, 2015. (Read minutes from this Chapter's meeting on PRIA' s PREP webpage.)  




There was lots of interest and discussion at PRIA's recent 2015 Winter Symposium about starting some new PREP Chapters.  We look forward to assisting with these Chapter start-ups in the great states of West Virginia, North Dakota, Nevada and Michigan.    


How Mortgage Fraud Made the Financial Crisis Worse    
excerpted from The New York Times 2/12/15

The financial crisis was caused in part by widespread fraud, which may seem like an obvious point. But it remains surprisingly controversial. President Obama and other public officials, seeking to explain why so few people have gone to jail, have argued in recent years that much of what happened in the go-go years before the crisis was reprehensible but, alas, legal.


You will not be surprised to learn that many financial executives share this view - at least the part about the legality of their actions - and that a fair number of academics have come forward to defend the honor of lenders. New academic research therefore deserves attention for providing evidence that the lending industry's conduct during the housing boom often broke the law. The paper by the economists Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago focuses on a particular kind of fraud: the practice of overstating a borrower's income in order to obtain a larger loan.


They found that incomes reported on mortgage applications in ZIP codes with high rates of subprime lending increased much more quickly than incomes reported on tax returns in those same ZIP codes between 2002 and 2005. (Read complete article.) 



Indiana Counties Blast Data Miner on Web Harvesters
excerpted from Courthouse News Service 2/19/15 

A data-analytics firm is using web-harvesting software to fraudulently access Indiana property records, 13 counties claim in a federal action.  DeKalb County and the other dozen plaintiffs say they have their own system for providing remote access to public records.


They say California-based LPS Real Estate Data Solutions Inc. began using that counties' system, Laredo, in 2010 to access mortgages, deeds, plats, real estate contracts and liens. In early 2011, however, LPS announced that it would start using its own "web-harvester programs designed to mimic and interact with the Laredo system in order to gain access to the computer servers and databases that stored the electronic public records," the Feb. 13 complaint alleges.


While Laredo allows the counties to track how much time end-users spend accessing the data, and how many pages they see, it also serves as a source of revenue for the municipalities. LPS for example had monthly subscriptions with each of the counties, and it paid them $1 per page it copied, according to the complaint. The counties say the web harvesters that LPS began "employing...on Laredo in late 2011" shuts them out.


"Through use of its web-harvesters, LPS effectively disabled the functionality of the Laredo system that tracked LPS's access and acquisition of copies of electronic public records," the complaint states. "As a result of LPS's unauthorized and fraudulent access via its web-harvester programs, LPS acquired millions of copies of electronic public records for free in violation of its contracts with the county recorders, and in violation of federal and state laws."  (Read complete article.) 


CertainSafe Partners with Express Notary Services to Ensure the Ultimate Data Protection for Mobile Notaries
excerpted from PRNewsWire 2/10/15

CertainSafe, the global award-winning data security firm, today announced a partnership with Express Notary Services and Signing Agent School, a leader in mobile notary and notary educational services, which includes notary certification and continuing education across the United States.  CertainSafe continues to align itself with strategic partners in an effort to secure data throughout the title industry, as a provider supporting ALTA Best Practices Pillar 3.

With this partnership, Express Notary Services will now carry certification and meet the needs of the proposed regulatory requirements of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as well as the highest level of data security for nonpublic personal information (NPPI). Each mobile notary has the responsibility to remain and operate in compliance with regulatory requirements and in accordance with the American Land Title Association (ALTA) Best Practices Pillars.


Mobile notary services continue to be a growing industry. In 2014 alone there were over 4.5 million registered in the United States.  With that many practitioners, noting that a single breach of a single record is now costing an average of $145 per event, it's critically important that sensitive data be protected. (Read complete article.)


Google's Vint Cerf Worries About a 'digital dark age' and Your Data Could Be at Risk
excerpted from PCWorld 2/13/15

In this era of the all-pervasive cloud, it's easy to assume that the data we store will somehow be preserved forever. The only thing to fret about from a posterity perspective, we might think, is the analog information from days gone by like all the stuff on papers, tapes and other pre-digital formats that haven't been explicitly converted.


Vinton Cerf, often called "the father of the Internet," has other ideas. Now chief Internet evangelist at Google, Cerf spoke this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he painted a very different picture. Rather than a world where longevity is a given, Cerf fears a "digital dark age" in which the rapid evolution of technology quickly makes storage formats obsolete thanks to a phenomenon he calls "bit rot."


In that world, the applications needed to read files we so confidently store today could be lost because they're incompatible with new hardware technologies that emerge. The result, he contends, could be that many of our those files will be rendered useless, inaccessible to future generations. (Read complete article.)


Swiss Team Uncovers Time-Tested Document Preservation Method
excerpted from 2/13/15 

A group of researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich has found a way to preserve historical documents like Switzerland's founding charter for thousands or even millions of years.


Over the past several decades, a method has been perfected by which data could be saved and re-read in the form of DNA sequences. However, the longer the DNA was preserved, the more it broke down and the more difficult it became to retrieve what had been saved. Now, inspired by fossils, ETH Zurich scientists have found a way to encapsulate DNA in silica and apply an algorithm when reading it that allows data to be decoded after time has taken its toll. To test its method, the team encoded the Swiss Federal Charter - written in 1291 - as well as The Methods of Mechanical Theorems by the Greek philosopher Archimedes into DNA.


"We decided to preserve old information that is still important for our society today," says Robert Grass, the study's lead researcher and a lecturer at ETH Zurich's Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences. "The Federal Charter is an important building block for Swiss culture," he explained to "And in the scientific world there is this theorem from Archimedes that was written down by monks and preserved over thousands of years and is a very rare incident."


The team first digitized the works and then transferred them into DNA by assigning numbers to the four chemical letters, or building blocks, that make up a DNA sequence. Then the DNA was placed into silica capsules - the main component in glass - and exposed to temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius for several weeks to simulate aging by thousands of years. (Read complete article.)  


ALTA NEWS:  HUD Secretary Julian Castro Testifies Before the House Financial Services Committee           
excerpted from ALTA Advocacy Update 2/17/15 by Michelle L. Korsmo, ALTA CEO 

New HUD Secretary Julian Castro recently testified before the House Financial Services Committee about why the FHA lowered its fees by 50 basis points to 0.85%. Republicans repeatedly tried to lure Secretary Castro to admit that his agency was breaking the law, since Congress requires the FHA to have a 2% capital ratio to reserve against its total loan guaranty obligations. Currently, that capital ratio is at 0.41%. Secretary Castro never took the bait. "The Federal Housing Administration is not putting its finances at risk by reducing insurance fees it charges lower-income home buyers," he stated in an article published by Reuters.


We had three takeaways about the hearing: (1) Congress and the Obama administration seem unwilling publicly to put down their knives and work together on housing reform; (2) Congress struggles to strike the right balance between reducing the government's role in the housing market while at the same time returning the FHA to its 2% capital ratio; and finally (3) that the administration struggles to strike the right balance between helping the housing market get the economy out of its hole and making sure that enough mortgage credit is available for creditworthy borrowers while not returning to a boom-and-bust housing market. If you have questions about ALTA's advocacy on the FHA, please contact Justin Ailes, ALTA's vice president of government and regulatory affairs, at or 202-631-0061.


Links to National News

Internet Search Volume Reveals Housing Demand
HousingWire | February 20, 2015
A new study of Internet search terms related to housing reveals some surprising facts about housing demand.

Mortgage Lending Gets Riskier for the Fifth Straight Month
HousingWire | February 20, 2015
The composite National Mortgage Risk Index for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase loans hit a series high of 11.94% in January, up 0.4 percentage point from the average for the prior three months and 0.8 percentage point from a year earlier.

Apartment Construction Boom Could Extend Well Into 2016
CoStar | February 18, 2015
Strong demand in the multifamily sector is evident as new construction projects try to keep pace with a growing number of renters. But a new report from CoStar Group economists warns that "for vacancies and rents to remain within healthy levels, developers need to dial back new construction after 2015."

Sweet and Low: Why Aren't More Buyers Putting Down 3%? | February 23, 2015
Where you put down roots says a lot about you. Suburb vs. city; condo vs. single-family house - these are all decisions that home buyers tackle, and what they decide speaks to who they are.

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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
Have CFPB Rules Stifled Mortgage Credit?
News from PREP Chapters - Central Florida and "new" PREP Chapter formation
How Mortgage Fraud Made the Financial Crisis Worse
Indiana Counties Blast Data Miner on Web Harvesters
CertainSafe Partners with Express Notary Services for Mobile Notaries
Worries about a 'digital dark age'
Swiss Team Uncovers Time-Tested Document Preservation Method
Links to National News
Advertise in PRIA's Newsletters
PREP Blog and PREP LinkedIn
Examples of PRIA's Products 
PREP Chapter Meetings
  March -  June 2015    

      Central Florida


      Metro Minnesota 

      SE Minnesota

      Idaho (new)

      SE Pennsylvania 


      Virginia (new) 



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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