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Volume 91, 
May 2014



Oakland County (MI) Clerk's Office Launches Google-powered Index to Curb Real Estate Fraud, Simplify Property Records Searches 
excerpted from The Daily Tribune 5/9/14

In the spirit of the informal Google mantra, "Don't be evil," Oakland County Clerk and Register of Deeds Lisa Brown has instated a new records index that she says will help simplify property records searches and crack down on real estate fraud.


The system, dubbed a Super Index, is powered by the search engine giant itself and Xerox, and is also used in neighboring Macomb County. Oakland and Macomb are the only counties in the country to launch a Super Index. The Super Index is a massive database that now holds nearly 12 million pages of documents filed with the county as far back as 1964.


It uses optical character recognition to make documents filed with the Register of Deeds Office searchable by any single piece of information contained in it, such as a homeowner's name, an address or a notary's name. Said Brown: "The Super Index makes it as easy as 'Googling' your address to find the documents you need. Nearly everyone knows how to 'Google' these days."


Another useful application of the new index is in the real estate fraud realm. The Clerk's Office found that in some cases, people were stealing homes by finding a property with delinquent taxes, paying a portion of the back taxes, placing a lein on the home and filing a fraudulent deed on the property.


"At that point a vacant home could be turned into a rental property or sold out from under the rightful owner, putting money into the pocket of a criminal," Brown stated Thursday. Now, to catch real estate fraud suspects, a common thread - such as a fraudulent notary's signature - could be found in seconds searching that name within the Super Index, explained Brown. "The rightful homeowners can be alerted that there is dubious activity happening with their property, and steps can be taken to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice," she said.  (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 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, Darby Bowen, and Business, Tina Peterson,


The Central Lakes Minnesota PREP met on May 14, 2014. The primary presentation at this meeting was about the eCRV (electronic Certificate of Real Estate Value) and was given by Michael Wacker, Pope County Assessor. Key points of the presentation included the efficiencies of using eCRV and how to ensure accurate data completion to determine market changes. Legislative issues were discussed including the "Safe at Home" (HF 155) law changes relevant to County Recorders, and the "Same Sex Marriage" bill (HF 2188/Senate 2003) with proposed language changes to multiple statutes referring to "husband and wife". The next meeting will be held in the fall and will highlight ALTA Surveys vs. Registered Surveys. (Read complete minutes on the PRIA webpage for this Chapter.) 


Sales of Existing Homes Past First Increase This Year
excerpted from Inman News 5/22/14


Sales of existing homes posted their first gains of the year in April, and a surge in new listings coming onto the market last month could give what's left of the spring buying season a badly needed boost, the National Association of Realtors reported today.


Existing-home sales rose 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million in April from 4.59 million in March, but were down 6.8 percent from a year earlier, NAR reported. Monthly gains in home sales in the West and South offset a slight decline in the Midwest, while sales in the Northeast were flat, NAR said. 


"Some growth was inevitable after subpar housing activity in the first quarter, but improved inventory is expanding choices and sales should generally trend upward from this point," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.


The improvement in housing supply, which has been anemic for some time, was considerable, according to NAR data. The number of existing homes for sale leaped 16.8 percent month over month to 2.29 million in April, the trade group said. That number represents a supply of homes that would would sell out in 5.9 months at the current sales pace, up from 5.1 months in March. On an annual basis, inventory increased 6.5 percent from a year ago, when there was a 5.2 month supply, according to NAR.


NAR's housing inventory numbers aren't seasonally adjusted, so the 16.8 percent month-over-month increase in inventory in April probably reflects seasonal patterns. (Read complete article.)




The Powerful Social Media Platform Mortgage Lenders Are Ignoring
excerpted from National Mortgage News 5/28/14


The mortgage business has done a lot to get up to speed on social media, greatly boosting industry participation in the last couple of years on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But there's one online venue they haven't made a big dent in yet - online radio.


"It's a form of social media. It's social. It's media," says David Lykken, who has put on a weekly mortgage radio show every Monday since 2007. His hour-long program, "Lykken on Lending," is presented live on streaming audio, which is then turned into a podcast available on iTunes and on the radio show's website. Mortgage managers are passing up a good marketing opportunity in Internet radio, says Lykken, who is the owner and managing partner of Mortgage Banking Solutions, an Austin, Texas, consulting business.


Lykken says he started the show because "mortgage executives have so much information to consume that they need a digest."  Podcasts provide an alternative to reading and can be accessed from archives more easily than print media, he says. He also believes some people retain audio information better than reading material. Mortgage managers can use streaming audio on both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sides, says Lykken.


"Every mortgage company should do their own radio show," he says, but it's still an empty field. "I'm happy to help," he says. (He is, after all, a consultant.) But he admits "I have yet to have anybody take it up." (Read complete article.)


ALTA NEWS:  ALTA President Rob Chapman Testifies Before Congress (by Michelle Korsmo, ALTA CEO)

excerpted from the May 27, 2014 ALTA Advocacy Update


On May 21st, ALTA President Rob Chapman testified at the hearing titled "Legislative Proposals to Improve Transparency and Accountability at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)." The hearing was held before the House Financial Services subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. "When the Bureau operates in a transparent, open, and iterative manner, the results are generally positive," Chapman told the subcommittee. "However, when the Bureau makes unilateral decisions, rolls out initiatives, rules or processes in a more closed deliberation, the results are far more likely to be problematic."


The hearing focused on legislative ideas to improve how the CFPB regulates providers of financial services. One such proposal is HR 4383, which would create a small business advisory board at the CFPB. ALTA members asked members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill during the Federal Conference & Lobby Day earlier this month.


Rob did us all proud, walking the committee through our interactions with the Bureau and how more transparent processes led to better outcomes for both our industry and consumers. Specifically, Rob focused on the uncertainty caused by the April 2012 service provider bulletin saying that the lack of outreach left many companies "shooting in the dark as they attempt to invest in systems and processes to protect consumers." He continued: "Many of our members see different requirements, vetting procedures and are concerned that they will no longer be allowed to compete for business when a mortgage is financed by certain lenders."


In contrast, "had the Bureau consulted with mortgage originators and the real estate settlement industry, we would all have a better understanding of what is expected from the person conducting the settlement of real estate transactions, and the response to the CFPB bulletin would be less disruptive, more consistent and efficient," Rob told the committee.


The hearing also allowed us to encourage Congress to pass H.R. 4383, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) and Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) that would create a small business advisory panel at the CFPB. When asked by Rep. Pittenger if ALTA had a good relationship with the CFPB, Chapman said yes, but that it could be "better with the creation of a small business panel." During one part of the hearing, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) showed her support for the bill saying "everyone should have an advisory committee."


Chapman also encouraged the subcommittee to authorize the CFPB to issue advisory opinions. "The Bureau takes its enforcement role seriously and should take its ability to promote good practices just as seriously," he said. "An advisory opinion provides certainty to those of us who comply with federal consumer financial law in real-life situations. Consumers will see better outcomes if the Bureau spends more time advising people in the industry how to best follow the law."  Finally, Chapman suggested that the CFPB encourage public feedback on policy statements, bulletins and other guidance documents. He said public comments ensure documents are useful and understandable to industry and provide a safety valve to reduce unintended consequences. 



Links to National News


Study: Housing Recovery is Bypassing Many American Communities
DS News | May 27, 2014
Despite claims that the recent rise in housing prices is solving the nation's foreclosure and economic crises, millions of families continue to face financial problems from which they may never recover, according to research from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley.

FHA Takes Steps to Help Homebuyers
Realty Biz News | May 27, 2014
Continued increases in homebuyer activity and new construction are helping to boost the housing market recovery. Home prices have increased as much as 13% during the last year which has helped lift 4 million homeowners out of negative equity.

RealtyTrac Hires Another LPS Vet to Grow New Property Tax Records Business
Inman News | May 27, 2014
A legal settlement that put data aggregator RealtyTrac in the business of selling tax, deed and mortgage records also has the company on the hunt for talent.

Mortgages in 2014: How New Requirements Will Affect Homebuyers 

Daily Finance | May 25, 2014
Even if you've bought a home before, wading back into the market in 2014 is bound to be a different enterprise from what homebuyers experienced before the recession.

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On most business days, 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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In This Issue
Oakland County (MI) Clerk's Office Launches Google-powered Index
News from PREP Chapters - Central Lakes Minnesota
Sales of Existing Homes Past First Increase This Year
The Powerful Social Media Platform Mortgage Lenders are Ignoring
Links to National News
PREP Blog and PREP LinkedIn
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Examples of PRIA's Products 
PREP Chapter Meetings
           June - August 2014  

      Central Florida 

      Metro Minnesota 

      North Central Texas


      SE Minnesota

      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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