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Volume 84,  
mid-February 2014



Fourth Circuit Holds Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Exempt from Local Transfer, Recordation Taxes

excerpted from Law360 1/27/14  


On January 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a district court decision and held that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are exempt from state and local real estate transfer taxes.        
Montgomery County, Md. v. Fed. Nat. Mortgage Association,  No.13-1691/1752, 2014 WL 279852 (4th Cir. Jan. 27, 2014).

In this case, as in other similar cases around the country, Maryland and South Carolina counties sued to recover state and local real estate transfer taxes from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHFA for property transfers made by those entities.

The court held that Congress expressly exempted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from "all taxation," including all state and local taxation, when it chartered those institutions and, in a footnote, explained that, as conservator stepping into the shoes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the same exemption applies to FHFA. The court rejected the counties' argument that the state and local taxes imposed on transfer and recordation of real property fell within the real property tax exclusions from the general tax exemption provision of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's respective charters.

The court added that Congress specifically carved out real property taxes from the "all taxation" exemption, but that the types of transfer taxes at issue in this case were distinguishable from a real property tax. The court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHFA. 





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.  

Central Florida PREP

Co-chairs: Government, Justine Winik, and Business, Vicki DiPasquale,


The Central Florida PREP Chapter met on November 19, 2013.  The primary topic at this meeting was ALTA Best Practices, presented by Jason Somers from Fidelity National Title, Melissa Scaletta from The Fund, and Jonathan Yasko from Entrust Solutions.  Also discussed was the election of PREP Chapter co-chairs at the next meeting.  There were updates from all the Central Florida area Recorders present, and discussion about several topics ranging from procedures for documenting and solving consumer complaints to maintaining proper checks and balances of all forms of escrow accounts.  The next meeting for Central Florida PREP is scheduled for March 18, 2014.  (To see complete minutes and all handouts/clerk updates see PRIA's Central Florida PREP Chapter webpage.)   



Pioneer Technology Group Announces Agreement to Install Landmark Official Records system in Putnam County, OHIO
excerpted from PRWeb 2/10/14

The rapid pace of technological advancement has brought to market new, cost effective systems that dramatically improve the both the back room processing and online public access to land records. The Putnam County Ohio Recorder's office is looking forward to transitioning systems this year to Landmark, an Official Records System developed by Pioneer Technology Group.


"We evaluated numerous Official Records systems, and the Landmark system from Pioneer was the clear choice" said Putnam County Recorder Cathy Recker. "We had several goals in the selection process: to increase our efficiency, update to technology that would grow with our needs, and to convert systems in a cost effective manner. Most importantly, we wanted to ensure that we delivered the best possible experience to the citizens of Putnam County. In addition to having the most current recording system in the marketplace, Pioneer's reputation for ongoing support was a key factor in our selection". (Read complete article.)




See you soon at PRIA's 2014 Winter Symposium (February 26-28)
We hope many of you have already registered for the upcoming PRIA 2014 Winter Symposium in Arlington, VA. This year's Symposium will feature more hot topics for recorders and the business sector, so we hope you are able to join us.  See the conference agenda and registration information on the PRIA website.


Nancy Alley Joins Simplifile as New Vice President of Strategic Planning
excerpted from PRIA's press release webpage

Simplifile has appointed Nancy Alley to the position of Vice President of Strategic Planning. "Simplifile is not only a leader in eRecording, but they are also a leader in industry innovation," Alley said. "The position was a good match of my passion for all things 'e' and shaping the future of the mortgage industry."

Alley has been a leader in the mortgage and financial services industry for nearly 22 years, dedicating herself to the mortgage tech space for the past 15 years.  A noted industry thought leader, Alley has received several awards including recognition as a "Woman of Influence" by Housing Wire Magazine in 2012, a "Tech All Star" by Mortgage Banking Magazine in 2012, and she was awarded the Mortgage Technology "Steve Fraser Visionary Award" in 2011.


"I love mortgage technology because I truly believe innovation is the key to reinventing our industry.  Prior to joining Simplifile, Alley was the Chief Product Officer at ISGN Corporation.  Leading product strategy for ISGN, she architected a strategic vision for a suite of technology offerings spanning the mortgage lifecycle from origination to default.  As a former Xerox Mortgage Services executive, Alley also has an extensive knowledge of cloud based offerings.  (Read complete press release on PRIA's website.)


Federal Appeals Court Affirms Ruling for MERS - Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Dismissed Law Suit by Macon County, Illinois
excerpted from PRIA's press release webpage

MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. announced the Seventh Circuit of Appeals rendered a favorable decision in the Macon County recording fee case and affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit by the district court. In Macon County v. MERSCORP, Inc., the county claims that recording fees should have been paid when promissory notes are transferred and by not paying such recording fees, MERSCORP and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) were unjustly enriched because MERS deprives the County of revenues it would otherwise receive.

Judge Richard A. Posner, writing for the 7th Circuit, pointed out that Illinois law does not require mortgages to be recorded, which was the Court's ruling in November 2013 in Union County v. MERSCORP, Inc. But here, Macon County was not challenging the result in Union County, but claiming rather that MERS was somehow unjustly enriched in violation of Illinois common law. The Court held that there is nothing illegal or inappropriate in the way MERS conducts its business and that "competition is not a tort at common law."

In instances where MERS is designated as the mortgagee, the Court recognized that MERS holds the property interest that secures the promissory note and therefore when promissory notes are sold, these transfers "are not recorded in the county land registries because they are not assignments of mortgages or other property interests."  (Read complete press release on PRIA's website.)

ALTA NEWS:  Cyber Threats Growing in Frequency, OCC Reports


The risk of cyber threats is growing and electronic bank fraud is increasing, according to a semiannual report from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

In its 43-page Semiannual Risk Perspective for Fall 2013, the OCC details many risks facing the banking industry. The report says:

  • Cyber threats are growing in sophistication and frequency, and require heightened awareness and appropriate resources to identify and mitigate the associated risks.
  • Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering risks continue to rise as money laundering methods evolve, electronic bank fraud increases in volume and sophistication, and banks fail to incorporate appropriate controls into new products and services.  
ALTA created its "Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices" to help lending institutions supplement their risk-management programs. The Best Practices highlight policies and procedures the industry uses to help ensure a positive and compliant real estate settlement experience. The second pillar of the Best Practices includes procedures to protect escrow/trust accounts from fraud. In addition, Best Practice No. 3 offers procedures to safeguard non-public personal information (NPI) and actions to follow in case of a security breach.

Cyber attacks are known to result in reduced availability or diminished response times of online banking websites, identity theft, fraud and theft of intellectual property, according to the OCC.

According to industry threat reports, the OCC report said attackers may increasingly target smaller institutions that they perceive to lack the resources necessary to identify and prevent successful attacks. Sometimes attackers execute denial-of-service attacks to divert attention away from other systems, such as wire transfers. Moreover, the interconnectedness of systems across the banking industry creates growing concern that cyber attacks may increasingly affect multiple organizations at once.   


Links to National News


Grassroots Campaign Underway to Put HARP 3.0 on the Radar

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was recently credited with helping more than three million homeowners in adjusting their mortgages.  

Housing Scorecard: Homeowner Equity up $3.4 Trillion

The Obama Administration's January Housing Scorecard, issued jointly by the Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notes that foreclosure starts in 2013 were at their lowest levels since 2005 and rising prices were sufficient to raise homeowner equity by an aggregate of $3.4 trillion in 2012 and 2013.

New Pennsylvania Law Will Affect Many Real Estate Transactions

Under a new Pennsylvania law, delinquent taxes on one property now creates lien on all of owners' other properties in that county.

Is U.S. Housing Unaffordable? It Depends on How You Chart It

Rising home prices and interest rates made housing less affordable last year than at any time in the last five years, according to National Association of Realtors data. So is it time to sound the siren over a housing bubble? Not really.


Join the PREP Blog and the PREP LinkedIn Group


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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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
This publication may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. PRIA believes this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this publication is distributed without profit, to those who have expressed a prior interest in such information, for comment and nonprofit educational purposes.
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In This Issue
Fourth Circuit Holds Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Exempt from Local Recordation Taxes
News from PREP Chapters - Central Florida
Pioneer Technology Group Announces Agreement in Putnam County, Ohio
PRIA's 2014 Winter Symposium
Alley Joins Simplifile as New VP of Strategic Planning
Federal Appeals Court Affirms Ruling for MERS
Links to National News
PREP Blog and PREP LinkedIn
Advertise in PRIA's Newsletters
Examples of PRIA's Products 
PREP Chapter Meetings
    February - April 2014  


      Central Florida 

      Central Texas


      Metro Minnesota 

      Washington State

      North Central Texas


      SE Minnesota

      Upstate So. Carolina    


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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