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Volume 86,  
mid-March 2014



Housing Still Wears Great Recession Scar

excerpted from Housing Wire 3/7/14  


The housing economy posted strong results, with the purchase of new homes rising and foreclosure completions continuing to drop, but officials still caution that the economy is still healing from the Great Recession.


"February's Housing Scorecard continues to show that the Obama Administration's efforts to stabilize the housing market and provide relief to struggling homeowners are having a positive effect," said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Kurt Usowski. "For example, at the national level, the Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday that homeowners' equity jumped over $400 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, reaching over $10 trillion for the first time since 2007. At the local level, HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which helps communities address foreclosed and abandoned homes, has now completed or rehabilitated 32,000 units and provided direct assistance to 10,800 homeowners," Usowski said.


But before the industry can celebrate, Usowski cautioned that the encouraging news does not detract from the need to build on this progress as too many homeowners remain underwater and mortgage delinquency rates remain elevated. Home prices remained fairly still according to the S&P Case-Shiller home price index, which decreased to 165.7 in December from 165.8 a month prior. Year-over-year the index is up from 146.1 in December 2012. (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.  

SE Minnesota PREP

Co-chairs: Government, Kelly Callahan, and Business, Jim Ohly, 


The SE Minnesota PREP Chapter held their meeting on February 12, 2014. First on the agenda was an overview of the title industry for 2014 given by Barbara Gilmore, V.P. and North Central Division Counsel from Old Republic National Title Insurance Company. She also discussed the 2013 Minnesota real estate related bills affecting title insurers and real estate attorneys and the ramifications of the recent Minnesota court decisions, which held mortgage foreclosures void due to the foreclosure lenders' failure to strictly comply with the foreclosure by advertisement laws. Second on the agenda was discussion about the Minnesota Uniform Conveyancing forms. The meeting concluded with updates from Fillmore, Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, Faribault, and Houston counties and a check-in discussion about the current status of eRecording use within Minnesota. The next meeting for this Chapter will be held on May 7, 2014. (Read complete minutes on PRIA's PREP Chapter webpage.)


A Huge Blow to Property Rights
excerpted from Sierra Wave Media 3/9/14

A barrage of new bills was introduced into the California Legislature recently including a bill that masks a huge blow to property rights under the guise of increased public protection. Assembly Bill 2206 by Assemblyman Gomez is almost identical to AB 2299 introduced in the 2011/2012 legislative session by Assemblyman Feuer. The bill would shield the names of public safety officials from land records, which are currently open to public viewing. The reason put forth is to protect these individuals. However, County Recorders and others familiar with the public land records system, recognize the harmful effects this bill would have on property rights.


Under the provisions of AB2206, certain documents that contain the names of public safety officials would no longer be open to public review. Today anyone can research property records and see every document recorded to evaluate its authenticity. This is crucial with the rise of mortgage and real estate fraud that often financially devastates homeowners.


Providing public access to all property records protects against fraudulent conveyances and prevents a situation where only the government would be able to validate home ownership. (Read complete article.)



Pioneer Technology Group Announces New Agreement for Installation of Landmark Official Records System in St. Johns County, Florida

Pioneer Technology Group (PTG) announced that the company's Landmark technology has been chosen as the new Official Records system in St. Johns County, FL. The announcement follows the recent selection of Landmark by counties in Florida, Ohio, and New Hampshire, and St. Johns becomes the third county in the past 30 days to elect to change to the new system.

"Our old recording software had become outdated and was not compatible with our future plans for the direction of the Clerk's office" said Cheryl Strickland, who has served as St. Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court for the past twenty years. "The Landmark system will greatly improve records access and provide new online features for the public, and Pioneer is a partner that has proven to deliver exceptional service and support. The result will be better public access, increased efficiency, and better service for the citizens of St. Johns County."  (Read complete press release on PRIA's webpage.) 
MERS Handily Beats Texas Lawsuits
excerpted from Housing Wire 3/5/14
Over the past year MERS has won court cases across the country, and the recent victory in Dallas was just another feather in the cap for the Virginia-based firm. Time and again, as HousingWire has documented, aggrieved parties and foreclosure defense attorneys try to - wrongly it appears by the courtroom track record - bring MERS into lawsuits, only to have the judges rule in MERS' favor. The Texas decision joins the dismissals of lawsuits brought by county recorders in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,  Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.


On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, granted MERS' motion for summary judgment of the final remaining claim in a recording fee case filed by Dallas, Harris and Brazoria counties in Texas. In the cases entitled "Dallas County, Texas, et. al.; v. MERSCORP Inc., et. al.", the parties to the suit said MERS created a private electronic mortgage registration system for tracking ownership interest and servicing rights associated with residential mortgages, ultimately depriving the counties of recording fees and corrupting their real property records. (Read complete article.)   


DocuSign Gets $85 Million More in Investments

Electronic-signature company DocuSign has raised an additional $85 million in funding, almost doubling last year's financing round and bringing total funding to $210 million. DocuSign, founded in Seattle but now headquartered in San Francisco, offers a cloud-based service that lets customers send documents to recipients, who can electronically sign and return them, rather than having to print and scan the documents.


DocuSign saw widespread use initially in the real-estate world, and it is still the official electronic signature provider for the National Association of Realtors. But real estate has dropped to DocuSign's third-largest customer, behind financial services and insurance.  ( Read complete article.)



Mineral County, CO Clerk and Recorder's Office is now eRecording through CSC

Mineral County, CO Clerk and Recorder's Office is now eRecording through CSC.  The Mineral County, CO Clerk and Recorder's Office is now electronically recording real estate documents through Corporation Service Company� (CSC�). Any document submitter with a computer, Internet connection and scanner/printer can now eRecord real estate documents in Mineral County.  (Read complete press release on PRIA's webpage.) 



ALTA NEWS:  MBA Lowers 2014 Mortgage Originations Forecast


The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) lowered its forecast for mortgage originations in 2014 by $57 billion to $1.12 trillion for the year, based on declining mortgage application activity and increasing interest rates.

"Despite an economic outlook of steady growth and a recovering job market, mortgage applications have been decreasing - likely due to a combination of rising rates and regulatory implementation, specifically the new Qualified Mortgage Rule," said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for MBA. "As a result, we have lowered our expectations for both purchase and refinance originations in the first half of 2014."

The forecast for purchase originations has been lowered to $677 billion for 2014, compared to $711 billion forecast previously. Compared to 2013, purchase originations are expected to increase by 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, refinance originations were revised lower as well and are now expected to be $440 billion in 2014. Previously, refinances were estimated to total $463 billion. The updated refinance total is around 60 percent lower than 2013 refinance originations


Links to National News


Reuters | March 12, 2014
Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell in the latest week as interest rates edged higher.

The Washington Post | March 11, 2014
Interest rates set to increase for roughly 800,000 troubled borrowers who took part in the government's main foreclosure prevention initiative.

The New York Times | March 11, 2014
The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Banking Committee said on Tuesday that they had agreed on a plan to overhaul the nation's housing finance system and eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

HousingWire | March 11, 2014
Everyone involved in real estate - real estate agents, brokers, title professionals, associations and technology vendors - needs to think hard about how we work, and if it makes sense with how we live the rest of our lives. And while it's hard to predict where real estate professionals and their clients will take technology if given the chance to use it - it's exciting to realize that improvisation is the real power.

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
Housing Still Wears Great Recession Scar
News from PREP Chapters - SE Minnesota
A Huge Blow to Property Rights
PTG Announces Agreement with St. Johns County, Florida
MERS Handily Beats Texas Lawsuits
DocuSign Gets $85 Million More in Investments
Mineral County CO now eRecording through CSC
Links to National News
PREP Blog and PREP LinkedIn
Advertise in PRIA's Newsletters
Examples of PRIA's Products 
PREP Chapter Meetings
     March - May 2014  


      Central Florida 

      Central Texas


      Metro Minnesota 

      Washington State

      North Central Texas


      SE Minnesota          


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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