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Republic Title Announces ALTA Best Practices Recertification

Republic Title of Texas, Inc. is proud to announce our completion of HA&W’s ComplianceSuccess® Program which certifies compliance with American Land Title Association (ALTA) Best Practices. ALTA’s Best Practices Framework includes:

1.      Licensing: Establish and maintain current License(s) as required to conduct the business of title insurance and settlement services

2.      Escrow Trust Accounting: Adopt and maintain appropriate written procedures and controls for Escrow Trust Accounts allowing for electronic verification of reconciliation.

3.      Protecting NPI: Adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security program to protect Non-public Personal Information as required by local, state and federal law.

4.      Settlement Processes: Adopt standard real estate settlement procedures and policies that help ensure compliance with Federal and State Consumer Financial Laws as applicable to the Settlement process.

5.      Policy Production: Adopt and maintain written procedures related to title policy production, delivery, reporting and premium remittance.

6.       Insurance Coverage: Maintain appropriate professional liability insurance and fidelity coverage.

7.      Consumer Complaints: Adopt and maintain written procedures for resolving consumer complaints.

For more information on ALTA’s Best Practices Framework and why it is important to do business with a company that implements these standards, visit www.alta.org/best-practices

Homestead Exemptions and What You Need to Know

What Are Exemptions?

Exemptions are a form of tax relief that can reduce the taxable value of your property. Here are 4 things you should know about them:

1. There are several kinds of exemptions that you might qualify for. They are:

  • Homestead Exemption
  • Disabled Individual Exemption
  • Agricultural Land Exemption
  • Disabled Veteran Exemption
  • Over 65 Exemption

2. In order to qualify for a residential homestead exemption, you must be occupying the property as your homestead on January 1st of the tax year in which the exemption is granted. Your application must be filed no later than April 30th to receive the tax benefit for this year.

3. It is important to note that when you apply for exemptions, you need to be sure that you have a Texas Driver’s License or Texas ID card and the address on it matches the address of the property on the application, otherwise the Chief Appraiser is prohibited from approving exemptions.

4. It is your responsibility as the homeowner to apply for exemptions. You can do this free and easily on your county’s central appraisal district (CAD) website. If the Central Appraisal District sends you correspondences regarding your exemptions, be sure to respond timely, but do not be fooled by imposters trying to get your money by filing on your behalf.

For contact information to your local central appraisal district, click here

*Republic Title of Texas, Inc. makes no express or implied warranty respecting the information presented and assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions.

 

 

 

 

 

Man sitting in home office, reading letter and felling worried. With one hand holding letter and with other his forehead

What a Government Shutdown Means for REALTORS®

Do you know how the government shutdown will affect you, the agent?  NAR posted this great article that summarizes the impact that the shoutdown will have on real estate transactions.

(As of January 4, 2019)

As of midnight on December 21, 2018, the President and Congress were unable to agree on the provisions of a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. As a result, a partial shutdown of some government operations has occurred. This partial shutdown includes some federal housing, mortgage, and other programs of interest to the real estate industry. A summary of the impact on selected agencies is provided below.

While this is a very politically dynamic event, NAR staff continue to monitor federal agencies and work with Congress, the Administration, and other groups to assess ongoing impacts to NAR members and their businesses.

 

Environmental Protection Agency

Under EPA’s shutdown plan(link is external), most employees are now furloughed. This will affect various regulatory programs and compliance activities, such as wetlands determinations under the 404 program and enforcement of the lead-based paint disclosure and renovation, repair and painting programs.

 

Federal Housing Administration

HUD’s Contingency Plan states that FHA will endorse new loans in the Single Family Mortgage Loan Program except for HECM loans. It will not make new commitments in the Multi-family Program during the shutdown. FHA will maintain operational activities including paying claims and collecting premiums. FHA Contractors managing the REO/HUD Homes portfolio can continue to operate. Some delays with FHA processing may occur due to short staffing. Read more about these delays(link is external).

 

Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs)

During previous shutdowns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have continued normal operations since they are not reliant on appropriated funds. On December 26th both GSEs updated or clarified their loan purchase requirements in case of a shutdown. Freddie Mac requires all borrowers to sign a 4506T request form prior to close, but the request does not have to be processed prior to close. Fannie Mae requires the same unless the borrower’s income can be verified though Fannie Mae’s proprietary Desktop Underwriter verification system in which case no 4506T is required.

 

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS will close and suspend the processing of all forms, including requests for tax return transcripts (Form 4506T). While FHA and VA do not require these transcripts, they are required by many lenders for many kinds of loans, including FHA and VA. Delays can be expected if the shutdown continues. Some loan originators may adopt revised policies during the shutdown, such as allowing for processing and closings with income verification to follow, as long as the borrower has signed a Form 4506T requesting IRS tax transcripts. On loans requiring a Form 4506T, see the GSE section above for additional details.

 

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

After NFIP operations were initially suspended over questions raised by government attorneys, NAR worked with the White House and Congress to clarify that the government shutdown does not affect the sale or renewal of flood insurance policies or the payment of claims on existing policies. Disaster relief, airport screenings and other essential homeland security functions are unaffected. View the FEMA release(link is external) resuming the full and normal operations of the NFIP.

 

Rural Housing Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not issue new rural housing Direct Loans or Guaranteed Loans. Scheduled closings of Direct Loans will not occur. Scheduled closings of Guaranteed Loans without the guarantee previously issued will be closed at the lender’s own risk.

 

Visa Programs – EB-5 and H-2B

Until the shutdown ends and the Regional Center EB-5 program extension is signed into law, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program is suspended and no new I-526 petitions can be filed. Investors must continue to file timely responses to USCIS Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID). In addition, investors may continue to prepare and file I-829 petitions.

While the Department of Labor was funded for 2019, the Department of Homeland Security was not. Therefore, while the H-2B Temporary Worker Visa program is still operational for workers currently in the U.S., the DHS is unable to approve any new or returning workers under an H-2B visa.  

Source: National Association of Realtors – www.nar.realtor