Dear ILTA Members,
The message I want to share this month touches on involvement, organizational culture
This past month, John Holt, Cameron McFadden, and I represented the association at the annual ALTA Convention. I found this to be a great opportunity to connect with others in the industry and learn how to deal with the challenges we are all facing as well as create opportunities for success. The overarching theme of the convention was delivering in the present and planning for the future – focusing on strong organizational culture and vision. I know from experience, when striving to deliver what customers expect and what employees need it can seem overwhelming at times. However, the important aspect to remember is that success happens one step at a time and involves more than one person.
In one of the sessions I attended, the presenters asserted that lasting organizational success was promulgated by establishing strong Personal Emotional Connections (PEC) with employees and customers. To me, this was a reasonable and logical conclusion. It is not always easy to establish these PEC’s because every person has different perspectives, expectations, and needs; but, when aligned with values, organizational or individual, they become much easier to establish and are long lasting. The key is that there can be no gaps between what you advertise your values to be versus what you deliver. When you make up your mind what you are going to do before you do it, the likelihood of there being a gap is substantially reduced. I believe Roy Disney, a longtime senior executive for the Walt Disney Company, understood this concept very well. He said, “It’s not hard to make decisions, when you know what your values are.” Regardless of the role you play in your organization there are principle-based actions you can employ to establish PEC’s with employees and customers alike. Based on what I learned while attending the ALTA Convention and through my own experiences as a husband, father, friend, leader, and volunteer I would like to offer the following suggestions to bolster your organization’s values and increase the prospect of achieving your desired results:
1. Evaluate your values, individually and/or organizationally, to ensure there are no gaps. As you go through this evaluative process it would be helpful to determine if your values are memorable, universal, enduring, truthful and aspirational. This will not only prove useful in reminding you and/or your team what you stand for, but will help enhance the Personal Emotional Connections you, your teammates, and your customers share and enjoy.
2. Our world is bigger than our desk. The fundamental principle here is that we need to take time to network with people and educate ourselves – such steps will broaden perspectives and enhance our paradigms for the better.
3. Find your one thing that will make you and/or your company better at what you currently offer. I am a big advocate of this. Each of us have strengths and weaknesses, and for reasons I do not fully understand, the natural inclination is to direct our efforts toward our weaknesses. I want to challenge you on this. Think back to a time where you focused on a weakness in an effort to rectify that. What was the outcome? Did you accomplish what you set out to do, or are you still struggling with it? I will let you come to your own conclusions on that point, however, let me offer an alternative approach that I have found to be far more effective and much more enjoyable. Let’s envision for a minute and ask ourselves the following question: What if I were to redirect the energy I put into my weakness and focus it on something I am already good at? What would be the outcome? This application and focus, as outlined in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, is one of the primary catalysts that allows good companies (and individuals) to transition toward becoming great. A continuous focus here affords new, and perhaps untapped, opportunities at both an individual and organi-zational level.
4. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you and possess traits that you are aspiring to refine and hone. The principle here is that if you want to fly like an eagle you cannot hang out with the turkeys.
Everything I have shared to this point is all great and wonderful and sounds good, however, it requires personal commit-ment and involvement to generate the desired action. I recently read a book by George Brunt titled Leading with Integrity. I have known George for the past 5 ½ years and for me, when I am around him, I am energized and my thinking and perspective is elevated – it truly is a motivational experience. In his book, George advocates that integrity (making and keeping commitments to self and others) offers a direct correlation to one’s capacity of success and happiness, or to put it another way, “…focus on building your capacity to match your challenges and make sure you are sufficiently chal-lenged.” So, how does this fit into personal commitment and involvement? Well, I believe it is as simple as this; regard-less of the role we play, we have to be committed and involved in taking daily actions to achieve the positive outcomes we desire – it is no one’s responsibility but our own. As we gain experience and knowledge through these deliberate ac-tions we begin to increase our capacity of accomplishing more of what we want.
I wish you much continued success as you embark upon a path of personal and organizational development in the com-ing year.
2017-2018 ILTA President
2017 ALTA One Summary – Miami
ALTA One was held October 10-13 in Miami at the Trump Doral. The opening session started with ALTA Outgoing Presi-dent Dan Mennenoh stating “We need to be ready for what’s next. We need to be innovative with an eye to the future.” Michelle Korsmo, ALTA CEO, borrowing from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared his focus on “customer obsession and that customers are beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied even when they report being happy and business is great. Customers want something better or different. The customer obsession drives you to innovate on their behalf.” Michelle advised not to get lost in this concept however, and to find your one thing to address customer obsession and focus. Steve Day, ALTA In-coming President advised that ALTA’s goals and directions have changed from compliance and best practices to values. Best practices and compliance is akin to defense while values allow you to take the offensive. Values are memorable, endur-ing, aspirational and truthful principles. ALTA’s values are We Lead (we are the authority on title and we innovate to meet demands). We Deliver (customers trust us to do the right thing the right way. We show our professionalism and ethics). And We Protect (we reduce risks, provide peace of mind).
With values the theme for the conference Erica Javellana from Zappos talked about Personal Emotional Connection. Build-ing a connection builds trust. A company’s culture will drive employee productivity, customer service quality and brand strength. Zappos has developed a culture of WOW service that they hire and fire on. Javellana shared Zappos 10 corporate values – 1) Deliver WOW through service – treating customers above and beyond. For the customer, it’s all about the expe-rience. 2) Embrace and drive change – do not be comfortable with the status quo. 3) Create fun and a little weirdness. 4) Be adventurous, creative, and open minded. Take a risk. 5) Pursue growth and learning. Grow from within and have paths for growth with no dead-end jobs. 6) Build open and honest relationships with communication. 7) Build a positive team and family spirit. 8) Do more with less. 9) Be passionate and determined – it’s infectious. 10) Be humble – check your ego and arrogance at the door. Javellana closed by advising that core value define who we are and not what we do. She said “Zappos is a service company that happens to sell shoes, clothing and stuff.” Ask yourself who are we and why do we do what we do. Everyone from the top to the bottom has to commit. In conjunction with ALTA’s values Javellana asked “how will you WOW in leading, delivering and protecting?
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. President and CEO for the Society for Human Resource Management talked about values and recruit-ing talent. Taylor cited that only 32% of American employees are engaged in their work. Taylor outlined five points for at-tracting and hanging onto the best talent. 1) Like Javellana, Taylor stated that you need to define your culture and live it. You should be able to describe what it means to work at your company. What we value and what we don’t value. 2) Recruit right – Do they fit into the culture? Are they smart and innovative and can solve problems or just book smart? 3) Identify and develop stars – Taylor indicated that not everyone needs to be treated the same. You should have honest dialogue with your talent and their careers about 2 times per year. Talk to your talent and find out what is driving them. Taylor cited an example of learning that one star was upset at monthly parking fees so he paid for his parking versus getting into a salary war. 4) Take good care of the rest. You need to have a career progression path within reason and honest dialogue. The annual review is outdated and provides little real feedback. 5) Manage your human capital constantly by assessing satisfac-tion and engagement.
Cyndi McGovern, who spoke at our annual Ed seminar in Boise last year, talked about customers and asking them what you could be doing better. You need to understand what type of customer they are – collaborative, caring, deal maker, skeptic, savvy, emoter. Knowing and understanding what sets your service above and beyond is what will lead to referrals. Can oth-ers describe how your service is above and beyond without saying “it’s great service”. Make personal connections. Cyndi broke out service and customer connection points with various customers – Realtors – key points are when they get a listing, commission check, making them look good at the closing, getting them commitments. For lenders it is the loan approval. Consumers – yelp and google for online shopping, website and social media. Title agents – do they get their underwriting questions answered timely, do they receive answers that lead to yes or is it a no; do they get to interact on claims or just find out about it when they receive a bill. Your team – work anniversaries.
I attended a claim presentation that discussed national trends. From 2015-2017 claim payments are trending down. 80% of claims come from 2-5 year of the policy date. 2007-2014 saw higher claims derived from fraud, forgery and defalcations. This past year search and exam errors comprise 20-25%; closing process errors identified as disbursements, not having the right parties sign = 20-25%; no process error – basic risk, homeowner’s policy coverage = 20-25%; denied claims but costs are incurred to defend = 5-10%; underwriting errors = 5-10%; and defalcation = 2%. 2017 hot topics are authentication of authority issues – corporate authority, trusts and LLC issues; authentication of capacity – elder abuse – 20% of elder abuse is from the family taking advantage. Payoffs – HAMP claims – this HUD program is often not clear with consumers and HUD does not require monthly payments so they become out of sight out of mind but become issues due to lack of clear documentation and communication with consumers. Foreclosure hacking – fraud out of the foreclosure is another concern.
Other prevalent issues throughout the conference were Podcast, Yelp, Blog and other peer review sites as the next wave to be embraced and proactive on. E-notary, and in particular remote notary, is a national issue gaining steam with proposed legislation in a number of states. Wire fraud and cyber security issues continue to be a focus as the scams and schemes esca-late and morph. Being diligent and proactive is a must to survive this very real threat. Speakers promoted the ALTA values We Lead, We Deliver, We Protect and urged members to discuss values with your office to incorporate values into your cul-ture and strategies and take the offensive. As Daryl noted, and which was quoted a number of times at the convention—Roy Disney advised “it’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are” underscoring the Values theme.
The keynote finale speaker was Mike Rayburn, musician extraordinaire, who closed with an inspiring and thought provoking presentation and musical display (check him out on Youtube). Rayburn hit hard on the theme of testing values by asking – What If? You need to push past common responses like it’s too expensive, never been done before, and ask What If? This will open up possibilities. This doesn’t mean you’re going to do it but you need to be willing to explore the possibility. Questions define what we think – consider a mindset of not what you can’t, but what you can. Your values need to incorpo-rate innovation and change. Set the curve, don’t follow it. The reward /punishment, A/F, hire/fire are outdated concepts that Rayburn equated to how they train mice. You need to have an open mind and ask What If?
In closing, if you have not attended an ALTA One consider attending the 2018 conference October 9-12 in Los Angeles at the downtown JW Marriot. What If—consider the possibilities if you attended. You will be rewarded from the experience in taking advantage of the opportunities in networking and education, listening and learning from national speakers, and, seeing first hand the latest from vendors., and much more!
The ILTA Board has been promoting the Idaho Title Professional (ITP) designation to demonstrate our professionalism and dedication to the title industry and as a stepping stone to receiving the National Title Professional (NTP) designation from ALTA. Please read the following press release from ALTA concerning our President Daryl Olsen on his accomplishment in receiving the NTP designation.
ALTA Press Release
Contact: Jeremy Yohe
Direct Office Line: 202-296-3671
For Immediate Release
Idaho Falls, Idaho Resident Receives National Title Professional
Designation from the American Land Title Association
Washington, D.C., Oct. 30, 2017 — Daryl Olsen has been awarded a National Title Professional (NTP) designation from the American Land Title Association (ALTA), the national trade association of the land title insurance industry. Olsen is the second NTP designee from Idaho and joins more than 80 other industry leaders from around the United States who have earned the professional designation.
The designation recognizes land title professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, experience and dedication essential to the safe and efficient transfer of real property.*
“Daryl’s knowledge of our industry combined with his professionalism makes him the ideal National Title Professional,” said ALTA President Steven G. Day NTP. ”His dedication and enthusiasm for the land title industry make him a much-deserved recipient of a National Title Professional designation. I encourage other Idaho land title insurance professionals to follow Daryl’s lead and apply for this designation.”
Olsen, who has worked in the industry for more than a decade, is senior vice president and regional manager for Alliance Title & Escrow Corp., in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He serves on the board of the Idaho Land Title Association where he is the association’s current president and chair of its Education Committee. Actively involved in the local business community for over 20 years, Olsen has served in various leadership positions within several regional civic organizations such as the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Upper Valley Unit-ed Way. He’s been recognized by business community peers as Business Person of the Year in 2016. Additionally, Olsen is a Franklin Covey certified facilitator for The Speed of Trust and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
A full directory of National Title Professionals is available here.
The designation has several elements, including industry and compliance prerequisites and training requirements. To apply for the NTP designation and for more information, please visit ALTA’s NTP website.
The American Land Title Association, founded in 1907, is the national trade association representing more than 6,200 title insurance companies, title and settlement agents, independent abstracters, title searchers, and real estate attorneys. With offices throughout the United States, ALTA members conduct title searches, examinations, closings, and issue title insurance that protects real property owners and mortgage lenders against losses from defects in titles.
Connect with ALTA on Facebook here. Follow ALTA on Twitter here.
*Designation under the National Title Professional Program solely demonstrates that a land title professional has met the particular standards and criteria of the National Title Professional Program. Neither the American Land Title Association, nor the designation itself, guarantees or warrants anything beyond a designee’s ability to meet such standards or criteria. The American Land Title Association makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees as to, and assumes no responsi-bility for, the proper performance of land title services, including but not limited to the transfer of real property, or related services provided by designees.
Greetings, Members. This installment of the judicial report is dedicated to a scintillating overview of recent devel-opments in the enforceability of prescriptive easements over parcels conveyed by tax deed.
Regan v. Owen, 2017 WL 3927024 (September 8, 2017), “Regan II”
This opinion examines the effect of tax deed on a prescriptive easement, following the Idaho Legislature’s amend-ment of various statutes in direct response to the court’s earlier opinion in the same case (Regan v. Owen, 339 P.2d 1162 (2014)(“Regan I”)).
Facts: The Regan’s owned a 50-acre parcel (the “Regan Parcel”) in Kootenai County. The Owen’s acquired a neighboring, 10.7-acre parcel (the “Owen Parcel”) in two transactions. First, in 2003, the Owen’s acquired a 10.3-acre parcel from a private party. In 2005, the Owen’s acquired a 0.4-acre parcel, referred to in the lawsuit as the “Orphan Parcel,” from Kootenai County. The Orphan Parcel, over which the Regan’s accessed the Regan Parcel, had been conveyed to the county by tax deed in April 2004.
Lawsuit: In 2010, the Regan’s filed this lawsuit to establish, among other things, their right of access across the Orphan Parcel.
Regan I: In Regan I, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated a judgment in favor of the Regan’s and remanded the case to the District Court, holding that, under Idaho Code Section 63-1009, the tax deed extinguished “all encumbranc-es” except mortgages held by beneficiaries who were not properly notified of the tax sale proceedings. The Re-gan’s claim to an access easement would be among the “encumbrances” extinguished by the tax deed unless they were (i) essential to the enjoyment of the land and (ii) enhanced its value. On remand, the District Court found that the claimed access easement across the Orphan Parcel was neither essential to its enjoyment nor beneficial to its value. Therefore, claims for such an easement were extinguished by the tax deed.
Senate Bill1388: In 2016, the Idaho legislature passed SB1388 in response to Regan I. The bill amended several statutes to preserve property interests held by third parties in land that is conveyed by tax deed. The bill’s stated purpose is to preserve not only private access easements (as were at issue in Regan I), but also public utility ease-ments, ditch rights, public highways and conservation easements. Idaho Code Section 63-1009 now provides that a tax deed shall convey “the right, title and interest held by the record owner” and extinguish “any recorded pur-chase contract, mortgage, deed of trust, security interest lien, or lease” provided the beneficiary thereof receives proper notice.
Regan II: The Regan II opinion reviews the District Court’s determination, on remand, that the access easement was extinguished by the tax deed to the county.
The Supreme Court first held that the lower court properly applied the principles set forth in Regan I in determin-ing that the easement rights asserted by the Regan’s were among the “encumbrances” extinguished by the tax deed under then-existing statutes. It also determined that, despite “open and notorious” uses of the access road, the Regan’s were not “parties in interest” entitled to notice of the tax sale proceedings.
Significantly, the Supreme Court also held that SB1388 did not apply retroactively to save the Regan’s claim to a prescriptive easement despite conveyance of the Orphan parcel by tax deed.
As signed by the Governor, SB1388 proclaimed itself to be “emergency legislation” that would have immediate effect, and included the following provision:
Being a clarification of existing law, the Legislature does not view the application of this amend-ment to prior conveyances as retroactive legislation. In any event, the Legislature expressly intends that these amendments shall be interpreted to apply to any and all conveyances by tax deed, past or future.
According to the Supreme Court, this language fell short of an express declaration to impose retroactive effect. Further, the Supreme Court declared that, under the Idaho Constitution, the Legislature’s statement of how it “views” a statute had no bearing on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of that statute. Applying the statutory lan-guage as it existed at the time the rights were initially adjudicated, the court upheld the termination of the Regan’s claims to a prescriptive access easement over the Orphan Parcel.
It appears Regan I may remain good law despite the passage of SB1388 as it concerns tax sale deeds issued prior to its March 30, 2016 effective date, potentially resulting in the unenforceability of easements over parcels conveyed by tax sale deed issued prior to that date.
ALTA is in the homestretch of fundraising for 2017. The current TIPAC total is $615,140. That means that less than $10,000 is needed to reach ALTA’s $625,000 goal and a month to do it.
Consider making a donation. The funds are a necessary component of advocacy and work-ing with our federal legislators on the important issues we face such as the CFPB, TRID, tax reform, wire fraud, etc. Idaho has 16 individual contributors to date. Consider making a donation and strengthening our industry’s voice on Capitol Hill. Information can be ob-tained at www.alta.org. where they even have a Tuesday Giving promotion with a recipro-cating donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Contributions to TIPAC are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes. All contributions to TIPAC are voluntary and you may refuse to contribute without reprisal.