The Title Counsel meeting was hosted on March 15, 2018, by Eric Oberer and First American Title Insurance Company in its Columbia office.
The Maryland Insurance Administration Bulletin No. 17-16 on Prohibition of Rebates, Discounts and Inducements resulted in the following points of Discussion:
- The MIA has shown a willingness to separate settlement related fees from insurance related fees; the extent of which they will disclose in a webinar to be announced
- There may be practices within the industry that can be perceived as an insurance producer directly and explicitly offering a free item or significant discount in exchange for receiving the consumer’s business.
- Examples of discounts were discussed in an attempt to create a line of demarcation between competitive business practices and improper inducements. Whether a discount offered to a consumer can be perceived as an inducement relates to the type of discount/incentive, the amount and form of the discount/incentive, the amount of separate fees tied solely to settlement services as opposed to title insurance underwriting and/or premium Consensus was that any demarcation is more of a grey area than a bright line; that if discounts are offered as a means of competitive business practices, they must be offered and honored whether or not insurance is purchased.
- All attendees were encouraged to take part in the MIA webinar when it is announced fro the purpose of providing the MIA with as much input as possible about the business of conducting settlements and the value to the consumer of permitting appropriate competition between title agents within the realm of settlement services.
The MIA Bulletin No. 18-04, Trust Funds – Earnest Money Deposits, was also discussed, noting that most deposits received by title agents would be required to be placed in a MAHT account. HB1608 (which received an unfavorable report) was discussed as was the project begun by MLTA to develop a suggested escrow agreement for use in connection with the receipt of deposits. It was noted that if the contract requires deposit of funds in an interest-bearing account with those monies to be paid to either the buyer or the seller, the MIA would not require deposit of those funds in a MAHT account.
SB0070, governing duties of members in the event of the forfeiture of a limited liability company’s charter was not discussed as it had received an unfavorable report in the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. A general discussion was had concerning how reference in a deed should be made to a forfeited limited liability company acting as grantor.
Whether the next Title Counsel meeting will be held on June 14 was placed on hold and an alternate date will be announced to conflict with the MSBA Annual Meeting. Jack Reid will be presenting on Tax Sales and Bill O’Connell will provide a post mortem for the Electronic Notary legislation that failed to make it out of committee in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Learn more about the MLTA Title Counsel Committee & stay up to date on future meetings online at www.mdlta.org/title-counsel.