ATG Lobbies to Protect Consumers

RESPA has been in effect since 1974 and regulates the way real estate transactions are conducted. The proposed changes to the regulations would fundamentally alter the way in which mortgages and real estate settlement services are marketed and priced. The position of ATG and other title companies is that these changes, although they are meant to simplify the home-buying process, would ultimately have a harmful impact on consumers and real property practitioners - and ATG.

On a recent lobby trip to Washington, D.C., are ATG’s President Peter J. Birnbaum (left), and Senior Vice President Henry Shulruff (right), with Illinois Congressman Don Manzullo (Rep - 16th Dist). The photo was taken just after Birnbaum and Shulruff met with Manzullo and other members of Congress to discuss HUD’s proposed “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.” The proposed regulations, if implemented, would have a harmful impact on consumers and real property practitioners.

They would allow lenders to “bundle” all settlement services as a part of a comprehensive closing package, giving lenders tremendous power in dictating the providers of real estate settlement services. More importantly, they would not only allow lenders to steer consumers to captive service providers, but they would, for the first time in 28 years, allow some lenders to receive kickbacks for the referral of those services. All of these factors over time will decrease competition, thereby increasing prices to consumers.

Title insurance industry representatives are lobbying Congress to conduct hearings on this matter to bring the issues out into the light of day, where we believe we could win a debate on the relative merits of the proposal as they would affect consumers.

Peter did a five-minute interview on this topic on the internet news site WebFN with commentator Linda Marshall (above). The interview took place on Wednesday, October 23, 2002.

[Last update: 11-22-02]