ATG CALL TO ACTION | July 31, 2008

Contact Your Representatives before August 8 and Ask Them to Sign the "Dear Colleague Letter" to HUD

Henry L. Shulruff photoAs we reported in June, HUD's proposed changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) would have the following costly and burdensome consequences for lawyers and the consumers they serve:

  • increase significantly the time it takes to conduct a closing;
  • require lay persons to engage in the unauthorized practice of law by reading a "closing script" at closing;
  • require settlement agents to make decisions on whether to close a loan based on factors that are outside their knowledge base; and
  • harm small title agents by allowing large lenders to negotiate volume discounts with their affiliated settlement service providers.

ATG has actively lobbied for the repeal of the proposed rule by submitting testimony to the House Small Business Committee, submitting a position paper to HUD, and by meeting personally with many key members of Congress on this very important matter. Shortly after our meeting with Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), Congresswoman Biggert and Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) drafted a letter to HUD on behalf of supportive Congressional Representatives, requesting HUD withdraw this harmful rule and immediately begin a joint rule making process with the Federal Reserve Board to provide better disclosures to homebuyers. It is critical to the success of this initiative that that they receive signatures from a majority of the members of Congress — you can help. Read the Dear Colleague Letter and Letter to HUD.

ATG Members: We urge you to write Congress now — they begin their recess August 8, 2008. Here are the steps:

  1. Check our Delegations to the 110th Congress list to obtain contact information for your representatives.
  2. Draft a letter urging them to sign the Dear Colleague Letter. For your convenience, here is a Sample Letter to your Congressional Representative for your reference and use. You may wish to consider including the "Dear Colleague Letter" in your correspondence.

ATG and its members have always played a vital role in the lobbying successes that have ensured that consumers in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, receive the benefit of competent legal counsel when buying or selling a home. It is time once again to "circle the wagons." Thank you for your anticipated assistance with this very important matter. For more information, please e-mail or call me at 312.752.1405.

Henry L. Shulruff
ATG Senior Vice President - Business Development


Re: Please sign the Biggert/Hinojosa Letter to HUD

Dear Congressman____________:

Please sign the Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Rep. Hinojosa and Rep. Biggert to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston urging HUD to withdraw its proposed rule to reform RESPA and immediately begin a joint rulemaking process with the Federal Reserve Board to provide better disclosures to homebuyers.

RESPA was intended to simplify and clarify disclosures to homebuyers about the mortgage and real estate settlement process and the cost of these services. As a lawyer and title insurance agent, I strongly support efforts to inform consumers about their loan terms and settlement costs and I believe that RESPA as currently written could use some improvement.

However, HUD's proposed rule makes disclosures less transparent and more confusing and difficult for homebuyers to understand. Further, it will delay the home closing process and increase the cost of that service, negatively impacting housing affordability. Additionally, it would place increased regulatory burdens on small business and would put small businesses at an extreme competitive disadvantage.

HUD should take a step back and carefully consider the impact the new rule will have on consumers and the professionals that serve them. The rule needs to be rewritten in a way that simplifies, clarifies, and reduces the cost of the mortgage and real estate settlement process.

Please sign the letter to HUD and support better disclosures for consumers and stability in our housing market. Your staff should email Greg Davis on Rep. Hinojosa's staff at or Nicole Austin on Rep. Biggert's staff at with the name and contact information of the Congressman signing onto the letter.

Thank you for your support.