Last September CAARE was contacted by an ALTA (American Land Title Association) story writer to participate in a point / counterpoint on the issue of Affiliated Business Arrangements. After months of work and after the project was ready to go to print, ALTA pulled the story! Neither we nor the RESPRO representative (Marx Sterbcow) chosen for the “counter point” were permitted to see the other’s answers. We can only speculate that we may have done too good of a job….
ALTA as stated on their website, “is the national trade association and voice of the abstract* and title insurance industry. ALTA® members search, review and insure land titles to protect home buyers and mortgage lenders who invest in real estate…ALTA® members advocate safe and efficient transfer of real estate and insist on high standards when searching land title records and preparing insurance documents.” So to us, this story seemed to be a perfect fit for both ALTA’s mission and ours.
What better way to “advocate for safe and efficient transfer of real estate” than to remove conflicts of interests and inappropriate influences that affect the unbiased examination of title and disbursement of funds? What better way to “protect home buyers and mortgage lenders who invest in real estate,” then to make sure home builders, Realtors or mortgage lenders are not in a position to determine the insurability of their own files? To us, Affiliated Business Arrangements are an important reason why the real estate industry COLLAPSED. To us, this debate raised some of the most important issues of this decade.
We took on this project as a public service to those in the industry and to the consumers whom we represent and we did what we think was a great job explaining the problems and hazards of Affiliated Business. After taking this project to completion (SEE ATTACHMENT) and investing many of our resources, ALTA’s Board of Directors pulled the story in March citing that this story was likely to increase the already large rift that existed between members who disagreed on the topic of Affiliated Business Arrangements.
After examining the biographies of the current Board Membership it would appear that this decision may have had more to do with its Board’s interests in burying the issue, then preventing a rift. Most of ALTA’s current Board are proponents of this anti-consumer practice called Affiliated Business. We believe that Affiliated Business Arrangements cannot be defended as a legitimate business model any more than could a prospectus to start a train robbery business. If we’re right that our points were too convincing and that’s why our story was pulled, then shame on ALTA. To let this article go to press, would have been to admit that Affiliated Business is a bad thing.
With this news feed we ask all current ALTA members to examine whether ALTA truley represents their interests by burying this story. And whether you are a member or not, if you think that this story should be run, then please consider writing to the current President of ALTA, Mark Winter (firstname.lastname@example.org ) to let him know how you feel.