Commercial Real Estate Blog by Madison
Author Archives: Samuel M. Shiel, Esq.

Let’s Go CFPB!

By Sam Shiel, Esq., Director of National Title Services and Senior Underwriting Counsel, Madison Title Agency

At the time of this writing, the Green Bay Packers are heading to the NFL playoffs with a record of 10-6. While the team’s record is reason for most Packer fans to rejoice, certainly there are some fans with more on their mind. Specifically, members of the Orlando-based fan club, the Central Florida Packer Backers (CFPB). But for those members of the CFPB purchasing a home in Florida, “fun” is hardly the word that comes to mind these days.

Since September 2, 2014, home purchasing members of the CFPB, along with all other Florida home purchasers, have been subject to an additional title charge of $3.28. Why? It is to pay for the multimillion-dollar collapse of an Orlando title company.

Back in 2007, a Florida law firm formed a title company by the name of KEL Title Insurance Group (KEL) headquartered in Orlando – much like the CFPB. The company had written in excess of 10,000 title insurance policies. However, in October 2012, KEL was ordered into receivership for purposes of rehabilitation by the Courts. The partners of the law firm have denied any wrongdoing, blaming KEL Title’s problems on a fraud scheme by an unidentified rogue agent in South Florida who allegedly fabricated sales and stole escrow money. While KEL is no longer writing new or renewal insurance coverage, the company’s existing policies are not cancelled by the rehabilitation order and will continue in the ordinary course of business.

The result. Just months after the takeover by the state, KEL policy claims are skyrocketing and its cash is nearly gone Claims soared as homeowners discovered flawed sales closings and bogus title insurance sales. When the state took over in 2012, KEL had claim liabilities of $12.8 million and cash of $2.7 million, according to state records.

The solution?…. Continue reading

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Museum of Title Insurance – An Idea Long Overdue!

By: Sam Shiel, Esq., Director of National Title Services and Senior Underwriting Counsel – Vice President, Madison Title Agency

I’m going to be brutally honest. I am tired of friends and family asking me for stories about the world of title insurance. I know their intentions are good and I appreciate the curiosity. But enough is enough. The straw that broke the camel’s back was this past Thanksgiving. It’s become a tradition in my family that the youngster’s sit me down after dinner to share tales of the title year that was. But this year, when the dinner discussion turned to the history of the industry, I was done. Folks, I am a title professional – not a tourist attraction. And so I put my frustration into action and came up with an idea that is long overdue, “The Museum of Title Insurance”.

I’ve narrowed down location to two possibilities, Chicago, Illinois or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Each location is based on a real estate transaction that led to the establishment of the title insurance industry. Continue reading

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Title Guys in Cars talking Hockey… and Prescriptive Easements

By Samuel M. Shiel, Esq., Director of National Title Services and Senior Underwriting Counsel for Madison Title Agency

As a young boy, there were three things I enjoyed most… hockey, cars and title insurance. Even to this day, I keep myself busy with these same interests. In the spirit of Jerry Seinfeld’s melding his interests into a web-only show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, I thought I would take a shot at blogging about these three loves of mine.

I was about eight years old when hockey became my passion. It started with collecting hockey cards, playing road hockey and becoming a fan of the three-time Avco Cup champion Winnipeg Jets. (That’s right. Google it!) All the while I was studying the intricacies of title insurance while obsessing over my very first love, the automobile.

One day in the fall of 1977, my buddies and I were playing a game of street hockey in a nearby public park we frequented quite often. As was the norm, an angry neighbor came to protest for the umpteenth time that our puck (read tennis ball) landed on his property. Needless to say, I could think of only one thing: the recent decision in the matter of MacDonald Properties, Inc. v. Bel-Air Country Club , 72 Cal.App.3d 693 [Civ. No. 49715. Court of Appeals of California, Second Appellate District, Division Two. August 15, 1977.] The case involved prescriptive easements… Continue reading

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Big Reversal: Title Insurance Underwriter Fidelity Repeals Decision on Mechanic’s Lien Coverage

By Samuel M. Shiel, Esq.
Director National Title Services / Senior Underwriting Counsel
Madison Title Agency

In my May 31, 2012 blog post, I wrote of the decision by the Fidelity Title Insurance Group to stop offering coverage over mechanic’s liens effective June 15, 2012. Yet, within six weeks of the May 10th announcement, Fidelity reversed its position and decided in fact to continue to provide coverage. Read on to learn what led to this major reversal in such a short period of time. Continue reading

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Underwriter Fidelity Title Changes the North Carolina Real Estate Landscape

By Samuel M. Shiel, Esq.,
Director of National Title Services and
Senior Underwriting Counsel, Madison Title Agency

In my February 16, 2011 blog post, I addressed the decision that major underwriters made to end the practice of removing the creditor’s rights exception from their policies. This changed the practice of negotiating the removal based on significant financial analysis. It was with great intrigue that I followed that development within the real estate industry.

Now, a little over a year later, we are seeing yet another significant change to real estate title by one title insurance underwriter. After many years of significant loses on Mechanic’s Lien claims in North Carolina, the Fidelity Title Insurance Group, parent company of Fidelity National Title, Chicago Title and Commonwealth Land Title, announced on May 10th that they would no longer issue Mechanic’s Lien coverage for title commitments issued after June 15, 2012. (See their letter below.) Fidelity is also placing restrictions on the effective date of endorsements for previously issued policies. Why this change and why now? Continue reading

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What Impact Will The Consolidation of Title Insurance Underwriters Have On Real Estate?

As we begin 2012, with January under way, our President is set to deliver the State of the Union and most Governors their State of the State. It is also the time when title companies await the findings of the American Land Title Association (ALTA) to see a snapshot how the industry faired in 2011. The first nine months of the year showed that of the nearly $7 billion of title premium written nationwide. Click here to learn what percentage of the transactions underwritten in 2011 was handled by each of the major underwriters and how consolidation of underwriters may impact the real estate industry. Continue reading

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Farewell to Creditor’s Rights

Within the last year, all the major title companies have opted to end Creditor’s Rights coverage for both owner’s and lender’s policies. The coverage protected the insured from risk in connection to a bankruptcy by either the selling party or by a borrower. Going forward, the parties, and in particular the banks, will need to analyze the risks independently to determine if there are fraudulent or preferential conveyance issues, rather than rely on title insurance coverage. Continue reading

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Why use a Title Agency? Why not!

As a former employee of two national underwriters, I’m often asked by customers if they aren’t better served in some instances by using the direct office of a title company, as opposed to using an agent like Madison Title. By way of background, let me explain the difference. Continue reading

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