- Consumer Info
By Tom Lico, MLTA President, and
Allan Dick, MLTA Past-President
One thing you learn while on the MLTA Board is that most Board decisions do not have an immediate impact. Most decisions that are made are analogous to planting seeds that will not bear fruit for years down the road. Several years ago, our Board was not satisfied with the relationship between the MLTA and the Michigan Association of Register of Deeds.
While not contentious, through previous misunderstandings, it was fractured. Knowing we have related interests and that a strong relationship is important for both associations, the MLTA joined MARD as an affiliated member. Our Board also began sending a board member to MARD’s Annual Convention.
Since that time, the Flat-Fee Recording bill was passed, followed by electronic signature legislation. With each passing legislation, the communication between MARD and the MLTA continued to improve.
As the Pandemic began shutting down Michigan, the new foundation between our Associations began to bear even greater fruit. As various ROD’s began closing their doors, Marcy Lay was in contact with Stewart Sanders (the current MARD President) to help coordinate a combined reference list of ROD closures.
As Executive Orders began to rollout from the Governor’s office, Stewart Sanders accepted our invitation to join the MLTA Town Hall on Zoom to present on the updates and answer any questions. Following, both of our Executive Boards agreed to have group Zoom meetings to talk through the electronic signature exceptions being discussed. They also welcomed our perspective prior to, and immediately following, the Electronic Recording Commission meeting.
We have since agreed to keep communications open as we continue to navigate these uncertain waters, and we all owe our gratitude to the foresight of the previous MLTA Boards.
Part II – The Roles of PRIA and MERC
In concert with the joint efforts Tom described above, members of the MLTA were invited in 2019 to attend the first meeting of the recently established Michigan chapter of PRIA, the Property Records Industry Association, another non-profit association, whose declared goal is to facilitate recordation and access to public property records. Meeting both in Lansing and Traverse City, it presented a constructive opportunity for participants from title companies and the Registers of Deeds offices to share their concerns and (in some cases) frustrations with the recording processes, with the quest for greater understanding and improved results.
On May 8, 2020 MI-PRIA, co-chaired by Montcalm County Register of Deeds, Lori Wilson, and Scott Moore, VP of Sales for Fidlar Industries, a vendor to several Registers of Deeds, sponsored a webinar with 4 speakers, to address the recent notary issues and changes resulting (among other things) from the Governor’s recent Executive Orders. Those speakers were: MARD President and Newaygo County Register of Deeds, Stewart Sanders; Justin Roebuck, Ottawa County Register of Deeds and Chairman for MERC (the Michigan Electronic Recording Association); Samantha Budzyn, of Director of Operations for Nexsys Industries, likewise a vendor to RODs, and a provider of RON (remote online notary) solutions; and finally Allan Dick from the title side.
The 60+ attendees to the webinar included and handful of title folks and a greater number of representatives from various ROD offices. The major topics focused on the temporarily relaxed notary requirements set forth in the Governor’s Executive Orders (and various Underwriter Bulletins) and the issue of “papering out”, the act of recording paper copies of otherwise electronically generated and signed documents, when there is no means for electronic recording (e-recording), either due to the party attempting to record, or the local ROD not having e-recording capability. This has been a roadblock, previous to the Executive Orders.
Samantha Budzyn narrated a short video demonstration regarding RON, and MERC Chair Roebuck offered some explanation of the newly finalized MERC recording standards, which can be found on the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) website: https://www.michigan.gov/dtmb/0,5552,7-358-82547_56345_60583—,00.html [michigan.gov] While there remain questions (to some) that the “papering out” provisions approved by MERC, but not included in the RON legislation from 2018, may not necessarily survive the Executive Order deadline (currently June 30, 2020), the webinar was quite informative and another step toward greater communication between the title industry and the Registers of Deeds (MLTA & MARD), and facilitated by MI-PRIA.