TitleBytes News & Happenings

MLTA Education in Changing Times

Aug 24, 2020

By Allan Dick, WFG National Title

Since at least the 1980’s, education – in the form of twice each year education seminars was a mainstay of the services provided by the MLTA to its membership.  Those seminars consisted of mostly title examination refreshers and new developments, with updated underwriting considerations and guidelines, reflective of changing times and recent developments.  Over time, escrow and closing concerns became an increasing part of the seminars.

As we greeted the 21st century, legislative and regulatory issues became an additional focus.  You might say the real estate and title industry had grown up, and become very popular – too much, as we witnessed a bursting of the real estate bubble and all of the excesses and lack of controls, which led to that in 2007-2008.  That helped usher in the 2008 recession with a considerable reduction in title industry staffing.

But, as the economy recovered, title companies re-staffed, often with people new to the title business.  And many of these new hires had no title background, nor any opportunity to slowly absorb what title insurance is all about.  Slotted into a specific task or assignment, there was little time to learn about the big (title) picture.  The MLTA leadership having recognized this, and contemplated a new educational endeavor.  In 2013 we developed the first MLTA Education Boot Camp – Title 101.  This was designed as a compact day of the basic components of the title business, from the history of “title” to legal descriptions, to search and examination to the closing of a real estate transaction, with a rudimentary explanation of our basic product the title commitment and title policies.

Those of us involved with this new project had no assurance as to how this might be embraced by the MLTA membership, but knew it was worth the effort.  Not only was the first session a sell-out, it was reprised for another sell-out in a larger venue one year later.  But, this was never expected to be an annual event.  It was just the general basics of the title business, a more-or-less introduction geared to the influx of newcomers or the less experienced.  However the Boot Camp idea stuck, with later presentations on licensing, legal descriptions, title examination and escrow and closings – each one pretty full day of instruction, and all well attended!

As we approached 2020, it was suggested that we again had added so many newer people to our ranks, it might be time to dust off the old “Title 101” Boot Camp, and one was planned for the spring of 2020 with many of the original presenters (as well as worthy a replacement).  But, then came Covid -19!  At first, bumping it back to the fall seemed to make sense.  But, then the idea of FREE “virtual” meetings, as in a virtual convention and MLTA’s first education webinars was conceived.  Quickly recognizing that a full day of education speakers, with the attendees at their desks, was not going to hold the audience.  So, with a bit of rearranging, the original Title 101 line-up was broken into five separate one hour sessions, to be delivered at 9 AM once each week over five weeks.  Again, with staff so busy these days, would this version work out?

The answer was an astounding YES! – well over 300 people registering for the first “episode” of this Title 101 saga.  And amazingly, at least 302 actually attended that first session presented by Allan Dick and Dawn Patterson.  Almost as amazing was the fact that almost 70% of them took the time to answer the brief survey questions at the end (most extraordinary).  Among the responses, the webinar received a 99% approval, with 99% indicating they would register for and attend the next week session, as well!

Week #2 featured MLTA board member David Martyn, while week #3 robbed speaker John Bommarito (an MLTA past president) of his customary wandering through the audience.  Both episodes again received 99% approval ratings.  Each showed a slight reduction in attendees, but still well over 200, as was week #4 with Boot Camp new addition Kristen Dankert.  The final week showed a bit less attendance (possibly due to it being July 1 – holiday weekend ahead).  This was the escrow/closing presentation of Linda Hinshon Cantor, packing a ton of updated closing information, guidance and perspective into a very full hour (and a 98% approval)!  As such, the MLTA webinar may become the newest educational tool – stay tuned.

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