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In 1878, New Haven, Conn., became home to what is considered the world’s first telephone directory, consisting of a single piece of cardboard that included listings for 50 individuals, businesses and other offices in the city of 150,000 people.

While other businesses had used telephones before—even printing lists of subscribers—the New Haven version claim to primacy rests on the fact that it was the first such list to include private customers as well as business lines.

This phone “book” did not list telephone numbers, only names. Early telephone directories existed solely for the purpose of alerting customers to the existence of other telephone subscribers. To make a call, the telephone user would pick up the phone and tell the operator the name of the person to ring up. In the title and settlement space, there has never existed an online, searchable database that could be used to identify title and settlement agents and real estate attorneys early in the real estate transaction. ALTA Registry Infographic 1 - 2017 (1) copy

That’s why ALTA created the Title & Settlement Agent Registry, an online database that allows lenders to know they are working with the correct company. Agents and underwriters have communicated to confirm company name and contact information—providing lenders with a trusted industry utility to identify transaction partners. Currently, more than 8,000 company locations are already confirmed in the ALTA Registry.

“Mortgage lenders, title insurance agents, real estate attorneys, title insurance underwriters and other participants in the real estate closing process must be able to identify each other and communicate in a timely and consistent manner throughout the mortgage transaction,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s CEO.

The ALTA Registry offers a unique seven-digit identifier, the ALTA ID, which is automatically assigned to each new database record as a permanent ID number and is never changed, reassigned or reused. This is the number assigned to all records within the ALTA Registry. For organizations with a network of branches, each office location will have its own ALTA ID and may be connected to the HQ or head office location, called a “primary business location” with no requirement for consecutive or numerically correlated ALTA ID numbers. ALTA ID numbers are available for free to title agents and real estate attorneys. 

“Establishing and confirming a business on the ALTA Registry helps ensure more efficient communication among all parties in the real estate transaction,” said Eddie Oddo, co-chair of the ALTA Registry Committee and vice president of corporate business solutions for First American Title Insurance Co. “Lenders, underwriters, agents and vendors can easily and confidently identify the right settlement provider across each of their databases.”

Lenders want this type of service from the industry in order to confirm the identity of the service providers that they, or their customers, have engaged to provide settlement services. Having a registry also helps lenders ensure their risk-management procedures are met and will provide further depth to their third party supplier oversight activities.

Jack Rattikin, co-chair of the ALTA Registry Committee and president of Texas-based Rattikin Title Company, said that mortgage lenders need confirmation earlier in the real estate transaction that they are doing business with the correct title and settlement company or real estate attorney.

“The ALTA Registry is a tool for your company to show your mortgage lender you are a part of the solution to provide more clarification and transparency in the real estate transaction,” he said. “In addition, the registry helps mortgage lenders add an extra layer of confirmation that they are working with the appropriate title and settlement company or real estate attorney and properly protecting their consumers’ non-public personal information.”

Lender customers use the ALTA Registry to fight wire fraud: They want to use reliable information to fight back against scammers and hackers. Lenders know that with ALTA’s data, title companies and law firms can be accurately identified earlier in the real estate transaction, reducing errors when placing or closing title orders. It’s time to get your ALTA Registry listing!

Independent escrow companies do not have their companies listed in the ALTA Registry. These entities do not have formalized relationships with title insurance underwriters, making it complicated to confirm their company name and location(s).

Be aware: ALTA membership does not automatically create your listing in the ALTA Registry. If you are unsure about your status in the ALTA Registry, visit alta.org/registry and check your underwriter confirmation status.

Want to know more? Connect with us at altaregistry@alta.org.

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Source: ALTA Blog