With the recent developments, including Chapter 11 bankruptcy, surrounding LandAmerica; I thought it would be important to share with you "who's who" locally. Due to the bankruptcy, some lenders are not accepting title policies backed by LandAmerica. If you are buying or selling a home right now, please check with your lender or real estate agent to make sure your title company is acceptable.
Our market has many different "brand names" of title insurance companies and actually just a few actual title underwriters. Here's a quick run down of how the local companies currently stand (note: this will be changing as Fidelity National Financial is in the process of buying LandAmerica if the transaction is successful):
The LandAmerica Title Insurance (currently going through bankruptcy and being acquired by Fidelity National Financial). Note: percentage of ownership is based on this report effective December 31, 2007. Hat tip to Matt Carter.
Commonwealth of Puget Sound = LandAmerica's underwriter named Commonwealth with 50% stake in Commonwealth of Puget Sound. Windermere, along with independent broker/owners have financial interests.
Rainier Title, LLC = LandAmerica's underwriter named Lawyers with a 25% stake in Rainier Title LLC. John L. Scott and Coldwell Banker Bain have financial interests. (See Update 12/9/2008 below for changes).
Northpoint Title and Escrow = LandAmerica is the underwriter through Lawyers and reported a 40% stake in Northpoint.
Fidelity National Financial (in the process of merging LandAmerica's title division).
Fidelity Title and Escrow = Fidelity.
Chicago Title and Escrow = Fidelity.
Ticor Title and Escrow = Fidelity.
First American Title Insurance Company
First American Title and Escrow = First American.
The Talon Group Title and Escrow = First American.
Pacific Northwest Title = First American.
Stewart Title and Escrow = Stewart Title
Old Republic Title and Escrow = Old Republic
As I mentioned, this list is scheduled to change. Fidelity National Title hopes to have the LandAmerica merger complete by the end of this year…Fidelity called the merger off in the ninth hour in a previous attempt. Currently some major lenders, including Countrywide, Bank of America, Flagstar US Bank and Chase, have LandAmerica companies on their "non-approved vendors" list which may cause a hiccup with transactions that are in process.
I will keep you posted a this story develops.
Update 12/3/2008: Countrywide will accept LandAm policies stating that Fidelity Reinsurance Treaties are acceptable when your title commitment shows Commonwealth or Lawyers as the insurer.
Update 12/5/2008: Provident Funding issues memo stating they "will not accept title policies underwritten or escrow services provided by a LandAmerica subsidiary…"
Update 12/8/2008: Flagstar Bank has issued a memo stating they will "require all title commitments, title policies and closing protections to be in the name of the new entities" for loans registered after December 1, 2008. Flagstar's memo also states that Land America affiliated settlement agents (escrow) "who have not been associated with a closing disbursement with Flagstar since September 8, 2008 will "expired" from their closing agent database.
Update 12/9/2008: Rainier Title, LLC has announced "we have become an authorized policy issueing agent for Stewart Guaranty Company". (No mention in the email of Fidelity or their proposed merger).