SEC shuts down Equitybuild, claims company is $135 million real estate Ponzi scheme

SEC shuts down Equitybuild, claims company is 5 million real estate Ponzi scheme
Equitybuild, a real estate investment company that promised returns of 15% to 20% on Chicago real estate, was actually a $135 million Ponzi scheme where early investors were getting paid back with new investors’ money, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ex-FHFA employee files lawsuit against agency for $1 million

Ex-FHFA employee files lawsuit against agency for million
Monday, the ex-employee of the FHFA who claimed she was sexually harassed by FHFA Director Mel Watt filed a lawsuit against the agency for $1 million. In the lawsuit, ex-FHFA employee Simone Grimes claims the agency paid her less than the man who held her position before her because she refused sexual advances from Watt.

WNC closes $150M fund for affordable housing

WNC closes 0M fund for affordable housing
WNC, an affordable housing development, investment and management company, just closed a $150 million fund for affordable housing. The fund enjoys backing from five repeat investors and was able to garner one new investor to add to its war chest.

Guild Mortgage launches first-time homebuyer program with Home Depot

Guild Mortgage launches first-time homebuyer program with Home Depot
Guild Mortgage announced it launched a new home buying program in partnership with Home Depot for first-time homebuyers. The program offers a 3% down payment, as well as a grant and gift card to qualified customers.

The Docket: Virginia Court Addresses Need for Corrective Instruments Involving Trusts

The Docket: Virginia Court Addresses Need for Corrective Instruments Involving Trusts
The Docket is a monthly TitleNews Online feature provided by ALTA’s Title Counsel Committee which reviews significant court rulings and other legal developments and explains the relevance to the title insurance industry. 
Stephen Gregory, of counsel for the law firm Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, provided today’s review of a decision by circuit court in Virginia that addressed the conveyance of an easement burdening property that had been conveyed into a trust. Gregory may be reached at
Citation: Janet Kruck v. Mark Krisak, et al., 2018 WL 2386671 (May 23, 2018) Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia; Bernhard, J.
Facts: The dates are crucial to this case which concerned the conveyance of an easement burdening property that had been conveyed into an inter vivos trust. Austin Foster granted an easement to his sister, Janet Kruck, for the use of a septic/drain field on his property. That easement was dated 9/30/74, but wasn’t recorded until 6/13/06. On 4/15/06, Austin Foster conveyed the servient tenement to himself as trustee of the Austin Foster Revocable Living Trust. The deed into the trust was recorded 6/21/06. In the interim, Mr. Foster individually granted an amendment to the easement (providing access to the septic/drain field) on 6/9/06, which was recorded with the earlier easement on 6/13/06. The Foster property eventually became owned by defendants Krisak, who contested the right of plaintiff to the use of the second easement. The following chart was embedded into the decision:

Transaction Description

Transaction Date

Date Recorded

Easement #1



Conveyance of parcel to Trust



Easement #2



Fee simple title conveyance to Edward and LeeAnn Foster



Foreclosure conveyance to current owners/Defendants



Holding: The parties stipulated that Mr. Foster’s sister was an innocent purchaser for value without notice of the transfer into the trust prior to the grant of the easement. The defendants maintained, however, that the bona fide purchaser protections only extended to persons who acquired ownership interests in land and an easement was not such an ownership interest. Therefore, the defendants argued, because the property was in the trust and not owned by Foster individually, the second easement was void. The court agreed with the defendants’ point of law on bona fide purchasers and easements but held that the grant of the easement by Foster after he had transferred the servient tenement into the trust of which he was the sole beneficiary operated as a partial revocation of the trust to the extent of the easement. Therefore, the court held the easement was valid and binding on successors in interest of the servient tenement.
Relevance to the Title Industry: Title examiners have long been attentive to the ramifications of trust property. Industry practice has been to call for corrective instruments if an individual conveys or encumbers property that the person had previously transferred into his or her trust. Kruck tells us that may not be necessary. The opinion contains a detailed analysis of when and how a conveyance by an individual may be viewed as a revocation or partial revocation of the trust.

Where are Our Future Leaders?

Where are Our Future Leaders?
By Frank Pellegrini
Leadership is not a matter of one’s I.Q., academic degrees or a prestigious alma mater. It has nothing to do with an imposing physique or deep, well-resonated voice. Heredity, good luck or being in the right place at the right time don’t factor in at all.
Leadership does not demand unquestioned loyalty. True leaders are followed by others enthusiastically; without threats, fears or insistence. Those led seek to follow true leaders because they want to, not because they are compelled to.
Leadership is not to be confused with triumph or success. Leaders have to face defeat; but, true leaders are never paralyzed by the prospect of failure.
Most importantly, leadership grows from trust. A true leader earns and nurtures the trust of those led.
True leadership is hard to describe, but never mistaken. It is forged from deep conviction in one’s values, unwavering ethos, sincere empathy for those led, honesty, and clear communication. Leadership, in its purest sense, cannot be given or bestowed; nor can it ever be taken or assumed. Leadership is honed and perfected through faithful adherence to certain essential, irrefutable and deep-seated principals.
Great leaders are entrepreneurial. They are excellent communicators. They are creative, empathetic, inquisitive, confident, inspirational, authentic and worthy of trust.
Did you know that the average age of the U.S. workforce is 42, but the average age of workers in our industry is nearly 46 years old? What will happen when it’s time for you to retire?
Frank Pellegrini, president of Prairie Title Services Inc., will explore how to identify and develop the future leaders of our organizations during the session “Finding Your Company’s Future Leaders” during ALTA ONE. The discussion will focus on the attributes of great leaders and how those skills, qualities and characteristics are deployed to establish and maintain an environment of trust, mutual respect and collective development. Come ready to discuss how to set your company up for future success by recognizing and fostering your future leaders. Click here to register.

Death of a Salesman … Birth of a Sales Team

Death of a Salesman … Birth of a Sales Team
Dr. Cindy McGovern
Have you ever seen “Death of a Salesman?” It’s a classic 20th century play, telling the story of a troubled working man—yes, a salesman!—and his family, watching his life gradually fade away, spending his final days on the road, trying to make a few sales and bring home a meager commission.
Not exactly the most feel-good way to spend an evening, huh? But a classic nonetheless.    
Well, it’s been nearly 70 years since that play was written, and much has changed. Well, really, EVERYTHING has changed. Because in today’s business world, the idea of a single salesman (or woman) or small team shouldering all of the weight of handling a company’s sales is long behind us.
Successful companies today have figured out that sales is EVERYBODY’S job.
And those that are truly flourishing have helped ALL of their employees understand the role they play in the sales effort, in everything they do, every day.
That doesn’t mean everyone on staff is out making calls and knocking on doors! But everyone within your organization does, at one time or another, interact with the outside world—and that means potential customers.
For front line staff, every call is a sales call, and everyone who walks through the front door is a prospect.
For support staff, every project they complete moves the customer experience forward–and when done correctly, helps develop a strong brand that holds onto current customers and attracts new ones.
Your IT staff keeps your online presence up to speed and builds technological tools that make it quick and easy for your customers to do what they need.
And even your facilities folks contribute to creating a place to do business that is pleasant, inviting, and free of distractions.
All of those things contribute to making your organization customer-focused … and impact your bottom line.  
That’s why your employees are all members of your “Sales Team,” whether they know it or not. (Smart managers make sure they know it.)   
In today’s business world, “Death of a Salesman” is ancient history. It’s time for the “Birth of a Sales Team!” Join me at ALTA-One this year as we explore ways to bring the new era of the “Sales Team” to life in YOUR company!    
Cynthia McGovern, CEO and First Lady of Sales of Orange Leaf Consulting, will speak more in depth on this topic and explore ways to bring the new era of sales to life during the session “Birth of a Sales Team” during ALTA ONE. Click here to register.

Why Did Your Underwriter Ask for THAT on this Commercial Deal?

Why Did Your Underwriter Ask for THAT on this Commercial Deal?
By Marjorie Bardwell
Commercial vs Residential. It’s not just the size of the deal or the use of the property that make these two very different animals.
The nature of the commercial transaction—the national players, the out of state closing—these are just a few of the added layers you may find in this market segment. Coverages you never heard of and requests you’ve never entertained are a couple more. The information your underwriter may want to consider for these issues may also be novel to you. And did I mention the timelines, due diligence, corporate authority and recording considerations? It’s a whole new ball game!
Marjorie Bardwell, director of underwriting services at Fidelity National Title Group, will help you understand what to expect when dealing with commercial transactions and share a few tips on how to make the order move along more smoothly during the session “Why Did Your Underwriter Ask for THAT on this Commercial Deal?” at ALTA ONE. Click here to register.

Canada signs off on Fidelity-Stewart deal

Canada signs off on Fidelity-Stewart deal
As they await approval from state and federal regulators throughout the U.S., Fidelity National Financial, Inc. and Stewart Information Services Corp. have received approval for their proposed deal from Canadian authorities. Read on to learn when the companies expect their proposed deal to close.

LenderLive sells mortgage fulfillment division

LenderLive sells mortgage fulfillment division
LenderLive Holdings has agreed to sell its mortgage fulfillment and secondary marketing division to a third party mortgage services provider. Read on for more details about the sale.