D. Bello | Industry Mood Positive at This Year’s ALTA
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Industry Mood Positive at This Year’s ALTA

In a refreshing twist, the sentiment was overwhelmingly positive at the ALTA Annual Convention. Plus, how our industry downturn will bring us back stronger.

The 2010 American Land Title Association Annual Convention concluded in mid-October. With a bit of time having passed since the event a concrete impression remains. Despite years of decline in the real estate industry it is evident that optimism is on the rise. For the first time in years the mood at the ALTA Annual Convention (or any national industry event) was overwhelmingly positive. Speakers, attendees and guests shared in the sentiment – not that all were confident of a budding rebound, but a comfort in the stabilization after a long decline.

It is important to keep in perspective that industry downturns are not the worst thing. In fact, they are often the catalyst to correcting long ignored deficiencies and bad habits. It has long been a thought that rapid expansion during the real estate boom left much to be desired in the title insurance industry. A deep downturn would only assist in correcting these deficiencies – disappearance of unseasoned and opportunistic start-ups, reallocation of less experienced examiners, shedding of inexperienced and untested outsource vendors, a return to in-depth searches that properly clear title and mitigate risk. Each of these has been addressed in some respect; however the challenge of preventing things from reverting back remains.

The idea of an industry bounce back grounded in good sense was supported by ALTA Immediate Past President Mark Winter. Mr. Winter repeated the phrase “build back better” while at the convention podium. Additional support for the idea was given by new ALTA President Anne Anastasi as she adamantly stated that we shouldn’t send it out until it’s done right. This is a strong reminder not to duplicate the ways of the past – reckless expansion, compromises in quality of work – but move forward in a way that serves the industry as a whole.

For the first time in many years the ALTA convention provided an optimistic outlook for the future. It was hard not to leave San Diego with the feeling this could snowball.