FAQs About ALTA Best Practices



FOR REAL ESTATE SETTLEMENT ATTORNEYS AND TITLE COMPANIES




What is the first step in getting ALTA Best Practices compliant?

The first step is to determine the Company's current level of compliance using Aprio's Compliance Benchmark tool and then to develop a plan to remediate any deficiencies. Aprio has developed its ComplianceSuccess® Program as a fast track to compliance with ALTA Best Practices. Aprio's Compliance Benchmark will enable you to assess your current level of compliance with ALTA Best Practices. Aprio will provide a gap analysis report and a remediation plan in as little as three to five business days. We will review it with you to create a customized plan of action.

Before I engage Aprio for a Compliance Benchmark, what should I prepare?

The Compliance Benchmark can be completed without any advance preparation. This will give you the most objective evaluation of your agency's current level of compliance using ALTA's Best Practices Assessment Procedures Framework as the benchmark.

How long does it take to complete the Compliance Benchmark?

The Compliance Benchmark should take no longer than an hour to complete. You may save your answers and exit at any time.

How long does the remediation phase take?

Based on the suggested remediation steps generated by the gap analysis report and how far along your company is in documenting its policies and procedures in accordance with ALTA Best Practices, the remediation phase can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to complete. On average, clients spend two months remediating to ensure they have fully corrected all deficiencies.

Once I have completed the remediation phase and policies and procedures are being followed, what is next?

ALTA requires that the Company demonstrate compliance with ALTA Best Practices for a minimum period of three months, unless your mortgage lender requires a longer assessment period.

What happens if I need to change my assessment period being used for testing?

If you encounter a compliance issue or delay in remediation at any time during your assessment period, please notify Aprio immediately. There are no additional fees for changing your assessment period prior to the start of testing.

When will I be ready to have Aprio perform the compliance testing necessary to issue a report?

Once the Company has remediated compliance deficiencies and has been in compliance for a minimum of three months, you are ready to have Aprio begin the testing process.

How long does the testing process take?

From the start of testing until the issuance of the compliance report, the entire process takes approximately 3-4 weeks for reviews and 6-8 weeks for examinations. If issues arise during testing or if documentation is submitted late, there may be a delay beyond that timeframe.

How much time will be required by my company to gather documents requested by Aprio for the review testing?

As a general rule, it will take approximately one day for reviews and up to three days for an exam to gather the information requested for testing.

Will the compliance testing phase of the engagement be performed onsite at my office?

This depends on the engagement type selected for your Company. For a review engagement, no onsite visit is required. For examination engagements, an onsite visit of one to three days is necessary, depending on the number of locations and assuming there are common procedures at all locations. The remaining compliance testing will be conducted electronically over a secure network portal and will cause minimal disruption to the daily business of your agency.

What happens if deficiencies in compliance are found during the attestation engagement?

Being a part of Aprio's ComplianceSuccess® Program from the beginning reduces the likelihood deficiencies will be noted during the compliance testing stage. If any deficiencies are found during the engagement, we will notify you immediately and discuss your options. You will have the option of using a new assessment period for re-testing. If needed, we will provide a referral for remediation assistance. We will refer at least two independent resources that could help with remediation needs. We will then resume compliance testing once the issue has been resolved and compliance has been demonstrated through the assessment period.

What will I be given as a deliverable to show my mortgage lenders that I am compliant?

Upon successful completion of testing, your company will receive a CPA attestation report detailing the ALTA assessment procedures performed, and a certificate of compliance from Aprio.

Non-public Personal Information

NPI is considered to be any personal and confidential consumer information that does not reside in the public domain. This would include, but not limited to, activity and account numbers pertaining to social security cards, credit cards, loans of any kind (mortgage, car, boat, etc.), investments, medical information, credit reports, paystubs, employment information, background/credit checks, unlisted personal addresses and tax returns.


What do I need to submit for testing?

Submit the completed Excel workbook, including all 9 Tabs of the workbook. Submit all documents that are specified on the instructions Tab of the workbook.

My testing date is coming up, but I do not have all my documentation completed. What should I do?

Submit as many documents as possible that you have completed. This will keep you moving through the process. Once we have received all of the documents required for testing, we will review the information you provided. All requested information will need to be uploaded on or before the start date indicated in your engagement letter to ensure that your testing is on schedule.

What is the entire review engagement process?

1. Upload
- This is the first step. All documents requested in the Excel workbook must be uploaded onto our secure portal. You may track your progress which will be displayed on your firm's dashboard.
2. Review
- This is when the submitted documents will be organized and prepared for testing. If we notice any missing items or have any questions, we will send you a list of open items. We must receive responses before we can begin testing.
3. Testing
- This is when the majority of the testing will take place. There may be some additional questions or items needed to complete this step.
4. Management Review
- Management reviews your file and determines that everything is in order. We may have additional information requests or questions during this step.
5. Final Partner Review
- This is the last step in the review process. We may have a few final questions to complete this step.
6. Report Issue
- This is when a report will be issued to you that shows you are compliant with ALTA Best Practices. We will email an electronic copy and mail a hard copy for your records.

What is required on Tab 1.01 of the Excel workbook?

Tab 1.01 of the workbook should include any and all state bar licenses, department of insurance licenses (individual and entity), title producer licenses, secretary of state registrations & ALTA licenses.

What should I send for the reconciliation part of testing?

For each month in your assessment period, you should include the monthly three-way reconciliation, the bank statement, the escrow trial balance, and the outstanding receipts and disbursements listings. If there were any other adjustments on your reconciliations, provide the details and explanation for those adjustments.
Check to ensure that the book balance, adjusted bank balance, and escrow trial balance are all in agreement. The bank statement and outstanding receipts and disbursement listings should agree to the reconciliation.

What should be included in a daily reconciliation?

The daily reconciliation should compare the book balance and bank balance. Both balances should be in agreement.

When should my reconciliations be completed?

Daily reconciliations should be completed the following business day.
Monthly reconciliations should be completed within 10 business days of the closing date of the bank statement.

Who should complete and review my reconciliations?

Reconciliations may be prepared by a third-party provider or someone internally who does not have the ability to sign checks, initiate wires, or approve wires. Monthly reconciliations should be reviewed and signed off by management.

What do I need to provide for the sample of disbursements on Tab 2.01, Section II of the Excel workbook?

You should include any checks/disbursements (including wires) that seem out of the ordinary compared to a majority of your closing files. These disbursements should agree to the closing file and settlement statement.

What if my bank does not offer Positive Pay?

Document this within your policies and procedures and state that if Positive Pay does become available, you will utilize the service.

How do I complete the risk assessment (3.03) and the testing of key controls (3.04)?

Please see following document for guidance on this topic: Guidance on Pillar 3.03 and Pillar 3.04 document

What if we did not have 25 residential closings during the three month assessment period?

If you performed less than 25 residential closings during the assessment period, please test 100% of your residential closings on Tabs 4.01-5.01 of the Excel workbook. Also, be sure to indicate to Aprio that this is the complete list of all residential closings performed during the assessment period.

What if it is not possible for me to send the deed to the county recorder within two business days?

There may be extenuating circumstances in certain states that will not allow deeds to be sent to the county recorder within two days, such as split closings, tax stamps, etc. If this is the case for any closings in your sample, please provide the date on which all commitments were met to be able to send the deed for recording.

What are examples of non-title insurance rates, as mentioned on Tab 4.01-5.01 of the Excel workbook?

Examples of non-title insurance rates include settlement fees, closing fees, title search, recording fees, shipping fees, etc.

What is meant by "Date Title Insurance Terms and Conditions Were Satisfied" on Tab 4.01-5.01 of the Excel Workbook?

This is the date on which all terms and conditions of the title insurance commitments were satisfied. These are usually located on Schedule A of the title policy. Some examples include mortgage payoffs, release of lien on properties, receiving the recordings back county, etc

When should we be remitting premiums to the underwriter?

The correct portion of the premium collected must be remitted to the underwriter in accordance with applicable statutory, regulatory and contractual obligations. Ensure that payment terms are defined in your agency agreement with your underwriter and that you are remitting premiums in accordance with those terms.

What should I include on Tab 6.01, Section I of the workbook?

Include all insurance requirements that are mentioned in each underwriter agreement such as errors and omissions, fidelity bonds, surety bonds, etc.

What is a complaint log?

This is a compiled listing of all your complaints into one specific document that includes whether a resolution is necessary, how it was resolved, and the date that it was resolved.

What if we have not had a complaint log before the assessment period?

You will need to document complaints that you received prior to the implementation of the log and add them to your new complaint log to ensure your complaint log covers a period of 12 months preceding the assessment period end date.

What is the single point of contact for complaints?

This is the person or department that is responsible for receiving complaints and following through with the complaints from start to finish. Ensure that you have designated a single point of contact for complaints in your Policies and Procedures manual.

What if we have no complaints?

You will still need to have a consumer complaint log in place just in case a complaint were to occur. Please provide a copy of your blank complaint log and indicate to Aprio that there were no complaints for the period of 12 months immediately preceding the assessment period end date.