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  Our History: 1978 - 2003
 

The Past Twenty-Five Years
By Charles L. Juhl
 
During the past twenty-five years the Iowa Land Title Association has experienced tremendous change. It began with the transfer of the duties of the Executive Secretary, Al Buchanan of Algona, to a Secretary, Tom Brennan of Sioux City and a Treasurer, Wencl Kadrlik of Garner. Wencl remained ILTA Treasurer for 18 years. Julie Hoegh of Knoxville served as Treasurer from 1996 to 2000. Tom Brennan remained Secretary until his resignation in 1986 and the appointment of Chuck Juhl of Vinton. Mark Mallicoat of Clinton succeeded Chuck as Secretary in 1994 and continued until 2000. In 2000, ILTA hired Dynamic Resources, an association management company of Des Moines to conduct the management duties of the association. Jan Gemar serves as the ILTA representative from Dynamic Resources.

Al continued on as Editor of the Iowa Land Title News until 1983 when Chuck Juhl was appointed Editor. Lesa Saville of Mount Ayr became Editor of the Title News in 1993, Beccy Holle of Harlan in 1997, and Geralyn Greer in 1998. Geralyn continues to this date. The Title News underwent an extensive revamp under Beccy and Geralyn's guidance. The Association also provides information to the membership via an Internet web site at www.iowalandtitle.org and e-mails or broadcast fax for more time sensitive information.

Technology changed business during the past twenty five-years. Fax machines ushered in the beginning of orders arriving in minutes. This began the quest for faster service for customers with completion expected within a very short time. Orders could now be expected from not only our local customers, but from coast to coast as vendor management companies entered the title business working on behalf of national lenders.

Computers became common in the early 1980s and are almost mandatory in the current business climate. Word processors gave way to standardized computer formats and storage of abstracts on computer networks. In 2002, the Standards Committee issued the ILTA Standards on CD after Janice Young of Cedar Rapids indexed it for computer use. Title plant maintenance switched from time-consuming handwritten posting of instruments to the computerized indexing of documents in many companies, often accompanied by scanned images of the documents. Many new companies have built title plants using computer technology exclusively. In the early 1990s the State of Iowa created the Iowa Court Information System linking all judicial districts with the state office in Des Moines. Searches of names can now be done over the Internet from title offices at any time. Title companies are maintaining Internet web sites to advertise their businesses and to receive and deliver orders.

The early 1980s not only brought the worst real estate recession since the 1930s, but also saw the rise of the secondary lending market in Iowa. Loans held previously by local banks or mortgage lenders were now being sold to investors from across the country. These lenders were unfamiliar with the Iowa system of abstracts and attorneys' opinions and sought a title insurance product. In 1986, the Iowa Legislature created the Iowa Title Guaranty Division to provide a product to lenders needing a title policy for the secondary market. Al Buchanan represented ILTA for six years on the Title Guaranty Board, followed by Jay Stewart of Des Moines, currently serving as Chairman. This program required abstracters in Iowa to maintain a forty-year title plant. ILTA initiated a plant inspection process under Chris Hoegh's presidency to assist Title Guaranty in assuring the membership operated and maintained forty-year plants.

Title companies began to include real estate closings as a part of their services in the past few years. As Iowa companies become more familiar with the title process nationwide, a frequent request has been for closing services, particularly for national lenders. Convention and school agendas have seen more time allocated to educating the membership on closings and title policies.

Throughout the past twenty-five years the Iowa Land Title Association members have seen many changes to the business climate: from severe recession to wave after wave of refinance transactions; changes in association personnel to a professional management service; and changes in technology including fax machines, computers, internet service and much more. The constant is the Iowa Land Title Association itself, with the dedication of its members to providing a forum for discussion of issues, and a desire to work together to make the title business in Iowa one in which we can all be proud.