Happy Holidays from American Trust Escrow

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New Los Angeles Seismic Retrofit Ordinance

LA Seismic OrdinanceOn October 9, 2015, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance to establish mandatory standards for earthquake hazard reduction.

Article1, Division 93 – Existing Buildings of wood-frame construction

Applies to buildings where a permit for construction was applied for before 1/1/78 and the ground floor portion of the structure contains parking or other similar open floor space that causes soft, weak or open-front wall lines, and there exists one or more stories above.

Compliance Requirements 

If a building is within the scope of this division and receives an order from the city, the owner must:

1.) Within 1 year provide a structural analysis demonstrating that the building meets or exceeds requirements as is OR will meet or exceed requirements after structural alteration OR plans for demolition

2.) Within 2 years, obtain all necessary permits for rehabilitation or demolition

3.) Within 7 years  complete construction or demolition under all necessary permits

 

Article 1, Division 95 – Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings

Applies to buildings where a permit for construction was applied for before 1/13/77.

Compliance Requirements

If a building is within the scope of this division and receives an order from the city, the owner must:

1.) Within 3 years, submit on the form provided by the Department a completed checklist for the Department to review and approve

2.) Within 10 years, if deemed ductile, submit an evaluation of the building documenting whether the building meets or exceeds requirements (click link below to see details of evaluation)

3.) Within 25 years, complete all necessary demolition or retrofit work on the building

To read the full ordinance, please click here.

Pango Group Passes It’s SSAE 16 Type II Audit

2015-SOC-Service-Org_B_Marks_2c_WebPango Group, American Trust Escrow’s parent company, has successfully completed a Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagement No. 16 (SSAE 16) SOC 1 & SOC 2 Type II audit.

With the ever-evolving regulations mandated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Pango Group is proud to be one of the first independent escrow companies in California to complete this Type II audit. By establishing and implementing systems that meet the guidelines of ALTA Best Practices and Escrow Institute Model Policies and Procedures, Pango Group is in the best position to be compliant with many of the lender requirements as a result of the CFPB regulations.

Read more here.

Happy Thanksgiving from American Trust Escrow

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.02.46 PMMay the good things of life be yours in abundance not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.

TRID Training

While we are a couple weeks into the new TILA-RESPA Rule implementation, there’s still plenty to learn on how it affects your upcoming escrows!

If you’re feeling like you need a refresher course on the new Closing Disclosure, transaction timelines, or other general TRID facts, contact us today to attend one of our training sessions or to set up a training session for your organization.

We’re Ready, CFPB!

businessman hand show 3d mobile with padlock as Internet securitCFPB Regulations are the hottest topic in our industry right now. When the TRID rules take effect, there will be industry-wide changes that will alter the way you will process your sales and run your business. Not to be overshadowed is the risk of identity theft, which has exponentially increased over the past couple of years, requiring a need to exercise tighter controls. Learn how American Trust Escrow has been proactively putting systems into place to protect your client’s money and identity!

  • Centralized banking procedure (wire fraud protection)
    Secure files: Locking and securing all files, client statements of information, bank statements, and proof of funds etc.
    Encrypted emails with non-public information (NPI)
  • Cell phone email security
  • Background checks on employees and vendors

In addition to these measures, American Trust Escrow carries the following insurance policies to protect clients:

  • $3,000,000 in Errors and Omissions (Commonly referred to as E&O)
  • $2,000,000 in Cyber Liability
  • $2,000,000 in Commercial Crime

Lastly, American Trust Escrow has successfully completed a Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagement No. 16 (SSAE 16) SOC 1 and SOC 2 Type 1 Audit. The audit is helpful for Service Organizations to gain an understanding of the quality and type of controls and processes that are in place. It has been considered the gold standard in compliance in our industry.
Let us show you how we combine compliance and security with service! Call today to open your next secure escrow.

Water Conservation Hits Home

iStock_000008883956SmallYou’ve heard about the drought for years. You’ve seen the “Water Wise” commercials on television and the electronic billboards on the freeway that read: “Drought. Save Water!” But, when the water companies start to fine you for inefficient or even wasteful water usage, that’s when the shoe really and truly drops. This is the tipping point, the watershed if you will, of the water crisis. It just got personal.

On the surface, it seems unlikely that one person’s daily habits could help the state of California deal with its water crisis. Yet, if each one of us takes personal responsibility to make a difference, it will add up to millions of gallons of water saved every month. With that said, here are some easy ways to get the ball rolling:

BATHROOM

  1. This is a no brainer – turn the water OFF when brushing your teeth.
  2. Keep showers under five minutes. It can save 1,000 gallons per month!
  3. While waiting for water to get hot, collect the running water in a garden can and use it to water your plants.

KITCHEN/LAUNDRY ROOM

  1. Run the washer/dishwasher only when full. It can save up to 1,000 gallons per month.
  2. Energy Star® dishwashers use less water than if you wash your dishes by hand.
  3. Give the garbage disposal a break and compost vegetable food waste instead. Fringe benefit: Great fertilizer for your garden!

OUTDOOR

  1. Mulch plants. It retains moisture so you water less.
  2. Collect runoff water from gutters and downspouts and use to irrigate your outdoor plants.
  3. Replace thirsty lawns with fake grass or hardscape.

Start your own water conservation program today by selecting three new habits from the aforementioned list. Not only will it add up to hundreds or even thousands of saved gallons, it will keep you out of hot water with your local water district.

Your CFPB Questions Are Answered!

PrintThrough many of our training classes, we’ve jotted down some questions from Realtors about the “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” (CFPB) and upcoming changes and have answered a few of them here. We hope you find this information useful! Stay tuned for more Q&A posts!

Should the agents get emailed financial info from the borrower even if the borrower is just CCing the agent? This would really be up to the agent and how hands on they are with the buyer’s lender. It would be safer if this type of information was only provided to the lender directly. If the agent does want to be provided this information, it is about having a plan in place to keep that information in a secure or stored on a protected computer with proper safeguards.

Will Escrow/Lender be notifying us – the agent – when the new Closing Disclosure is sent to our buyers? This is a good question for each agent to ask their buyer’s lender in the beginning of the transaction. Again each lender will do things a little differently. Lenders have said that the Closing Disclosure (TRID) will be sent to the settlement company (Escrow) when it is sent to the Buyer, but the settlement company (Escrow) cannot provide it to the agents. Some lenders have said they might have the buyer sign an authorization to provide the Closing Disclosure to the agent.

Is the EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) at risk if borrower changes their mind during the closing disclosure periods? This would really be dependent on how the contract is written. If the loan contingency is past and the delays are caused from last minute changes it could possibly open the buyer up to losing the deposit if the seller pushes to cancel and take the deposit.

All this seems to be about the buyer, what about the seller? The CFPB is a set of rules written for the lender to follow. Since the lender is working with the buyer/borrower they really only apply to the buyer/borrower. The CFPB is the “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” which is working to protect the consumer and the consumer by definition is the person purchasing or consuming something.

Send us any questions we can help answer for you regarding the new CFPB TRID/Closing Disclosure or contact us today to learn more about our CFPB training sessions available.

 

Pango Group Executives Educate Agents on CFPB Regulations

Pango Group executives are offering compliance training sessions with real estate agents, lenders, and other escrow companies throughout Southern California. Scott Akerley, Jeff Russell, and Joe Curtis have launched this initiative to educate the real estate and lending community on the new regulations coming up. These sessions include topics such as:

  • What is CFPB and how does/will it affect the loan process
  • CLOSING DISCLOSURE (effective August 1)- How to prevent your closing from being delayed
  • Realtors, as the buyer and seller’s most trusted resource, how can you make sure the escrow companies you are working with, are protecting your client’s money and identity
  • How our industry can help protect consumer’s identity and non-public personal information (NPPI)

“We believe knowledge is power. The way we do business is drastically going to change on August 1st for all parties in a real estate transaction. Our goal is to help guide our clients through regulatory changes, so they can educate their buyers and sellers in an upcoming transaction,” says Pango Group, CEO, Scott Akerley.

As leaders in compliance, Pango Group was the first independent escrow company in California to complete the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagement No. 16 (SSAE 16) SOC 1 & SOC 2 Type I audit. These audits are widely recognized and demonstrate their adequate controls on hosting and processing data that belongs to their customers.

Who is Pango Group?
Pango Group is a family of companies that together are the leading California-based escrow experts.  The Pango Group’s mission statement is “to provide exceptional service while enhancing the lives of the people, partners and communities it serves.”  For over two decades, our partners have prospered through frequent market fluctuations, legislative changes, shifting assessments, and increasing expectations from customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about CFPB compliance and new regulatory changes, please contact Kristin Hill at khill@pangogroup.com.

Pango Group Announces Completion of SSAE 16 SOC & Soc 2 Audits

Security concept: Protection of personal information.Pango Group, American Trust Escrow’s parent company, has successfully completed a Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagement No. 16 (SSAE 16) SOC 1 & SOC 2 Type I audit.

The SOC 1 report audits the controls relevant to a service organization’s financial reporting systems. A SOC 1 audit is widely recognized, because it represents that a service organization has been through an in-depth audit of their control activities, which include controls over information technology and related processes. By obtaining a SOC 1 report, Pango Group has demonstrated that they have adequate controls and safeguards when they host or process data belonging to their customers.

SOC 2 focuses on vital policies and procedures not directly tied to revenue. SOC 2 was created to protect companies from hackers that attempt to steal financial and computing resources, as well as personal information. Completing the SOC 2 audit assures Pango Group clients that they utilize the appropriate systems to safeguard their customer’s data and information.

With the ever evolving regulations mandated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Pango Group is proud to be the first independent escrow company in California to complete this certification to ensure our client’s non-public personal information (NPPI) is protected.  As part of the process, Squar Milner, the largest independent accounting and advisory firms in California, as well as one of the largest 75 accounting firms in the nation, performed both of these extensive audits.

“We have invested a tremendous amount of time and resources over the past 18 months into these certifications to make sure we are leaders in compliance. This is a great accomplishment and will allow us to continue our top-notch service in a changing regulatory environment,” says Pango Group CEO Scott Akerley.

“Clients can count on us to comply with industry best practices, and our hope is that our efforts allow them to concentrate on growing their business, instead of worrying about compliance.”

What is CFPB?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector. Mandated by Dodd Frank, Congress established the CFPB to protect consumers by carrying out federal consumer financial laws. Other functions of the CFPB include researching consumer behavior, to monitor financial markets for new risks to consumers, and to promote financial education.

What is SSAE 16?

In both the Escrow and Title Industries, SSAE 16 SOC 1 and SOC 2 Type I is becoming the industry standard designed to provide an overview of Service Organization’s description of internal controls and processes relevant to their customers.  The audit is helpful for Service Organizations to gain an understanding of the quality and type of controls and processes that are in place.  A SSAE 16 SOC 1 and SOC 2 Type I audit has an audit opinion and a description of services relevant to the services under review as of a point in time.   What does this mean?  An Independent External Auditor provides an audit opinion describing the type and quality of controls a company has in place, which are designed to comply with industry best practices.