ALTA stands for the American Land and Title Association and it’s a trade group made up of over 6,000 title companies, underwriters, and other title specialists. Founded in 1907, their mission is to serve title agents and others in related industries by sharing knowledge, improving their skills, and advocating for members. ALTA’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C. but they have at least one active member in every county in the United States.
ALTA is more than just an association of title companies. They also help protect home buyers, sellers and other real estate professionals with their comprehensive guidelines and forms. All members are encouraged to conduct themselves with integrity and high levels of service which helps each to stand out vs. non-members by adding trust and credibility to their groups.
ALTA Sets Standards & Best Practices for Title Companies
One of the most important services ALTA provides is creating guidelines for the title insurance industry. Companies voluntarily comply with ALTA Best Practices which are all aimed at making the settlement process safe and transparent. These include policies on how to protect escrow funds, personal information and how your title company will handle complaints.
They also have procedures for property surveyors, working with the NSPS (National Society of Professional Surveyors) to create surveys that specifically address the needs of title insurance policies. An ALTA Survey is known throughout the industry as the benchmark for accuracy and quality.
ALTA Provides Training For Members To Improve Their Skills
They have ongoing instruction for title professionals including:
- Best Practices and Compliance Assessments
- Online webinars and training for members
- Instructions and notes on forms, standards and guidelines available 24/7
ALTA Educates Homebuyers On What To Expect at Closing
Part of their mission is to prepare homebuyers for the closing process so they know what’s going to happen. They do this by:
- Maintaining the Homeclosing101.org website
- Providing an ALTA Member searchable directory
- Creating and promoting the ALTA Settlement form.
ALTA Protects Homebuyers During Closing
The association’s core values include the promise to “innovate for the benefit of our customers…and to protect the property rights of those we serve.” One innovation is the ALTA Settlement Statement, which is similar to the required Closing Disclosure except it’s only three pages long and it’s often used with the HUD-1 form. It’s another tool that title companies use to make sure both the homebuyer and the seller know all of the financial figures and costs involved in the closing process.
When you’re looking for a title insurance company, check to make sure they are ALTA members and you’ll know they have the necessary training and commitment to excellence for a smooth, fast settlement process.