All right. How’s everybody doing tonight? Thank you, guys for coming to our events page here at 3401 Jericho Turnpike. Beautiful August evening. My name is Eric Swenson with Todd Elliot Realty. Tonight we’re going to address a bunch of great topics. First speaker of the evening is going to be Tom Casill. I always enjoy hearing Tom speak. I like to pick his brain on a number of different topics. And this man is a wealth of information with 30 years of experience at least in the business. So here he is, Tom Casill.
Thank you, Eric. I like hearing me speak too. Too bad. I don’t know everyone in the room. If you don’t know me, my name is Tom Casill, President MacGregor Abstract Title Insurance in New York. But right here in Valley Stream. We do a lot of work in the New York City area, and we’re going to touch base on a couple of things tonight.
There are some regulations they’ve been on, they’ve been off. I am going to address that. We’re going to tell you a little bit about why that’s important, why it seems like it might be good or it might be bad. I’m going to take one illustration of a transaction. I’m going to bring on one of my employees and I’m going to make it all sound like it’s all one story. Ok. A few years ago, New York State got interested in controlling the title insurance agents. There’s literally 1,300 title insurance agents in New York state. Not talk about four or five years ago there was no licensing, so there was very little control. And when there’s no control, there’s always some abuse. So they came in and they got us all licensed and then they passed, let me use this term, regulations are rolling.
They decided that the whole industry was so bad that they were going to prohibit us from spending any money into turning points. Now when I say any money, that means that I’m not allowed to buy you a cup of coffee. That means that we can’t go to McDonald’s and I can’t buy you a happy meal because I would no longer be compliant and they could fine me. They could…. I’m not sure what the repercussions were, but it was very far reaching. It was very drastic.
If you remember a few years ago, all of a sudden there was a big threat that we were not going to have title closes at closing because they decided that was a bad thing. The only thing I realized is that those writing these regulations don’t understand table closings, they don’t understand real estate transactions, all these things. Well, then it’s not necessarily necessary, but title places are. So they passed the regulations and the industry was burned. The industry sued the state and they won. The regulations were, I think the legal term was annulled, like they never existed. So the state decided to appeal and the appeal went through.
The court decided that some of the things were okay to have go forward and some of them were not. They kicked it back to the lower court and about two weeks ago, the same judge of the lower court, and they’ll uphold all the regulations again.
Now, this affects me directly, because it affects what I can do without being threatened by the state. But the big thing that this does is it prohibits companies from taking you out for the baseball game, a basketball game, and there are some companies that are very good at that. They’re spending a lot of money doing that. I’m just saying that that’s a bad thing. I’m not saying that’s fair. That’s the way a lot of people conduct business. I’ve never done that. We used to have, you know, we used to go some baseball games, but very sparingly compared to what the industry did.
What we’ve done instead is we’ve taken our money and we’ve invested it in our infrastructure. We’ve invested in our people and we have some amazing talent that we can afford because we’re not spending money on dinners. Now I’m talking to a roomful of real estate investors, and let me tell you why that matters, because if you’re are being taken out to dinner, (I have a transaction that is exactly an illustration of this), and they don’t have what it takes to perform, then you could have your hands on a really good transaction and you won’t be able to close.
And as a real estate investor, would you rather close your deal? Or would you rather have a nice dinner or sit behind home plate? I know seats behind home plate would be a really attractive thing, but if you’re an investor and that’s how you make a living, we have a we have transaction.
I was not the first title company that looked at this, but MacGregor has a reputation that if you have a deal and it can’t close, there’s scores and scores of people know to send it over to me and we’ll look at it. Not every deal is supposed to close. But this is one of those deals that the other title company choked on. It is a piece of commercial property in Brooklyn. It was in foreclosure, and in 2009, the referee deeds the property to the successful bidder at the auction. 2009. That’s the deal.
Ok, now in 2014, the same referee in the same action deeds the property to somebody else. Date number two. So the title company looks at this owns the property, the guy that got the second deed is the guy that’s trying to sell the property. And when you look at recording statutes, the answer is first time is first of right. Whoever gets the deed on first wins, and the other guy gets a lawsuit against somebody. But this is the same referee.
But looking through the foreclosure action and there’s nothing in the foreclosure action that leads us to any reason why the referee holds two separate auctions 5 years apart, 5 years apart! Was it a mistake? You don’t keep an action going for five years by mistake. There’s stuff going on. So the first company looks at this and they don’t know what to do with it.
And I have a room full of professionals here. You’re probably choking on the idea here, too. What is the answer? I got this gentleman, his name is George. George is a very unusual man, but you speak to him on the phone. You might not appreciate it because he’s very he’s old. He’s marginally. He’s not a people person. He’s a paper person. Ok. But when he saw this, George has been doing title insurance. He took a break from title insurance to go and participate in the Vietnam War. That’s how far back then he came back, and his entire career is with me more than twenty five years at this point. We looked at this. We said, Tom, I don’t know what happened. Let me take a whack at it.
And sure enough, he went and he looked at the foreclosed owner. What do you do if you’re in foreclosure and you don’t have to go through? That’s right, file bankruptcy? The bankruptcy puts a stay on the action and they can’t proceed forward at all. The owner that was foreclosed filed five different bankruptcy suits over the course of this whole time. Not just in between the deeds, but from when the action started to the end.
We got all the documents from all four bankruptcies. Literally more than two reams of paper. Court proceedings, some of the most boring stuff I’ve ever read in my life, if I ever have trouble going to sleep, this is what I read. It’s like action, action, a request for judicial intervention. What is that? The lawyers know that stuff. And you know what he found in the action somewhere about three quarters of the way down? Through that, he found a bankruptcy court order. They came in at first deed because it was given in violation of a bankruptcy stay. They were in bankruptcy when that first sale happened. They weren’t supposed to go forward. They went forward anyway. And that’s why they had to go back and do all this stuff in action again.
But most title companies don’t have a George. Most title companies are more interested in going out to the baseball game or to the U.S. Open. And once again, they do more business than me. These people don’t come to me first, they come to me when they have a problem.
But if you’re a real estate investor, you don’t know you have a problem until you’re in the middle of something like this. You go back and look at stuff like this. I’ve never seen this before in my life. You need to choose who you do business with. Regulation 208, it might be burdensome, but it didn’t affect us all that much. We already had the people in place. We were already investing in our infrastructure and we’re going to continue doing business like that. We might go to a baseball game, we might have a dinner or something like that. We’re not antisocial, but we put important things first.
Now that’s what I wanted you to know about me, that’s what I wanted to know about MacGregor and my staff and why it’s important to choose a title company.
Having said that, one of the things that we do is we educate. We do a lot of educational events. We do a lot of CLEs continuing legal education. And I was at an event just yesterday and one of my attorney friends came up to me frustrated with these rent regulations. We had somebody here last week talking about best. It was a month ago talking about the rent regulations, and there were an awful lot of questions and not an awful lot of answers. And my attorney friend came up to me and said, Tom, you know what we really need? We really need to be educated on these rent regulations. And I said you’re right, we’re going to do this. And by the end of the day yesterday (one of my other buddies, is an expert at landlord tenant), and when I talked to him about his willingness to speak on the topic, he said, Tom, I don’t feel like an expert because there are so many questions that can’t be answered yet. And I said, John, that’s okay, if that’s what it is, and that’s what it is. Because Tom, you know what? I am the expert because not only have I read these, I don’t know how many times, but he’s already been to six or seven seminars on it. There’s things that have to be decided by the courts. We are going to have events in the next few months very specifically on these regulations.
Now, having said that, a little birdie said something to me earlier today who knows what he’s talking about. And evidently, I believe it’s the New York State Bar Association is forming a legal action against the state for these regulations because they are unconstitutional. They’re calling it an unconstitutional taking of property rights without compensation. So maybe by the time we get there, the seminar will sound different than it would today. But if any of you want to come just shoot me an email, I’ll get you on the list. Don’t have times, don’t have dates. We’re still putting the thing together. We usually do these in October and November, but I’m announcing they’re the first ones that are here. So that’s what I got to say tonight.
For more information from Tom Casill, visit our Tom Talks page.
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