ALTA Best Practices Certification
The American Land Title Association (ALTA) created the Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices (ALTA Framework) to help its members highlight policies and procedures that the industry exercises to protect lenders and consumers while ensuring a positive and compliant real estate settlement experience.
The banking industry supports the ALTA Framework, and some banks have begun to require their settlement agents to implement the ALTA Framework and have their implementation independently certified. GranthamPoole can help see you through the certification process.
Levels of Certification
There are two levels of service we offer to certify compliance with the ALTA Framework.
An examination of a company’s compliance with the ALTA Framework is akin to an audit and is the highest level of service. In conducting an examination, we read the company’s policies and procedures and compare them to the elements of the ALTA Framework. We also make inquiries of appropriate company personnel, observe related activities, and inspect documents and records with the objective of confirming the company’s assertions about its implementation of the ALTA Framework.
A review of a company’s compliance with the ALTA Framework is less in scope than an examination. Review procedures are limited to reading the company’s policies and procedures and comparing them to the elements of the ALTA Framework and making inquiries of appropriate company personnel regarding the implementation of these policies and procedures.
What is the Cost?
The following presents our standard pricing for an examination or review engagement (exclusive of out of pocket expenses, such as travel or other incidental expenses):
$5,500 – $6,500 (single location)
$1,000 for each additional physical location
$2,000 – $2,200 (single location)
$500 for each additional physical location
ALTA CERTIFICATION FAQS
Which Level of Service is Right for You?
Which level of service is right for you depends on a number of factors. The most important, however, may be the lenders for whom you are acting as a settlement agent. Some lenders may accept a review, while others may require an examination. In some cases, lenders have set a demarkation line which requires an examination based on (a) the volume of transactions you settle and (b) the size of your settlement practice. One of our team members can talk with you about your specific situation and help you determine which level of service is right for you.
How Do I Prepare for Certification?
In order to obtain certification, you must first do an internal assessment of your policies and procedures. ALTA has a wealth of information available on their website to assist you in this assessment. Many companies find that they must make changes to their policies and procedures, including condensing these policies and procedures to written form.
If a review engagement will meet your needs, we can begin our work shortly after you confirm your readiness; however, if you require an examination the timetable will vary. In an examination, we must sample and test transactions closed under your ALTA compliant policies and procedures. Therefore, a period of time must pass that allows for settlement of a number of transactions sufficient for testing. We can work with you as you are readying for certification, and help you determine an appropriate project timeline.
How Long Does the Certification Take?
The length of time it takes to complete the certification process will vary from company to company, and will depend on your readiness. If your policies and procedures are well crafted, and you have effectively implemented them, then the certification process will take less time to complete.
A typical review engagement for a well prepared company will take approximately 1 week to complete, start to finish. A typical examination engagement for a well prepared client can take 3-4 weeks to complete, start to finish.
What Do I Do Next?
The key to a successful certification process is getting your CPA involved early in the process. One of our team members can talk with you as you are readying for certification to (a) help you determine the type of engagement that will suit your needs, (b) discuss your current level of readiness, (c) and help you develop a project timeline.