Title Insurance Reform
In 2009, the legislature passed and Governor Richardson signed Think New Mexico's title insurance reforms into law, lowering closing costs for homebuyers and making it more affordable for homeowners to refinance their mortgages. This culminated a two-year effort that began in 2007 with the release of Think New Mexico's policy report on title insurance reform.
Title insurance is intended to provide a guarantee to buyers that the seller is giving them good title to the property - in other words, that the seller is truly the owner of the property, and that there are no other claims against the property such as mortgages, liens, building restrictions, or other encumbrances. Title insurance is required by banks before they will approve or refinance a mortgage, and it is one of the largest elements of closing costs.
New Mexico's title insurance costs had long been excessive because in 1985, the title insurance industry drafted and won passage of a state law that required the state Superintendent of Insurance to promulgate a single rate schedule for all title insurers in New Mexico. In other words, it was impossible for homebuyers to shop around for less expensive title insurance in New Mexico because, by law, all the title insurers charge the exact same price.
Working with many other stakeholders, in the 2009 legislative session Think New Mexico drafted and Speaker Ben Lujan sponsored a package of reforms designed to make title insurance more affordable for New Mexico families.
The reform package included four major elements. First, rather than having the Superintendent of Insurance set a single rate for title insurance in New Mexico, the Superintendent would instead set a maximum rate and allow price competition underneath it. Second, the discounts available for homeowners who refinance their mortgages would be substantially increased. Third, the bill enhanced a number of consumer protections. Finally, the legislation included a first in the nation provision designed to reduce the cost of title insurance for New Mexico's Indian nations, tribes, and pueblos when they buy land and transfer it to the federal government to be held in trust. (Read a summary of the final legislation.)
Think New Mexico's title insurance reform legislation passed the New Mexico House 59-0, the Senate 39-0, and was signed into law by the Governor on April 3, 2009. We will continue to work to monitor the implementation of this law.
Thank Your Legislators
During the 2008 and 2009 legislative sessions, Think New Mexico supporters sent hundreds of messages to their legislators and the governor urging them to support title insurance reform. This grassroots support was a big reason why the bill passed with such overwhelming support in both the House and Senate. Direct, personal messages from constituents are the key to achieving lasting policy reform, and we are very grateful for all the help we received on this effort. Click here to thank your legislators for supporting title insurance reform.
Vocal public support of proposals like title insurance reform played a big part in making it happen. Legislators paid attention to letters to the editors from their constituents, and they responded with overwhelming support for this legislation. The Media section of Think New Mexico's Action Center provides the names and contact information for your local media, including newspapers, radio stations, and television stations, and you can compose and send any of them an email or letter right from the page.
Resources & Media
Did you refinance a mortgage between May 1, 2009 and July 31, 2014? You may be due a refund!
Read Think New Mexico's policy report on reforming title insurance to make homeownership more affordable
Coalition in Support of Title Insurance Reform
Newspaper Articles & Editorials
Read Los Alamos Daily Post article about the sucessful conclusion of Think New Mexico's fight to expand title insurance discounts May 28, 2014
Read Santa Fe New Mexican article about Think New Mexico's fight for refunds for homeowners who refinanced after May 1, 2009 and failed to receive the full discount on their title insurance policies November 13, 2012
Read Truth or Consequences Herald article about the implementation of Think New Mexico's title insurance reform law January 19, 2011
Read Associated Press article on 2009 title insurance reform bill passing the House March 7, 2009
Read La Jicarita News article on 2009 title insurance reform bill February 2009
Read syndicated columnist Jay Miller's column on Think New Mexico's work September 28, 2007
Read Las Cruces Sun-News editorials in support of title insurance reform January 23, 2008
September 30, 2007
These editorials were also printed in: the Alamogordo Daily News, the Carlsbad Current-Argus, the Deming Headlight, the Farmington Daily Times and the Silver City Sun-News
Read Rio Grande Sun editorial in support of Think New Mexico's title insurance reform initiative September 13, 2007
Read Santa Fe New Mexican editorial endorsing Think New Mexico's title insurance reform initiative September 9, 2007
Read Albuquerque Tribune editorial on Think New Mexico's title insurance reform initiative September 6, 2007
Radio and Television
Watch a KRQE News 13 story about Think New Mexico's fight for refunds for New Mexico homeowners who were overcharged for title insurance policies when they refinanced their mortgages November 14, 2012 (2:27)
Listen to KSFR Report on Title Insurance Reform Legislation March 4, 2009 (mp3, 5:25)
Listen to KUNM Report on Title Insurance Reform Legislation March 4, 2009 (mp3, 3:54)
Listen to KSFR Report on Title Insurance Reform September 4, 2007 (mp3, 3:35)
Blogs, Online Media, and Other
Read Think New Mexico's opinion editorials on title insurance reform in Heath Haussamen's New Mexico Politics Blog
Read Rio Grande Foundation blog post congratulating Think New Mexico for title insurance reform April 3, 2009
Read syndicated columnist Jay Miller's blog post on title insurance reform March 13, 2009
Read letters asking Gov. Richardson to place title insurance reform on the 2008 legislative agenda from:
- Archbishop Sheehan,
- UNM Professor Dante DiGregorio,
- the Public Regulation Commission,
- Attorney General Gary King,
- Former Superintendent of Insurance Don Letherer, and
- Bill Enloe, CEO of Los Alamos National Bank and Title Guaranty, the first title company to break with the industry and support reform
Read Attorney General Gary King's news release on New Mexico's excessive title insurance rates