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Title Insurance Reform

Title Insurance Reform

Issue Summary

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.

Governor Richardson Signs the Title Insurance Reform Bill. Pictured are Kristina Fisher, Regis Pecos, Speaker Ben Lujan, Fred Nathan & Governor Richardson.

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.

Get Involved

Thank your Legislators 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.

Contact your Local Media 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.

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Resources & Media

Did you refinance a mortgage between May 1, 2009 and July 31, 2014? You may be due a refund!
To determine whether you qualify for a partial refund of your title insurance costs:
(1) Contact your title insurance company and ask them what discount they provided when you refinanced, and how that was calculated. If you do not know who your title insurance company is, call the bank or lender that financed your mortgage and ask which title company was used for your refinance.
(2) If you received a lower discount than you should have, the title company should issue you a refund of your overpayment.
(3) If you experience any difficulties, contact the New Mexico Insurance Division. The Title Insurance Bureau Chief, Craig Dunbar, can be reached at (505) 827-4536.

Title Insurance Reform Policy Report Read Think New Mexico's policy report on reforming title insurance to make homeownership more affordable

Coalition in Support of Title Insurance Reform

Find out what New Mexicans are saying, what national leaders are saying, and what the national media is saying about title insurance

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 Associated Press articles on Think New Mexico's title insurance reform initiative January 22, 2008September 5, 2007

Read Albuquerque Journal editorials in support of title insurance reform • January 24, 2008September 9, 2007

Read Las Cruces Sun-News editorials in support of title insurance reform • January 23, 2008September 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 Las Vegas Daily Optic editorials in support of Think New Mexico's title insurance reform initiative January 29, 2008October 23, 2007

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:

Read Attorney General Gary King's news release on New Mexico's excessive title insurance rates