Breaking News: DFS Guidance Reposted

Very important update on the 3rd party vendor fee situation. 

Dear Members,

Here I am again, like a bad penny.  I keep turning up.

I have breaking news about the 3rd party fee issue with Department of Financial Services (DFS).  The revised guidance I alluded to yesterday has now been posted.  Here is a link 

The guidance is under “Title Insurance Agency Fees.” 

Now this is what I call “guidance.”  Thank you, DFS!  I urge everyone reading this email to read the guidance word for word and absorb it.  And then live by it.

Here are the salient points:

  • DFS does not have the authority to regulate the AMOUNT of each fee charged as part of a closing.
  • DFS is charged with making sure Florida consumers are not the victims of deceptive and unfair trade practices when they purchase title insurance in connection with a real property transaction.  THIS IS A KEY POINT. 
  • One of the items to which DFS will pay close attention when inspecting agency records or investigating the actions of an agency is whether the agency charged the consumer at closing the same fee that was advertised or otherwise communicated to the consumer.
  • Title agents are permitted to hire outside parties to assist in the completion of their duties.
    • These charges should be included in the closing services fee it advertises to the public.
    • Title agents can charge the third party fees as separate line items as long as the consumer has been properly notified (see guidance for detail).
    • Irrespective of how the fees are charged/shown, in no case should a third party fee be charged to a consumer in a deceptive or misleading manner.

This newly articulated perspective from DFS allows us to have important discussions amongst all industry partners:  what are examples of unfair and deceptive practices?  What can the industry do to “get the word out” to the consumers about how they should expect to be treated by a law abiding title agent?  How are changes in the industry properly reflected in our charges (e.g., Remote Online Notarization)? Lots of possibilities for healthy discussion with a positive focus.

Please send me your comments and questions.  Here at the Fund, we have already identified several questions that we will discuss with DFS at the earliest opportunity.  For example, how are the total charges treated on the Data Call?  What type of notice to the consumer is sufficient?  How do agents deal with last minute changes in the closing process that will trigger an additional vendor fee? 

From me personally, thank you so much for your kind words and comments about the work we are doing at The Fund to protect and promote your role in the transaction and our efforts to keep you informed.

Let me know how we can help you.


Melissa Jay Murphy
Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer,
General Counsel and Secretary