DEFINITION of 'American Land Title Association - ALTA'

The American Land Title Association (ALTA) is a trade association representing the title insurance industry. Founded in 1907, ALTA also focuses on a property's abstract of title, which ties the history of the title to a particular piece of real estate. The organization seeks to improve industry oversight and protect consumers. Members of ALTA agree to a code of conduct that outlines ethical business practices, including operating in a legal and compliant manner that is fair to the consumer.

BREAKING DOWN 'American Land Title Association - ALTA'

ALTA develops the title insurance forms used voluntarily by insurers across the nation, and works to develop a better understanding of its industry among those who use and otherwise interface with land title services. Members search, review and insure land titles to protect home buyers and mortgage lenders who invest in real estate. The Land Title Institute (LTI), a subsidiary of ALTA, offers educational training in the industry. Educational opportunities focus on best practices.

Members of the association are in business in most counties across the nation. Nearly all title insurance companies, as well as abstracters, who prepare a summary of public records relating to the title to a specific parcel of land, and title agents, hold ALTA membership. ALTA has more than 4,600 title agents, abstracters and title insurance companies as active members. Associate members of ALTA include attorneys, builders, developers, lenders, real estate brokers and surveyors. There is an 11-member ALTA Board of Governors that is responsible for creating association policy, managing the financial health of the association, overseeing the work of 33 committees and ensuring the overall welfare of the association.

Activities

ALTA's activities include regular contact with members of Congress, the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and other agencies regarding legislative and regulatory issues. The association may also join with affiliated state title associations regarding a position on pending state legislation. ALTA is in regular contact with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Other primary functions of ALTA include title industry-specific education and working to improve land title records.

Title Insurance

A title search is done prior to the completion of a real estate transaction. A new title search and title policy are needed each time a property is sold or the loan is refinanced. This is done to see if there are any liens or other encumbrances on the property. There are two types of title insurance. One is owner's title insurance, which protects the buyer. The other is lender's title insurance, which protects the lender.

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