Wednesday, September 22, 2010


WHY CONSERVATIVES SHOULD NOT VOTE FOR JARI ASKINS!
REASON #11
ABSTRACTING
by Steve Fair
There are one hundred and thirty two (132) real estate abstract offices scattered across Oklahoma. The function of abstract offices is to create a collection of legal documents which chronicles activities associated with a particular parcel of land. Generally included are references to deeds, mortgages, wills, probate records, litigations, and tax sales. Basically, any essential legal documents that affect the property are included in an ‘abstract.’ The abstract will also show the names of all property owners and how long a particular holder owned it for as well as showing the price the land was exchanged for when it changed owners.
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Title Search or Abstract Companies were created in the mid 1800s to provide buyers of property peace of mind. They searched for the documents affecting the title to the land in question usually by going to the county courthouse, pouring through dusty records and files, copying them, and putting them into a neat organized pile. They charged ‘by the page’ and the security of knowing the piece of ground you were purchasing did not have an outstanding mortgage or lien- that someone else had claim to it- was a valuable and necessary service. However, this procedure has been found to be cumbersome and inefficient in most of the US. With computer technology and advanced software, an abstractor can ‘access’ court house files from their office and print the documents off. It has become nothing more than a glorified copy business.
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Oklahoma and Iowa are the only two remaining states that require real estate transactions be finalized at an Abstract office. Because of so much criticism and frequent questions from Oklahomans on why the state still uses the out of date abstracting process, the Oklahoma Abstractor Board addressed the question on their website.
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In response to why the two states are the only two that still do abstracting, they wrote, “This is simply not true. Every state requires some form of "abstracting" and the final product the "abstract". Other states call it "evidence of title", "title report," "title search," or "title examination"--and some states do call the search "abstracting." The search process, no matter what it's called, has to be done, and is done, in every state.” The board’s website is: http://www.ok.gov/abstractor/FAQ/index.html
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It is true that Title Searches are done by purchasers in other states. It is also true that other states HAVE abstractors, but only Oklahoma and Iowa REQUIRE them to be used in the transfer of property when a mortgage is involved.
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Most buyers of property employ a real estate attorney to research and determine whether or not there are any liens on the property they are purchasing. But even a real estate attorney’s word is not good enough for most lenders. Banks and lending institutions require ‘Title Insurance’ which can be conveniently purchased from the abstractors at closing. So why do you need insurance on a title you just paid someone to research? According to one Oklahoma abstractor, “Title Searchers do searches and human error exists. You do not want their bad day to become your problem, insurance is your protection.” So much for standing behind your work.
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The OAB site lists the requirements/qualifications for a person to open an abstract office in Oklahoma. In essence, a prospective abstractor has to be approved by the board consisting of abstractors across the state. How convenient and a clear conflict of interest! What if you wanted to open a grocery store, but you had to get the permission of the Oklahoma Grocers Association board? Fat chance they would welcome a new competitor into the marketplace. No wonder there has not been a new abstract company start-up approved in the state for years.
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Lt. Governor Jari Askins is a partner (Vice President) with her brother Marty in the Stephens County Abstract Company. It was established in 1951 by their father, Ollie Askins. The fifty nine (59) year old Duncan business employs around twenty people. There is another abstractor in Stephens County, but most counties in Oklahoma have only one abstractor.
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Former State Senator Gene Stipe, (D-McAlester) at one time owned all or part of nine (9) abstract companies across the state. Ironically, Stipe was the author of the bill that requires Oklahomans to use abstractors to close real estate transactions.
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The oversight of the abstract business in Oklahoma is the duty of the State Auditor and Inspector. Former State Auditor & Inspector Jeff McMahan was ousted from office after accepting illegal campaign contributions from abstractors Stipe and Steve Phipps, Stipes partner. Phipps was sentenced to a year in prison for his part in diverting nearly three (3) million dollars in taxpayer money to his businesses and according to his own attorney broke the code of silence that brought down the Little Dixie political machine.
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Abstracting has been found to be cumbersome, unnecessary and inefficient in most of the U.S. Its heyday has past and it adds little or no value to a transaction. In effect it is a ‘good ole boy’ system that has made millions for a few select Oklahomans, including the Askins family. Real estate abstractors should have to run their business by convincing consumers they are providing a value and a service, not by lobbying lawmakers to mandate their services.

3 comments:

sarah d said...

Mr. Fair-I received a link to this blog this morning and I was appalled by what I read! You guessed it- I am an abstractor! The portrayal was unfair to say the least. You also need to get your facts straight before you attempt to scare the voters. Yes, we used to be under the auspices of the state auditor and inspector, after the state's "good ol' boys" were afraid they were missing out on their piece of the pie. After the horrific debacle that Mr. Phipps and others used for their gain only, there was a new abstractor's board formed with lawyers, bankers, realtors and yes, abstractors! No fees and/or rules are approved or changed unless the board approves it. There are only two of us in our plant, and we take pride in our jobs. Human error does occur, however careful we are, so we double, triple and sometimes more our work before it leaves our office to go to an attorney for exam. We are required by law to carry error & omission insurance, as well as to be bonded. While we make a fairly good income each year, we are hardly making a fortune off of abstracts. The insurance industry is desperately wanting a piece of the consumer's money, so they are spreading some rather malicious rumors about our industry. Incidentally, we do not sell title policies here. They are not all they are cracked up to be, and cost way too much money. Your alternative to abstracting means the consumer will pay more than they need to know their title is merchantable. I do not know Ms. Askins or her family, but I find it very distasteful to attack a person's character based on something Phipps and his "good ol' boy" political cronies did over the span of several years. I had planned on voting for Fallin, but if this is how her administration will feel about my bread and butter, then it won't be hard to vote for Askins, since my co-worker and I are not independently wealthy and need our jobs. Won't take long to persuade friends and family, either to do the same. Sorry you didn't check your facts, good old boy! Have a great day!

Steve Fair is a political activist. said...

I have nothing to do with the Fallin campaign. I am not voting for Askins for many reasons and her support of Abstractors is just one reason. Thanks for reading.

sarah d said...

My remark about title insurance was unfair and in the same category as your attack on abstracting, and I apologize for my heat of the moment statement. Furthermore, We do not require anyone to do abstracting, it is a choice to most land owners. The banks, however, will not loan money against something they do not know is a safe investment. We don't force our services on anyone. In fact, when people just want to have them done for no purpose other than to just have it brought current to their name, we discourage it and tell them they don't need to waste the money. Integrity and honesty carry us far in life, and it is practiced to the hilt where we come from.