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Colorado regulator resigns, joins real estate brokerage

Erin Toll steps down as director of Division of Real Estate

Erin Toll, the Colorado regulator who gained national prominence five years ago with a probe of kickbacks in the title insurance industry, has resigned from her position as director of the Colorado Division of Real Estate and taken a job as a residential real estate broker.

Toll had been on paid leave after she was quoted in the news media as saying that a state senator and his mortgage brokerage were under investigation for alleged rule violations. The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) denied that the senator was under investigation.

As the controversy escalated, Toll filed a complaint with the state Personnel Board saying she believed she had been targeted for termination, the Denver Business Journal reported. Toll settled the complaint on terms that were not disclosed, the paper said.

In announcing Toll’s resignation, DORA Executive Director Barbara Kelley called her a "passionate consumer advocate" who will represent her real estate clients "with the same type of energy and zeal that was shown in her public sector work."

Toll’s resignation was retroactive to May 31, and she joined luxury broker Perry & Co. Real Estate Professionals of Denver as a broker associate Friday.

With three offices serving the Denver area, Perry & Co. is a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a referral network of independent local and regional residential brokerage firms.

"Erin’s reputation as a consumer watchdog perfectly fits our company mission of providing extraordinary customer service to our clients," said R. Don Larrance, the brokerage’s president, in a statement.

A former title insurance researcher and a licensed attorney, Toll was the state’s deputy insurance commissioner before being named director of the Division of Real Estate in 2006.

Her investigation of nine Colorado title insurers led First American Title Insurance Co. to refund $24 million to consumers and prompted similar investigations in other states nationwide, including Florida, Washington, California, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Washington (see story).

Toll was named by Inman News that year to a list of the "10 Most Influential Real Estate People."

The following year, members of the House Committee on Financial Services published a report alleging that executives at title insurer LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. authorized a campaign to discredit Toll in order to undermine her efforts to lead a multistate settlement on captive reinsurance. LandAmerica, which has since declared bankruptcy, called the report one-sided and inaccurate.

After becoming director of the Colorado Division of Real Estate in 2006, Toll turned her attention to mortgage brokers, enforcing new state laws enacted in 2007. In a 2008 press release, Toll said state regulators had denied or revoked more than 100 mortgage brokers’ licenses, and that Colorado was no longer listed as one of the top 10 states for mortgage fraud for the first time in five years.

As director of the Colorado Division of Real Estate, Toll continued to take an interest in the relationships between title insurers and real estate brokerages. In 2008, lawyers for title insurer First American Residential Group Inc. said the company backed out of a $600,000-a-year marketing agreement with RE/MAX International Inc. after Toll questioned the legality of such agreements.


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