Industry News

Stewart Title faces $1.95 million fine in Washington state

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Washington state officials are seeking $1.95 million in fines against Stewart Title Guaranty Co. for allegedly using illegal incentives and inducements to win business from real estate agents, brokers and agencies. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said an investigation of records at Stewart Title of Snohomish County Inc. uncovered 195 violations of a state law that prohibits title insurance companies from giving more than $25 a year to individuals as business inducements. In an Aug. 6 cease-and-desist order, the Insurance Commission alleged the title agency had picked up advertising costs for real estate agents and brokers, and made monthly "desk fee" payments to real estate agencies for space that often went unused. Authorities also alleged Stewart Title made donations to real estate agency charity auctions and an awards banquet, and sponsored a free training seminar for real estate professionals. Stewart Title, in an Aug. 10 written statement provided to Inman ...