After an in‐depth evaluation, Prism Title formally was approved by the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close residential and commercial loans on behalf of the USDA rural development program. Prism’s CEO Robert Bingham told The Title Report the title insurance agency now will be able to partner with the USDA in all of their development efforts.
The USDA’s Rural Housing Service offers a variety of programs to build or improve housing and essential community facilities in rural areas. It offers loans, grants and loan guarantees for single and multi‐family housing, child care centers, fire and police stations, hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, schools, first responder vehicles and equipment and housing for farm laborers.
It also provides technical assistance loans and grants in partnership with non‐profit organizations, Indian tribes, state and federal government agencies and local communities.
Its Single Family HouThe multi‐family housing programs offer loans to provide affordable rental housing for very low, low and moderate income residents, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Funds also can be used to buy and improve land and to provide necessary facilities such as water and waste disposal systems. In addition, USDA offers rental assistance to help eligible rural residents with their monthly rental costs.
The USDA’s community facilities programs provide loans, grants and loan guarantees for essential community facilities in rural areas. Priority is given to health care, education and public safety projects. Typical projects are hospitals, health clinics, schools, firehouses, community centers, first responder vehicles and equipment and other community‐based initiatives.
A full‐service title, settlement and vendor management services company, Prism operates in 43 states. It’s 10 years old, worked out of Indiana for approximately eight years, and has grown organically and through acquisitions. Soon it will open an office in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“We do a lot of relocation business and most of it ends up going to rural Illinois and rural
Indiana,” Bingham said. “In this case, a (client) had relocated to Demotte, Ind., where it turns
out the USDA rural development program had a large program where they were investing in the general infrastructure. The property acquired was through a development of the USDA and its rural development program.”
At the time, Prism wasn’t approved by the USDA yet and wasn’t able to partner with the agency until it went through an extensive screening process. “It’s not too different than the ALTA Best Practices,” he said. “The USDA was early on the curve and had its partners define and commit to commonsense practices. We had to go through our licenses and processes and data security. They looked at our recordation practices. They wanted to know more about our data security and how they protect the information. It’s very similar to the attestations we’re going through right now.”
Bingham said Prism has done rural transactions in the past, but this partnership could expand its presence in the market and give it an edge over its competitors.
“I think the USDA realizes it has a unique niche,” Bingham said. “They deal a lot with underdeveloped land, farm and mineral rights. There aren’t a lot of title companies that have that expertise. So part of it for them is determining who their best partners are to help them in these different areas and really alleviate any issues going down the road.
“The USDA, in general, opens up opportunities in real estate, and being certified allows us to benefit from that investment as well,” Bingham continued. “We are making an effort to market
to areas where the USDA has made an investment to get our name out there. I’m really excited about it.”