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Jim Walker's Blog

By Jim Walker | Agent in Carmichael, CA

Escrow garbage fees, escrow junk fees

The regulating body for the escrow companies in California is the department of corporations. I urge anyone who has been seriously mistreated by a Ca escrow company to file a complaint form.


My current rant:

Escrow company Garbage Fees:

Specifically: Loan Tie-in fee for a purchase money 1st trust deed.
Imaging Fees,
Scanning, Printing, Photocopying Fees,
Electronic Loan Document Fees.

The widespread imposition of these garbage fees is a recent development over the past year or two as banks became the main source of business for escrow companies.  Garbage fees have been around for ages, but were rarely imposed.

In the old days, escrow companies provided courtesy signings at their branch offices, and services were bundled in the escrow fee. I rarely saw additional service fees, unless the additional services were unusual, and required a significant amount of additional work from the escrow company.

Nowadays escrow comanies will only sign the buyer up in the escrow officers own office within the basic fee. If you want to use a branch office in different city, you have to use a mobile notary and pay an extra $125 to $200 above the state regulated notary fee.

The un-bundling of the escrow services is a business plan by the escrow company to screw the public and win the favoritism of the banks with a lower basic escrow service while beefing up the revenue by charging individually for each service that traditionally was part of the bundle of services. Those charges are sprung upon the buyer in the closing week, not disclosed upfront by lender, seller, escrow agent, or real estate agents.

I highly disapprove of this trend in the escrow industry,  it appears to be a change that has become widespread and entrenched over the past several months.   I did not clearly foresee this method for the banks and escrow companies have perfected to abuse consumers.

Traditionally the loan tie in fees were charged only when the borrower was taking two loans or more at the same time. Title companies are now charging this extra fee whenever there is only one loan.
The loan tie-in fee being charged since Nov 22 2009 by Chicago Title for a first deed of trust is $150.

Scanning, photocopying, printing and opening emails and their attachments is a standard part of all business. Most business consider this to be part of their overhead and include the cost of their overhead when determining the prices of their main products and services.

Now buyers are being charged $100 or more for the escrow officer to open her email,  and print out the loan documents.

So, now,  Chicago Title, formerly  with a good reputaton,  now overcharges purchase loan consumers at least  $250. This anti consumer practice is spreading rapidly from escrow company to escrow company. Confront the escrow companies that you do business with, and challenge them to not go over to the dark side.


By Derrick Tran,  Mon Feb 20 2012, 16:17
Hi Jim,

I'm doing a little research for my client and stumbled upon your post here. We received the estimated HUD and I immediately knew the numbers didn't add up.

For example:
Endorsement fee - $150.00
Messenger fee - $25.00
Sub Escrow fee - $75.00
Notary fee- $200.00
Processing fee - $350.00
Document preparation fee - $100.00
Electronic Document fee - $100.00
Archiving fee - $50.00

They insist that these fee's are standard and are not budging at this time. My buyer is suppose to close by the 23rd and will be charged $100/per diem if we're late. Her rate lock will also expire at that time as well. I wish there was more I can do. Any ideas?
By Jim Walker,  Mon Feb 20 2012, 17:36
They have taken you and your client hostage. When in that situation, you or the client pay the ransom to get free (closed escrow.) Then complain. Publicize the name of the evil escrow company and warn others as I have done on this blog. There are still some good escrow companies. The good escrow companies should get our business and loyalty. The evil ones should be shamed in public. A complaint to the state department of corporations is a good idea. What you have is still an estimate. Some of those charges may not show up on the final.. Feel free to forward a copy of my blog post to the evil escrow company escrow officer and her manager. Politely let them know you will post the name of their company to this blog and that Jim Walker and Derrick Tran will spread the word about their greedy filthy business practices and your client will send a complaint to the California department of corporations if they go forward with all of those fees.

They are lying when they insist all these fees are standard. Some are, but not all. Unless your transaction is extremely complicated, most of those fees are just white collar thievery.
By Jim Walker,  Fri Mar 2 2012, 13:43
Derrick, You did not name the evil escrow company. I'll take a guess: Prominent Escrow?
By dondcc,  Thu Mar 14 2013, 13:50
My daughter and son-in-law are first time home buyers. They ran the HUD 1 Settlement Statement which they did not receive until 24 hours prior to scheduled close of escrow, by me as it did not look right.
Sub escrow fee to Chicago Title-$150
Email fee-$100
Loan tie-in fee-$250
Messenger fee-$60
Notary fee-$200

This on top of the inflated escrow fee. In addition, they were charging half the sellers loan payoff fees to these first time buyers. Also caught the escrow assistant and her manger in several half truths and misleading statements when these fees were questioned.
By Jim Walker,  Thu Mar 14 2013, 22:47
Chicago Title used to be a reputable escrow company many years ago. They have abandoned that business model, and gone over to the dark side.
By jchhsu,  Wed Jun 25 2014, 14:26
I am in the same situation with my escrow. It is Regency Escrow in Mission Viejo, CA. I've filed a complaint with the CA department of coporations.

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