Home Buying in Los Angeles>Question Details

LAhomebuyer, Home Buyer in Los Angeles, CA

I am purchasing a house and my escrow fees are outrageous!

Asked by LAhomebuyer, Los Angeles, CA Thu Aug 19, 2010

On a 380k purchase, the escrow company which was the seller's choice, are charging the following:

Escrow fee: $1040
Loan tie-in fee: $195
Messenger fee:$100
Email doc fee: $175
Archive fee: $40
General Processing fee: $195

I'm pretty familiar with real estate transactions since I have previous banking experience years ago and I think these fees are crazy. We tried talking to the escrow officer who is also the manager there, but all she has to say is "thats what we charge." When I first contacted them in the beginning of escrow and asked for their fees, they told me it was about $1200, now the fees are way more than what they quoted me. I am starting to think that maybe she is giving kickbacks to the listing agent or something. Anybody have experience trying to negotiate these junk fees with escrow companies.

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Answers

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I would check out your fees with other escrow companies and compare. If there is a huge discrepancy I would present the facts and negotiate the fees if applicable. Not sure about CA laws but I'm sure it is the same in all states, it is a RESPA violation for the escrow company to give kickbacks.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 26, 2010
Hi LAHomebuyer,
I am not an escrow officer.
In my opinion this is way out of line.
You stated you were quoted $1200.
I would hold their feet to the fire.
I would speak to the head person there and let them know you quoted $1200 and that is what you are willing to pay.
A suggestion would be to say
Either make it $1200 or plan on a meeting between you and the Department of Insurance.
Be calm and realistic when you say it.
Be non threatening and let them know the going rate is around $800 - $1000.
I have to ask and I hope you let me know
Is this escrow company tied to a Real Estate company? Perhaps next door? or something similar?
Was the listing agent a Franchise?
you might find it better to get the info from the department of Insurance to see where you stand before you make the call.

Harold Sharpe - Broker
So Cal Homes Realty
(951) 821-8211
harold@socalhomesrealestate.com
http://www.socalhomesrealestate.com
California Department of Real Estate License # 01312992
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 21, 2010
Hi LA. Is there any particular reason you don't have an attorney representing you? An attorney would review your docs and fight on your behalf. REALTORS and real estate agents are not attorneys. I always wonder why buyers try to save that $500-1000 for an attorney in such a large transaction. $380K is still a LOT of money.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
Attorneys are not used in Southern California.
Flag Tue Apr 29, 2014
Hi LA,
Like all fees, escrow fees are negotiable. It's time to let your agent go to work and negotiate on your behalf.

In the future (and to all the readers of this thread) NEVER agree to an escrow company chosen for you without checking ALL of the following: 1.) are they licensed and bonded 2.)how long in business 3.) getting a WRITTEN estimate of closing costs. 4.) do they have any discounts available (senior citizen, first time buyer, repeat client, etc)

Then, agree to use the seller's choice IF (and ONLY IF) they will agree to match the cost of your escrow company. You will be amazed, especially in this economy, how often escrow companies will reduce their fees to earn your business.

It may be too late for you to negotiate with the seller, but it's never too late for your agent to negotiate with the escrow company.

Best,
Deborah Bremner
REALTOR, 00588885
ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
(O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
(D) 818.564.6591
http://www.thebremnergroup.com/news/
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
If you add up the total, its not thousands away from $1200 (its not $1200, but its not $2200 either)...And it was just a quote they gave you. You might want to call another escrow company, see what they charge.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 9, 2010
just a crazy, hypothetical answer to your question.....i will assume your situation is for illustration purposes.....

if something like that happened to me, i would go to the escrow office and ask politely to lower their fees to what they quoted, or let them know that you will stand out all day with a big sign [bring a ready made picket sign with you] saying how unfair their services are.....and that you will let every customer that comes into their office how unfair they are......i think they would change their tune......

just a random thought to a hypothetical situation.....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 1, 2010
I still don't see the lenders title insurance policy. Is the $900 the owners policy or the lenders policy?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 22, 2010
No, this is totally separate from title insurance. It is not common in this area to include escrow and title fees together, that I know from my experience. Title fees are $900, do the escrow fees seem high to you now? I am going to call the Dept of insurance anyway. I would like more information on escrow costs. I am not calling to complain or mention this escrow company, unless they give me info that seems like this company is out of line.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 22, 2010
I think you are missing the fact that the lenders title insurance policy is most likely included in the escrow fee; this is very common. I believe you have been given bad advice by an inexperienced agent who does not understand escrow.

Calling the CDI on Monday won't do anything if your complaint will be that the escrow company refused to change their fees, that's more like an endorsement. A violation to the CDI would be one where they DID lower their fees.

So much bad advice on this forum, it's very discouraging!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 22, 2010
So much info here. Thank you! We did try calling the escrow officer who happens to be the owner and she still won't budge. The escrow officer isn't tied to the real estate office, but we (meaning my agent) called the listing agent and he said he has worked with her so many years and never had one complaint, he said she is the least expensive in the area (yeah right!). After we called escrow and ask nicely to lower the fees and told her other offices in the area only charge 1k flat fee, she just says, this is what our fees are.

After that conversation, the loan documents were sent to escrow and a change needed to be made and a few extra corrected pages needed to be sent to her. She said this is exactly why she doesn't want to lower her fees because of the extra work and she's not going to organize the paper and switch new documents with the old, that I would have to sign the documents with wrong info as well as the new corrected documents. I think this is totally unprofessional, I am paying her $700 more than average and this is what I get!

Now on the settlement statement it shows that the seller's fees for title and tax fees, but it doesn't show any fee for escrow, is this customary to do? I just wonder why she is showing sellers cost for title fees and tax fees but not for escrow. Seems fishy to me. I will be calling the dept of insurance on Monday.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 22, 2010
Hi LA Homebuyer,

Let us know what has happened after talking to the escrow officer. I've negotiated my clients escrow costs down, so I know that it does and can happen. Obviously, this should be done at the beginning of escrow, but I've questioned charges such as messenger service and or email fees at the closing table and they were removed. Ask your agent to talk to the escrow officer.

Again, keep us posted.

Yours,
Lynn LeGlaire
Keller Williams Realty
P: (323)219-4480
E: lynnleglaire@sbcglobal.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 21, 2010
I don't seee Title Insurancce. This must be inccludedin The $1,200 Escrow Fee.. On the Web Resource link I provided First Ameican's Calculator for you to compare. ... Congratulations on your new home purchase & Happy funding, Rudi
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
I guess I must have been dreaming when I have done it in the past on behalf of my clients.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
Apparently agents don't know anything about how escrow fees are priced. I encourage you to read what I wrote below and if you don't believe me, then believe Steve, because he confirmed exactly what I said. You CANNOT negotiate escrow fees!
Web Reference: http://WeFixRates.Com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
The Escrow fee itself is comprised of a base fee; usually $200-250, and then a fee for every thousand $$ of the purchase price, which in LA usually runs approx. $1.75 per 000. So on a $380,000 purchase with a $200 base fee, your "escrow fee" she be approx. $875, or about $165 less than what they're charging you. Either yourself or your agent can call them back and ask them to match these fees and also see if they'll forgo the loan tie in, email doc. archive and gen'l processing fees commonly known as junk fees. Good luck.

michael tunick
prudential california realty
1714 hillhurst avenue
los angeles, ca. 90027
323-646-3893 mobile
323-671-1238 office
323-671-1277 fax
http://www.michaeltunick.com
http://www.highlandsonhillpark.com
http://www.prudentialcal.com
dre# 01321406
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
Hi LAhomebuyer,

In California, Escrow/Title companies must file their fees schedule with the California Department of Insurance (CDI). The filed schedule is used as a basis for comparison between companies.

My understanding is that a title insurer, underwritten title company, or a controlled escrow company offering a fee or charge which is less than the currently effective schedule for fees and charges filed with the CDI is unlawful.

I believe it’s also unlawful to provide a rebate (a lender, real estate broker or homebuilder receiving free services, property, or money in exchange for steering business to a title company falls into this category). Paying a commission directly or indirectly to any person as a means of generating a referral or actual placement of title insurance is also a “no-no”.

Best, Steve
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
So many different answers to your question. I am an escrow officer myself and the rumor that we can negotiate our fees is 110% false. All escrow and title rates must be filed with the State Banking Commission or a similar orgainzation (depending on what state you are in) to prevent discrimination against any party. It is true however that there are various disounts available that are also filed. Don't be afraid to ask if there are any that might apply to you (investor, short or long term purchases, builder etc.) Many escrow officers won't offer them unless you or your agent ask, it effects our bottom line. The fees you outlined seemed a bit high but speaking from experience they always are in CA. CA also pads their fees - ask if the rates that you were quoted include any padding. Rates are published - tell them that you want to see an official document outlinging these charges. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
You're on the right track. Although most charges seem reasonable, a couple (archiving, processing) sound like they came out of a car dealership. First, what do you think is reasonable? You stated banking experience from years ago. Sometimes we don't keep up on current expenses so they seem high. Second, how can you contribute? One of my clients learned of her messenger fees, so decided to drop off her own papers in person--saving at least $100+. Third, what can you get out of them? "You don't ask, you don't get." Get in touch (with your agent), to ask--nicely--whether at least a portion of the superfluous-appearing charges can be reversed. Considering the earlier verbal quote of approx. $1200, state your shock, grief and poverty. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 20, 2010
To LAhomebuyer, these fees don't seem unreasonable at all.
To everyone else, escrow fees are not negotiable; escrow is regulated and they cannot arbitrarily lower their fees as they are on file with the department of insurance. This business of "all fees" being negotiable is not true. Any ethical company charges what they charge to everyone regardless or they would be sued in a minute.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
Hello LAhomebuyer,

Ask your agent to go over the fees with you. They don't seem off the mark from what you have sent. There are not "kickbacks" permitted. It's against the law.

Best,

Monique Carrabba
The Carrabba Group
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills
mcarrabba@kw.com
(323)899-2900
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
Easiest - I would call another escrow company and inquire as to what their fee's would be comparing apples to apples.

Both answers by my com-padre's are Excellent BTW...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
Escrow fees are somewhat negotiable, however they are based on the purchase price of the home, if you are unhappy, I would definitely talk to your realtor. Do some homework and call other escrow companies and ask what they charge, then re-approach the manager of the escrow company
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 19, 2010
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