Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine
Certified Distressed Property Expert, CDPE
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates
1320 Hwy 395
Gardnerville, NV 89410
Keller Williams Realty
Title Costs are regulated since they are an insurance so you will not find a lot of difference in the costs. However, escrow companies can charge whatever they like. Most decent ones are going to cost you a flat fee of around 250-$350 base PLUS $2-3 per Thousand. If you are purchasing a home for 800,000 you will probably see how it is nice to be on the lower side of that. It is somewhat "customary" to our area that the sellers select the escrow company but if you are purchasing a home without a lot of competition, you will be in a better position to negotiate this selection. REO's typically provide an "incentive" for you to use their escrow.
Locally, I like Kim Keith at Chicago Escrow and Title in Westlake.
You will encounter a Broker run escrow, but the broker run escrows can only handle transactions that the broker is either representing the buyer or seller. Nothing wrong with this, we have many very good broker owned escrows in Ventura County. There are independents, like escrows at a Title company. These Title Company Escrows are typically running the escrows on Bank Foreclosure properties as big banks negotiate volume discounting on services. They can run other escrows, I am not seeing many agents recommend those escrow outfits as much these days and I doubt it has anything to do with service or skill set, probably more relationship driven. I am using Title run escrow on commercial purchases I represent and that is a decision on skill set.
You can ask to see an estimate of the costs of the escrow the listing agent is requesting to use and compare that to an escrow the buyer is proposing to use. Or you can ask if you can use a Title Company Escrow or another independent. You can negotiate on some of those fees. Some fees such as title are set, you would have to get the rate sheets from several Title companies to compare rates.
Ask questions, ask for written estimates and be reasonable; this way the process will be less stressful.
I see the hours of work an escrow officer puts into these files and the mound of paperwork and a $1200 avg escrow fee on a $500k purchase is not unreasonable. One thing the public does not see is how poorly the escrow officers are treated. Escrow has big liability and big responsibility. California is a State that allows Escrow to handle the Settlement without an attorney. There is no way I can see an attorney taking on that job at those prices.
If your agent has experience with concurrent closings and same with the escrow company they recommend, look at the estimates and see if you can get a break on anything, if not, feel good that you did the investigations and understand the costs.