Can you have two open escrows on the same property?

Asked by Steve, Covina, CA Mon Dec 1, 2008

We are in the middle of escrow and the final appraisal has come in lower than the purchased price. The seller's agent has been avoiding our attempts to negotiate. After finally getting a hold of her, she said that the seller will have to go into a short sale and that we would have to compete with other buyers. I have recently found out that she has brought another offer to the bank. I believe that this was due to the fact that she will be making double commission from this offer. I thought that this was very unfair so I spoke to her broker and he assured me that he would help clear this up. We have not cancelled our escrow, but I am afraid that they might open up another escrow and sell the property to someone else. Is it legal to start another transaction if the previous escrow has not been cancelled?

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Dp2, , Virginia
Mon Dec 1, 2008
After having signed the Purchase and Sale Agreement, did you "place a cloud on the title" (or record that contract with the county Clerk of Courts)? If so, then even if the listing agent/broker or owner decided to play some games, the seller couldn't sell that property with a free and clear title until you first removed your cloud from the title.

If you haven't clouded the title, then you might want to do a title search to see if anyone else--other than the current lien holders--has placed a cloud on the title (as a double-check). If your title search comes back clean, then go and quickly place a cloud on the title. If otherwise, then you just learned the hard way that you should have recorded that contract. In that case, you could still contact a lawyer to pursue your legal options, but you'll be in a weaker position without the cloud on the title.
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This is such great answer. How do you go about recording the contract with County Clerk of courts. Like to do that without seller's knowledge, because seller is suspected to be running two contracts, therefore can not be trusted. One cannot bring about lawsuit for specific performance if the property is closed with another buyer. There is hardly any liquidated damages because the EMD is in escrow which seller will gladly refund if he accepted and closed on a better contract after signing the first one.
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Dyanna, , California
Mon Dec 1, 2008
Steve, in this market it is common to go into a short sale if the appraisal did not come in at a higher value. My concern here is that if there is an open escrow, there should be no reason why you should be competing with other buyers. You are in escrow and you are willing to pay the highest value (the apppraisal value). Have you spoken to the owners of the property directly? If the broker does not help you, go the the DRE. I wouldn't begin to pay an attorney until you have exhausted all of your other avenues. Good Luck!!
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Joan Patters…, Agent, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Mon Dec 1, 2008

I am very sorry you are going through this. First of all, escrow cannot be opened until yours is cancelled. I would not sign anything to cancel until you have discussed this with your attorney. You may wish to talk to a real estate attorney about what you should do now. This makes no sense to me that now the seller will have to sell by doing a short sale for less that what is owed when you have a higher offer (I am assuming?)

My best advice to you is to talk to legal counsel to make sure this is taken care of correctly for you.

Good luck!

Joan Patterson, B.A., A.S.P., G.R.I., Realtor
Keller Williams Realty
8250 White Oak Avenue, Ste 102
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
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