Jodi Strober-…,  in Bucks County PA, Mon...

My buyers just had an offer accepted on a home in Philadlephia and the listing agent is requiring my buyer to

Asked by Jodi Strober- Bucks & Montgomery County PA, Bucks County PA, Montgomery County PA Thu Feb 14, 2008

provide them with a W-9 with their deposit.
The good faith deposit is going into a NON-interest bearing account. The listing broker claims that ALL banks are requiring a W-9 with any deposit in order to be in compliance with the Homeland Security Act.
Is this accurate? thanks in advance...

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Joe Sheehan, Agent, Exton, PA
Sun Dec 14, 2008
Hi Jodi,

I agree with Renee Porsia on this issue. There are very few instances where a buyer or seller must divulge social security numbers:

- Performing domestic relations lien search
- Credit Reports
- Federal Investment in Real Property Act (Commercial Properties)
- W-9 for interest bearing escrow account.

Domestic Relations search is usually done by title company, Credit Reports by Mortgage Company, FIRPTA only applies to commercial properties, and if escrow is not deposited in an interest bearing escrow account, you don't need a W-9. Of course, if you do collect interest on the escrow, the listing broker is required to report the income to the IRS and that's why you would need to file a W-9.

In most cases, I advise buyers that the risks involved by divulging SS numbers on the W-9 is not worth the very small interest gained from the interest bearing escrow account. My advice is usually to forego the interest and don't submit a W-9. My broker does not require them for our listings unless the buyer *insists* on an interest bearing escrow account..

I think it goes without saying, buyers and sellers shouldn't divulge bank account, credit card, and driver license numbers either. At settlement, the title clerk will make a copy of your driver license for identification purposes but you shouldn't need to provide that information on any documents leading up to that point.

I hope that's helpful. Conrgratulations on the successful agreement of sale!.

Oh, and NEVER provide this information over the internet, web sites, email, or fax unless you know the proper data security is in place or the data transmission is encrypted and only give it over the phone if you are absolutely certain who you are giving the information to.


Joe Sheehan, ABR, SRES
RE/MAX Professional Realty, Inc.
Exton, PA
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0 votes
Renee Porsia, Agent, Newtown, PA
Sun Dec 14, 2008
Hi Jodi,

I was jut asked for one as well. If your client doesn't want to sign one then you can't force them to sign it.

I disagree with Cheryl. We are not allowed to ask for social security numbers. I give my client my conveyancing department's phone number and tell them to contact them or wait to be contacted and to only provide their ss # to them. There is no need to give the social security number to anyone other than the people who need it such as the client's lender and title company. The listing agent does not need it.

The listing agent doesn't need it for the escrow account. They have a record of how much the buyer gives and it goes into the Broker's escrow account.

I say don't give it.

I've had the listing agent ask for some crazy things over the years and I just don't give it to them. The only items they need is the AOS,BFI (without the ss#), approval letter from bank and deposit. Thats it.

Renee Porsia
Associate Broker
(215) 669-0589 Direct
(215) 358-1100 Ask for Renee
0 votes
Amie Holt, , Temple, PA
Sat Dec 13, 2008
I also have not been asked for a W-9. SS# is sufficient.
0 votes
Cheryl R. Su…, , Schwenksville, PA
Wed Feb 27, 2008
With all deposits you need to give the listing agents company the buyers ss# to put the money into an escrow account. I have not been asked for the W-9.
0 votes
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