We are puchasing a REO and Harmony Escrow is listed as title and escrow company.

Asked by Cheryl, Las Vegas, NV Wed Feb 18, 2009

What recouse do we have considering the Nevada laws stipulates we can chose the company. They are trying to make us pay CA fees and I feel we should be paying NV fees. We don't live in CA. We live in NV the home is in NV. Who should we contact to address this matter.

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21
Screwed By H…, Home Buyer, Las Vegas, NV
Fri Apr 24, 2009
I am in the EXACT same boat as you are. We are dealing with Harmony Escrow, and it has been nothing short of a NIGHTMARE. When I buy my next house, if Harmony Escrow is involved in any way in the transaction, I am walking away. I have been talking to an attorney and am investigating the merits and the viability of a class action lawsuit against them for fraud among many other causes of action.
3 votes
Rob, Home Buyer, Las Vegas, NV
Tue Aug 11, 2009
http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/ramh/res/respamor.cfm

You can file a complaint with RESPA the address if listed in the link and provides recourse to all those who suffered under Harmony.
1 vote
Senior Certi…, , El Dorado County, CA
Thu Jun 4, 2009
From the perspective of an Senior Escrow Officer/Branch Manager with over 20 years experience in the title and escrow world I would like to say that dealing with Harmoney Escrow, Inc. out of Irvine California is more than FRUSTRATING. They are down right INCOMPETENT. The staff has -0- sense of urgency, NO customer service skills and cannot even handel the most simple of escrow related tasks. Frankly I am ashamed to say that I work in the same field as them and would never rate them as colleagues. How about responding to your emails ladies and gentlemen or a return phone call? ALL and I mean ALL of the staff at Harmony Escrow lack the skills to be in the industry. Harmony Escrow should have their doors closed immediately and for good. Furhter, the owner of Harmony Escrow should take a long look at his/her business and decide if he/she has the skills to hire decent escrow talent.
1 vote
Escrow Girl, , Ontario, CA
Wed May 20, 2009
I am so sorry you are experiencing this with that company. I will tell you that I am an escrow officer and I have an REO account. When I was asked to quote my fees, I quoted them BELOW our usual rate. The escrow fee for an REO should be around $550.00 no matter the price or location. It sounds like you need to shop for a new company. A good escrow officer will be able to close anywhere. I do the same amount of work on a $200,000.00 escrow as I do on one that is $1M. If I can be of assistance, please call. (626) 926-3827. Christine
1 vote
Thiele Rice…, Agent, Reno, NV
Tue Apr 28, 2009
Dear Cheryl,
I sold a home to a client and Harmony was the escrow agent for the transaction so I am well aware of what you are going through. Harmony has negotiated with Freddie Mac (one of it's two clients, I believe) to handle many of their escrows. The odd thing about it is that Harmony charges a flat $850 per side or $1700 to handle an escrow (most escrows are on a sliding rate scale pegged to the price of the home) . This fee is roughly about twice the going rate of an escrow company located in Nevada. Some negotiated rate, HUH. Your options are limited if you want the house (this is what they are banking on) which you probably got at a good price. You can contact the Insurance commissioner in Nevada and California to inquire if the fee is legitimate and what recourse you have. In my case, I contacted Freddie Mac directly, and complained about the excessive fee, and they explained that the fee was high because it was supposed to get rid of the "Garbage Fees" but they still had to eliminate some costs to my client. Shortly after closing my client also received a check for $151.00.

My advice is to call your elected representatives and make them aware of this situation. There is no reason for home buyers to have to pay fees that are not usual and customary. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".
Edmund Burke
1 vote
Ron Johnson, Agent, Las Vegas, NV
Sat Feb 21, 2009
Cheryl,

This is very frustrating. I know exactly what you are going through. I purchased a Bank owned property last month. I had asked for a certain escrow company in my original offer. The listing agent countered and said we had to use the Banks preferred Title/Escrow company. I did agree to this and signed the counteroffer. When I went to close I asked for a copy of the estimated Hud-1 and saw several additional "junk" charges. I asked to speak to the escrow officer and I showed her the Hud-1 from a previous property I had purchased without any of these "junk" fees. She agreed to waive a couple of the charges, I asked to speak to her boss and ultimately was successful in getting about 75% of what I considered "junk" charges removed. She told me they could not remove all of them because they have negotiated rate with this Bank and they basically have to make their money from the buyer instead of the seller. I decided it was not a huge deal to pay a couple hundred extra dollars and closed on this transaction.

I hope this helped you. I would have your agent contact his preferred escrow officer here in town and have her disclose what your fee's would have been if the escrow was through her and use this as ammunition to force the manager at the CA company to reduce their fees.

Ron Johnson
Elite Realty
1 vote
George C., Home Buyer, Las Vegas, NV
Thu Jun 21, 2012
I was so nervous afte reading this as Harmony Escrow was who I had to deal with in buying my Freddie Mac home here in Las Vegas. Well all I can say is they did a great job. I closed in 42 days without a problem. Signed papers on Monday, it was recorded on Tuesday and this afternoon I got a refund for $719. Don't let a few bad reviews cloud the fact that they close thousands of homes trouble free.
0 votes
Escrowpro, , California
Thu Sep 1, 2011
Rob,

The Title Policy does not come from the escrow company it comes from the title company, nor do you sign the final report. As for the HUD, you do not sign the final HUD either. if your real estate agent is out of town, and he or she does not have an assistant, send an email to escrow requesting the final HUD to be emailed to you. This is customary.
0 votes
Poopydoo, Home Buyer, Caballo, NM
Thu Feb 3, 2011
I'm purchasing a NV property and escrow just opened today. I received instructions to wire-transfer funds to Harmony's account at Pacific Western Bank but had additional questions. I called the office and pressed the key for Cindy Gutierrez' office and when no one answered, I was prompted to leave a voicemail with Fernando Dominguez. I called later and could only get through to Mr. Dominguez' voicemail box so I left a message. Because I needed answers soon, I called back later and waited for the operator. Naturally, she couldn't answer my questions but was able to transfer me to someone who could: someone on Mrs. Gutierrez' team(?!?). This person was able to answer my questions, but I sensed they sounded unsure of the answers they gave. So, I called back a little later and dialed a different prompt (Joanna). Sure enough, I was given incorrect information the first time.

Understand that I'm not here to lambaste this company--it's very early in our relationship so I can't base my opinion on one or two interactions--I'm hoping for the best. However, based on my initial dealings, some things seem a little inefficient and should probably be addressed. For instance, if I'm dealing with Cindy Gutierrez' team and want to contact someone on the team via phone, why do I only get Fernando Dominguez' voicemail when I call? Does that key prompt ring to all phones on that team or only Mr. Dominguez? If he's out sick, on vacation, stuck at the airport, etc, will anyone else be able to return my call? Why is it that when I spoke with the operator, she was able to transfer me to someone else on the team, yet that person couldn't (or wouldn't) answer my call when I dialed the team direct?

I recommend the company make it easier to contact various members of the team instead of constraining clients to one point of contact who may never return their calls (so far, mine hasn't been returned). I'm doing my best from the start to ensure this process flows smoothly by asking necessary questions up front, and seeking "second opinions" when I feel I've been misinformed. In other words, I've opened the lines of communication and am intent on keeping them open. It's too early in the process to form an accurate opinion, so I'll try to stay positive and diligent. I'll update this Q&A as the process moves along.
0 votes
Harmonysucks, Home Buyer, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
Wed Jan 26, 2011
Audrey Bryan is the "office manager" of the company and purports to be an attorney. She has no knowledge of contracts and should stick to make photocopies. The owner listed below is of no help and the company is just full of inept individuals. STAY AWAY!
0 votes
Lvrealtor, , Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
Wed Dec 15, 2010
I am currently in escrow with them for the second time. I am a real estate agent in Las Vegas and nearly pulled my hair out when knowing they were the title company! In las Vegas if you choose your own title company the buyer will be stuck in paying ALL the costs even the customary sellers cost. it is all written out in their addendums beforehand. So we get stuck with this incompetent company. What I find even more concerning aside from the raping in the fees, is that the seller's POA is an employee for Harmony Escrow, which now creates conflict of interest as a title company is supposed to be a third neutral party. For everyone to start filing a complaint and draw attention to this rape is http://insurance.ca.gov/contact-us/0200-file-complaint/ hope this helps
0 votes
Rande Joihns…, , Irvine, CA
Tue Nov 16, 2010
With regards to the escrow fees in the state of Nevada, we audited the fees charged by several companies in the state. We found a majority of them charged a fee much higher than the contracted fee we charge.
As the owner of the company I find it strange that people would rather place random and anonymous comments on a blog instead of just lifting up the phone and making a quick call. If people are unhappy or unknowledgeable about certain aspects of the escrow business, I suggest they act in a professional manner. Our company closes over 800 escrows per month and has been rated as one of the top closing agents in the western United States. The operations manager has over 20 years of escrow experience and I have been in the business since 1978. The business of escrow has changed greatly in the last 10 years and some people believe the escrow officer is to blame when a transaction fails to close. Recently we have found a majority of the problems are centered on poor communication and the lack of quality training from the other professions involved in closings. My goal has always been to have all those involved in an escrow transaction to work together. There has been too much bad news about real estate, let’s work together to change the image.
If you need to reach me during the week please feel to contact me at (949) 252-8300 or (949) 660-0050. Rande Johnsen
0 votes
J Paul Smith, , Las Vegas, NV
Tue Jun 29, 2010
I am not writing to answer your question specifically, but rather to weigh in on a very recent transaction that I had with Harmony Escrow. This is deserving given the many negative reviews below.

The transaction was a Freddie Mac sale of a home in Las Vegas, I found Harmony Escrow to be nothing short of FANTASTIC in working with me and my client's needs. Their organization operated like a finely tuned Swiss Watch, responding immediately to every telephone and email inquiry that I submitted. They passed along the file to their inter-departments with excellently coordinated communications to all, and with each transfer it was a seemless transition.

As soon as it was determined that we would have schedule challenges in following the normal course of business...due to my client's travel commitments...Harmony kicked into high gear and and we closed the transaction inside of one week's time.

All along, I found each representative of Harmony to be attentive to the issues, and caring of their performances. This was truly an excellent experience and I look forward to working with Harmony Escrow in the future!

Paul Smith
Realtor, Las Vegas NV
0 votes
Danneka, Home Buyer, Sherman Oaks, CA
Tue May 11, 2010
I'm right now dealing with Harmony Escrow and they are (like the reviews below) the WORST company i have ever dealt with. They made a mistake on my paperwork and now i'm having to re-do everything and thankfully my bank is extending my closing date at no cost to me but i am most likely going to have to pay for a notary TWICE and pay for bank wire transfer charges TWICE.

They never return calls and have only returned a few of my emails. When I asked if I could get the above charges waived because of their mistakes, I have yet to hear anything. I will let you all know if they do but so far I am so dreading the closing of my (first time buyer) property!!!! This is a pure NIGHTMARE and I agree that this company should be closed down and all of us should pool together to get them in a lawsuit!
0 votes
I got my first house a year ago and had them too. I don't know, I keep looking at my paperwork and things just don't add up. I paid cash for the house and I don't understand this lending bit, loans etc. I have been told that I am fine, but I think I am gonna go see a Real Estate lawyer anyway to look over all my paperwork.. I got a letter from my bank to let me know that they were wiring 10,000 out of my account. I freaked and put a freeze on the account. Well when I got in contact with EH they knew nothing about it. She looked on her computer and there was no record of it and no one has tried to do that again or even get in touch with me to explain why his was gonna be issued. Someone was trying to pull a fast one if you ask me.
Flag Tue Sep 24, 2013
Druidjessie, Home Buyer, Chico, CA
Mon May 3, 2010
Harmony Escrow is one of the worst title companies I have EVER dealt with. I have purchased several homes in the past and NEVER had dealt with such an incompetent bunch of fools before. I hope everything worked out for you in the end and sympathize with your problems.

Rev. Jessie Olson
Chico, CA
0 votes
Erin Ray, Agent, Las Vegas, NV
Sun Apr 4, 2010
Currently I am in a contract, on a REO Property, of which the Seller delegated the title company. It is my understanding RESPA protects the Buyer and allows them to choose their title company. After reading these remarks in regards to Harmony Escrow my Buyer is deeply concerned about closing with them. I drafted an addendum to change title and extend the close to buy us more time to close with another local company, Lawyers Title They have handled all of my transactions very professionally and my clients have always been very happy with their service. It is my hope the Seller doesn't challenge this change, but I am sure it is evident. With the said, I hope they understand RESPA laws, as I do, and allow for this change. Does anyone know what recourse I may have to protect my client and successfully close this transaction?

Thank You,

Erin Ray
Realty One Group (Las Vegas)
Web Reference:  http://www.erinray.com
0 votes
Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Mon Mar 15, 2010
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

The widespread imposition of these garbage fees is a recent development over the past year or two as banks became the 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.

The un-bundling of the escrow services is a business plan by the escrow company to 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 apologize that 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. They never did that before.

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. These fees in particular are reviled and ridiculed by Realtors and consumers..
0 votes
Rob, Home Buyer, Las Vegas, NV
Thu Aug 13, 2009
Despite the -ve comments about Harmony written by me, I must admit that I owe them an apology. Since my comment was posted, I actually received an email from Ms. Gutierrez who took the time to explain to that they had discharged the old liens and certain processes after that are beyond her control (title co. issues title policy after liens are removed, not escrow co.,). Since then I am getting resolution on getting clear title.

I was pleased to get an email albeit I had to chase for it but persistence does pay off. There are a lot of people behind the scenes and are busy so try to keep communications open with Harmony or any other escrow.

I think the morale of buying is to respect that:

1. escrow companies are highly regulated and thus have to perform and due their due diligence professionally
2. clear title may take a few weeks after closing date to obtain but it should come through
3. keep communications open ("when communications breaks down, war breaks out").
4. the fees to the Buyer (to me were quite reasonable) but to the Seller are naturally higher because of title insurance etc., discharge of liens, multiple revisions on HUD estimates. There is alot of work and paper involved.
5. DONT JUMP to conclusions and don't always assume the worst.
0 votes
Rob, Home Buyer, Las Vegas, NV
Tue Aug 11, 2009
I have just closed a Freddie Mac property in LV and had the misfortune of dealing with Harmony Escrow - the Cindy Guitierrez group, Nham Pham, Jasmine Gibbs - they never return phone calls and emails are slow to receive even though I am privy to the contract I should be informed of the status of the title clearance.

My complaint is not about fees yet but about them discharging existing liens. They appear to have failed to pay $1,283.30 of previous HOA fees on the closing date (COE of 7/29/09) so as of August 10, 2009 as new owner I am faced with a carry over possible existing lien. Title passed to me but apparently liens "run with the property" and can be passed to the New Owner. I think this is just pure incompentency and wondering if they can transact across interstate lines since the property was domiciled in Las Vegas and not California.

They also did not send the closing documents to me but instead sent them to the realtor for apparent efficiency (paying commission) but my realtor was not in the office so I still have not sighted a final HUD or report - 2 weeks after closing.

My realtor was unable to help me and wondering what recourse I can pursue - to sue them in small claims court or have the NV or CA attorney general involved.

Any advice?

Rob
0 votes
Senior Certi…, , El Dorado County, CA
Fri Jun 19, 2009
Unfortunately Cheryl, your only anwer is buy another home that is not a FreddieMac/Fannie Mae home. I know that sounds harsh but it is the truth. You have no recourse when it comes to this subject right now. Unfortuantely, the government process that has been put in place to re-sell the Freddie Mac./Fannie Mae homes does not take the thoughts, feelings or financial dollars of the consumer to mind. Frankly, they simply do not care about you. I hope this is not your first home purchase. If it is, please know that the escrow process does not have to be this hard and scary for you. Outside of this situation I can gaurantee that you would have a more pleasurable experience. Buying a home is a large financial obligation and for most of us, it is the largest purchase of our lives. Let me assure you that the majority of escrow professionals are light years away from the treatment that you get from Harmony Escrow. I have said before, Harmony Escrow, it's owners and the government should be ashamed of themselves for the lack of customer service and mistreament to the consumer. Frankly, they should be out os business and prsoecuted just like the fat cat on wall street have been. They are one in the same.

Cheryl, I wish you the best.
0 votes
Harmonysucks, , Las Vegas, NV
Tue Jun 16, 2009
Harmony Escrow in Irvine CA is the worst company I've ever dealt with. I'm a loan officer and had to deal with this god-awful group of government workers. If you buy a Freddie Mac property in CA or NV, chances are you have to deal with them. They probably received this Freddie Mac government contract because they're affiliated with ACORN. This is how Obama reward his supporters.

Anyway, they charge almost 5 times the normal fees of a reputable escrow company. Their service is the worst. They never respond to e-mails, voice mails. Worst of all, they keep passing you on to another assistant in a different department. Try to avoid Cindy Gutierrez group, especially a guy name Fernando Dominguez. That dude will never respond to your calls or e-mails. They know very little about the escrow business. Again, probably former ACORN workers...you know what I mean?

If you are a realtor, try showing non-Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae owned homes. You will live a happier life if you avoid Harmony Escrow and these Government directed escrow companies.
0 votes
I find this alleged agent's repeated references to ACORN and Obama offensive. I am not a fan of Harmony Escrow and find it odd that you're greeting by a locked door at their office. The alleged agent sounds like another GOP/Tea Partier who wants to blame all the world's problems on President Obama. Instead, they should look in the mirror.
Flag Sun May 4, 2014
I find this alleged agent's repeated references to ACORN and Obama offensive. I am not a fan of Harmony Escrow and find it odd that you're greeting by a locked door at their office. The alleged agent sounds like another GOP/Tea Partier who wants to blame all the world
Flag Sun May 4, 2014
My god, I had the same exact experience with Cindy Gutierrez and Fernando Dominguez. I went pass my escrow period and the seller charged me $100/day. The docs went out on time but Fernando and Cindy never responded to my agents request. These people are just plain evil.
Flag Mon Mar 4, 2013
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