title company and listing agent

Asked by Frank, Orlando, FL Tue Jan 29, 2013

We are buying a condo in Orlando with cash. One hour after I wired 12k deposit to the title company, I found out the title company officer and the listing agent share the same office suite and same LAST NAME. I think they are either husband and wife or brother and sister. I contacted my bank right away to stop the payment but I was told it's too late. I read our contract again, it's us, the buyer who are paying the title company but the title company is not listed on the contract. We are very worried. Can I get my deposit back? If I can't, should I hire a lawyer to make sure there is no scam?

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Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Wed Jan 30, 2013
Hi Frank and thanks for your post.

First, you might want to repost this in the proper zip code so that Florida agents will respond rather than California real estate agents and professionals. California laws and real estate practices differ quite greatly from Florida. In fact, only California, New York and Florida are usually the states with vastly different practices and laws than the other states--so reposting in Florida will get you much more accurate information.

Second, I suspect you have a Realtor with whom you're working presently to help you with the home purchase. Before you become worried over any issue regarding the listing agent and the escrow officer, start with your agent to get more information. Although real estate businesses are often a "family affair" (brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives all working together and often as "teams"), simply having relatives working on a transaction does not "equal" theft of fraud--and I suspect your agent may already have told you this. I do agree with Charles that any "close relationship" should have been disclosed to you in advance, but, again, as California agents, we're telling you what we'd expect here in Cal, and not what may be practice in the south.

More importantly, escrow company operations are overseen by state authorities, so it is seldom that anything of the magnitude to which you're alluding should take place. But I have to ask, why you would automatically be so worried about your deposit just because the listing agent and title company have some relationship? Perhaps there is more to your distress than simply the deposit--perchance you may possibly be having second thoughts on buying the home? If the latter is the situation, immediately talk with your Realtor about the deal. You can get out of the purchase within reason, and if you are suffering buyer's remorse, it's better to work with your agent to address that concern rather than deflect with concerns about a deposit. In all things, work with your agent--he or she is there to help you.

Good luck!!
Grace Morioka
Allison James Estates & Homes
1 vote
charles butt…, Agent, san jose, CA
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Thank you Frank:

Are you represented by a buyer's agent, or did you make your offer directly to the listing agent?

If you are represented by your own buyer's agent, then I recommend that you contact the agent who is representing your interests, and ask your agent the question that you have asked us.

Yes, it sounds like the the title company officer is a relative of the listing agent. The party that holds the deposit is supposed to be a neutral third party. If the title company that is holding the deposit has a relative of the listing agent as an officer, that makes it difficult for the title company to be a neutral third party. The fact that the title officer is related to the listing agent should have been disclosed to you.

Also because it is you that is paying the title company, I think that you should have been allowed to select your own title company.

The good news is that this fact alone does not necessarily make this a scam. .

It is not uncommon for REALTORS to have relatives who work for title companies. However that fact should be disclosed at the beginning of the transaction.

For more information you may contact me at my cell phone: (408)509-6218 or at my email address: charlesbutterfieldbkr@yahoo.com

Thank you,
Charles Butterfield MBA
Real Estate Broker/REALTOR
American Realty
Cell Phone: (408)509-6218
Fax: (408)269-3597
Email Address: charlesbutterfieldbkr@yahoo.com
0 votes
Maria Cipoll…, Agent, Coral Springs, FL
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Under Florida Law, Title companies provide real estate closings, escrow services, title search and title insurance. So, it does not matter that the listing agent and the title company ooficer share the same last name. What is really important is what your sales contract estipulates. Did you conduct your inspection in the propertyalready? For instance, if you find any major repairs or damages to the property you can still back up from the transaction. If you are worry hire a real estate attorney that can review the sales contract and advice you.

Best of Luck,

Maria Cipollone

Century 21 Tenace

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