Forensic Escrow Services
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Real Estate related escrow consulting and expert witness


Lectures have been presented multiple times to a variety of audiences. Presentations focus on escrow industry standards of care.  A partial list of presentations:

  • "Escrow-opoly" - educational game
  • Questions You May Be Asked While Being Deposed
  • "Title-opoly" - educational game
  • Ten Week Course on Beginner Escrow
  • Technology and What It Means to Escrow
  • Short Sale Transactions
  • How to Read Lender Instructions
  • Accelerated Basic Escrow Training
  • Reading a Preliminary Report
  • Advanced Escrow Assistant Course
  • Auditing and Balancing an Escrow File, There is a Difference
  • Identifying Predatory Lender Activities
  • Understanding Title and Escrow Terminology
  • 20 Commandments of Escrow
  • Don't Keep Your Head in the Sand You Could be Sued
  • So You Thought You Were Doing Someone a "FAVOR", Now Let's Talk About What It Can Cost You
  • On Guard!, a presentation based on the cost of litigation, settlement and claims that are a result of the lack of supervision, training, and a company auditing program 
  • Mock Trial, a presentation based on multiple issues, such as over charging fees, non-compliance with lender instructions, forgery, power of attorney, trust ownership,  notary laws and disclosure issues
  • Predatory Practices, The Cost to Our Society and Exposure to Litigation
  • Short Sales and Double Escrow Scams
  • Was Your Heart Broken Because Your Escrow Ended Up in Court?, a presentation based on silent seconds, escrow and lender instructions, third party disbursements and disclosure issues 
  • How to Perform Magic in a Short Sale 
  • Stumbling Blocks to Close a Real Estate Transaction
  • Escrow panel member at the Nor-Cal Educational Conference
  • The Battle of Words
  • The Evolution of Title Insurance and Escrow
  • The Role of e-signatures in Escrow
  • Real Estate Agents Manage the CAR Contract Time Table 
  • Title and Escrow from Egypt to Today
  • The Latest Developments of SB 2
  • The M&M's of Title and Escrow 
Some Reasons for Reading the Preliminary Report

An escrow can be compared with a clock.  There is the face of the clock which tells us the time, but the ability to provide that information requires many gears working together in a proper sequence.  One chipped gear, wrong size cog or improper timing and clock will fail. 

Have you ever noticed that the loan agent and real estate agent are anxious to obtain a preliminary report?  Reviewing the preliminary report is one of those gears containing many cogs. 

To start the clock, let’s begin with the listing agreement.

Often a Seller will sign an agreement of understanding and intent to list their property for sale.  Such an agreement may include an affirmation from the Seller that the person signing agreement:

1.  Is the owner,

2.  Has authority to sign the agreement and sell the property, and

3.  No other persons or entities have title to the property.

Should the property title ownership be held by an entity, the Seller further affirms:

4.  The entity already exists, and

5.  Agrees to deliver to the broker evidence of the authority to act on behalf of   the entity

It is understandable that the Seller’s real estate agent anxiously awaits the receipt of the preliminary report in order to confirm the ownership of the property.   Knowing the property ownership as stated by the Seller matches with preliminary report allows the real estate agent to move onto the next step.

Otherwise, the Seller will need to initiate the process to place the entity in good order to satisfy items 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 listed above. 

Affirming the condition of title ownership

In many Listing Agreements the Seller is asked to affirm that they are unaware of any defaults, delinquencies, obligations, bankruptcy, insolvency, special assessments, current or pending litigation that affect the property. 

Also, the Seller agrees to promptly notify the Broker in writing if the Seller becomes aware of any of these items.

One of the ways a Seller can be certain to disclose such matters is by setting aside significant time with their agent to carefully review the preliminary report.  Should the report contain an error or be incomplete, the Seller should tell their agent promptly.  The agent should notify the Escrow Holder without delay in order to acquire more information, obtain copies of documents, or request a second review of the records.

Often what was thought to be an error in the report ends up being a matter that requires additional work to satisfy a lien holder, record corrective documents or initiate an investigation with an appropriate professional.  Such additional work my take many months to clear unresolved matters. 

Unresolved title matters can stop the clock from ticking in time to meet the anticipated close of escrow date. 

Who Owns the Property?

There are many items revealed in a preliminary report, including the ownership of the property as reflected in the public records.

To keep the escrow clock ticking, the Seller and their real estate agent should review the preliminary report with a double check that the property ownership is as expected.  It is not unusual that the name of an additional individual appears or is missing.  Additionally, the ownership may be reflected in the name of a deceased person, a trust, a business entity, etc.

When the ownership is held by a business entity, the Seller is asked to confirm that the entity already exists, and to provide copies of the entity formation documents.  Typically the real estate agent will be anxious to obtain these documents for delivery to the Escrow Holder.    

When the documents have been delivered to the Escrow Holder, there are many steps involved to determine what additional papers may be needed in order to accept a signature and move the transaction toward closing.  

Undelivered requested documentation to the Escrow Holder can stop the escrow clock from ticking toward the anticipated close of escrow date. 

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