[This is part of a series of posts on the home buying process I'm going thru. To see the full set, visit the house category archives.]

On Tuesday we finished up nearly all the paperwork necessary for be to become the owner of the new place. That involved, among other things, going to an office of First American Title to sign about a billion documents, most of which contained redundant information.

When I got there, I began looking over the paperwork. The first thing I noticed is that their one page estimate of how much money I'd owe for closing did not match the estimate I had previously seen. This one was about $4,000 more. That's a problem because I already had a cashier's check (got it that morning) made out for what I believed to be the proper amount.

After hunting thru the other paperwork I figured out the bug. It was a stupid typo. Someone had transposed a few numbers when copying them off a Washington Mutual document. They seemed to think I had paid over $4,500 for a home appraisal (it was really $250). I brought this to the attention of the First American person who was there to work with me. She was surprised by this and set about calling to figure out what to do. Shortly after, my realtor arrived and I told her what happened. She explained that the copy I had seen earlier via e-mail was the corrected one. She had spotted this error and got it corrected earlier in the day before I ever knew. But the brain-trust at First American didn't bother to up the updated version in my packet.

With that solved, I signed the necessary documents. For each one, the rocket scientist from First American would tell me the name of each document and point to where I had to sign (it was usually obvious). After about 5 of these I realized that all the documents were titled. She was simply reading to me.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I got a phone call from Washington Mutual at roughly 3:00pm. The geniuses at First American had managed to screw up some of the paperwork. They even forgot to ask me for a required document. I had the document with me (lots of documents, in fact) but didn't realize they'd need it. So I had to drop everything, drive home, fetch it, come back to work, and fax it to WaMu before 5:00pm. Why? Because someone at First American didn't do their job.

I scanned thru the documents last night and saw it quite plainly. One of the bank documents had a list of required supporting documentation. I guess the folks at First American didn't bother to actually read the docs completely.

Now, you might argue that I should have seen it. And you'd be right. However, this is their job. They do this every day. They should know where to look and should be double-checking the guy who does this sort of thing every 7-8 years (me).

Next time I buy a house, I'll be sure to use a different title company. They certainly didn't earn all those "nickel and dime the shit out of customers" fees that I had to pay. $40 to take my damned finger print? Come on...

Posted by jzawodn at February 26, 2004 10:26 AM

Reader Comments
# Derek said:

Since when do you need to be fingerprinted to own property? Is that a California thing?

on February 26, 2004 11:33 AM
# Josh Woodward said:

Yeah, it's amazing what they can get you to sign for when they dangle a house in front of you. I guess they assume that people won't worry too much about a two-figure expense when they're buying a six-figure house.

Mine wasn't too bad. No fingerprinting at least!

on February 26, 2004 11:39 AM
# jr conlin said:

Fingerprinting? That's a new one (as in I didn't have to do it when I got my house two years ago). Well, that or my title company screwed that up too and just used someone else's.

Are you sure that some piece of paperwork doesn't list you as "Jeremy al Zawondny"?

(Or they realized that you co-wrote a book with Derek and figured that put you into a completely different category. Thank God orkut came out AFTER i got my house.)

on February 26, 2004 01:07 PM
# Barnaby James said:

I had a similar problem when buying a house only in my case the mortgage company screwed the whole thing up rather than the title company (Commonwealth which were very good and didn't nickle and dime me at all). The mortagage guy:

1) Screwed up the number of points we were paying but with the correct interest rate on all the documents (so we had to go to do the signoff twice).

2) Got the wrong closing date so our rate lock ended up expiring two days before closing! At least they funded the loan at the rate lock but all of sudden several days interest needed to be paid and the bastard (who eventually reimbursed me) didn't call me!

As I said before, incompetance is something you really have to be on the lookout for. It really is like this is the first mortgage they've ever done. At least in Santa Clara country, my understanding was the sellar picks the title company so it's not like you have a choice in the matter.

I had to give a thumbprint (which begat the usual question "what if you don't have thumb") -- I think it is a california thing. The whole thing is so surreal anyway that having your thumbprint taken doesn't seem like a big deal at that point.

Anyway, it sounds like you are pretty close, so congratulatons!

on February 26, 2004 01:17 PM
# Jaxn said:

Congrats on your house! (that is the most important thing).

I was lucky with my title company, but it was my cousin's company. Washington Mutual has been good for me so far.

I love it when people use blogs as a form of consumer activism. I hope people looking for a title company see your post.


on February 26, 2004 01:56 PM
# Mark W. Stevensen said:

As a realtor, I am very sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. Home buying can be difficult at times, but that is why you had a realtor represent you and supervise third party (escrow) involvment in your transaction. It sounds as if she did the best she could, but was not able to review the final signing package before you got there. I find that by supervising the escrow officer's handling of the lender's requirements, getting there early to review their numbers and by providing the right mortgage for my clients in the first place, problems like this are virtually eliminated. Another thing to remember is that title companies have cut back staff since the refi boom ended and therby often overwork their escrow officers. Call me if you ever need an opinion on real estate or mortgage matters,(408)370-1020,105.

on February 26, 2004 02:21 PM
# Robert J Taylor said:

First American has a swank humongous building near where I work just off the I-55 in Tustin/Santa Ana. Having closed 4 mortgages with them in 4 years (two homes) I always have a pride of ownership when I drive past knowing that my money for their (lack of) service helped pay for their early American style bungalow.

If you just left it to the mortgage brokers, real estate agents, inspectors, and escrow people without double checking everything nothing would get done correctly. And it is so very annoying that "professionals" are so sloppy.

on February 26, 2004 04:00 PM
# Hemo said:

And this one just acknowledges that you had received the previous docuemnt... sign here..

And this one acknowledges your signature acknowleging your acceptance of the previous document prior to the previous document... sign here...

And this one states that if you decide to eat the paint off the floorboards and happen to get lead poisoning, you will aknowledge your own stupidity and not the stupidity of the previous owner for using illegally obtained lead-based paint on a dwelling built after 1979... sign here...

And this document ....


on February 26, 2004 09:01 PM
# rr said:

Right thumbprint is required when notarizing deeds (including deed of trust) in California.

I've found mobile notaries to be better at catching things than signing at the title company.


on February 27, 2004 01:29 AM
# former agent said:

I have read all of this and cannot believe the ignorance of the average citizen purchasing a home. I used to be in escrow years ago before the thumbprint for the notary was in use. It is there because a great deal of these all importance pumped up men purchasing a home out there were actually using another person other than their wife to sign the papers. All of the documents you are finding are because earlier some all important stiff like yourself ripped someone off. Usually when it involves escrow it is not a $10.00 fee. I actually had a guy bring me flowers and candy for weeks before closing and then give me a check for $80,000.00 that was bogus. He never made the check good and fortunately it was caught before we closed the escrow.

on February 28, 2004 05:56 PM
# Anonymous said:

As for your bad experience with FATCO back in February, I completely understand, but from a different point of view. I am a former employee. Having a brain while working there is not in your best interest as it will cause you much pain and suffering while having to endure their incompetant "management" style. The center I worked with was run by a female micro-managing bully who surrounded herself with other female micro-managing bullies or with weak yes-women that were easy to control with threats and belittling comments. That is also how we employees were treated: with threats and bullying. If you didn't work the sometimes 12 hours a day that were required you weren't a "team player" There were constant reorganizations, people were constantly getting moved around (or would suddenly disappear with an email stating such and such is no longer employed at FATCO) and the training was terrible. In your best interest at staying employed there you had to learn quickly with as little training as possible because the people who actually know what they are doing are extremely overworked. You had to learn by all the mistakes you made (example not revising a HUD with incorrect closing figures, sound familiar?) There were no guidelines for procedures so the training was all word of mouth. And why would you want to train someone to learn your job properly? If they did it better than you, you might become the next person that no longer works at FATCO. But for me the game is over, my department got downsized due to the fact interest rates are going up.
Whew! I feel better. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent!

on September 12, 2004 07:39 AM
# Paul and Becki Stymelski said:

First American Title in Del Norte County is incompetent. It is just unbelievable how they expect you to do their work for them as they collect incredible fees.
So, what is next? Before selling, search other Title Companies, demand they put in writing what they will do for x dollars and when they will have the preliminary documents ready for your review. A favorite trick is to put off everything till the last moment and then you get to run around and solve everything. Never again with First American Title. Never.

on September 14, 2004 02:45 PM
# Kip Huckstep said:

Call me. I'll Notarize it! San Diego. 760.505.0636 Mobile Notary No Hassles!

on September 20, 2004 07:42 AM
# Dennis Wolfe said:

Interesting comments from all regarding the experience you received from my employer First American Title Company.
I'd be curious to learn when they (escrow) received the Lenders Documents prior to your appointment to sign. More often than not the lender chosen by the consumer (or their r. e. agent, or the internet....) has a loan processing time of 45 - 90 days to get everything together. Then they (the lender) email/fax/carrier pigeon their instructions, which dictate conditions of your loan, to escrow 5 minutes before or 20 minutes after you appear at escrow to sign docs. Naturally, escrow's ability to perform is compressed into .0009 miliseconds. For this treatment from your lender you pay "points, warehousing fees, doc prep, underwriting, loan origination, yield spread premiums, processing, admin fees, broker fees," etc. etc.
I don't claim FATCO walks on water. We have our failings but address them better than any other title firm out there. I say this having been in the industry for 19 years and having worked for my competition. Your experience also points out the enormous value of having a good real estate agent represent you in such a transaction.
Glad your deal closed properly and I trust you are enjoying your new home.

on September 20, 2004 08:38 AM
# tkshove said:

we dealt with FATCO in San Bernardino, CA. Thanks to their incompetence we almost lost our home because they screwed up the pay off. we had and were expected to pay on two open first liens. It ended up costing us several thousands in the long run and a scarred credit report.

on September 21, 2004 03:20 PM
# bologna said:

you guy's are right professional's never make mistakes

on September 30, 2004 08:29 PM
# Kim said:

I am involved in a Real Estate Transaction with First American Title Being the Title Company. It has been kind of a complicated deal, however, I have worked in the Title Insurance business for many years so I knew it would happen there were just a lot of details to cover. In trying to keep up with what was going on as far as the status of our commitment being updated and so forth, I spoke with the examiner working on our file. I tried to reach our closing officer however, she was at lunch so I just contacted the examiner working on our file to find out if our updated commitment was ready to send to the attorney in order for them to prepare the documents. She told me it was ready and she would have it out that day. The next thing I know is that the closing officer is calling me screaming at me like a crazy person for talking to the examiner. She continued to scream and yell at me and told me she had a stack of documents that had just come in on the deal and the examiner didn't know she had them. So, I'm trying to figure out why this woman is screaming at me like I am one of her children. To make a long story short...my husband ended up calling this closing officer back and letting her know he didn't appreciate her screaming at his wife. He was in the same room when I was talking to her and could hear her screaming. He also asked her what other documents she had received and she finally admitted she didn't have any additional documents...So why was she so angry that I spoke with the examiner. I guess we'll never know. We had our transaction moved from that closing officers branch to another one close to us so we wouldn't have to deal with her. What a nightmare. I called the President of First American Title to report this incident.

on October 5, 2004 08:20 AM
# said:

all you incompetent people complaining about document's that are prepared by the lender

on October 11, 2004 08:27 PM
# Chris said:

I have eight years experience in the Title Insurance field. Some of your complaints are valid. Some are not. All of those redundant documents you are complaining about are lender docs sent to the title company by the lender(probably 5 minute before closing). The other documents are real estate docs required to complete a closing. If you sell a home you have far less to sign because you don't sign any lender documents. Your closer was most likely new. The problems you experienced were the result of one person not having the experience to deal with issues that come up in a closings that were easily fixed. Also, your lender will hit you with fees far more extensive than any title company. Your loan officer probably made about $2000 dollars for about one hour of work and your real estate agent walked away with thousands of dollars. Please give people that are new at there job a little bit of a break and do some research about the fees and costs associate with buying a home.

on October 15, 2004 06:11 PM
# Elisa said:

I closed on a loan with American Land Title in South Burlington, VT on June 16, 2003. 7 months later they call me to tell me that they erroniously gave us $5060.00 too much money and I need to pay it back. Yeah right like I didn't tell those people that the figure was wrong. They assured me that it was right.
Of course the money went into the house we are building, it's not like we flew to Europe on it.

Now they are suing us and will probably put a lien on the house.

I just mention this so you know that it could have been worse for you. Enjoy your house!

on October 20, 2004 11:35 AM
# FM said:

Sounds like you should have taken issue with your lender, it's the lender's responsibility to get all necessary docs required for the loan!
The lender then sends everything to title with instructions.

on October 22, 2004 08:01 AM
# Fatco Rocket Scientist said:

The phrase "IGNORANCE IS BLISS" comes to mind when reading the original complaint. As for this complaint....it sounds like a spoiled person who has his meat cut for him. I am in the business and understand that mistakes happen in life(except with Jeremy) and it's not the end of the world unless you're a Title Company I guess, but you don't know the behind the scenes CRAP that Title Companies have to put up with......Pushy Real Estate Agents who think that they are the only ones alive, ignorant Principals who need their asses wiped for them and Lenders/Brokers that think (most of the time) all Title Companies need is about 5 minutes to pull everything together before you come in to sign all of THEIR document's. Let me see, you probably had about 1 to 3 document's to sign that was required by your Title Company and the rest of the billion (redundent) document's were from your LENDER, which was not Fatco...it was Wamu. As for showing you where to sign...it's not that obvious to most, about 90% of Rocket Scientist Buyers don't even insert the date which is clearly stated right after your fabulous signature line...I personally highlight every place that needs to be signed...otherwise, it would hold up your whole closing if YOU missed something, then you would have something else to blame on Fatco! Did anyone from Wamu call you and discuss how many of THEIR document's you would have to sign OR tell you to call them if you didn't understand them OR let you know that THEIR Deed of Trust and probably numerous other document's require Notarization, and also requires a thumbprint (consult your Secretary of State website, it might shine some light into that dark phasm you call a brain). I'm thinking that the answer to all of those questions is a big fat NO! Sounds like it was up to the Title Company to retrieve a paystub or a final HUD from the sale of a home or a letter, etc....these are all items that should be handled by your Broker or your Lender (who is probably making just as much as your Title Company, check the figures!)....and sounds like your Lender should have informed you of these additional requirements ahead of time so you could have been prepared to hand them to the incompetent retards at Fatco. I will inform the President of my company that we now need to employ "Hand Holders" and "Butt Wipers" for our buyers and sellers so they don't have to think for themselves and also fire that damn Secretary of State who requires those awful Notaries and finger printing....OOH....won't go over good with GW now that we have that "Patriot Act" in tact though...personally, I trust everybody to be honest....don't you?....who need's notaries...or the Border Patrols or the Military!! One more thing...it probably took 2 minutes to print up a new statement of closing cost's for you to sign and with no more cost to you...not really a cause for a Blog uproar. I ask you this...where was the follow up with your Lender and/or Broker who are the entities requiring this additional documentation??...could they have given you a quick call?? Oh, I forget, it's up to the Title Company to do EVERYTHING. WHAH TO YOU!!!

on October 29, 2004 12:04 AM
# Jerry said:

FATCO! Let me tell you. These people out of the Riverside FATCO office are completly ..... Let me tell you a short story. I sold my house I used FATCO for the title company and closed. Sounds Good right? Guess again. 8 months after closing I get a Bill in the mail for $2600.00. I call FATCO and they tell me this is a Clerical error and to disregard it that they will fix the problem. 6 months after the first letter I got Supenoed to show up in court. I was being sued by FATCO for $2500.00. So I call and ask why they are sueing me Ready... They forgot to pay back taxes on the property. I had no idea of these taxes and Thus the reason I paid FATCO to find them. So I go to court and the Judge (Cass Waters out of Riverside) Rules that FATCO is owed the Money even though I paid them $981 to clear the title (which they did at closing). In court FATCO produces a document that showed they did know about the taxes and just forgot to charge me. I ask does anyone find this odd? Is this not the job of the title comapany and isn't that what the insurance is for?

on November 16, 2004 10:44 PM
# Carol said:

I stumbled on this blog when doing a search for FATCO so I could get an address to send a complaint to. We bought a house last April with FATCO being the title company. A week ago I got a call from a credit collector informing me there is a lein on our home! This dates back to a previous owner who was foreclosed on before the owner we bought the house from! There is a $2200 judgment and when the house was foreclosed on, this creditor was never notified, so apparently the judgment is still valid.
Since I have title insurance, I figure I'm covered and call FATCO, who inform me that indeed I AM covered and will not have to pay this, BUT they refuse to take any action unless or until the leinholder attempts to foreclose on us! WHAT???? I spoke to the leinholder and he laughed and said they'd just sit on it and let it accrue interest until we're ready to sell or refinance!
Can FATCO really DO this? Just sit on it and hope it goes away? My husband and I are actually considering refinancing right now because rates have dropped, but this will screw it up... or at least delay it which could affect our interest rate.
Don't I have some recourse? FATCO researched our title and assured us everything was fine, as well as insuring us if they missed any leins they would be responsible for covering them. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to force them to comply?
So far, I've been informed by my agent at FATCO that they won't even talk to the leinholder.

on November 23, 2004 02:41 PM
# Title Friend said:

I like this blog for many reasons, one is that everybody get's to release some frustration and hopefully get some help. I understand both sides of the last 2 post's....There is no simple answer unless you have an attorney involved(which nobody want's to pay for)In the matter of "Jerry", Taxes are the sole responsibility of the owner of the property and if you don't pay your taxes, you will pay more in the end. YES, the Title Co. should have required you to pay the taxes through the escrow but the fact of the matter is, it was your responsibility to pay those taxes PERIOD. The insurance has nothing to do with taxes, it's a lien from the state in which you live and is an "EXCEPTION" of any policy! Now, the matter of "Carol", if the lien was recorded at the county on which the property exists and it was recorded BEFORE the close of escrow date, it is the responsibilty of the title co. to research it. In the matter of a foreclosure, the previous owner does not even own the property at time of sale, it's the bank that foreclosed, so there is some responsibility of the bank as well!!I think you might actually have to get an attorney and compile as much info as you can, ie, Title Policy, Grant Deed, Closing Statement, lender info for your bank...because they would love to know that they are not in FIRST LIEN POSITION. The first step is to contact the "Chief Title Officer" of that First American branch and if that get's you nowhere, contact the Sant Ana, CA headquarters and ask for the owner. The key is to know when that lien recorded(get a copy of it) and if everything was correct on it(such as property address, parcel number, county, etc.). Good Luck! Just remember that even though you are provided a Title Policy, it doesn't mean you have washed your hands of responsibility.

on November 24, 2004 06:48 PM
# Pattie said:

FATCO in Washington State is incompetent too! So glad to know I am not alone. I found this blog while hate-mongering FATCO. I have bought a few houses in my lifetime and refinanced a few times, so I am a little familiar with the process. Usually we go through a different title company and have no major problems, bearing in mind that humans sometime make mistakes. But FATCO takes the cake. First, a few days before we were going to close, we called to give them the heads up and try to make an appointment. They blew us off. Our other title company would schedule tentative appts for closing (as long as all the paperwork was ready). Then, on the day before closing they call in a panic and tell us we MUST come in right then and there to sign all the paperwork or we won't close on time. With three kids in the height of little league season, there was no way we could. They ended up having to stay open until 8 p.m. so we could get in there to sign. There were lots of mistakes and typos. The gal that was helping us didn't know a thing about what she was doing. Luckily this was not our first home-buying experience. A few weeks later we get a real estate tax statement in the mail. We have always had taxes come out of the escrow acct and usually the tax statement we receive says "This is not a bill." However, this particular one WAS a bill due Oct 31. We looked through our closing documents but weren't 100% sure what the deal was, so we called FATCO. FATCO said it was correct. It was a bill. We have to pay. We just figured our the lender didn't take the taxes out of escrow to keep the monthly payments below a certain level. October rolls around and we pay the bill. Just to be sure, husband calls our lender who we have known for a few years now. She says no, the taxes were paid out of escrow. Who knows what FATCO did wrong. I know it was their error because their name was also on the paperwork sent, not our lender. Because the county received our check before they received the escrow check, they cashed ours. Now to get a refund, we have been waiting for the county to refund the lender, who will then put it in our escrow acct. Then we have to request an audit of our escrow acct. If there is more than $50 extra in there, they will send us a refund. As of this date, the lender has not even received a refund from the county, who says they already sent it. Sigh. It sure would be nice to have that money before the holidays. In the end, I suppose it is our fault for believing FATCO and not triple checking. I will never use them again.

on December 4, 2004 08:52 AM
# lumpy said:


Ironically, the cheapest answer to your problem is ironic. DO proceed with your refinance, and be sure to use First American--BECAUSE now that they are alerted to the problem, they will have to pay the lien in order for your transaction to close. The new Preliminary Title Report they issue to your lender will have to disclose the lien (which of course they have now corrected their title records to be aware of). The lender's instructions will require that it be paid off. Since you have insurance not showing the lien, just refer your Escrow Officer to the previous transaction number, and they will have to obtain a Release for the lien by paying it off so your loan can close. They will do it promptly because they won't want you to sue them for actual damages by your potentially having to lose a favorable interest rate (rates are inching up!).Since Title Companies are afraid of legal expenses more than most claims because they must shoulder all that expense, whatever it is,in addition to the claim while they fight it in court, most title companies-- and particuarly First American-- will be quick to write a check to the lienholder to stop the 'leak' of real or potential attorneys fees.

I offer this as someone who used to manage one of their offices, and I know how 'corporate' thinks. There are good and bad title company offices of all brands all over the place; First American's weakness is that it is so bent on being #1 globally that they worry about business volume more than people. If you are feeling 'processed' after going there, it is because corporate culture is so bent on being #1 globally that they value business volume more than customer satisfaction; the quotas they place on their highly paid Escrow Officers are enormous.

The remedy? Avoid that culture by using a local independent title company whenever possible. If they make a mistake, they really feel it locally and they will likely be much more responsive when something goes wrong. Good training is more a function of survival there; it will always be so.

Good luck!

on December 10, 2004 10:20 AM
# said:


Ironically, the cheapest answer to your problem is ironic. DO proceed with your refinance, and be sure to use First American--BECAUSE now that they are alerted to the problem, they will have to pay the lien in order for your transaction to close. The new Preliminary Title Report they issue to your lender will have to disclose the lien (which of course they have now corrected their title records to be aware of). The lender's instructions will require that it be paid off. Since you have insurance not showing the lien, just refer your Escrow Officer to the previous transaction number, and they will have to obtain a Release for the lien by paying it off so your loan can close. They will do it promptly because they won't want you to sue them for actual damages by your potentially having to lose a favorable interest rate (rates are inching up!).Since Title Companies are afraid of legal expenses more than most claims because they must shoulder all that expense, whatever it is,in addition to the claim while they fight it in court, most title companies-- and particuarly First American-- will be quick to write a check to the lienholder to stop the 'leak' of real or potential attorneys fees.

I offer this as someone who used to manage one of their offices, and I know how 'corporate' thinks. There are good and bad title company offices of all brands all over the place; First American's weakness is that it is so bent on being #1 globally that they worry about business volume more than people. If you are feeling 'processed' after going there, it is because corporate culture is so bent on being #1 globally that they value business volume more than customer satisfaction; the quotas they place on their highly paid Escrow Officers are enormous.

The remedy? Avoid that culture by using a local independent title company whenever possible. If they make a mistake, they really feel it locally and they will likely be much more responsive when something goes wrong. Good training is more a function of survival there; it will always be so.

Good luck!

on December 10, 2004 10:20 AM
# said:


Ironically, the cheapest answer to your problem is ironic. DO proceed with your refinance, and be sure to use First American--BECAUSE now that they are alerted to the problem, they will have to pay the lien in order for your transaction to close. The new Preliminary Title Report they issue to your lender will have to disclose the lien (which of course they have now corrected their title records to be aware of). The lender's instructions will require that it be paid off. Since you have insurance not showing the lien, just refer your Escrow Officer to the previous transaction number, and they will have to obtain a Release for the lien by paying it off so your loan can close. They will do it promptly because they won't want you to sue them for actual damages by your potentially having to lose a favorable interest rate (rates are inching up!).Since Title Companies are afraid of legal expenses more than most claims because they must shoulder all that expense, whatever it is,in addition to the claim while they fight it in court, most title companies-- and particuarly First American-- will be quick to write a check to the lienholder to stop the 'leak' of real or potential attorneys fees.

I offer this as someone who used to manage one of their offices, and I know how 'corporate' thinks. There are good and bad title company offices of all brands all over the place; First American's weakness is that it is so bent on being #1 globally that they worry about business volume more than people. If you are feeling 'processed' after going there, it is because corporate culture is so bent on being #1 globally that they value business volume more than customer satisfaction; the quotas they place on their highly paid Escrow Officers are enormous.

The remedy? Avoid that culture by using a local independent title company whenever possible. If they make a mistake, they really feel it locally and they will likely be much more responsive when something goes wrong. Good training is more a function of survival there; it will always be so.

Good luck!

on December 10, 2004 10:20 AM
# tess said:

we recently sold our house and bought a new one-we are using FATCO for both properties. our loan officer (through our agent) told us that we will close escrow on both properties on the same day which was convenient for us since we don't have to rent a storage. anyway, after coordinating the transfer of utility services for both properties, hiring a moving company and moving before the expiration of the interest lock, our agent calls us 2 days before the big move to say that our buyer's loan documents have to be redrawn due to some typo error and that we might close after our interest rate lock expires. and to make the matter worse, our mover wants to charge us $160 for changing moving date. our loan officer, her assistant and all the numerous people working for FATCO failed to see the disrepancy. now, we have to pay the moving company $160 for changing the moving date and probably pay additional points to extend the rate lock.

on December 11, 2004 09:25 AM
# Jim said:

I actually had a great experience with my closing last month. I bought a house in Houston and my Realtor directed me to use AmeriPoint Title as the title company. These guys publish all of the closing documents in advance on there website (they call it ClosingSite). In addition to publishing the documents, their site allowed me to email and fax the documents to people that I wanted to see them. I was actually able to fax the draft closing papers to my father using AmeriPoint's website.

I can't believe that a site like AmeriPoint's is not standard in the title/escrow industry, but it should be. I recommend doing your homework ahead of time and choose a title company that has documents available via the web because getting your title officer on the phone at the end of the month is nearly impossible.

on December 14, 2004 12:28 PM
# Consumer Education said:

I just have a brief comment on your experience with First American Title. First off, people do make mistakes (and suprise, not just First American Title Company) and most reputable businesses will fix immediately. I'm assuming you brought this up to a manager?

The other thing to remember is that escrow is a third party to this transaction. Your realtor is generally making a hefty commission and should also catch these things as well as the lender. There is also a reason the escrow company issues an ESTIMATED closing statement with all of your charges. It is also your job as the consumer to make sure you look over things carefully and don't assume that has been done.

Problems with fingerprinting? Ever hear of a little thing called fraud? This annoying little requirement would prevent anyone other than yourself from selling your own home from right out in front of you.

And as far as going over each document one by one, that is for your protection. As doldrum as it sounds, reading through each one carefully (notice a pattern) makes sure you don't miss any documents. There are many times where a customer has missed a document rushing and will then have to come back (quite an inconvenience) to sign it before their lender can fund.

I too hope that others read your e-mail so they understand that this is a process and a very important one at that. One should take some responsibility for their own as this is generally the largest investment a person will ever make in their lifetime. It's your house, your responsibility. We go to the doctor too, but we must take care of our own selves too.

on December 16, 2004 01:41 PM
# Barbara said:

Thank you everyone for the heads up about FATCO. That being said, anyone have a recommendation for a good and reputable title company in addition to AmeriPoint? Does AmeriPoint Title only operate in Texas or can we use them in Nevada?

on December 21, 2004 11:24 PM
# Jeremy said:

I work for first american title, and although this is old. You sure seem to complain a lot about a process that you know nothing about. Boohoohoo...life is so hard when you're required to pay for services, especially ones that are designed to protect you.

on December 27, 2004 10:03 PM
# Daniel said:

I work for First American Title on the other side of the country. I can't say that your experience mirrors the experiences of customers over here. I would also say that a single agent of FAT shouldn't taint your opinion of the whole company.

I recently closed my own home through the company, in/out 30 min with no problems. Sorry you had a bad experience.

on December 29, 2004 11:50 AM
# Scamper said:

Just another short story:

We were closing on a complicated deal--exchange AND reverse exchange into one replacement property--and so had many, many documents to sign over the course of the escrow.

Where we live, there is no mail delivery to our house, so we have a PO box. But as everyone with a PO box, or anyone who ever has to use a delivery service, knows, delivery services CANNOT deliver to PO boxes--they need a street address.

How hard is it to send US Mail to a PO Box, and things delivered by other services (FedEx, UPS, etc.) to a street address? Too hard for FATCO! They routinely send FedEx to our PO Box and occasionally mail to our PO Box. EVERY TIME, I pointed out to them: mail to PO box, everything else to street address. They could NOT get it.

on December 30, 2004 02:58 PM
# Brian said:

Disclaimer: I work for a title insurance company but I'm one of the computer folks. I'm not a people person. =)

In most states all a closer can do is read you the name of the document, clarify any problems you might have with *reading* the document, and show you where to sign. To do otherwise is known as practicing law. Since most closers make less than lawyers, they point and smile. If you attempt to *explain* what a document is or why it's necessary, you're in trouble. I know of one specific case in my company where the closer in question was warned about explaining an APR.

As well there are quite a few people in the world who still can't read, don't use English for their first or second language, or can't see well enough to read the fine print on those documents.

Second thing to bear in mind is that the lenders almost *always* wait until the last second to get stuff done. The loan officer will wait until the end of the month until he starts pushing a deal to close because that's when his paycheck comes -- every deal he closes increases his commission. So now he has 30 to 40 deals to close instead of 4 or 5 a week and now he's giving crap attention to any of them.

The document preparation companies are usually separate from the lenders. The lender transmits information to them, they produce an electronic set of documents which can be produced at the title company's office, and the title company is responsible for printing them. That's a great process except that 1) minor changes require replacement of the entire package in a lot of cases; 2) the delivery systems used by the "docprep" companies are primitive and unreliable, even in today's world; 3) the lender doesn't even attempt to balance your HUD until fifteen minutes prior to closing when they have to send their numbers to the funding department.

The same "end of month cram it all in" mentality is what causes problems like your missing documents. The title company (and I can't say FATCO is the only one that does this, we all do) probably had (number of closers) x 8 x 4 closings scheduled for that day. Warehousing the package (making a copy for you and a copy for the lender) inevitably involves a huge stack of paper or two, a copy machine (which rarely works right), and a frustrated closer who's being told by his/her manager that they need to prepare the JOHN DOE closing because he's here and it's scheduled for 5 minutes.

All in all it's a complete bogus industry that needs to slow down and move more folks off the commission line. If you think your experience was bad you should see some that I've had the pleasure of sorting out after the lender and our closers had screwed it up. Not pretty.

I closed my own loan. Yea, there was a person sitting there (can't notarize my own documents, and my lender wouldn't have liked it if I did everything myself) but I made sure everything was in the right place, the numbers on the HUD were right, etc. Worked out well for me -- I know it's not an option for you.

The fingerprint is for fraud protection, and could be said to be a notary requirement, not a title company requirement. The notary is responsible for any identity fraud that she notarizes, so she's going to want as much information as she wants on you. She's bonded, sure, but most bonds are for $10,000.00 -- and in the case of a real estate deal that doesn't go far.

Fraud is one of the largest issues that we, as an industry, face. And we often have people getting angry at us for demanding things that we have to have in order to ensure that everything is going the way it should. Yes, we *do* need your taxes to send to your lender.

Oh, for the overpayment mentioned above. In all likelihood you signed a document during your closing that stated that you would be responsible for all over or underpayments. This is because mistakes do happen -- so the title company wants to limit their losses. Many title companies just eat the mistakes. How much does it cost to sue you for $2600? Others will pursue them.

If you told them the figures were wrong, you believed they were wrong, but you signed anyway, well, you should've known something was going to come back and bite you.

on January 6, 2005 01:18 PM
# said:

I am a closer in a title company in Oklahoma. I'm sorry that you had a terrible experience with FATCO.
Please remember that not all closing companies operate the way that I have read in the comments.
Title companies are at the mercy at times of the lenders, realtors, principals, and any one else with an interest in the transaction.
I will not schedule a closing until all title requirements are satisfied. This avoids problems like waiting moving vans, etc. I refuse to accept documents less than 24 hours in advance of the closing. This gives everyone time to get it right the first time. I insist that HUD is reviewed and approved by everyone BEFORE the closing. What are faxes machines for? While there are many documents to sign from the lender, generally closings do not take very long at all!
The difference is standing up for yourself and your customers!

on January 24, 2005 12:38 PM
# zigy kaluzny said:

today's DENVER POST has an article that state of CO has gotten First American Title Company to settle claims of fraud (kickbacks to realtors, builders and real estate agents)for $24 million.

cannot tell if this settlement is only for home sales in CO, but you can find documentation thru Google, as i found your blog.

since i closed two sales in NM with these schmucks, i am waiting to see if this is national or only for CO home sales.

zigy kaluzny
boulder CO 303/440-4850

on February 23, 2005 03:00 PM
# Gale Hickok said:

I have been in the title business for 36 years. It has become a complex and unforgiving world. First American has thousand's of employees, who don't deserve this lynch mob treatment. It is unfortunate, that our society has evolved into a gang of thugs looking for the negative, rather than the positive in people.

Your problem seems to be the rush of the last minute arrival of the lender doc's. The poor closer has multiple persons or individuals with self serving motives rushing and pressurizing her. The funding lender, the lending broker, the processor, the listing agent, the selling agent, the buyer, the seller of the seller’s replacement home and the agents connected with that deal. This transaction suddenly becomes the domino for a multiple of other transactions pending filled with individual agenda's and demands on this one closer. Of course, don't forget those professionals who want this deal put to bed by the end of the month to get one more commission under their belt for the month or quarter.

Some times it like driving a van with 13 kids in the back seat screaming "Are we there yet?????".

When something goes wrong...Well obviously it is that stupid incompetent closer, the company that they work for and the 30,000 other employees working hard for that company and their own individual customers.

I have concluded that we have become a world of quick blame artists and a society of people who have lost the ability to take their own individual share of the responsibility.

Of course, we will never reverse that trend, as long as we have the under paid and overworked closer to blame.

Of course, maybe society has always been that way, all along. Isn't true that Adam tried to place the blame on Eve for his share of the reported first human screw up in the Garden of Eden??? For the non-believers, we can at least agree that the Bible is one of the oldest written historical books and it does a outstanding job of reflecting real personalities that we can recognize in the people living during the period of it's writing.

on March 28, 2005 06:06 PM
# Gale Hickok said:

I have been in the title business for 36 years. It has become a complex and unforgiving world. First American has thousand's of employees, who don't deserve this lynch mob treatment. It is unfortunate, that our society has evolved into a gang of thugs looking for the negative, rather than the positive in people.

Your problem seems to be the rush of the last minute arrival of the lender doc's. The poor closer has multiple persons or individuals with self serving motives rushing and pressurizing her. The funding lender, the lending broker, the processor, the listing agent, the selling agent, the buyer, the seller of the seller’s replacement home and the agents connected with that deal. This transaction suddenly becomes the domino for a multiple of other transactions pending filled with individual agenda's and demands on this one closer. Of course, don't forget those professionals who want this deal put to bed by the end of the month to get one more commission under their belt for the month or quarter.

Some times it like driving a van with 13 kids in the back seat screaming "Are we there yet?????".

When something goes wrong...Well obviously it is that stupid incompetent closer, the company that they work for and the 30,000 other employees working hard for that company and their own individual customers.

I have concluded that we have become a world of quick blame artists and a society of people who have lost the ability to take their own individual share of the responsibility.

Of course, we will never reverse that trend, as long as we have the under paid and overworked closer to blame.

Of course, maybe society has always been that way, all along. Isn't true that Adam tried to place the blame on Eve for his share of the reported first human screw up in the Garden of Eden??? For the non-believers, we can at least agree that the Bible is one of the oldest written historical books and it does a outstanding job of reflecting real personalities that we can recognize in the people living during the period of it's writing.

on March 28, 2005 06:06 PM
# James Benedetto said:

Well, for now it's hard to fight First American Title Company but there day will come in court. Please listen to the story then could can decide since my story is in my opinion (IMHO) not theres.
I would like to warn you about their incompetence. I only wish I had seen this site before I used them.

on May 14, 2005 06:22 AM
# James Benedetto said:

Here the story. They had to do a quit claim title for me and screwed up. No title insurance was taken out because it was only a recording. The Nation office in NY reviewed the will and recorded the title in Florida. Not only was the quit claim title done incorrectly they also did not follow Florida law for estate divisions.
They have a slippery team of lawyers who will force you to take them to court. In fact they have a relationship with the past lawyer so neither the laywer or FAT will take the blame.
Here's the BEST. Guess who rejected the current title when I went to sell the property, First American Title. They actually rejected their original title. Guess that's not addmitting your mistake.
My advise is don't even use them to record someting because if it's done wrong it's your resposibility.
Do use them because they will review papers and then issue you a title which could be wrong or not done according to various states laws on "real property". Basic they have caused me alot of heartship over this issue.
They will have there day in court in NY NJ and Florida.
Plan and simple, if you are smart enough to read this advise others that there no good.
Look even when I have the paper trail of their incompetence their lawyers don't what to admit anything went wrong.
See you in Court FAT asses.

on May 14, 2005 06:51 AM
# said:

Oh g-d...I am in the process of "closing" a simple real estate deal in Joshua Tree - no lender involved...and I chose to go to Frist American...big mistake. This 30-day escrow has taken almost 90 days...the agent is always "very busy, too much backed-up paperwork, will get to our file, makes mistakes, which I correct, and the mistakes show up again..." I am disgusted and will never use this company again. I found this website while just beginning to look for the company's directory to see who I will complain to, when it's all over...I wish I'd read the comments on this site before going to First American. BD

on May 18, 2005 08:54 AM
# Amber E said:

We have been trying to close with the usless help of FATCO for 2 weeks now. There was a signature missing at first. Then figures were incorrect (fault of our Mort. Broker), however since they had the paperwork for sometime, I would have thought this would have been caught sooner. Then they were missing documents from our home owners insurance policy. Then there was some other form they forgot to have us sign. All while we had rented out our home we live in, and have to children and are living on a mattress in the empty old house, and working and trying to fix up the old house for our tenant. Finally when the title company had all the paperwork, they were supposed to Fed EX it to the lender on a specific day - they even went so far as to say they had done it. When in reality, 3 days later, the lender said they barely got it that morning. Had it been sent on the day FATCO said they sent it, the lender would have had the documents 2 days earlier. Since the lender is on the East Coast, and we are on the West Coast, this makes the problem of the paperwork not being sent as promised, even worse.

Ok, now its Friday, and Monday is a holiday, and they just recieved the paperwork. The lender will not fund the loan prior to 48 hours of receiving the documents. This means the earliest we could get funded is Wednesday, since Mon. is a holiday and Tues. makes the 48 business hours they need to have the paperwork. Of course, there was another document missing, forgotton, missed? Well, now my husband has that faxed to his work, signs it and FATCO has a courier pick it up (by 11am) and sent back to FATCO. They were then supposed to FED EX it to the lender. It is now Wednesday 10am and just as I suspected, FATCO did not FED EX the paper out yesterday. They claim it got to the office after thier FED EX guy already left. We have to stay in a hotel now (difficult with a 2 year old and a teenager) because I doubt the paper had been "picked up" by the FED EX guy even as we speak. It will go out today, and possible get to the lender tomorrow (at end of thier day because of the time difference), which will mean they won't see it until Friday, and then (does that mean they have to have it another 48 hours?) Maybe, we will get our keys next week. A full 3 weeks later. Oh, and my lender disclosed terms of my loan to my builder. Is there something legally I can do about that? The builder was talking to me like I was some criminal just because she knew about my loan having conditions on it... By the way, I would call FATCO and get one answer and then call them a few hours later and get a conflicting answer. My broker and husband would call and get different answers also, all in the same hour. They did lie about Fed Ex'ing the paperwork on a specific day, and did forget several key papers that needed signing the first time, had that not happened... well, we can not speculate can we?
My 2 year old got the stomach flu and so did I and we packed all our clothes, cant access them, so we had to go and buy clothes to wear just to tide us over. They need to be more careful about making sure all the paperwork is there before having someone sign. They need to send paperwork out in a timely fashion and not lie about sending it out. I used Nevada Title last time, and they were wonderful!

on June 1, 2005 10:34 AM
# FATCO Employee said:

So I have a little info for you next time you go buy a house. If you go through a listing or selling agent you dont get to pick a title company, it's the company that holds the Deed of Trust. The Deed of Trust is the document that tells people how much you owe on a house. When you look on your deed of trust it will usually say somthing like Grantor (your name here) Grantee ex. First American Title, Stuart Title, (and if the Trustor/grantor is a lender then the lender picks for you.) Sorry but there are things in this life you cannot stop, forces and things that drive you ahead not matter what. Plus, your basing your opinions on one bad expereince. That is pretty simple minded if you ask me...

on June 9, 2005 06:48 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

How can I ask you? You've not identified yourself.

on June 9, 2005 07:18 PM
# Candy said:

I've been in the Escrow Industry for 21 years. There is much confusion on the part of the Buyers, Sellers and even Realtors on what the true function of Escrow is, and what we can and cannot control. Although some of these postings do indicate a lack of care, or sheer overwhelming volume of work assigned to individuals, much of this 'blame' being placed on escrow is misdirected. I stumbled on this very good article that clearly defines the responsibilities of your Escrow Agent. It is located at http://www.realestateabc.com/homeguide/Escrow.htm If you are truly interested, it is worth a few moments of your time. Although it is based on CA, I find it applies equally well in AZ (where I practice).

on June 11, 2005 10:58 AM
# Bonnita said:

So, has anyone noticed that WA Mutual has been getting it's hold on a few assets that aren't theirs? If anyone out there feels the same, let me know. I need all the help I can get against these f***** as****** ! Thanks

on June 25, 2005 12:41 PM
# James Benedetto said:

Just an update on the issue I'm having with
FATCO. They deny that they did anything wrong.
Now the estate lawyer and Fatco have a relationship with each other and have stonewalled me good. IMO they are just covering eachother because they know they were both Incompetent.
Do not allow FATCO to review any Wills and allow them to record any quit claim title. They will not take any responsibility if the law was not followed correctly or if they make a mistake.
Do not use this company. They are the worst.

on July 3, 2005 09:57 AM
# James Benedetto said:

Just wanted anyone who got screwed by this company to take notice. Look at Arizona. I'm not surprised because I suspected this in NY too.
You get yours with the NY division of consumer affairs real soon.IMO


on July 21, 2005 09:52 PM
# brigette said:


I am sorry you had a bad experience with First American Title. I am a loan officer in Arizona and I had an incident with my borrower at the signing. Title companies are regulated by State Banking in Arizona and all real estate, mortgage, title companies are government regulated. Try www.hud.gov/compliants

Hope this helps!

on July 28, 2005 07:03 AM
# ALP said:

I have used First American Title several times throughout my home ownership life and have had no problems. First And foremost I want to say that the Closing process does not come "error" free. That is why the buyer needs to look atand ask questions before he signs a document. We are all human, and in line with that "mistakes will be made" and not just by Fatco. It would be safe to say that Fidelity Title or any other Title company for that matter have made some of the same mistakes that everyone seems to be bad mouthing Fatco for here. It all comes down to the lender and broker in making sure that everything gets communicated well in advance of the closing. If the lender waits till the last minute before sending changes to escrow then expect some mistakes to come out of it. It happens in every Industry, not just title. It all come down to Communication! Communication! COMMUNICATION! Shame on the lender for not giving them more notice to prepare before you sign on the dotted line. How does the saying go! "The lack of preparation on the lenders part should not automatically become a sense of urgency on Titles". In my opinion Title People are the ones that work the hardest for there money. "Remember! to ward off confusion, one must communicate first" and that is everyones job.

on July 28, 2005 12:40 PM
# Shananny said:

For "FATCO Employee" who wrote on June 9 that the Grantor is the title co or lender (huh?) and that's who chooses the title company if the buyer goes through a real estate agent to buy a home. Huh? The only debate about who chooses is whether it's the buyer or seller. Most in the industry believe the buyer chooses, but some think RESPA may be interpreted so it allows either to choose. It's certainly not the former title company or the lender! As for all the complaints about FATCO, like most companies, it all depends on the individual. Ask your real estate agent or lender for a referral. They usually have one or two they trust. This thread probably could have been started for any large title company and had the same comments and complaints. However, I have to say to the FATCO employees posting here, you're not making a good impression for the company. You should NEVER blast any customer, and you shouldn't post when you don't know what you're talking about. Maybe you should get back to your files and spend your time taking care of customers. Even if a reader takes this thread with a grain of salt, they'd be totally turned off by the attitude of some of the FATCO employees posting here.

on July 29, 2005 02:03 PM
# Tabitha-President/Escrow Officer said:

A notary public is now required BY LAW to get your thumbprint to notarize your signature. As far as the documents every single one of those documents are from the MORTGAGE COMPANY-the title company is the middle man they're not giving you the loan and they're selling you the house they are the middle party. As far as the mistake on your Hud-1 IT WAS A MISTAKE, give the girl a break, you act as if you've never made a mistake. If you were as rude as you sound by printing your letter on the sight, you intimidated her and made her flustered. We escrow officers can tell what kind of a sign-off its going to be as soon as you walk in the door.

on August 17, 2005 02:00 PM
# John Runkle said:

I worked for First American many years ago. They are a good title company but also suffer from the same problems that other title companies nationwide suffer from, the lack of competent employees. The problem is that as the refi boom and now the real estate boom are on, the title companies are hard pressed to keep up and are forced to hire ANYBODY with even a smidgeon of experience. Therefore, you end up with a very junior escrow officer in a senior escrow officer position. The problem is not unique to First American Title.
Also, in response to one individuals comments regarding Santa Clara County where a seller picks the title insurer, that in and of itself is illegal. It is a violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Section Nine which states that the buyer must be given the choice of title company

If anyone has any questions, I am a licensed broker (real estate and mortgage) in six states, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Montana and Idaho. My email address is johnrunkle@aol.com

on September 9, 2005 08:15 PM
# Beth said:

I just turned victim today, Oct. 14, 2005 by incompetence of an escrow officer at First American Title, City of Roseville, CA. The escrow officer never informed me of the closing cost amount not until a couple of hours prior the closing appointment. Everyone makes mistake but it would not have been bad if one can prudently admit making the mistake.

on October 14, 2005 10:06 PM
# Brian said:

This site cracks me up. We started a title company because 95% of title companies suck. They are understaffed, unprofessional and unappreciative of their clients. I loved hearing everybodys comments, especially the agents who are trying to help/get a lead out of this.

On your next closing, get a recommendation from a reputable lender, not just a guy who does a lot of business. Key phrase, reputable.

When we bought our home, our closing went great but
the hillbillys didn't move out. We showed up and they hadn't packed yet. Nothing like having the police evict the trash when you work hard to buy a home.

Best of luck in the future.

on November 28, 2005 05:58 PM
# Will said:

I think it's interesting that people are coming to this website and thinking they have a full and complete understanding of FATCO, which is a company of 30,000+ employees. Certainly, there are incompetent Escrow Officers, but to echo the comments of several other respondents, it's more often the lender that screws up closings than the escrow officer. It's absolutely true that more often than not, officers are waiting for docs from the lender as you wait in the lobby. Who's feeling the heat more? A lender who can put the escrow officer into voice mail or the officer who's sitting there figuring out the worthless proprietary software to view and print lender docs with you in the lobby fuming?

The best officers will be adept in dealing with this pressure, but it doesn't change the nature of the problem in the original (and several subsequent posts): blame your lender. FATCO docs are not redundant; they consist of escrow instructions (allowing us to do our job), an estimated HUD, proceeds authorization (allowing you to get your money), and any random other doc that might be required for your transaction to go through: a warranty deed, etc. That's like 5 signatures out of 50 and all for distinct purposes.

Blame your lender, not the neutral third party who simply complies with lender instructions (and occasionally transposes a number under the heat of a time limit they cannot control).

But most of all, do not take the opinions of maybe 50 people who've had bad escrow experiences at FATCO as an accurate representation of the whole company. Fifty closings would represent one officer's closings in one branch for one month, if that. I'm pretty confident that there are many more satisfied FATCO customers out there than those like yourselves, else we wouldn't still be around, nor would we have repeat buyers, sellers, agents as customers, would we?

on December 3, 2005 02:25 PM
# Karen Savage said:

INTERESTING STUFF YOU HAVE HERE...Had to put in my two cents worth after reading this blog. I'm a realtor in Houston and I've experienced both good and bad service dealing with lenders, title companies, and vendors. Finding a reputable title or abstract company and escrow office is like finding a needle in a haystack. If you are fortunate enough to establish working relationships with such folks, do so! Their jobs are crazy at best! They are the unsung heros of a home sale. Without them, nothing would get done.

I make it a point to send a detailed 'checklist' with every listing agreement/contract when opening title, and regularly follow up on matters. Anal, yes...surprised, no. Preventive measures ensure smooth closings. Title company staff have way too many files to prepare, are understaffed, and the sheer enormity of the volumne of closings is unreal. The biggest culpret is the desire to have most of your 'closings' on the last day of the month to avoid additional interest charges. What a crock!! Who thought that up? Some penny-pinching accountant? Be smart pay the extra interest and close the 1st or 2nd week of the month. It is worth it. It's common sense: if clerical workers are overstressed and understaffed, they are prone to making more mathmatical errors. Have several people recheck figures. Don't assume anything. It's very rare for a HUD-1 Settlement Statement or lender paperwork NOT to have an error on it or some other paperwork snapfu. People are going to hate me for saying this, "Most of the problems come from bankers/lenders, who submit documents late, incomplete, and with no real directions or guidance. Communication is poor or conflicting at best of exactly what is meant. Just ask about pre-qual vs. pre-approval letters and you'll understand. There's no standardization!! Banks pay their people horrible wages (the people on the frontline dealing with the public). Unless you are a VP."

One of the biggest problems is when people list properties for sale initially, they don't do 'their homework' of possible issues that could effect transfer of title. Have enough brains to ask marriage status (Can you prove it? Got a certified copy of a divorce decree? Community property state issues - who owns it legally?); physically see a copy of the Deed of Trust or Warranty; ASK about everything. Such as power of attorneys (elderly), outstanding mortgage amount, home equity loans, pending lawsuits (HOA/POA), vendor liens, survey issues/boundaries, etc. If you ask this info before the property is put up for sale, you can eliminate most of the issues that could prevent a sale later. A biggie: any outstanding taxes paid, received, and publicly recorded prior to a new deed of ownership being submitted for recording? Just remember this: for someone to do 'their job' someone else has to do 'theirs' first. The whole system is based on a string of legal research and verification. If just one person is out sick, the process stops until they return. Treat your escrow officers/processors like gold. Feed them chocolate regularly! It's not their fault they get 'crap in' and are expected to turn around a pile of incomplete documents like some wizard of oz character. The issue really is about doing the job 'right' the first time. Stop passing the buck and be responsible. Whatever party you are to a transaction, you have a vested interest in doing a quality job. Note, I said: QUALITY not quantity. Enough said. Walk a mile in their shoes, then you'll have something to talk about! What you put into it, is what you get out of it.

--Karen Savage, Realtor, KW/CONROE 1/26/6

on January 26, 2006 07:51 PM
# Dennis McIntyre said:

I am having trouble with First American at this very time. I have a large judgment lien that I filed prior to the sale of property owned by the debtor in Chelan County. They were going through First American in Wenatchee.
I contacted First American prior to the closing of the property to make sure they knew of the lien on the property. The sale would have resulted in the payment of my judgment. They slipped in an exception on the title report that excluded my judgment on the title insurance.
The result: The debtor was paid the entire sum and my judgment went unpaid. What I have now is a lien on property of an innocent person not involved in the damages I received the judgment for. They protected themselves by excluding my judgment but they screwed the buyer because I now have a lien on his property. If I file a writ of execution on the property I am basically screwing someone that while a little ignorant should not have to pay my judgment. The law says I can force him to pay the seller's debt or force the sale of his house.
How is this fair? I do not want to have the sheriff seize someone's house that probably signed the paper along with a hundred other documents required in a sale.
They didn't get any better deal in buying the house with my lien. They were not duly informed of the consequences of this paper basically putting their home at risk.

on January 29, 2006 09:21 PM
# james t conklin said:

I was incompetently served and improperly treated by First American Title Company.

On March 21, 2001, I made a $35,000 Second Mortgage loan.
The Title Insurance Policy showed no liens.

The mortgagor defaulted, and I was forced to foreclose. The title search revealed that:
The property had a SUPERIOR IRS TAX LIEN OF $1,995,391 ..... An outrageous error!

My attorney made a claim and received a totally defensive response. FATCO's attorney even summoned ME for a recorded deposition as if I had done something improper.

The IRS lien became an impossible obstacle for me in recovering my loss.

1. If the property was sold at the First Mortgage foreclosure sale, I would receive none of the "overage" because it would go to IRS.

2. After I obtained title to the property by paying off the First Mortgage, No one (including FATCO) would issue title insurance on the property, so that I could sell the property and recover my investment.

After months of difficulties, thousands of dollars, and the death of my attorney; FATCO settled my claim for $3,500 because I could not afford more attorney fees.

on February 3, 2006 09:10 AM
# RE MAN said:

I have read almost all the emails about FATCO...true there are no excuses for crappy services. I am curious as to why when people invest in new or resold homes do you not do followup with your agent regularly to ensure that any issues you are concerned with during your transactions are not brought to his attention. As a Broker I assume the responsibility for being totally involved in my clients transaction and they are not even required to call me often to do follow up. I call them and alert them to any errors or posible land mines that may be coming their way. Title companies are completely responsible for the final package being correct. I know this and I stay in touch constantly to track the package. There are many incompetent title folks out there due to the amazing sale, resale and refi market that we've experienced in the last 10 years. It's just as bad for real estate offices with incompetent sales people that are nothing more than glorified order takers ina booming real estate market. The point is the buck stops with me and I have always insisted on the clients rights and their right to be treated fairly and for you to do your job. Therefore when I hear storie liek this the question should be asked who is responsible for what is happening to the client...a simple answer is in the DRE code..."a fiduciary obligation to the client"! Therefore I urge all agents to track what is going on with their client and be proactive in their transaction at all levels and you will have a satisfied client and ensure that escrow and title are doing their job just as you should be doing yours to ensure the comfort of your clients experience.

Landrus Clark, Broker

on February 8, 2006 06:46 AM
# Sparky said:

Just as a Follow up from my post on November 16, 2004 10:44 PM. After talking with a Lawyer Dean Cloud out of Glendale who works for FATCO. These people make mistakes and go after the small guys for the money. PLEASE DO NOT TRUST THIS COMPANY. Yes people make mistakes! But as humans we need to own up to our mistakes which FATCO does NOT do at all. I finally paid these people off and the only things Dean CLOUD out of Glendale CA FATCO office can do is call me names. Yes that is correct a Lawyer for FATCO swearing at me and calling me names. All the FATCO employees who read this and reply who try to defend these actions should really take a hard look at who they work for. Are all Title company's bad ? NO. Do I recomend any? NO. I am not in the industry at all. Just one of the people who got taken for $3500. by FATCO and their mistakes. FYI Great Blog keep up the good work. FATCO Lawyers told me they really hate sites like this. :)

on February 16, 2006 09:00 PM
# Lori Donnelly said:

Hi FATCO paid off the wrong loan.....
Now we have late fees
They can't read an address on payoff demand!

on February 23, 2006 10:13 AM
# barbara said:

Fatco held my escrow , I got into a dispute with the builder, Fatco knowing I was in litigation, secretly allowed the seller to open a second escrow for the same property, did not disclose this to me, I thought I was still in escrow, they still have my deposit, and they closed to the other party which was the client of the big builder who offered to pay more, $135,000 more for the property.

on March 12, 2006 08:09 PM
# Ms. Michigan said:

I am an experienced home owner, a mortgage closing professional, title escrow/closing officer and generally nice human being. After reading Jeremy's piece on First American and his experience I have to post a comment. First of all, I am sorry for his bad experience. There are more stories out there about good closing experiences, but who takes time to post those? Everyone who has a bad experience about something talks about that--- its like the evening news, more entertaining to hear about something bad than good. However, having been in the mortgage and title business for the past 13 years I've seen both sides of what goes on and I can promise you this---it is almost ALWAYS the lender who screws up. Period. The title company takes the blame for everything and our job is to take the crap and make the realtors and lenders and brokers look good. For the work that we do what we charge is NOTHING. Have an attorney do the same work and you'd be charged double or more. We work our fannies off to get the job done, so much goes on behind the scenes the average consumer would not believe it. The lenders make tons of errors, get us closing documents that are incorrect, come at the last minute, and don't even bother to show up at the closings (assuming they are even LOCAL). They charge fees that are total b.s. (admittedly not all, but a lot of them have garbage fees) and we sit at the closing table, eye to eye with the consumer, who then thinks they are OUR documents and OUR fees. The consumer comes to the closing unaware of SO much, like this Jeremy who says the paper was off from their estimate. Jeremy--that was your LENDER'S "Good Faith Estimate" and your LENDER has the responsiblity by LAW to make it within a certain dollar amount "tolerance". Let me ask you THIS------why did you select this LENDER? So many consumers are GREEDY----they select a lender based solely on the interest rate, not taking into account WHO this PERSON is, who the COMPANY is, if they have any INTEGRITY. Sometimes I have to say I truly feel sorry for people who come to the closings uneducated about the process and who have clearly been HOSED, other times the consumer is ARROGANT and GREEDY and I can honestly say that my Christian values are nearly set aside as I watch you get HOSED financially because of your selfish greed! The bottom line is that the title company may have made an error, and if they did they had a responsiblity to step up and correct it, but your LENDER was who was supposed to tell YOU what to bring to your closing. So, you should have been PREPARED by your lender and yes, the title company representative should have gotten the necessary documents from you at closing.

You ought to become a better informed, better educated consumer next time you make a home purchase. Having worked for several title company underwriters, incluing Land America, Transnation, Stewart Title and First American, I can honestly say that of all the companies, First American was the best, at least in my personal experience. They are a company of integrity and value honesty. I believe that if you brought this issue to the attention of the management of your title office they would have done their best to rectify the situation.

Best of luck in your next home purchase; I sincerely hope your next experience is a better one, and you can come to my office in Michigan if you want a truly professional closing experience!

on March 18, 2006 09:30 PM
# John Runkle said:

This is a follow up to my previous post. I notice that all the people that are "in the business" are blaming the mortgage brokers and loan officers for title's last second receipt of the loan documents. Having done title, escrow, owning a mortgage company and six real estate offices, I can only refer to a remark I read in a Realtor magazine some years ago.

The Real Estate Commissioner at the time (I believe it was Jim Antt) was asked what he would most like to see improve in the real estate field. He responded by stating that he would like to see the streamlining of mortgages a priority. His reasoning was that he could walk into a Mercedes Benz dealership and walk out an hour later with a $120,000 vehicle. However, if he wanted to buy a $45,000 condo it would take 45 days.

The problem is not with the mortgage brokers or loan officers in most cases. Although I must admit I have run into my share of incompetence in both the mortgage and real estate fields. However, most loans take a minimum of 30 days to complete. If you run into any problems, tack another two weeks onto it. The brokers are at the mercy of the appraisers (sometimes two weeks) and the underwriters (another 3 or 4 days) and that is assuming everything goes as planned.

It would be wise to plan for a delay in your closing. It happens more often than not and then you are not disappointed. I always counseled my seller's and buyers to expect delays and problems. Virtually every transaction has its problems and the best you can do is try to minimize them. Even the best of the best Realtor cannot make things disappear but they can assist in minimizing the effect on your transaction.

on March 21, 2006 10:14 PM
# dj said:

Hi Jeremy,
Sorry to hear your purchase was an ordeal. Part of the problem is that you weren't aware of the duties each of the 20-26 people involved in the transaction were responsible for. That isn't your fault, that is your real estate agent's fault, part of their job is to educate you about the intricate and complex process of buying or selling property. You are blaming the title company for escrow issues and blaming the escrow company for lender issues(a billion documents), etc.
BTW, I don't work for First American Title.

on March 25, 2006 11:23 AM
# Dennis said:

I have a lien on a house that was sold. The seller and debtor used FATCO. When I was not paid and FATCO would not talk to me I made a complaint to the attorney general. They wrote back that this was not a problem they dealt with but they sent me back several papers FATCO had sent them in response to my complaint. One of these was a letter from the debtor's attorney telling them not to pay the judgment and that the debtor indemnifies them against any action by me. How is this so? I plan to file suit as soon as I get an attorney.
How does indemnifying them against any action against me allow them not to pay the lien? The lien is valid and properly filed while the debtor owned the property.

on April 30, 2006 08:42 PM
# Colette Burnham said:

I have been involved in Real Estate for more than 20 years. I prefer to use First American Title when my clients are willing and have no preference. My experience has been that when things are screwed up, 99.9% of the time, it is the lending company who has done it. Every deal I have ever "lost" has been because of the lending company, never the title company.

on May 5, 2006 12:51 PM
# BH said:

Unfortunately, as a VP of an un-named Title Company, the being read to and told where to sign that frustrated you, is absolutely necessary. The problem is that consumers take advantage of the idea of lawsuit when not walked through or having their hands held. I have seen many a case where Title Companies, especially mom and pop title companies, are put under because of the old "I didn't know what I was signing" or "You should not have assumed I knew what I was doing". As for the missing documentation, no excuses, It sounds as if you had an unexperienced closer. Congrats on the House! By the way, California does not require fingerprinting for a closing, not sure why they would do that....Have a great day.

on June 14, 2006 10:47 AM
# tim said:

We purchased a home in January 2005. In March 2006, we received a bill from the city for past due amount of $8000 for a sewer assessment. The previous owner never made a payment. We paid for an owners title policy through First American. This had been recorded a number of years prior to us purchasing property. We have written numerous times to the claims department without any luck. We also have written to the VP in their Mo. office. Can anyone offer help? Thanks

on July 19, 2006 09:03 PM
# mike said:

For Tim 7/19/06 comment. Contact your State's Insurance Commissioner. You can file a complaint but more than likely they will just tell you who to talk to to get the issue resolved.

on August 17, 2006 04:36 PM
# DP said:

I am a former Fatco employee. I purchased a home while working for them and there was a lien missed. The lien was from the neighbor behind me and was for the maintenance of a shared road. The maintenance agreement is clearly on record as is the lien for $12,000, which represented over 20 years of upkeep that the former owner of my house refused to participate in. The neighbor came to meet me when we moved in, and as a lovely welcome gift he told me about the lien. I asked him why he didn't tell the agent who had the sign in front of the house and he just shrugged. He wrote a letter to Fatco demanding payment and they told him that the lien carried a faulty legal description, though it is a legal and binding lien. Fatco won't pay him and now I am trying to refi out of a variable rate mortgage and they are ignoring me, though the lien is in first position ahead of my current lender, and I have an owner's policy that does not show the lien.

I am not new at this, and there is a reason I do not work for them anymore. They have outsourced much of the examining to Manila and India, and the quality is the pits. My exam was done in Manila and obviously it was not done correctly. I left after seeing them summarily dismiss long-time examiners to up their profits, while at the same time posting multi-billion dollar profits. Their management is incompetent and selfish. Much of their escrow processing is now done in Mexico.

I hate them, I really really do. If you want to read something more about what they are willing to do to people in order to avoid paying on claims, read this book by Louis Declazio:


He lost his life savings and First American Title helped his partner commit fraud to bilk him out of everything.

on September 25, 2006 12:16 PM
# Jeff said:

I am a notary and work for many signing services and escrow offices (although have not done anything for First American yet). I am sorry for your experience. I sheds a bad light on the Notary profession, however, maybe I can offer some incite and advice for your next loan signing experience.

First, Be picky about the notary. Make sure s/he is a Certified Notary Signing agent with at least 3 years experience. The fact is, many of these signing services will take any notary that can fog a mirror. If you request someone with experience, that person can explain a document's function without interpreting the legalese. S/he is used to the process and will notice if something is missing in most cases and can catch and corrent for errors (like a $4,500 appraisal fee) before the appointment even happens. He or she would also be able to explain that a thumbprint is REQUIRED for any notarization involving a deed of trust in the state of California.

Second, educate yourself on what are standard fee ranges and what is just plain "BS Nickel and Diming." The standard notary fee for a complete loan signing is $150. Often times the notary has to split a large portion of that to the company that hired him or her, leaving the notary with $50-$65. If there is an addition loan in your package, it is common to charge half of the base fee for each additional loan. Thus, A first loan with a Home Equity Line of Credit should cost $225 ($150 + $75) for the Notary services. An appraisal on a residential house with no extreme circumstances should never be more than $400 (usually around $350 or less). An origination fee is nothing but upfront profit for the sales office that sold you the loan. You can avoid that fee by shoping direct with the lenders, avoid brokers, but you may have to sign a pre-payment rider to guarantee that they will make a profit on your loan at some point. They don't want to spend $1000's in resources underwriting and processing your loan only to have you refi in 6 months, before they have had a chance to make a profit on the interest of your loan.

Lastly, don't be afraid to call your lender contact the day before the signing and verify the following:
-Are there any changes in the closing costs since we last spoke? What form of payment is required? (often if the amount due from borrower is less than $500, they will accept a personal check)
-Are there any required documents I need to provide to the Notary at the signing?
-Is there a right of rescission document in the package?... This gives you a few days to review the docs, ask any questions, and if necessary back out of the loan at no cost to you (accept the appraisal fee). This is critical because the notary is not allowed to answer certain types of questions. Specific questions about fees and terms must be directed to the lender or the escrow officer. This document is required for refi's on primary residences in CA, but not required for new home purchases or investment property. If your package does not have a Right to Cancel/Rescission doc, make sure your signing is during business hours and you have your lender's phone number handy so you can get important questions answered.

I hope that this info is helpful to all who read it.


Jeff Harrel
Certified Notary Signing Agent
Riverside County, CA

on October 4, 2006 01:53 PM
# Cheryl said:

You're an idiot... i'm referring to the First American Title article in which you pretty much run an escrow officer into the ground for no reason.

1. Notaries in the state of California are required by law to obtain your fingerprint in order to prevent identity fraud (amazing, this fraud really DOES happen and people try to sell properties that are not their own.) You can refer to the Patriot Act passed by the Federal Government regarding this.

2. Notaries, by law in the State of California, are allowed to charge $10.00 per signature notarized. $40.00 you got off easy. Some loan packages have 8-10 documents which require a notary, and if you are married you'd be looking at a minimum of $120.00 for a double loan package which is so common these days.

3. Oh about that check, you mentioned it was $4k more than what you were told. Told by whom? Your MORTGAGE BROKER in his good-faith estimate? All that is honey, is an ESTIMATE. 9 times out of 10 the mortgage broker does not estimate escrow/title fees correctly, or they misrepresent other costs/charges, and then it comes down to escrow who then gets to pick up the pieces and "splain" reality as opposed to the previous estimate you received. I don't think in the last 3 yrs, I've seen a GFE anywhere close to being correct.

4. Are you perfect? Do you never make an error in your work or your daily life? Then why do you expect others to be?

Let me tell you about drawing an escrow. An escrow officer might get 5-10 loan packages at once, the customers demand the instructions be drawn and signed within VERY unreasonable time frames in most cases.

The escrow person is forced to prepare documents so quickly that it very often leaves too much room for error. and again. escrow officers are not perfect.

When a loan package is signed, it is not the escrow officer's job to explain each and every document to you, as this puts them into the realm of practicing law without a license. so based on how the customer receives them, will pretty much earmark how the signing will go.

if they ask questions, yes, if possible, we answer. but we are not lenders, and we do not always know the answers.

once a package is signed, the notary completes his/her job, then it takes approx 30 min or so (without any interruptions) to make the necessary copies and return the package to the lender.

The lender then takes 24-48 hours to review this package, and then issue to escrow it's "funding conditions". This can range from needing nothing at all, to needing further documents, further copies of identification (because of the Patriot Act), etc.

Once the lender is happy, the loan gets funded and escrow records once all is in order.

Get it now?

Escrow has historically been the "fall guy" the "bad guy" because escrow is the main contact, the man-in-the-middle. When things go wrong, it's always "escrow's fault", and 90% of the time, it's NOT escrow's fault. In most cases, it's the MORTGAGE BROKER who has not done his/her job, thus delaying the loan closing.

So, Jeremy, get off your high horse and do a little bit of research before you go off half-cocked and flame a job that you know NOTHING about.

And I'd hope that you are just as perfect as you expect everyone else to be.... must be nice to be flawless in this world of imperfection....

on December 12, 2006 10:34 PM
# said:

These people are only human. You sign a document that states if there are any errors that you agree, by signing, that you will work with them to correct it. None of you evidentally, ever make mistakes at work.

on December 18, 2006 04:27 PM
# fed up said:

I understand that everyone makes mistakes, hey it may happen in my own career, but everyone needs to own up to it and resolve as quickly as possible. I live next to my grandmom who was told she was dying. She had made a sales agreement with me,to buy house we will call #1. she lived in house #2. My deed transfer for house #1 was handled by my attorney (still unknown to me why was not recordrd immed.?) Grandmom decided to do one of those reverse mort. for house #2. I didn't help with her loan, She already had that set up and family help. I went on with life as a new homeowner. Grandmom died pass 1 yr. later. Grandmom house needed to be sold to satisfy reverse mort.. I stepped up to bat because know I needed a bigger house(I now own 1br free and clear) I married and have now a daughter though she wasn't born when mess started.House # 2 is 4 bdrs, larger lot inside and out. My loan co advised after looking into matters, he loved to help me, but i needed lawyer instead. Mort. co put lien on my house# 1. Almost 18 mos. later and all i get is finger pointing, expensive fee,sleepless nights reasearching, tons of family squabble. It took me 6 mos to get case info. on loan since I didn't assume or even know about a loan( which I never heard of this mort. co til now,thier names cocide w/potty mouth on daily basis in my own home with 160,000. lien. Even the appraiser who was hired by MC, sketched house#2 and photographed,all 4 bed,den lr kit bath 2 bay gar. but he used house # 1 parcel id #, lot size outside & inside. He used the yr built on # 2 and recored several defects #2 property, even came back to take pics of repairs. a couple of first american employee did have flags go up, but did nothing, but maybe try to coss out a couple things, without telling anyone or should demanded a do over????? i mad now over a honest mistake, frustrated beyond belief, because opposing lawyerS treating me as i am the one who trying to pull off a cover up, I hope they read this and realize their delays and counter whatevers effects real families, and now i see i am not he only one complaing. What a crime.

on January 12, 2007 08:07 PM
# Diane Cipa, General Manager, The Closing Specialists® said:

This is all very interesting. Have you heard about the new FATIC product TitleSmart? You're discussion thus far reveals normal business as usual in the title/real estate/mortgage lending world. Humans make mistakes, humans must correct mistakes and you need owner title coverage. Some people are careful, some people are not. You should shop for competent title agents.

Just imagine a world in which there is no good search done on title, maybe even the wrong properties get conveyed or mortgaged. If you think what you've described here is bad, consider having discussion about title corrections with someone from India.

on January 27, 2007 09:55 PM
# EXPERT said:

I am a Sr. Escrow Officer and LPO in the state of Washington. I am liscensed by the Washington State Bar Association. I have been closing for 10 years. It is very clear that your Escrow Officer made a human error. It is our job to take instructions from the lender and the Realtor(s). If we are given the wrong information, that information will be passed on to you. Also, with the low cost of escrow fees, we are required to close 50-60 transactions a month. This means we work very long hours and are put under tremendous stress to get your transactions closed. The documents you were required to bring back to the Escrow Officer were papers your Loan Officer was required to obtain from you, not your Escrow Officer. Those are called "BROKER CONDITIONS". By law, we can not be Escrow Officer's and Broker's so I am sure she did not act as your Loan Officer. Your Loan Officer should have requested those forms, not her. We require NO documentation to close except for a photo ID. In fact, her asking you to bring in the paperwork to HER was a favor for the Loan Officer and you. She went above and beyond on that one. You should really allow PEOPLE to be human. We all make mistakes and have bad days. California notaries are required by law to take your fingerprint at the time of signing. You should educate yourself before you start pointing the finger at PEOPLE.

on March 12, 2007 08:43 PM
# Katherine said:

I also just had a bad experience with a FATCO officer here in Washington. We were refinancing and as we were signing the paperwork, she stated that the only thing we were waiting on was the pay-off figure from the current mortgage company. This was Monday afternoon. My husband and I were going out of town the next Sunday for a week and she assured us that everything would be done on Friday before we left. She said that if they hadn't received the pay-off figure on Wednesday, she would give us a call and we would figure it out from there.

Wednesday passed - no call. Thursday went by, no call. My husband decided to check late Thursday afternoon just to make sure everything was a go for the next day, as promised. After all, we hadn't heard anything, so it should be fine. Wrong. They still had not received the pay-off amount and they were just about to close. I didn't find out until after they'd closed.

Friday morning, I called and talk to the officer. She did apologize, but only with excuses - she was out in the field on Wednesday, she wasn't in the office. Did she not have a cell phone to check to see if the figure had arrived? Or at the very least, could she not call us on Thursday? I mean, she's the one that set that schedule. Originally, I didn't think things were going to be ready until we returned from our vacation, until she told us otherwise. I kept wanting a to be told what we were going to do from there (Were we going to wait until we got back? Did I have to pay something on my credit card bills that were due while we were going to be gone?) and instead I got "How many times do I have to apologize to you?" Once sincerely and then letting me know what we were going to do now would have been great. And she was still insisting that it would be done that day, and to bring her the paperwork from when we purchased the house.

It turned out that the current mortgage company wanted papers from the purchase that the title company said they'd never had a mortgage company ask for. My husband went from work to the house to get the papers and then took them to FATCO, but our officer wasn't there! To make sure everything got done that day, my husband sat down at a empty desk with a phone at their office (at least the branch manager apologized, even though she kind of put him to work), and he stayed there for three hours on the phone with mortgage company until the pay-off amount was faxed over! He didn't get back to his own business until almost 4 that afternoon.

When we bought the house, the morgage broker was a nightmare and the title company agent was great. This time, the mortgage broker was great and the title company officer left a lot to be desired. And before you say she was probably new, she said she'd been doing this for 8 years. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing she's burned out.

Jeremy, thanks for starting this. I do feel a little better after venting!

on April 1, 2007 06:19 PM
# Dean Cloud said:

The following is in response to the message posted by Sparky/Jerry on February 16, 2006. I am the attorney Sparky referred to in his post. I hate to confuse the issues with facts, but the simple facts are that Sparky sold real property to First American’s insured. At the time escrow closed real property taxes that arose during the time Sparky owned the property were not paid. As a result, Sparky received $2,500.00 in excess sales proceeds to which he was not rightfully entitled. Moreover, First American’s insureds wound up taking title subject to real property taxes which were incurred and owed by Sparky. First American’s insured made a claim under their policy of title insurance. To perfect title as insured, First American paid the taxes which were rightfully the responsibility of Sparky.

Under the terms of First American’s title policy, upon payment of a claim, First American is subrogated to the rights of its insured. In other words, First American stands in the shoes of its insured and is entitled to recover the money which should have gone to pay the property taxes but instead went into Sparky’s pocket. At the close of escrow, Sparky was unjustly enriched in the amount of $2,500.00. Sparky also breached the escrow instructions which required that Sparky transfer title free and clear of any liens which he had created. Lastly, Sparky breached the warranties contained in his Grant Deed to First American’s insureds when he transferred title and did not satisfy the tax lien.

In his November 16, 2004 posting Sparky aka Jerry states that he paid $981 for First American to clear title. That is simply incorrect. Sparky paid for an owner’s policy of title insurance for his buyers. Under the policy, First American agreed to indemnify the buyer/insured in the event that title was not as stated in the policy. As it turned out title was not as stated in the policy because of the $2,500 tax lien created during the time that Sparky owned the property. To protect its insured, First American paid $2,500 for a release of the tax lien.

If Sparky’s interpretation of a title policy is correct, then it would reduce every single real estate transaction to a lottery. If the title company misses a lien then the seller skates on having to pay the debt which they incurred and owe. To take an extreme example, assume Sparky had a $200K deed of trust against his property and the title company missed it in the title search. Under Sparky’s theory of the law, the title company would have to pay the lien and Sparky would be $200K richer. The law does not agree with Sparky which is why every title policy contains a subrogation provision. The subrogation provision allows the title company to pursue any party who is unjustly enriched as a result of a lien not being paid at the close of escrow.

Turning now to the specifics of Sparky’s case, First American initially contacted Sparky and tried to work out an amiable resolution to the problem of the unpaid taxes. Sparky would have none of it. When Sparky refused to pay, First American was forced to file a lawsuit to recover the funds. Sparky argued the case before the judge and lost. Judgment was entered in favor of First American. For some reason the confidence that Sparky exudes in this blog was strangely lacking after the judge ruled in favor of First American. Specifically, Sparky never appealed the judge’s ruling. If Sparky was so confident that 1) First American was in the wrong and 2) the judge was in the wrong, why didn’t he appeal?

In his February 16th posting, Sparky accuses me of swearing at him and calling him names. All I can say is that Sparky relies far more on his imagination than his memory. In his posting Sparky correctly notes that “as humans we need to own up to our mistakes”. I patiently wait for the day when Sparky owns up to his.

Dean Cloud

on April 2, 2007 09:55 AM
# Inquire said:

I am currently looking for any EX First American Title employees that would like to speak with me about certain practices that took place there. It is completely up to you as to whether or not you stay anonymous. I am not an attorney and I have complete respect for everyone’s privacy. Unfortunately there have been questionable actions that have occurred there. This is not limited to employees; as I read many of these blogs I realized that there are many people that feel they have been mistreated by First American Title. I am very interested in speaking with you as well. I would like to help both ex employees and individuals who feel they have something to say.

You may call me at 800.329.0272



on April 10, 2007 01:02 PM
# Mrs. Title said:

Wow! I can't believe the stuff I have read on this page. I own a title company and have been in the business for over 10 years and I can't believe the things people do and don't do at title companies. For one, I have never heard of anyone fingerprinting and to charge $40.00 for that. That's just wrong. I guess they just needed another fee and invented that one. Well, good luck to all the people closing on their homes.

on May 6, 2007 06:46 PM
# Nancy said:

After 27 years in escrow, I have seen it all.

Are there incompetent escrow officers, certainly...as well as incompetent real estate agents, loan agents and lenders.......escrow is often a brutal and stressful career, one in which upper management is also incompetent.

The best part of escrow is developing a COMPETENT client following of real estate and loan agents, and then satisfying them and buyers/sellers/borrowers with your professional expertise.

I have WORKED for FATCO.......they have become MEAT GRINDERS in the industry...."bottom line" is all that matters, not quality employees and customer service.

Frankly, most title insurance companies these days allow lender fraud, as long as they do not get caught at it.

I think that I will get in to a new business that's less stressful, such as Air Traffic Control.

on May 22, 2007 04:26 PM
# anonymous said:

Hi Jeremy:

I have a problem where previous property taxes on my home were not paid during escrow like they were supposed to. I have been calling and trying to get it straightened out, but all I am getting is a lot of game playing, if you know what I mean. The escrow Co. said that is the title co. and that I should e-mail them the tax info and they will in turn email it to them. Of course nothing was taken care of. I kept calling back with no luck. When I tried to call the title co. I was told they were looking into it. I guess this was just to get rid of me. Finally, my husband called and got the title co. phone number and they wanted to know why no one called before now and acting like they don't have to pay it and how the property can just go to a tax sale. My husband has some loan and real estate experience and told the guy it takes around 5 years for that to happen and he went on and said well you have to send us a insurance claim letter. Now, I have to find a sample letter to go by and I am unable to find one on the Internet. My question is why would I have to go through all of this hassle when they are the ones that didn't do their job? Also, do you know of such a letter and if this is the legit way to handle the situation? I really appreciate your help in this matter.


Cathy Isola

on August 2, 2007 08:45 AM
# anonymous said:

Type your comment here.

After you submit the comment, check your email. There will be
a link you need to click to make your comment visible.

Your email address WILL NOT appear on the site, so don't worry
about being anonymous, even if you think you are.

on August 2, 2007 08:48 AM
# Robert Morris said:

Hello all,

My wife and I are Realtors in Bakersfield, CA and use FATCO for the majority of our escrows - including our own.

One thing that you must keep in mind is that the title/escrow business is no different than any other in that depending on the employee that you are dealing with - you may receive excellent, average or horrible service.

2004 was a very busy year in real estate and new employees were being hired one after another to keep up with demand. While this is no excuse for bad service, I just think it is unfair to judge an entire company by the actions of one person.


Robert Morris

on November 6, 2007 03:42 PM
# Title Pro said:

While all comments above are reasonable. Let's all agree that in a number of companies across the US from restaurants to title companies to customer service reps, people are overworked and underpaid. Why? Corporations are watching their bottom line which is heavily impacted by payroll, especially in any industry where there are no actual "tangible products". Most of us work because we have to have an income to support our families and not because we like to get up and work for the man. And the same goes in the real estate industry. But, in reality ther are escrow officers who love their job,(like myself) have a great attitude and are their to do more then simply collect a paycheck and you will receive outstanding service even if there is a mistake. I am much more forgiving of a mistake if the person who is doing it for me does it with a smile and apology. This "service" problem does not exist only in title insurance. Google complaints on any company and you will discover the same poor me attitudes as above.

I have had great service at Denny's and I have had horrible service there as well. It's not Denny's Corp's fault! Have you ever ran a multimilion dollar corporation? Do you really think that it is as simple as writing a couple checks and giving out a list of instructions? THAT JOB SUCKS! I know it does because I did it and not because I wanted to but because I HAD to and I was treated like crap because I was a Denny's waitress and must be stupid if I worked their. These are the same people who make statements like the one in Pulp Fiction, "she chose this job". So, did I stop going to Denny's over one waitress' lack of enthusiasm when serving my $2.99 breakfast and expecting a .50 cent tip? No, when I did have a good experience I stuck to that Denny's and that waitress. Why? #1 she was good, #2 in return for my appreciation for her willingness to work there and serve my eggs, my order is always correct and hot to boot!

You need to realize that escrow or title employees are real peole with real emotions just like minimum raise waitresses, with real families and real problems. Escrow personel ARE overworked and underpaid (most in the biz call them sweatshops) and yes have really bad days.

During the refi boom of 2002, I cried weekly to my husband about how awful the job was when I was closing nearly 10 transactions a day while of course receiving loan packages 5 min prior to closing even though I had requested the documentation several times and had not heard a word from the loan officer who yes, get's the biggest check. And in addition to that had to listen to all of the complaining from the buyer, seller, agents, loan officers, processors and in some cases the mother and father of the buyer or seller on all 10 transactions. But, again I chose this job! Why shouldn't I put up with angry misinformed uneducated consumers. Well, I guess because I don't treat other people like crap and constantly make the mistake of assuming that the "general" public is just as considerate and nice. WAKE UP AMERICA!!! Do unto others as you would like done to you!

Another big problem is that GOOD escrow officers are very hard to find!!!! So, being understaffed is a HUGE problem. Check your local area and you will find that title companies are always looking for good people, PS - there is no real "schooling or college" for becoming an escrow officer. It is all OJT. So, most start as an assistant or receptionist even and work their way up under the guidance and training of their counter parts.

So, what do you do when you purchase or sell your next home? There are a couple of options.

#1 Eat the $500 - $2000 charge for legal representation (making sure that your attorney practices real estate law or they are completely useless)and leave all the b.s. follow up to him or her. (That's why they make the big butts)


#2) GET A REFERRAL FROM SOMEONE WHO DID HAVE A GOOD EXPERIENCE AND GO THERE! Just like you would get a friend's opinion on a doctor or mechanic you should see. NOT ALL DOCTORS or MECHANICS ARE GOOD and NOT ALL ARE BAD. Don't let the closing day be the first time you meet your all powerful and all knowing escrow officer of your transaction. Get to know them. I know I paid more attention to the transactions in which the realtor, loan officer and buyer or seller treated me like a real person. Stop by the title companies office and request to speak with the escrow assistant and escrow officer at the beginning of the transaction or better yet, offer to drop off the contract or earnest money just so that they can put a face with a name. Then explain all of your needs, expectations and concerns. Like, I prefer to wire my money, can you provide me with wiring instructions,or I will be out of town and this is how to reach me or I prefer to be called rather than emailed, etc. AND BE NICE. You may read minds, but we don't! Then, if you are unhappy with the service you receive in the first week,(ie. phone calls are not being returned or your commitment is not in on time) be a big boy or big girl and call the manager and request her personal attention on your file so that you do not have all of the above referenced problems at the closing table. YOU are the consumer and you can easily say you want to transfer the file to another title company and get their attention. Remember also that the title company does hold the ever so stressul and important closing in their hands and I have known of several closers who will throw your file to the bottom of the never ending stack just because of your stressed out pissed off attitude with a quickness and not think twice. I don't remember the a**h**** who chewed me out, I remember the people who say "thank you". So, for GOD sake, treat them well and remember that the reason they are handling your closing is because you don't know how to do it yourself! Same reason we all take our cars to the mechanic, because we need them!!!!!!! And don't get me started on that racket!


Google "real estate closing process" and discover how truly involved the transaction is. Educate yourself! Escrow does not just perform your precious closing, in fact, that's the easy part that a trained monkey can do. The difficult part is clearing up the history of the property you are purhasing or selling. And the title company didn't create the probate, divorce or bankruptcy problem, they just fix it.

Getting off my soap box now.

Don't blame the corporation! Especially FATCO, I also am a former employee and the manager hired that employee, blame them!

Title Pro

on January 15, 2008 12:00 PM
# sabra said:

I am also being victimized by FATCO, I thought I was alone. I am trying to refinance, and surprise they missed a lean from 1995! It was a second mortgage taken over 10 years before I purchased the home. They have been giving me and the loan officer at the bank the run around for three weeks, they keep insisting that they will only release an indemnity letter to another title insurance company. My refi dosen't require a new title insurance policy, yet they won't release the indemnity letter to the bank. How is this possible?? I had enough tommorow I'm calling the lady in charge of indemnity letters and getting this resolved. If they paid it at closing I want the letter, if not I want it paid so I can get my refi. If I don't get satisfaction I will be calling my Lawyer, they have already cost me money with thier delays...

on July 1, 2008 06:24 PM
# said:

I am not pointing fingers directly and entirely at FATCO as I understand as with any compnay, the reputation depends on the staff they hire. Here's my nightmare.

I've been working on a transaction to close on a brand new property for over 1.5 years (tack in an extra 6 months when you think about purchasing new development). In any case, I've been working with my lender for about year. We've worked on my loan through the entire mortgage fiascal and rate fluctuations.

In any case, my lender was able to secure a good rate for me and everything was finally approved and went through. My rate, which I already re-locked twice, was due to expire on a Monday. All docs were sent to the escrow company with every specific URGENT instructions that funds be disperased before the my rate expired and that closing agent (FATCO) notify lender if this was not possible. NO ONE from FATCO called me to notify that my docs were ready to sign when they have been sitting on them for 2 days. I end up having to call the FATCO to ask when they will schedule my signing--on a Friday afternoon. They finally arrange to have a notary sent to my house during the weekend. All paperwork was signed and my check received.

The next thing I know, funds have not been transferred on time and my rate expired.

on July 17, 2008 02:11 AM
# Jean said:

I have been reading through several of the comments and WOW.

I think that most of the comments should have been directed towards the loan officer and not the title/escrow officer. If the loan documents are not received in time to be signed, returned to the lender, funded and closed/recorded prior to the lock expiration, this is not the fault of the title company, it is the fault of the loan officer.

If there are conditions attached to the loan documents which are not title/escrow related, they are the conditions of the loan officer.

I am not making these comments because I am an escrow or title officer, I am making these comments because I AM a loan officer and the fault should be shifted to the correct person at fault.

on September 10, 2008 07:53 PM
# James T. Conklin said:


Instead of acknowledging the $1,995,391.09 FATCO error, and then assisting me in resolving the problem... FATCO paid its lawyers to do everything it could to avoid helping me in any way.

All FATCO had to do was agree to issue title insurance so that I could sell the property after foreclosure. Or, FATCO could simply have purchased the mortgage from me, and resolved the problem it had caused.

I have been a mortgage/real-estate investor for 26 years.
I have used FATCO on 60 to 80 transactions.
I have never and will never use FATCO again.
I tell my associates and everyone at every closing about
Every talk I make at RE investor clubs, I tell the story about

Please forward this letter to anyone at FATCO
who gives a damn about customer relations.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 4:35 PM
Subject: FATCO's $1,995,391.09 ERROR

FATCO's $1,995,391.09 ERROR

First American Title Co.
Policy No: FA-36-541870
Claim No: CLF F02-401

I was incompetently served and unfairly treated by First American Title Co.

On March 21, 2001, I made a $35,000 Second Mortgage loan. The Title Insurance Commitment and the Title Insurance Policy showed no liens.

The mortgagor defaulted, and I was forced to foreclose. The title search revealed that: The property had a superior IRS Tax Lien of $1,995,391.09... An outrageous oversight!

My attorney made a claim and received a totally defensive response. The FATCO attorney even called me in for a recorded deposition as if it was ME who had done something wrong.

The IRS lien became an impossible obstacle for me in recovering my loss.

1. If the property was sold at the First Mortgage foreclosure sale, I would receive none of the overage because it would go to IRS.

2. After I obtained title to the property by paying off the First Mortgage, No one (including FATCO) would issue title insurance on the property.

After months of difficulties, thousands of dollars, and the death of my attorney;
FATCO settled my claim for $3,500.

FATCO's attorneys successfully screwed me with FATCO's $1,995,391.09 error.

Read details online at:

on November 12, 2008 05:43 PM
# Vallen said:

You think you had it bad with First Am Title? I bought my house in 2001- paid cash and in full from a settlement I recvd. (In 2000 I was brutallty beaten and stabbed four times while a guest at my parent's house. First American Title allowed undisclosed liens that remained hidden on my property (not the purp) all so my attorneys could take my house (my homestead) in 2006 to pay back malpractice medical claims I never knew about. It was orderd in 2007 that my property be returned back to me, First American Title did nothing. I still do not not have my house and homeless. They did nothing because their hands were dirty.

on December 8, 2008 03:22 AM
# said:

I worked for First American Title for 16 years. Why did I leave? Because First American seems less interested in protecting the very people that title insurance was designed to protect, i.e., home buyers, and more interested in maximizing profits for shareholders. Evidence of this is First American’s insistence in outsourcing work to inadequately trained staff in India and the Philippines. Further evidence of this is found in First American generalizing their product to the point specific exceptions are no longer listed. Instead the homeowner receives a policy with the standard language (a/k/a the “Streamline” examination)“Easements and restrictions of record.” In other words anything the homebuyer might bring as a claim is exempt from coverage, but First American is providing no advance knowledge to the homebuyer of specific claims that could arise. Essentially the homebuyer is paying more money for less information.

Title insurance IS an essential part of the home buying experience. How does the buyer know the seller is the actual owner? What about liens, taxes, or other encumbrances. It is only by searching records that a qualified abstractor/examiner can make these determinations and protect the homebuyer. This is a fact that seems lost on First American CEO Parker Kennedy who is quoted in Forbes as saying, “The need for title work will eventually vanish.” Does Parker think that the honor system will work better?

The fact is that First American is a corrupt company run by people who do not seem to understand or appreciate what title insurance is supposed to do. It is not a cash cow to be milked at First American’s leisure. Yet one need only Google, “First American Fraud, Scandals, Corruptions, etc” to find numerous states in which First American is party to a lawsuit or lawsuits because of kickbacks, bribes and other misdeeds designed to maximize their profits at the public's expense.

One of the last things I did at First American was research a claim by a homeowner whose property fell within two different cities. Fatco paid the taxes in one city, but forgot to pay the taxes in the other city. In other words, the error was entirely Fatco’s fault. How did Fatco react? Lets just say the customer was not happy. It was a situation that would not have occurred when I started in the business.

These days I work for a smaller company; one owned in state, with an appreciation for the hard work that experienced and local people put into researching property. I also have been attending law school. What will I do when I graduate? Well, I would like to represent people with claims against title companies. And there will always be a special place in my heart for the company whose motto seems to be, “Take until it hurts.”

on December 31, 2008 09:17 AM
# said:

Don't use First American Title to close the escrow if you have other choices. They are extremely unhelpful. The escrow officier simply assinged my case to an assistant who doesn't seem to have any experience at all. If I didn't try solving the issues myself, I don't know whether First American Title would close the escrow at all. I still don't know whether the escrow will be closed or not. They are so imcompetent you would wonder how they are still in the title business.

on February 26, 2009 10:39 PM
# Average Joes said:

Question: I am trying to find someone to ask this question to and really don't want pay for a lawyer just yet...just want to do this right. We refinanced our home through a company on online. All of our communication was done by phone and email. We were in direct communication with the agent working with us. Service was great and communication was great. We recieved all the estimate stuff. When it came time to close she called and told us at closing we would need to pay about $1500 and then she sent us a brief email stating the amount and explaining if we produced a copy of our last HUD statement from the last time we refinanced, it would be about $1400. She arranged for an area title company to prepare the closing documents. The title company came to our house to close. At this closing, the representative from the title company told us we needed to pay $750. We expressed surprise and said we had been told it would be more. We told him what we were told to it would be. He went through the documents and showed us the HUD statement and showed us where it said less. We said okay and signed the documents because every statement warns you about paying more than what is asked for on the document. A week later we received a phone call from the title company asking us about our experience overall and then about the payment. Nothing was said. We then received another phone call a week after that saying that the HUD statement we had signed that night had been prepared incorrectly and since we had been notified in the email that it would be more like $1400, we needed to pay the title company $700. If an error was made, we understand. We now feel we are being pressured and we are confused to just write them a check. We pointed out our confusion at closing and were shown on the papers where the amount they were asking for was written. We signed close to 50 papers that night. We are educated people who are just trying to understand who we are supposed to trust or not. The representative from the title company on the phone yesterday threatened to get a lawyer. First of all we are confused about sending money to someone without signing all new paperwork that reflects what we are now paying. We are confused how we are homeowners are supposed to keep track of all this. We did question and we were shown on the paper what the layout of the loan was. Can you help us understand this?

on March 4, 2009 10:46 AM
# Unhappy Customer said:

Use any other company other than First American. You do have the choice in which company you use, even if the other party wants to use First American. Don't let your realtor pressure you into using First American. They are a very unethical company, with very high fees, and very poor customer service.

Here's my latest ordeal with First American Title Co (FATCO) in trying to get my deposit returned after a contract expired. As a buyer, I was in a contract to buy land. The contract expired cause the sellers couldn't get all parties on their side to sign the docs. So we remained in escrow for over a year waiting for the sellers to find the signers they needed. During that time there was no contract in place, but escrow was still open and our deposit was with FATCO. We then ask FATCO to cancel escrow, but it took them 2 weeks to even start canceling it. They wouldn't even respond to our inquires about why they hadn't sent us our deposit. They they stated that the sellers would have to sign off on the cancellation. Now that's just wrong, illegal, and unethical. Mind you there is no sales contract in place, yet FATCO is giving the sellers the opportunity to object. So we ask FATCO why and how long this will take, and they only say "just as soon as the sellers sign off". So I call the branch manager (Beverly Crudele) and she refuses to even discuss anything with me over the phone. She acted like she had no clue how things were done. She then would only respond via email, where they finally stated that there was a 10 day wait period for the sellers to respond. After that, if the sellers didn't object, they would then send the deposit. Who knows how this will turn out. We're still waiting.

I believe this practice to be illegal, unethical, and just all around wrong. When there is no contract in place between a seller and a buyer, the title company has no legal right to hold onto the buyer's deposit and ask the seller if they agree to letting the buyers cancel escrow. The title company's job is to read the contract and use deposit money if there is a legal reason to do so. Instead, FATCO allows the sellers to object for any reason, which can hold up the release of the deposit, and who knows how FATCO will interpret an unrational objection.

DO NOT USE FIRST AMERICAN TITLE COMPANY cause they do not follow ethical business standards. This is my third bad encounter with them. I swear I will never use them again!

on April 4, 2009 08:27 AM
# Mema said:

I would like to know exactly how many people First American Title Insurance has hurt. From my experience with them and what I can ascertain on this site, it seems there would be enough people to start a class action suit.

Did you know that title insurance companies only pay out 5 cents on each dollar they take in. That is from the American Land Title Association's website. Homeowners insurance and auto insurance pay out 87 cents for each dollar they take in. Iowa doesn't allow title insurance at all.

They have taken us to the cleaners for $1.3 million, and the clock is still ticking. Even though we have a lawsuit against them, because they have such great attorneys they will probably skate on this one too.

I, for one, believe that if you make a mistake...man up...admit it and then correct it. But then, maybe it is because I have an old fashioned way of looking at things.

I am going to post my email here and if you have been damaged by First American Title or any title company for that matter, write me, and I will see if a class action attorney would be interested in showing these huge companies that they can't run roughshod over us little people any more. They make the Wall Street Robbers and Barons look like paper boys.

First American Title posted a profit of over $12 billion last year so if they have to pay the State of Colorado for illegal activities in 2005 for $25 million...I guess they figure that is a cost of doing business...let's see...48 billion in four years compared to $25 million. Yes...their manner of illegal activities is working.

My email address is txfynanz@yahoo.com. Write me if you have had losses from First American Title.


on May 12, 2009 06:02 AM
# said:

First American Title-Houston, Debbie Steinle, will not refund nor reply into my inquiry about the refund of earnest money which I am entitled to. I am the buyer and I complied with the contract agreement and terminated the contract within the option out period but she will not answer my emails. Cheryl Oldweiler of Prudential Gary Greene, Houston ( sellers realtor ) also will not send me a copy of the " Release of Earnest Money " with the sellers signature. She selected this Title company. I think they are hostile and taking advantage of me because I did not have a realtor represent me. This is thievery. Can anybody help me. Where , who do I complain about this illegal and unethical practice ? Sign me up for a class action suit if somebody would do it. If we can spread the word around in the media, blogs, friends, work so they will go out of business. I do not have enough knowledge of the internet to do it. I wished I'd known about this blog before.

on October 5, 2009 06:02 AM
# Cheryl Oldweiler said:

My name is Cheryl Oldweiler and I am a REALTOR mentioned in the previous post. I am not aware of any party to any transaction that has not received executed paperwork they are due. From the description I think I know who this is and I personally emailed the release to you as soon as it was signed by the sellers. The release must be signed not only by you, but also by the sellers in order for the earnest money to be released. I am sorry that you felt "robbed" in this situation. I hope that you have received your earnest money back now. If this has not all been resolved to your satisfaction, I hope you will contact me and I will do what I can to help.

Cheryl Oldweiler

on November 4, 2009 06:01 PM
# Christina said:

I am a 30 year old woman looking out for her 74 year old grandfather who has leukemia and is currently in chemo. and to the "Aerospace Engineer" above I would like to say this: My grandfather worked his ENTIRE LIFE as a self taught engineer and worked MANY 16-18 hour days for his HARD earned money. My grandfather paid CASH for everything so the "lenders" you seem to like to blame aren't even involved. Currently the paper trail we have followed points directly to FATCO as they sang happily to the tune of stealing $16,000.00 from my 74 year old grandfather. Frankly there is nothing the "Aerospace Engineer" above can say to it not being his precious FATCOs fault. It is all a bunch of sick and wrong treatment of their clients who ARE the ones paying THEIR bills at an alarming amount. Buyers beware as companies like this no longer have a conscience or care about their clients or the little man.

on January 12, 2010 01:55 PM
# Kevin said:

It has been 2-1/2 months of waiting and limited information from the tile company (FATCO) or the bank-Wells Fargo - seller...

We entered into contract to purchase a property in late October for a foreclosure now owned by Wells Fargo. It is an all cash offer and no financing - we accepted the property "as-is" and placed a deposit.

The bank has stated there was a problem with vesting title so we signed another document - opening ending the escrow contract for a future period to close. This was about 1-1/2 months ago.

After numerous emails and everyone saying they do not have any information, the bank now stated their title company (not FATCO) has sent over the title to them with 45 other title documents.

What I am asking is what would be the next steps for this title to be completed and we can close escrow?

on February 17, 2010 01:31 PM
# Joe Title said:


I'm sorry to hear that your purchase is being extraordinarily delayed and that once it does close that you are extremely happy with your purchase.

I have been a title professional for over 26 years and can tell you that, depending on the the title defect, the time necessary to resolve the issue can be very lengthy. I can assure you that the delay in closing to ensure that you have "good" title is worth the wait as evidenced by the amount of posts to this blog over the past SIX years. It is obviously much more difficult to motivate all parties to take the necessary curative action subsequent to closing then prior to it.

Keep following-up with your escrow/settlement agent and your realtor. Once the curative documents are obtained/recorded and the seller has clear title to transfer to you, the transaction should close in short order. Good luck.

on February 23, 2010 04:33 PM
# said:

Sorry to hear of your plight. I've been battling Sunbelt Title for months to get money for an error that was their fault.

I generally get the feeling that most people who work at title companies are lazy and inept. That might be okay if it was a fast food restaurant, but it's terrifying that these dolts are entrusted with making decisions involving huge sums of money, and they can't even be bothered to double check their own work for mistakes. Then they hide behind some waiver or exception in their policy and stonewall you if you try to get restitution from them through a claim, or stonewall you.

Those who can, do. Those who can't work at a title company.

on February 25, 2010 04:44 PM
# said:

The comments here of some of the so-called "title professionals" here are amazing. They remind me so much of the dismissive and condescending attitude of the title co. that screwed me over. There seems to be a certain "type" that works at these places, very similar to the ones who work at the health insurance companies. Always passing the buck. OOhhh, it's SO hard to work there, people should be more cognizant of your feelings when you make dumb mistakes that cost homebuyers hundreds or thousands of dollars and god knows how much time trying to be made whole while you deny all responsibility and they're put through a nightmare.

on February 25, 2010 05:38 PM
# David said:

FATCO is the worst. I had to use them because the seller chose specified we had to use them. I alerted them to an issue and they did nothing for 6 weeks. THere was no accountability at all and no one seemed to be in charge. I will never us them again and it is so nice here to see that others have had the same problem. Tell your friends-dont use FATCO!

on March 2, 2010 04:34 PM
# Former Escrow Officer said:

If you think you have trouble now, wait a couple of years. When the knowledgeable escrow & title officers retire, you are going to be left with people who have very limited experience.The experienced people fix problems on your transaction before you are even aware that one exists. I was an escrow officer for 34 years, working for various title companies. It is not usually the company but the escrow officer or title officer (yes there is a difference) that makes the mistake. Blaming FATCO, Fidelity, etc is silly. For the person above that doesn't want to pay an attorney....and is willing to ask for advice over a blog, excuse me but that is just dumb. Also, I know the general public doesn't understand what happens during the course of an escrow, so to get angry over something you don't understand is also silly.It is your responsibility as a consumer to ask questions and keep asking questions until you do understand. Jeremy, you have no idea what really was happening during your escrow do you? You just decided that the title company(not the escrow officer) was the one at fault. You knew you were supposed to bring papers, why else would you have them? Most likely because the Mortgage Broker or lender told you to bring them. why didn't you ask the Officer if she needed anything else. Say to her, do you want to look at these before I go. You have made yourself look pretty uninformed by ranting about giving a thumbprint. Why does that even matter? Bless Karen Savage above for her respect for officers that work so hard to please everyone. Just think that the escrow process is a joint process. Everyone works to help get the transaction closed. My favorite saying during my years of work was "My crystal ball was cloudy today". Meaning that I was not a mind reader and I was never privy to any conversations that you had with your real estate agent, mortgage broker,lender, fire insurance agent. If I need to know, you have to tell me. I also remember that WaMu had a way of putting anything needed to close in pretty obscure places. As to fees, the lender wants to have a Deed of Trust recorded to secure their loan against your property. In order to record it in the public records the County recorder requires that your signature be notarized. The Secretary of State sets a limit of $10.00 per signature for each notarial act. In your loan package, I feel confident that there were at least 5 documents, if not more that required your signature to be notarized. If you are married that would be 10 notarial acts. Add it up. It would have cost you $100.00, but you were only charged $40.00 Your lender requires the documents back in a certain period of time after signing (usually next day) so that they can fund the loan. FATCO doesn't have to send the docs fedex. So the charge was for your benefit to speed the closing along. The recording fees are collected by the County recorders office, not FATCO, they charge those fees to record the Deed of Trust that you asked the lender to prepare so that you could have the loan. The only fee that First American gets is the escrow fee, Notary fee and Title Ins. Prem. All of those fees being required by your lender in order to make the loan or in compliance with the contract you signed to purchase the property. The rocket scientist as you call him/her is not allowed to explain the documents to you. That is practicing law. An escrow officer is not an attorney. So, to end this would you blame
Amazon because the stock clerk pulled the wrong item and threaten never to buy from Amazon again? Or might you have mistakenly clicked on the wrong item? Or are you one of those people that never makes mistakes? I'm sorry you had a rough experience, but in this day and age, everyone, including you Jeremy needs to get a grip.In the grand scheme of things was this really such a traumatic event?

on July 8, 2010 05:22 PM
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