Choosing A Title Company and Escrow Officer My Top 21 Questions

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors

So all is going well when I call my Title gal to check on a few transactions.  I am told that she no longer works there and that Susie has taken over her files. They are quick to reassure me that Susie will do a fabulous job and that I will like her.

Susie did not do a fabulous job and neither me nor my clients liked her. So begins the process of searching for a new Title and Escrow service. Something that every Real Estate Sales person will have to do at sometime or other.

Here is the list of questions I use to qualify my Title company and Escrow officer as they pertain to mine and my clients needs. The very first Item of importance to me before the questions begin is the face to face meeting. I want to know that the person I intend to work with will fit my personality and reflect well on my business. Espeically when I insist or recommend my Portland Oregon Title Company and Escrow Officer for the Sale.

  1. How long have you been an escrow officer?
  2. Do you have an assistant? Are they familiar with the files?
  3. What are your hours of operation? If needed can and will you stay late?
  4. If needed can you meet a client for a signing away from your office?
  5. Do you have multi-lingual capabilities
  6. What methods and frequency do you use to communicate the status of your files and to whom ?
  7. What recording times are scheduled for your company?
  8. How do you handle escrow collection accounts?
  9. Will you insure an all inclusive deed of trust?
  10. Do you have a notary available?
  11. Do you have any special handling requirements for POA's?
  12. What are your rates?
  13. What are your escrow fees including wire transfers,document page recording charges, delivery etc. etc.
  14. What are your Builders / Rehabber rates?
  15. Do you have a Builders services division?
  16. Does your company offer continuing education classes for Realtors?
  17. What other services to Realtors do you offer?
  18. What is the method and turn around time for property profiles?
  19. Do you have an after hours service for title information?
  20. What was your worst nightmare file and how did you solve it?
  21. What do you expect from me?

This list of items is normally my first blush list. I am sure you have others as well. What are they? Are you a Title or Escrow officer? What additional items would you include or suggest?

Herb Hamilton is a Real Estate Broker  working with   RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors   servicing Portland Oregon

                        " A Real Estate Experience with Herb is one YOU will Profit from "

www.portlandrealproperty.com   A Portland Oregon Web Site providing local as well as national information and property searches.

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Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life
Are you recruiting Herb?  I know this great title guy and it's not me...
Apr 07, 2007 11:48 AM #1
Rainer
97,765
Danny Smith
DISCOVER TEXAS HOMES - Round Rock, TX
Herb, I think I see a trend here in your postings.  Ha! I guess I'm spoiled because we have a constant flow of traffic almost daily from Mortgage people and Title people vying for our business. We actually invite a different person in some part of the real estate industry to speak before all our agents every Tuesday morning. Through that we often eliminate a lot of your questions and point there. Then if someone is interested in pursuing a relationship there obviously are more questions one on one to ask.
Apr 07, 2007 11:54 AM #2
Rainmaker
189,079
Herb Hamilton
RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors - Portland, OR
Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland

Jason : Thanks for reading.

Danny : There is a trend. It has to do with a post I started to write a couple of days ago. And suddenly decided to create a couple of posts to link to the intended post. :)

Our office meetings ( which are weekly ) do not last longer than 15-20 minutes tops. The Office as whole some years ago decided not to be burdened with sales pitches during the meetings. Stay tuned for my follow up post that started these last two posts.

Apr 07, 2007 12:05 PM #3
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Good Morning Herb,

My name is Nicolette and I have been an Escrow Officer for a little over 5 years and have been in escrow for 9 years.  These are all excellent questions in finding your escrow and title officer.  In regards to your first question, I think that you would want to ask how long that person has been in escrow as well.   There are so many assistants that have been in the business longer than I have and have never wanted to be promoted to an Escrow Officer.  Some of them may have an Escrow Officer for a year but have been in the business for years and my be more than qualified to be your Escrow officer. 

I have also learned that now days people are being promoted to Escrow Officer a lot sooner than what they should be.  I have a girlfriend that works at an Escrow Company where one of the girls in her office was made an Escrow Officer and has had less than a year experience in the business.  I take that as an insult to our profession.  It takes at least 4-5 years of being an assistant before becoming a qualified Escrow Officer and that is if their manager thinks that they are ready to handle their own desk.  It's a lot of hard work and takes alot of patience for what we do.

The other thing that I would suggest you ask is what they specialize in.  Some escrow officers have knowledge mostly in refinances and not so much in sales.  Also, what is the easiest way of reaching them?  Personally, the fastest way of getting a hold me is via email. 

I will stop here for now but if you have any other questions or comments, please let me know. 

Apr 07, 2007 12:07 PM #4
Rainmaker
296,578
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA
I don't listen to any of it.  I try them.  I find the words rarely match the reality of anything in life.  They all talk a good line.
Apr 07, 2007 12:07 PM #5
Rainmaker
189,079
Herb Hamilton
RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors - Portland, OR
Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland

Nicolette :I guess that in the 19 years that I have been in business and asked questions like the first question, the escrow officer has always volunteered there entire work related history. In regards to qualifications to years of experience, I have found that they have little correlation. Just like in any other business, some people get it quicker than others. And some people never get it. Thanks for the read and your comments.

Ardell : Thanks for the read and your straight forward frankness. I as well prefer to see the proof of the pudding. I usually use the questions to eliminate those that cant provide the services that I deem absolutely necessary.

Apr 07, 2007 12:23 PM #6
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Ok so my question to you Herb and Ardell, regardless of the questions that you ask, because I am sure you hear a lot of the same thing from many, how do we get you to even give us one to try us out?  I do alot of marketing down here and talk to agents and/or mortgage brokers and sometimes just to have then try us once is extremely hard.  I would like your advice as well.  How do we get that ONE?
Apr 07, 2007 12:33 PM #7
Rainmaker
189,079
Herb Hamilton
RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors - Portland, OR
Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland
Nicolette : Getting that first one under your belt is critical in building a lasting relationship with any Realtor. I myself do not respond well to pressure techniques by the sales staff of the Title and Escrow companies. In Oregon the practice of choosing a title and escrow service is often chosen by the Listing agent. It is however not set in stone and is negotiable. I never push the subject ahead of any transaction. If the Listing agent insists on using there title and escrow , I will discuss it with my client. If my Client has no objection and I have no objection , we will close at the listing agents choice. So here in Oregon I will be closing outside or my normal preferred choice about 3 out of every 5 sales where I represent the Buyer. So I do get to try many Title and escrow officers. The good ones I take note of as well as the bad ones. One great experience is just that. They still will all get the questionnaire if I am moving to a new Title and Escrow service just to make sure that they can provide essential services to my business plan.
Apr 07, 2007 12:57 PM #8
Rainmaker
296,578
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Sound Realty - Kirkland, WA

Nicolette,

Where I am, in the Seattle Area, the sales people for Title and Escrow are not the same people as those who deliver the product.  You appear to be an Escrow Officer and not a "salesperson".  Am surprised you "market and sell" in addition to being a Closing Agent.

As Herb noted in his post, he is seeking out people because the person he used is not longer available.  That is quite often the case, and is for me as well.  So the answer is "Good things come to those who wait".

Unlike Herb, I was interviewing people all the time as the opportunity arose and had my "next person" waiting in the wings.  She was consistently "there" when we weren't using her at all.  Then one day I received the same notice as Herb, my Title guy got a promotion and wanted to introduce me to his successor.  Miss waiting in the wings stepped right up to the plate.  She was so thrilled at being given the opportunity, since by that time she had been marketing to us for about two years.  She is now our "IT" girl and I'm again interviewing for my "2nd choice" to wait in the wings.

Apr 07, 2007 05:27 PM #9
Rainmaker
189,079
Herb Hamilton
RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors - Portland, OR
Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland

Ardell :

Good pick up on the fact that Ncolette is trying to figure out a marketing plan for her self. Oregon as well have marketing reps for their title companies. I always try to steer clear of them as they will sell their soul to get you to try them. I like you normally will have someone warming up in the bull pen. But my title gal was fairly new to me and I had not found another who would replace her should quit. The sudden quit I found out later was that her husband had a sudden transfer across the us and boom she was gone.

Apr 07, 2007 07:14 PM #10
Rainmaker
333,411
Thesa Chambers
Alpine Real Estate - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon
Herb it is so frustrating when they act like the company is the reason we put our trust in a title company - I depend on our title companies for so much - I need to be sure they are familiar too... I love your list of questions.
Apr 07, 2007 07:30 PM #11
Rainer
45,886
Charles Parrish
Auction Brokers & Investors United - Baltimore, MD

Find a title company you like and tell them what you expect.  If they violate your standards, fire them.  Talk is cheap, you can get all the right answers from the wrong people.

Work out an ABA with them, this way you get legal referral fees for all business you referr to them.

 Charles Parrish

 

Apr 07, 2007 08:30 PM #12
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you Herb and Ardell for the advice.  The reason why I market myself is because I am the one providing you with the service.  Sales reps can talk you up but I am the one that is going to be providing you with the service so I have found that I am not necessarily a better "salesperson" but I am going to tell you upfront what type of service that I PERSONALLY provide.  I have found that agents respond better to that but it is still sometimes hard to get them to give me a try.  Thank you again for the advice.  I really appreciate it! 

 

Apr 07, 2007 09:00 PM #13
Rainmaker
295,234
Ray Saenz
United Property Brokers, Inc - Aurora, CO
Homes for Sale in Aurora, Colorado - Aurora, CO

Herb,

First of all ,  happy easter , then I want to say that great blog, good questions for the title companies,

thanks for that Herb

 

Apr 07, 2007 10:00 PM #14
Rainer
24,886
Luisa , Orellana
Greater LA Escrow - Los Angeles, CA
Greater LA Escrow

Herb,

I think that the questions above should be asked by all real estate agents/brokers. Not often are they asked. I personally let them know up front that I don't consider myself to be the best out there or the most knowledgeable, but that I will sure try to meet their expectations. Talk is cheep and that's why I work real hard to prove the difference!

I think it's important that you add the following question to your list:

Do you have any formal training/certifications?

Other than in states where escrow licensing is mandated by law, there are no formal training requirements for becoming an escrow officer or assistant. However, completion of escrow and real estate coursework can increase your knowledge overall resulting in better day-to-day performance. Many community colleges offer a variety of real estate courses including Escrow Principles, Real Estate Economics, and Real Estate Practices. Among escrow organizations offering education, the California Escrow Association (CEA) stands out. CEA has been instrumental in developing standards and increasing professionalism throughout the industry and founded the American Escrow Association (AEA) to provide training nationwide. CEA, AEA, and the Escrow Institute offer training and testing for existing escrow personnel leading to the following professional designations:

  • Certified Escrow Officer (CEO)
  • Certified Senior Escrow Officer (CSEO)
  • Mobile Home Specialist (CMHS)
  • Bulk Sales Specialist (CBSS)
  • Certified Escrow Instructor (CE)
  • Certified Escrow Technician (CET)

I am a member of the CEA, AEA, and the Escrow Institute of California and currently working on my CEO designation. The designations are not easy to obtain. But during the process of obtaining my designation, I have however, earn several other certifications pertaining to escrow. Such as completion of courses.

You may read more of requirements to get started in escrow. 

http://activerain.com/blogsview/70472/Getting-Started-in-Escrow

Now with regard to your Escrow Officer "boom she was gone." I think it was very inconsiderate of her part on not notifying her clients that she was leaving. No matter what the reason. You always know when you are leaving a job. And when in doubt you get fired, well at least call your clients to give them some peace of mind. Don't just leave them out of the loop. I personally have left several escrow companies in the past, and have always kept my clients in the loop. When I am leaving, who will take care of their files, when the files will be transferred to my new office, etc. I give my clients peace of mind that no matter what, I will always be involved one way or the other. I guess that's why till this date, my clients have been loyal to me and have followed me throughout my career.

Best of luck with finding your Escrow Officer for life! To bad your out in Portland.

 

Apr 07, 2007 11:59 PM #15
Rainmaker
189,079
Herb Hamilton
RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors - Portland, OR
Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland

Thesa : Thanks for the read and the comment , Its all about the people.

Charles : Straight to the point.

Ray : Your welcome and thanks for reading and your comment.

Luisa : Thanks for reading and your comments. Continuing education in all fields associated with Real Estate is a very good and necessary thing. As important as it is, I am not that big of a fan of all of the acronyms. For the Most part the consumers do not know, understand, or care I suspect as much as we believe they do. Education ( Yes ) acronmys ( Not so much ).

Apr 08, 2007 12:58 AM #16
Rainer
97,765
Danny Smith
DISCOVER TEXAS HOMES - Round Rock, TX
Herb, All sevice Questions aside. What is your take on picking the Title company from the seller side and from the buyers side?
Apr 08, 2007 12:39 PM #17
Rainmaker
189,079
Herb Hamilton
RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors - Portland, OR
Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland

Danny : You want to expand a little on your question ? Is there somethin specific you are wondering about for title in refrence to the Buyer's side or the Seller's side? I do plan on doing a post that explains what answers I am looking for to the questions.

 

Apr 08, 2007 02:13 PM #18
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Herb,

Part of my job as the Business Development Rep for Western Title & Escrow in the Portland area is to team new clients up with one of our many escrow agents.  I won't just send them to whoever needs business at the time.  I want to help build a solid working relationship that will last.

So, usually the first thing I ask both the new client, and the escrow agent (when I originally meet them) is "What kind of business do you usually close?"  Nicolette mentioned that in her 1st post.  What do they specialize in?  The answer to that question usually helps me start down the path of teaming someone up with what I think will be a good match that will last.  If the client tries us out, and the match doesn't work, then I failed in my matchmaking abilities (I'm no match.com with a 6 month guarantee!).  I learn from the failure, why it happened, what caused it, and try not to let it happen next time.

I was a mortgage broker for almost 5 years.  I dealt with pushy AE's and Title reps.  Can't stand them.  I've incorporated those experiences into my everyday work habits, and seem to be building a foundation of greatness for our company here in Portland.

I like your list of questions.  It's very thorough.  

By the way, next time you're looking for someone to step up into the bullpen, let me know. 

Take care,

Jeff 

Apr 13, 2007 12:58 PM #19
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Herb Hamilton

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