The Rockford Files leads to "The Escrow Files"


For those of you who grew up in the 70’s, if you were like me and missed an episode of the Rockford Files, you were really bummed out. Missing the Rockford Files was almost as bad as my parents making me late for my soccer games. Not a good thing. Tivo, where were you?

Jim Rockford (James Garner), what a guy. He always seemed to get into a pickle and get out of it. That Pointiac Firebird of his; all my friends wanted one, even if it meant riding my dirt bike to the store and buying a $2.50 model of it and putting it on my dresser. That was good enough for me. Those humorous one liners with “Angel,” brings back lots of great memories. The humor reminds me of some of the things we have come across in the world of escrow. In escrow, if you can’t find any humor in the business, it will eat you up.

Rather than send out mundane APB’s to our entire client base about issues that come up or tips based upon transactions that go haywire, we think that adding humor into the fold has more impact and can also be helpful to our Realtor customers in providing better service and foster smoother closings for their clients.

For example, escrow companies are extremely busy at months end and the phones ring constantly. It’s hard to get work done when you receive phone calls from nearly every party, sometimes two or three times in a day, asking, “is it closed yet?” So, to help reduce stress at month end, we started a “counting” system where we tally the transaction with the most phone calls asking, “is it closed yet?”

We made the question, “Is it closed yet?” into a funny YouTube video parody skit, starring our kids who play the Realtor, the buyer, the seller and loan officer. The movie series is called “The Escrow Files.” This Fall our series will be both print and video.

Since the month ended yesterday, the transaction with the most “is it closed yet” calls was nine! For perspective, if our small office closed 30 purchase transactions this August, you get a good picture of all the people calling: buyers, sellers, agents, loan officers, funding depts, etc….on just one deal…now multiply by 30. Maybe we should get another number from Verizon dedicated as our “Is it closed yet?” hotline!

To tickle your funny bone here’s a sample from this year’s, The Escrow Files:

  • Written on an “Addendum” during 2nd quarter 2006: “Buyer to walk through house prior to closing.” Didn’t they do that already, like many times?
  • Lowest earnest money amount winner ytd: $200 cash. Wow.
  • “Should I stick around for you to cut my commission check?” –agent with clients who just signed their loan docs and the deal won’t close for another week.

Stay tuned for more and have a great three day weekend! We are looking forward to the day off!
Tim & Lynlee

You Have to Wonder….

And some ask why the government is so fixated on organized real estate. It is because of this mindset and the audacity to shout it out to the world…

I tactfully tell my sellers if I reduce my commission to 4 percent or 5 percent, the buyer’s agents will show my listings last only after showing the full-commission listings. Whether it’s ethical or not, that’s what happens.

Full article on Inman (subscription required after a day)


Agents and Consumers – A Perplexing Business Model

Seems to me that misinformation fuels many of the conversations regarding relationships between agents and consumers in today’s real estate marketplace. So let’s take a crack at one of Craig’s comments in #48 of Dustin’s post.

“If the mls were “open” – i.e. anyone could list – then agents will have an even harder time justifying the 3%/3% commission.”

Last I looked, every option known to man was available to sellers, with very few “having to pay” 3% to their listing agent, at least in the Seattle area. Many if not most agents do not charge 3% on the listing side, if the seller buys their next home from the same agent. There are many flat fee options available for limited service. High end often pays 1% for full service, especially on new construction homes. 2% is fast becoming the norm for the average Joe. 3% is more typical in the lowest of price ranges where 3% doesn’t amount to much and is a bargain for full service on a $120,000 condo. I have to wonder why people keep pretending that sellers by and large pay 3% to the listing agent? As this figure is not published, there must be some “hidden agenda” to the purveying of misinformation, I think.

As to why sellers offer 3% to convince more and many agents to come and show their home, I guess because it must make sense for them to do that, or they wouldn’t be doing it. That doesn’t mean the Buyer’s Agent GETS 3%, that only means that there is an allowance in the List Price, up to that amount, as far as the SELLER is concerned. Then it is up to the buyer and his agent to determine the actual fee, as they negotiate it within the target amount set by the seller.

Clearly all commissions are negotiable and always have been. Anyone who believes an agent, or attorney in this case, who pretends otherwise is mistaken. All commissions are and always have been negotiable. You just have to understand the structure, and the reasons for it, to maneuver within the system to your best advantage. If you don’t understand the system in place, you leave yourself open for someone to take advantage of your lack of knowledge, by exploiting that weakness. Know that you can, for sure, and in fact, negotiate any fee you want AND participate in the mls system in place while doing so. This is true for both buyers and for sellers, as long as the seller negotiates his side, and the buyer negotiates the other side. There is absolutely nothing in the system, as it exists, that prevents you from negotiating commissions, other than the misinformation which is keeping you from understanding the system.

As to using an attorney instead of an agent in a real estate transaction, it’s apples and oranges. No attorney purports to do, or even tries to do, what an agent does in a transaction. A great attorney is no replacement for a good agent in a real estate transaction. A monkey is a sufficient replacement to both, if they are not good, and monkeys may be more pleasant to deal with 🙂