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With No Laws for Escrow, Anything Goes

June 28, 1998

In the United States we have laws and regulatory agencies that govern everything we do from censoring what we watch on TV to using a gas-powered blower in our own backyards.

However, when it comes to escrow fees, we're on our own.

I recently sold a second home of mine. And although this was my sixth escrow experience, I still get sick to my stomach having to deal with the fictitious garbage fees that seem to pop up every time.

From processing fees, reconveyance fees, recording fees, filing fees and "too bad for you" fees, we are forced to either pay or face costly delays that may potentially spoil the deal.

I know they are supposed to show you an estimated cost sheet upfront. However, the real good garbage fees don't come up until the last day, when your signatures are needed and you have no choice but to sign.

This time, when I asked about a few of these fees with the funny names, the agent said, "Oh, those are not our fees. Those are the bank's fees and we are just passing them along."

This time I said no dice and called my bank. Surprise! The bank said they were not aware of any such fees. Only after my investigation and insistence was I able to have the fees removed.

But now the cost sheet had to be updated and approved by "management." This caused a delay. And because of the delay, I ended up paying additional interest to my bank because escrow didn't close on time.

Why don't we have any laws regulating these escrow fees during the sale of a home? Why isn't there a government agency that we can go to for support or to report these types of practices?

GUS R. GOUGAS

Northridge

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