It is customary, in Southern California, for the seller in a real estate deal to choose the escrow company. Generally, when I’m representing a buyer, and the buyer asks me if she should be concerned about the company chosen by the seller, I give a speach about how I’ve closed 30 or 35 deals over the past few years with all different escrow companies and it’s always worked out fine.
Yesterday, my faith was shaken.
I discovered the first real error I’ve seen on a closed deal. My bookkeeper and I were reviewing the final closing statement on a property we just bought. We always review the estimated closing statement prior to closing and this one had been fine. But, somehow, between the estimate and the final, post-closing statement, the escrow officer managed to credit us twice for our pro-rated portion of the rents.
This resulted in us receiving a refund from escrow of around $1400 at closing. Not so bad.
We alerted escrow to their mistake and, after a short, friendly discussion (can you see me smiling as I write this?), they graciously decided to let us keep the refund and make the seller whole out of their escrow fee.
Obviously, this escrow error was in my favor. But it could easily have gone the other way. Further confirmation of one of my key insights about real estate (and, I guess, about life): most people aren’t really paying attention to their jobs, so you need to double check their work.