in this issue

By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator

If a married couple has not filed their marriage license with the clerk of the court, are they considered married? The loan officer on a recent purchase money loan attempted to convince the settlement agent, a marriage was not legal or recognized because the blissful couple had not yet filed the certificate.

The loan officer was trying to coerce the settlement agent to close the purchase money loan for the borrower as an unmarried man so that he would not have to go back and underwrite the loan with a borrower and co–borrower. He was worried with her added debt the couple would not qualify for the loan. Find out how the settlement agent handled this mess in "MARRIED or not."

"ALTERED judgment lien payoffs" serves as a great reminder that payoff statements delivered into escrow by anyone other than the payoff lender or creditor must be verified. The risk of a fake payoff letter or an altered payoff letter being delivered to the escrow holder is too great. In order to prevent losses, the statements delivered by the sellers/borrowers and their agents require additional verification.

Are you convinced yet? This edition contains the 9th FIRPTA Withholding nightmare story involving loss of money and reputation. If the readers have not been convinced they do not know enough to determine if withholding is due or to complete the forms on behalf of the principals, then hopefully this one does the trick.

This story involves a closer that did not realize withholding requires at least two separate IRS forms: the 8288 U.S. Withholding Tax Return for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests and 8288–A Statement of Withholding by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests (in triplicate). She only sent one form and the withholding agent was penalized as a result. Who is considered the withholding agent? The buyer!


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