Liberty Title & Escrow in Virginia Beach, Virginia, worked as the title company for the buyer on a transaction where the seller was represented by a law firm. The sale was for a vacant lot with a sales price of $110,000. The buyer was a builder who intended on clearing the lot to build on it immediately.
The signed deed and other seller documents were hand-delivered to the closer, Shae Rylan, Customer Service Representative at Liberty Title & Escrow. The courier instructed Shae to overnight a check to the seller — per the attorney’s written instructions.
Shae began going through the closing documents she received. They were a mess. The package did not include the notary affidavit required when the documents are signed with a mobile signing agent.
In addition, the notary completed the notarial certificate on the deed and other affidavits but failed to affix her seal to any of the documents. The seller supposedly lived in Connecticut, but the notary was commissioned in New Jersey.
On the Disbursement of Proceeds Instruction, the seller checked the box indicating they wanted a wire but did not finish completing the form with his bank wire information. He did sign the instructions and provide his mailing address.
Shae compared the signatures on the documents to that of a previously recorded deed of trust (signed and notarized in Connecticut). The signature was drastically different.
Shae contacted the seller’s law firm to request a copy of the seller’s identification. They did not have a copy of his identification and indicated he kept demanding a wire for his proceeds. He had called them several times but never provided his wire instructions.
Shae called the seller who firmly demanded a wire from her. She explained to him she was the escrow agent and he hung up on her. She called him back using the phone number she had on file. He did not answer, and his voice mail message did not match the voice of the person she just spoke to.
Shae called the law firm. She explained the errors with the closing documents and informed them she would not close unless the seller re-signed the documents with a Bancserv notary. The seller and law firm never responded.
Although the buyer was anxious to close, Shae explained her concerns. He was relieved she was holding up closing. He understood her concerns and appreciated the fact she would not close unless the seller met with a Bancserv notary. He realized if she ignored the red flags and proceeded to close, the transaction would potentially have had to be unwound. He was very grateful for her professionalism.
George T. Dillon III, Esq., Managing Attorney, is the one who nominated Shae. He said, “This is also a great lesson for the rest of the company. Following company standard operating procedures and having the courage to question things when they don’t pass the smell test is vital to keeping our operations safe and claims free!”
George, the buyer and the Company are all grateful. Although it was the last day of the month when several files were closing, Shae did not let the pressures overcome standard operating procedures. For halting the transaction and refusing to close, she is being rewarded $1,500. Her actions saved the Company from a potential claim of $110,000. Keep up the good work!
Article provided by contributing author:
Diana Hoffman, Corporate Escrow Administrator
Fidelity National Title Group
National Escrow Administration