Possibly The Worst Title Company EVER
The Real Estate Settlement Protection Act gives buyers in a real estate transaction the right to choose any title company they want to close their transaction and provide their title policy. Sellers in Virginia may choose to have a split settlement and close with a different settlement company, but when it comes to their funds being disbursed, they are at the mercy of the buyer's chosen title company. When you come across a title company that has ridiculous policies, no communication skills and in general gives the impression they are put out by the seller's insistence on knowing where their proceeds from settlement are, you wonder where the protection for sellers are when it comes to closing a real estate transaction.
A week ago, my sellers sold their home. It closed on a Friday. Virginia law gives the title company two business days to record the deed and disburse funds. Well, it's seven days later and my sellers are still in the dark as to exact location of a large amount of money. The title company responsible for this maddening experience is none other than Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services.
At closing, with a different settlement company, the sellers signed the documents. They gave a copy of a voided check for proceeds to be wired to their checking account. Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services charged an outrageous $90 wire fee for this privelege of not having to worry with picking up a check. After all, the sellers were relocating out of state. They gave the address of their soon-to-be-built home for documents that would be forthcoming in the long run. Since they had given information for a wire transfer, there was no concept that the check would be sent there, but it was.
You may be asking yourself, "Why would Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services send a check for proceeds when the sellers paid a $90 wire transfer fee and provided a voided check for that service?" That's a great question and the answer is ridiculous. Their policy is to attempt the wire once. If a number was mistyped, the wrong ABA number was given, etc. they do not attempt again with the correct information. No. Not Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services. Their policy then is to cut a check and send it to the address given as the forwarding address. No call is made to the listing agent, the sellers or the sellers settlement company to let them know this is what they are about to do. Why communicate that information? Well, if you are good business, you are doing something contrary to what was requested and PAID FOR by the seller.
When a stop payment on the check was requested and an address for the week stay at a friend's home was given, Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services came up with another policy. They can't put a stop payment on a check until they have verified it hasn't been cashed. I'm not a rocket scientist or a banker, but it seems to me if I called my bank to stop payment on a check that had been cashed, the bank would, at that point, tell me if the check had been cashed.
So now, six days after settlement, Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services has said they will stop payment and send out a check to the address given, despite pleading requests to attempt the wire transfer with the correct ABA number. The seller had no idea the ABA number, pre-printed on his check, would not work. At some point, the seller realized this was not a battle he was going to win and simply requested verification that the check had been sent with a UPS tracking number. Not a big request, yet it is now seven days past settlement and no one on the seller's side of the transaction has a tracking number. And there's been no delivery of the check.
Naturally, there have been multiple attempts at requesting this information via e-mail and phone, but not one of them has been returned. I have worked with a lot of title companies since getting my license in 2005, but this is the worst combination of bad policies and poor communication I have ever experienced. When a seller is waiting for a small fortune to be wired or delivered, communicating where exactly it is happens to be the very LEAST you can do.
If you are a seller with an offer for a buyer to close using Mid-Atlantic Settlement Services, please be aware of their ridiculous policies.