Q: I have been a licensed broker associate for 20 years in Florida, and belong to several Realtor organizations. This year, we’ve experienced an increased number of problems with local title and mortgage companies.

Here’s what is happening: We expect to get a HUD-1 statement from the title company 48 hours before closing. However, this rarely happens. Title companies do not return phone calls to us, the real estate agents, or our buyers or sellers.

For example, one of my sellers who pays property taxes quarterly closed on July 23rd. They should owe 23 days of property taxes for July, but the title company deducted the entire amount of the property tax bill from their settlement and told the sellers to contact the County for a refund.

We had to argue with the closer at the title company to make him understand that the taxes had already been paid.

Mortgage companies routinely give the “good faith estimate” of estimated closing costs to the buyers and when we get to the closing table it is not accurate — not even close. Mortgage companies are making way too many mistakes.

And, they’re keeping money longer. These days, we rarely get funds disbursed at the closing. I have waited 3 days to get my commission.

When things don’t go well, the buyers and sellers think we’re to blame. Who should I contact about the behavior of the local title and mortgage companies?

A: Thank you for your letter. I imagine your day gets a little more frustrating every time one of these situations comes up.

I can’t tell you why so many mistakes are being made. But a lot of newcomers have joined the title and mortgage industries in the past few years in order to make a fast buck with the recent real estate gold rush.

But many don’t know what they’re doing (as you’ve found out) and many more are overworked and that makes like difficult for buyers, sellers and agents.

You belong to a strong local Realtor organization. You should push them to get title companies and mortgage brokers and lenders to clean up their act.

And nothing speaks louder than the pitter-patter of feet walking to another establishment. Consider finding mortgage brokers and title companies that have been in business a long time and have good reputations for sterling service.

In addition, you should contact the Florida Department of Financial Services, formerly known as the Florida Department of Banking and Finance (850-413-3100).

Published: Aug 27, 2004