April 2023 Newsblog

Selling a City of LA property after April 1, 2023? Here is what you need to know:

Payment of City Transfer Tax
$4,999,999 sales price @ 0.45% = $22,500.00
$5,000,000 @ 4.45% = $222,500.00

Here is the link to the City provided Calculator

And this does not even take into account the County Transfer Tax

What a difference ONE DOLLAR makes




How can you tell if an important document, like a Grant Deed, is an original or a copy?

This is a question we had in an actual transaction. Here is a very condensed story of what happened.

Our Seller is an attorney and he signed the Deed and had it notarized. After scanning a copy for us, he overnighted the original.   

The “original” that we received had a notary section completed and signed in BLACK ink. However, on the scanned copy that was emailed to us previously, the notary section was in BLUE ink.

When questioned, the attorney Seller first blustered and insisted we don’t need an original to close escrow – he’s an attorney, after all, he should know the law!!!!  We quoted the Government Code section and he backed down and sent us an email that his office manager looked for the original and overnighted it again.

The second “original” Deed had the notary section in BLUE ink, as expected, but after careful scrutinization by a few members of our staff, we felt that it MIGHT still be a copy.  However, we were not certain and, given our past “escrow processing conflicts” with the Seller, we did not want to confront him without having actual proof. We sent it to the Title Company for a 3rd party review. 

The Title Company informs us the Deed is indeed a copy. Immediately the next day recording/closing was put on hold. The Seller had to either find the REAL original, or sign and notarize another one and send it to us. With this directive coming from a non-interested party, the Seller grudgingly complied and a new Deed was signed. 

With the new original Deed submitted to Title, the transaction closed. 


What gave us the suspicion that the second “original” was not an original? These are our checking tips, although they can be very subjective:

  • The blue ink used by the notary looked off, as if it was printed on rather than handwritten 
  • The notary seal, though in black, did not bleed through to the back of the document like it sometimes does
  • When you wet the signature, either of the signer or the notary, the ink did not smear
  • There was a very, very light margin impression on the left side of the document that you might find on a reproduced copy

Now you know, besides being escrow professionals, we have to be fraud detectives to protect our clients, too.  


Always be alert to the possibilities of fraud in everything you do. It’s not just wire fraud, check fraud or email fraud. Document fraud can also be very, very destructive. See my Threats to Escrow – Documents Fraud video here and at the YouTube link at the end. With today’s technology all you need is a top notch scanner and printer and you can churn out fake Benjamin Franklin bills. To protect your assets and interest, always be on the lookout for fraud. 

What if I had closed escrow on a copy of a Deed? Will the Buyer’s ownership come into question? In a lawsuit, can parties question the validity of the whole transaction because the most important recorded document was not an original, can it then be argued to be a “fake”? I hope the answer to all these questions is a “No”, but I do not want to be a part of a court case to find out .

My transaction closed so “All’s well that ends well”? But for 7 business days to the day of closing we were subject to drama and stress, all because a Seller, who is an attorney, was not diligent and had no clue about the actual escrow process and the laws that govern us. At the minimum, he did not realize that his documents would be reviewed and scrutinized, especially if they are recording documents. Or, his office manager threw away the first original Deed but covered it up by printing the scanned copy of the original and sent it to us, thinking we would not notice. 

The issues we encountered in this transaction (the Deed was only one of them) makes it a prime candidate for an education video under our “Escrow In the Trenches” series. I will notify all my readers when this “WAR STORY” is ready for public consumption!     



~ Video of the Month ~ 

Think you are too old to learn new tricks?

 Tying shoelaces so they don’t loosen


~ Quote on Life  ~ 

“I see people out there zip lining and mountain climbing, and here I am feeling good about myself because I got my leg through my underwear without losing my balance. ”



My YouTube Offering for the Month


You Have Questions? We Have Answers!

“Escrow is my FOREMOST language!”

Advance Disclosure:
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely the author’s. 
Your comments and viewpoints are always welcome.
Info @ VivaEscrow.com

1 thought on “April 2023 Newsblog”

Comments are closed.