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Q: Real estate closing service ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Real estate closing service
Category: Business and Money > Small Businesses
Asked by: jebsilver-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 12 Apr 2004 13:17 PDT
Expires: 12 May 2004 13:17 PDT
Question ID: 329081
We are interested in adding a real estate closing service to our
existing business. Specifically we want to offer escrow and closing
services for timeshares (USA and international). What type of issues
will we be faced with? Do we need to be licensed real estate agents to
perform closing services on timeshares? What types of liability does a
closing service have? What are the steps required to transfer
ownership of a timeshare? What are the legal requirements for a
company to hold money in escrow? What are some good resources for
getting started with a real estate closing business?

Request for Question Clarification by nancylynn-ga on 16 Apr 2004 09:45 PDT
Could you please tell us where your company is located (what state or
city, )and just what type of business you run?

That kind of information *may* help researchers find what you need.


Clarification of Question by jebsilver-ga on 16 Apr 2004 11:56 PDT
We are incorporated in Pennsylvania. We operate a website that deals
in timeshare sales. A closing service would be a natural extension of
this business for us.
Subject: Re: Real estate closing service
Answered By: nancylynn-ga on 17 Apr 2004 13:30 PDT

I?ve endeavored to answer the several inter-related questions you?ve
asked pertaining to closing services:

Potential issues:

Do we need to be licensed real estate agents to perform closing
services on timeshares?

What types of liability does a closing service have? What are the
steps required to transfer ownership of a timeshare?

What are the legal requirements for a company to hold money in escrow? 

What are some good resources for getting started with a real estate
closing business?

The first question is the toughest. I did find some real estate
requirements for PA (noted below); however, I strongly urge you to
contact the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission for a precise answer.
Please give them comprehensive information regarding which states and
countries your company handles timeshares because some of PA?s real
estate laws are NOT reciprocal with other states. Whatever you might
have to pay for licensing fees won?t even be close to what you may
have to pay in fines!
Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission:
124 Pine Street
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 127101
Telephone: (717) 783-3658
E-Mail: /Web site:

My *understanding* is, you must be licensed to *sell* real estate, or
at the least, have a permit to sell timeshares, in *nearly all
jurisdictions.* Without question, a company that handles closings:
title searches, title transfers, escrow, etc., must be licensed to
operate in the jurisdiction in which the transaction is taking place.

Realty Presentations, Inc. (RPI):
has a very helpful guide to requirements in quite a few states:  
Or use the cached link:

?The Commonwealth of Virginia . . . Timesharing, camp resorts and
other hybrid real estate products are regulated, and specific
registrations must be filed. For most developers, the prime
consideration is compliance with HUD's Interstate Land Sales Full
Disclosure Act  . . . .?

?CONNECTICUT: All out-of-state property of any kind must be registered
prior to any marketing - telephone calls, mailings, in-state
advertisements, shows, seminars, etc. - in the state of Connecticut. A
very small project may be entitled to an exemption from registration
(i.e. less than 25, or so, units . . . .Connecticut does not ?welcome?
out-of-state brokers as it has a strong brokerage community. A
Connecticut Broker that maintains a residence in the state must
represent projects that are registered in Connecticut. . . .?

?NEW JERSEY:  . . . . currently one of the most active states on
enforcement of its registration laws. While active, the Commission has
been most reasonable in its resolutions of enforcement actions and has
been quite willing to be creative as applied to unusual situations
affecting the very large developers. . . . Prior to conducting any
promotional activities within the state of New Jersey, the New Jersey
Real Estate Commission requires that all out-of-state real property be
registered with the Commission.?
?ILLINOIS: . . .Timesharing is regulated under the Real Estate
Time-Share Act. The Land Sales Registration Act provides for several
exemptions from registration. Illinois does not require the
registration of out-of-state project if the dwelling unit is complete
at the time of sale, or if the developer is contractually obligated to
complete the unit within 2 years from the date the purchaser signs the
?NORTH CAROLINA: There are no regulations governing out-of-state
subdivided land, condominiums or timeshare projects being offered for
sale in North Carolina. The state does have consumer protection laws
that have been utilized in real estate matters, but the cases involved
timeshare promotions. In-state timeshare projects must be registered
with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. A broker or
salesperson's license is required in North Carolina for those engaged
in the real estate business.?
?PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania has registration requirements for the sale
of in-state and out-of-state  ?promotional real estate;? however, the
law is not quite as rigorous as some of the more restrictive states.
First, ?promotional real estate? does not include properties
containing less than 50 lots, or communities totaling less than 25
acres. Promotional real estate does, however, include lots,
condominiums and any other form of property ownership interests . . .
. Real Estate brokers or salespeople must be fully licensed in
Pennsylvania prior to engaging in the promoting of sales of in-state
or out-of-state properties. . . .[PA]* has limited reciprocity with
other states licensing laws.* Special limited licenses are available
for persons selling timesharing and camp resorts.  .  . . Finally, in
1982 and again in 1988, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania issued
very specific standards and guidelines for use in timeshare
advertising. These are vigorously enforced by the A.G.'s office.?

Other References:

?How To Sell Timeshares,? BY Chip Ballew:
?Ask if the company holds a real estate license in its home state.
Check with the state real estate commission to verify the information.
. . . Broker Mary Englund of Oregon wrote to add another word of
caution: ?In some states, Oregon is one of them, it is required by law
to be licensed in that state to solicit listings from residents, and
to sell timeshares in the state. This is not true in many states.
Having a license in the home state as you show isn't enough in Oregon.
Despite that, many companies are soliciting timeshare listings here,
unlicensed in Oregon. It's only a matter of time before the real
estate agency catches up with them. . . .? ?

?All About Timeshares,? un-dated, from Atlanta Lifestyle magazine:
?Approximately 25 states have adopted timeshare regulations. Many of
these follow the Model Timeshare Act designed by the National
Association of Real Estate License Law Officials and the National
Timesharing Council and endorsed by the National Association of
Realtors . . . .?

Here?s the Model Timeshare Act:

As far as I can tell, you don?t necessarily need a licensed real
estate agent to handle the closing. (In some cases, sellers use
attorneys; many use licensed title searching/closing services) for
these title searching/closing/escrow services, but certainly you do
need a *licensed* closing/escrow service.

I have listed some organizations, and some timeshare closing services
for you below. You want to be certain that such a service is licensed
in, and knows the real estate laws in, any given state (or country) in
which your company provides timeshares.

You may find an all-purpose international closing/escrow service, or
you may elect to enter into several partnerships in order to cover all
the geographic regions in which your company provides timeshares.

Regulations vary from state to state. Since your company is
incorporated in Pennsylvania, I think you need to talk to PA officials
to ensure you understand all the necessary criteria.

I have listed contact information, including phone numbers, for
various Pennsylvania agencies which I suggest you contact on Monday.
(Most PA state offices open at 8 a.m.)

Here?s the information I found for you: 

Timeshare Closing Services, Inc:
has an excellent FAQ that addresses many of your questions:

At that FAQ, first click on ?The Timeshare Closing Process?:

?What happens at Timeshare Closing Services when a timeshare closing takes place?

1. Title search is ordered.   This will assure the buyer that the
seller is conveying good title to the property.  Title insurance
assures the buyer that there are no liens or encumbrances on the
property.  Title insurance will insure the buyer that the seller is
the true titleholder to the property.  Title insurance will also
insure the buyer that the seller has not conveyed interest in the
timeshare to anyone else. This process usually takes ten days to

2. Estoppel letter is ordered from the resort.  This is the current
owners account status, insuring full payment of maintenance fees,
taxes and mortgages.  The estoppel letter confirms the size of unit,
type of unit, status and availability of the week the buyer is

3. Closing documents are sent to the buyer and seller. After the
closing package is organized the documents are sent to the buyer and
seller with instructions.  Upon return of documents from buyer and
seller the executed deed is processed for recording and the sellers
monies released to him.?

Back at:

Click on ?Timeshare Title Agency Facts?
?Timeshare escrow companies process the paperwork necessary for real
estate transactions. Timeshare Closing Services, Inc. specializes in
closing timeshare transactions.

Timeshare title closing agencies are not required, but both buyer and
seller benefit from using a timeshare title (escrow) company.

Timeshare title closing agencies collect closing fees and escrow fees.
Timeshare closing fees are paid for recording the deed and other
ownership papers, as well as to transfer membership with the resort,
etc. Timeshare escrow fees are paid to process the closing and insure
the transaction is closed in a timely manner with monies properly
disbursed and all recordings completed.

Timeshare title insurance policies provide assurance against unpaid
maintenance fees, taxes and mortgages.

A full service title insurance company will follow through after
closing to insure the buyer's information has been sent to the resort.
They will also make the buyer aware of the information necessary to
join the appropriate exchange company.

Timeshare escrow companies should be licensed by the state [presumably
in which the timeshare seller and closing service are executing the

See extensive FAQ:

At left, click on Timeshare Closing Service, to bring up:
Can I contact Timeshare Transfer before I list my auction?

? What do I need to do to get started with the closing?
 What is the cost?
 What services are included for $200.00?
 What additional services does Timeshare Transfer, Inc. provide?
 Who pays the closing costs?
 What if I just need an escrow service?
 Who is Timeshare Transfer and what is their experience?
 How do I know if my timeshare qualifies for the $200 closing fee?
 Is this offer only valid if I close an auction through Bidshares?
 What if I change my mind??

All of those questions are clickable links leading to specific
information. For instance, clicking on ?What if I just need an escrow
service?? leads to this explanation: ?Timeshare Transfer
[ closing service] can assist you with collection and
disbursement of escrow funds. This is their "middle-man" service and
is available for $100. This provides the seller with the safety of
knowing that purchase funds are in escrow before executing documents
and the buyer with the comfort of knowing that funds will not be
disbursed until all documents are executed and/or recorded.?

Back at:
Click on ?Escrow Service? to bring up this FAQ:

?What is an escrow service?
How does escrow secure the exchange?
What do I need to do as the Buyer/Rentee?
What do I need to do as the Seller/Renter?
Who pays for the Escrow Service?
When does the Seller get paid?
What is the fee for escrow?
How long does the process take?
What if I change my mind??

Clicking on ?How does escrow secure the exchange?,? brings up: 
?The Bidder is assured that funds will not be disbursed until all
required documents are properly executed and/or recorded. The Seller
is assured that payment for the documents being executed has been
received by the Escrow Agent and is safe for disbursement upon receipt
of the documents.?

Clicking on ?How long does the process take?,? brings up: ?Generally,
purchase funds and executed documents arrive at Timeshare Transfer
almost simultaneously. With mail time, execution time, and return
time, the process should take approximately 10 days. Once it is
determined that the documents have been properly executed, funds are
disbursed to the Seller and the deed will be sent to recording (or
membership documents to the resort).?

To see if a closing service is licensed in Pennsylvania, check with
the PA Department of Insurance:
At the bottom of that page see a search engine: ?Company Search: Type
of Company.? Click ?licensed? and type in the company?s name to bring
up any hits.
The Department of Insurance contact page :

?Insurance Product Regulation and Market Enforcement
(Industry Inquires Only)
 Randy Rohrbaugh,
Deputy Commissioner 
Phone: (717) 783-5079
Fax:  (717) 787-8555

You can also try contacting the PA Attorney General?s office for help:
Bureau of Consumer Protection Regional Offices to see if a closing
service is licensed in PA:
(See long list of regional offices)

You can also check with the PA AG?s Insurance Fraud division to see if
a closing service has a worrisome track record:  

Also: The PA Department of State?s Bureau of  Professional and
Occupational Affairs, which is under the state?s Real Estate
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105
Phone: 717-787-8503

For other states, go to the search engine of your choice and type in
[state?s name] AND ?Real Estate Commission OR Agency.?

You can also check up on companies at the Better Business Bureau:  

Legal & Procedural Issues:

See Legal Whiz?s brief summary:
Title companies, real estate agents, and approved attorneys may handle
closings. Conveyance is by special or general warranty deed. Mortgages
are the security instruments. Foreclosures take 1-6 months from filing
through judgment plus another 2 months or more from judgment through
sale. State law restricts aliens in owning real property with respect
to acreage and income and includes special restrictions affecting
farmland. Pennsylvanians use ALTA owner's, lender's, and leasehold
policies. Buyers pay closing costs and title insurance fees; buyers
and sellers split the transfer taxes. Property tax payment dates
differ across the state.?
*** Escrow Procedures Around the United States/ Escrow
Procedures and Typical Closing Cost Splits, by Sandy Gadow: 
is a near-verbatim repeat of Legal Whiz?s summary.

?The Nuts & Bolts Of Escrow?:
Is a reiteration of the above summaries, plus this  helpful reference  material:
?Consumer Complaints:
Department of Banking
333 Market Street, 16th Floor
Harrisburg, Pa 17101-2290
Telephone: (717) 787-2665
Director Bureau of Consumer Service
Insurance Department
1321 Strawberry Square, 13th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Telephone: 717-787-2317
Toll free: 1-877-881-6388
Web site:

Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission
The Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission
124 Pine Street
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 127101
Telephone: (717) 783-3658
E-Mail: /Web site:

Rate Filing Statute: File and Use
Customary Fee splits:
Owner's Policy: Buyer
Lender's Policy: Buyer
Title search: Buyer
Transfer taxes: Divided equally
Closing fees: included in premium
Recording fees: Buyer
Disclosures: Real estate transfer disclosure required? No; Agency
relationship disclosure required? No Forms of ownership: tenancy in
common, joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety.

This 43-page document very specifically delineates rate schedules,
procedures, liabilities, restrictions, and everything but the kitchen

Legal Requirements To Hold Money In Escrow:

A licensed closing service is allowed to hold funds in escrow, however
the length of time the money is held, etc., can vary from state to

Just for one example, see New York?s ?Regulations Governing Timeshare
Offering Plans: Part 24?:

?(B-15) For timesharing plans located outside New York, submit an
opinion from independent counsel admitted to practice in the
jurisdiction in which the timeshare property s located -
(i) that an escrow account for purchaser's funds established in a bank
located outside the State of New York is not subject to attachment,
garnishment, foreclosure, levy or other legal seizure by the creditors
or bankruptcy trustee of the sponsor, selling agent, the owner of the
timeshare property or the principals of any of them.?

? . . . (iii) The escrow agent. The escrow agent must be an attorney
admitted to practice in the State of New York or an attorney admitted
to practice in the State of New York or an attorney admitted in a
foreign jurisdiction who submits to the jurisdiction of the State of
New York for any cause of action arising out of the escrow agreement
or a firm of such attorneys. The escrow agent shall be independent of
the sponsor.?

Holding escrow in New York:
?Within ten (10) business days after tender of the deposit submitted
with the subscription or purchase agreement, the escrow agent shall
notify the subscriber or purchaser that such funds have been deposited
in the bank indicated in the offering plan,
and shall provide the account number and the initial interest rate. If
the subscriber or purchaser does not receive notice of such deposit
within fifteen (15) business days after tender of the deposit, he or
she may cancel the subscription or purchase and rescind within ninety
(90) days after tender of the deposit, or may apply to the Attorney
General for relief.?

For another example: ? . . .in Illinois: funds may be disbursed to the
developer by the escrow agent from the escrow account only after
expiration  of the purchaser's rescission period and in accordance
with the purchase contract, subject to paragraph (2) of this
subsection . . . .? 

You need to check with PA?s Department of Real Estate (listed above)
to see just what the specifications are in PA.
Getting Started:

Here are some companies that may suit your needs. Please contact them
for detailed information:

The aforementioned Timeshare Closing Services, Inc:


Timeshare Transfer Closing, which is the closing agent for

See their list of services:

And their FAQ:

?How long does it take? 
There are two answers to this question: 
 Once we have a copy of the Seller?s deed, we prepare the new deed for
attorney examination within 24 ? 48 hours. The deed is then sent to
the Seller for execution, and a copy is sent to the Buyer requesting
escrow funds. This process should only take (with mail and signature
time) approximately 10 days.

?The second part of the question is a function of how long the County
in the State where the property is located takes to record a deed.
Some counties have a turnaround time of 1 week ? others can be months
in processing. We know these counties, and submit special recording
instructions so that your closing can move forward in spite of these

Their contact information is:
7345 Sand Lake Road, Suite 303 
Orlando, Florida 32819
Toll Free: (877) 889-2373 
Phone: (407) 370-2373  
Fax: (407) 352-4792  

Stewart Realty Solutions:
?provides title insurance, escrow and closing services through more
than 6,700 issuing locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and several
other international markets . . . .?

USA Timeshare Services:
?Service specialized in the states of SC, NC, TN, GA, MS.?

Total Real Estate Solutions:

This site has some valuable resources (despite its annoying pop-up
ads), and features an extensive directory of closing services for
every state in the U.S. and for numerous foreign countries, from
Anguilla  to Zimbabwe, at:

Good General References:
is a great general resource with pages on many specific issues
pertaining to selling timeshares. You?ll also find plenty of ads

The article, ?Timeshare Title Tips?:
was written by ?Attorney Sean O'Haire, owner of ProDox Legal Center,?
a full-service closing company.

I can?t get ProDox?s Web site: 
to load, but you can contact them  at 1-888-477-6369. 

?The Real Estate Glossary,? compiled  by Vince Brennan:

?The Timeshare Beat Daily News?:

Search Strings:
license sell timeshares Web
license necessary sell timeshares
"closing services" AND "legal issues" AND escrow AND timeshares
"timeshare sales" +"closing service"
"closing companies" AND licensed AND Pennsylvania
"escrow companies" AND licensed AND Pennsylvania
"closing service" +liability + Pennsylvania
"closing service" +liability +timeshare
"legal requirements" AND "hold money" AND escrow
"legal requirements" AND "hold money" AND timeshare
criteria to hold money escrow AND timeshare
timeshare closing service +Pennsylvania
timeshare closing service +international

I hope my research is of help to you. 

Please post a ?Request For Clarification,? if you need help navigating
any of the above links, or if you require clarification on any of the
above points, prior to rating my answer.


GA Researcher
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