Surprise closing costs settlement fees

6 Replies | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In contract to buy a duplex. Really 2 side by side semi-attached SFRs and got a 65% surprise in closing agency fees over estimate - the day after I drop off contracts and escrow check to settlement agent.  The title insurance rate is fixed by state, no question there.  The town certification fees, taxes, recording fee and transfer taxes etc no questions.  The other agency  fees previously disclosed in their fee structure are reasonable regarding doc prep and settlement.

However the settlement co. after the fact wants additional amounts.  Especially annoying because its a cash deal from long term owner and seemingly not at all complex. I even gave them his paid tax receipts and have 20 years of paid water bills!

Abstract search fee of $200- isn't this already part of normal title insurance process thus a garbage fee?  

Lien Letter fee of $850- isn't this already part title insurance process thus a garbage fee?

Plus they want their closing $1050 up front before processing!


You asked for their fees before hand? If you did, thats kind of unusual in itself. Ive never asked for a title companies fees before hand.

Title abstractor is an individual who will go to the court house to do the title abstract. Sometimes its a seperate fee, sometimes they will just have a singular fee thats larger and combines everything into one.  Theres typically always going to be a closing fee as well.  Lien letter fee sounds like what we call a title folder fee here.

I have only had lien letter fees when there was a lien against the property and they had to research the company that held the lien and how much to paid it off.  The seller had the lien against him/his property and he had to pay the fee.  Unless its real complicated, the fee seems high.

In some states the title insurance fees are set by law, so the title companies do charge a separate fee for the search.  The fee seems reasonable.

I have never paid for the settlement fees upfront. 

All those fees are fees that should have been on the estimate.  Not sure why they are added at the last minute. 

I can't say I have ever paid a title company up front. I have paid a deposit when a lawyer was doing the closing. 

Here is what I have:

Lien Letters: I always have these, it is the fee processing from townships to make sure no liens are in place. I pulled my last 5 HUD documents and these ranged from $85-$250

Abstract Search Fee: I do not have this on any of mine, but there are several items rolled up into "services" and I do not have the itemized breakout so these could be in there.

I would ask why their Lien Letters section is so high - especially with pre-paying. Mine very every time and I asked about this and was told it is due to the number of entities that must be contacted depending on township and if any exist follow up work associated. 

The $200 title search fee is always separate and in addition to the actual title insurance fee.  The $850 lien letter fee seems high, our city lien search fees are about $250.  This isn’t an hoa certification/transfer fee is it?

I challenged the fees wanting line item accounting with explanations and POOF gone.  Back to the old estimate and reasonable fees.  No Lien or Abstract fees anymore.  As I thought in  PA, Abstract is included with owner's Title insurance.  Lien letter fees were somewhat inflated as they mistakenly added a commercial item to a residential property but most importantly - all the lien letter cost go to seller!  I'm the buyer.    They attempted to have me prepay these seller costs so settlement co. wouldn't be out any money in case the deal falls thru!   My guess,  most people don't push back or question anything.  Closing will be sporty if 11th hour fees pop up if anything funky happens I'll update.

Thanks to all!