Pushing Back Against Small But Annoying Junk Fees

I always review the settlement statement for our buyers and sellers to make sure everything looks correct before closing. There are often corrections that need to be made.

While reviewing the HUD1 (settlement statement) on a deal we closed today, I noticed a new junk fee I had not previously seen on the Buyer’s side. It was called “Document Download Fee“. This was a Title Company I had never closed with and I didn’t know the closer. I emailed the Closing Agent at the Title Company, and the following is the content of the email conversation:

Me: “What is “document download fee – $25?”.

TC: “When ever a lender sends documents over via a computer program that we do not carry on our system, we have to download the program and then download the documents for the specific closing. This takes of space on our computer hard drives, so “they” decided to start charging a fee for it.”

Me: “That sounds like your cost of doing business, not the Buyer’s. It’s a pure Junk Fee”.

TC: “It’s a standard fee of doing business however, I can gladly remove it, if you have a problem with it. Consider it removed. :>)”

OK, $25 doesn’t make or break a deal, but every time we turn around there’s a new fee with an interesting name. It’s often not an amount worth fussing over, but those are the most insidious kind – the $25 “fee” here or there. Why simply give away money just because the Title Company or Lender wants to invent a new fee and charge it?

I like to gently push back on these on behalf of my clients, if for no other reason than to let the Lenders and Title people know we’re paying attention and don’t appreciate these junk fees. Plus, buyers and sellers have a right to know why a fee, no matter how small, is being charged and what that fee pays for. In this case, it seems it was supposedly for “hard disk space”. I find that amusing.

Of course, we don’t want to nitpick and be difficult to work with, but some of these fees are pure junk and deserve to be challenged. This one was dropped with minor effort, and the Title Company will no doubt continue to charge it to those who don’t object.

Posted by Steve
9 years ago
Steve

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, Husband and Dad, UT Austin Grad, Runner, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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KayeThomas - 9 years ago

Steve,
This is fun visiting everyone’s other blog… I hate these junk fees and don’t know why they are allowed..

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Toby Barnett - 9 years ago

Now that is a junk fee if I’ve ever seen one…it reminds me of the WAMU commercials where the tellars, at the other banks, are just dumping fees after fees and soon the clients owes them money for trying to make a transfer.

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Carole C - 9 years ago

Steve I like the way you think. It really helps to get that HUD ahead of time. But I have to admit I never thought of asking them to actually remove a fee unless the numbers were wrong. Thanks!

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Mitchell Hall - 9 years ago

Good for you everything in real estate is negotiable. My favorite is misc. fee (what’s that?)

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