“Attorney Suggested that My Client Use a Different Lender”

“Attorney Suggested that My Client Use a Different Lender”



OK, I admit it; I don’t like this attorney and have let her know that. I get very protective of my clients when they are asked to pay twice as much as other attorneys for handling a real estate closing.


I ask all clients if there is a particular attorney they want to handle their closing. In this case the folks said yes. I asked if they discussed cost so that I could include the numbers correctly as we were doing the application. They said not as of yet so they immediately called, fortunately they were able to reach her and asked the question. She said her fee was $1200, plus $250 for the title search. The phone conversation ended.


Since these folks were first time home buyers, they were already tight on dollars but these costs were crazy. I told the client that these estimates were much higher than most other attorneys and recommended that they do a little shopping for these services. They said they would and they asked for some recommendations. I gave then three different names and numbers. In the meantime, not to hold up the application we used the numbers that this attorney gave us. Unfortunately the fees quoted are about double what they should be.


The following day I got a call from the original attorney, telling me that she was planning on filing a complaint against me with the banking commission and let me know what a really nice person I was (actually not really). I have yet to hear about any complaints, but who knows.


The clients ended up going with a different attorney for the services. They had called the original attorney and let them know and that is why she called me and ever since continues to say good things about me, (actually not really).


I understand each of us in business have the right to charge what they feel their services are worth. Situations like this are never comfortable. I had to explain to this client, why this attorney loves me as much as she does.


How would you have handled this kind of situation?


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Joe Petrowsky, NMLS #6869

Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS #2709

110 Main St.

Manchester, Ct. 06042

Office: 860 647-7701 x116

Fax: 860 647-8940

Cell: 860 836-9294

Email: joe@righttracfg.com



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Joe Petrowsky does not guarantee nor is in any way responsible for the accuracy of the information provided herein, and provides said information without warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied.

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Comment balloon 69 commentsJoe Petrowsky • November 20 2015 05:29AM


Exactly the way you did Joe.  Why should they pay twice the going rate?  Crazy.

Posted by Conrad Allen, Webster, Ma, Realtor (Re/Max Professional Associates) almost 5 years ago

Nothing worse than someone gouging people because they can.....that just sucks.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 5 years ago

Joe: Keep doing what you are doing...your clients love you and the number of referrals you get from them and industry professionals far outweighs anything this one greedy "pro" says or does.

Posted by Anita Clark, Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA (Coldwell Banker Access Realty ~ 478.960.8055) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Joe,

I would have recommended the same thing and that is almost three times higher than here!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 5 years ago

I would have handled it exactly the same, Joe. Price gouging has no business in this business. This is how I felt about the "internet lender" charging the outrageous points a few weeks ago. Is this the first confrontation with this wonderful attorney (not really) or has this happened previously?

Posted by Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty, 601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell (Front Gate Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Good morning, Joe Petrowsky I would have quickly pulled them away from that first attorney....there's no need for charging outrageous fees.... suggest that if she needs to make more money, she could try an exciting and rewarding career as a real estate agent....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired ) almost 5 years ago

We had a buyer this year that wanted to use her attorney who was charging her by the hour. All other attorney's we have ever dealt with charge a one price fee. When we told her this, she said..."I don't want to use any other because she is helping me with bankruptcy case too"...this lawyer created problems throug the whole process!

Posted by Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400, Long Island Home and Condo Specialists (The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803) almost 5 years ago

Great job Joe.  I would have done the same thing.  We use title companies instead of attorneys.  Fees usually run about the same regardless of the company you use, but other fees like inspections, and lender fees can change across the board.  I usually just let the client know and then let them decide, just as you did.  You did an honest job for you client, isn't that who we are all suppose to be working for?  Great post!

Posted by Brenda J. Andrew, Professional Realtor in Corpus Christi, TX (ULTIMA REAL ESTATE) almost 5 years ago

Joe Petrowsky ,


You did the right thing. Your client would have left otherwise. It is our job to get the best deal for the individual, whether it is time, money, or  preference. 

Posted by Vera Gonzalez, Gonzo For Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Good Morning Joe: You are correct. The fee is quite higher than the usual charges I have seen. Your clients are lucky to have you watching over their costs and interest.. especially when their resources are limited.

Posted by Maria Gilda Racelis, Home Ownership is w/in Reach. We Make it Happen! (Home Buyers Realty, LLC-Manchester, Bolton. Vernon,Ellington) almost 5 years ago

Joe Petrowsky 

I can see paying someone more if there is an added value to their specific service. Is there an added value in this situation or is more of just a transaction that everyone does pretty much the same?

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Joe, this is simply an example of the marketplace speaking. If Ms. Pricey was smart, she would look at her own fee structure instead of whining about you!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

You did the right thing, Joe, watching out for your clients' best financial interests. I actually once had a mortgage lender suggest to a long-standing client of mine that they "dump" me and work with one of their recommended agents. Fortunately, my client didn't dump me, told me the story, and dumped that mortgage lender (one of the bigger ones in town, by the way).

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) almost 5 years ago

Attorneys are not a "required" part of the equation here.  We always advise clients to speak with multiple vendors before making their decision as to who to use.

Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty (Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area) almost 5 years ago

I love the banks that want a title company four hours away to do the deal. Always thinking with a chamber of commerce hat on... about the creating local jobs, better turn around time and no logistics about where we are having the closing. Not using my office and tying up, bunging up the day with copier, my secretary and running interference.

Let's head to Joe Petrowsky 's conference room for the sit down, pass the keys please. Slide that check my way too would ya?

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) almost 5 years ago

The client comes first so you are on track. However, if you look at the big picture, getting this done easy-peasy has a value too. For those that charge more, I let it be known that I want 100% return. The mission must be accomplished

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 5 years ago

I had a commercial client who insisted on using a lawyer of his choice one time after I referred him to a few. After closing my client came to me and said he was shocked at the bill which came to $6000. He didn't realize the  lawyer's specialization was in family law for one, and all the lawyer did was photocopied the commercial agreement to his own letterhead as a Standard Form of Lease.

Posted by Anne Lok, Toronto Modern Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Toronto Realty) almost 5 years ago

Joe Petrowsky Not only is the attorney charging more than the customary rate, she is still making additional money on the title insurance. Looks like she is a piece of work. Good job for your clients.

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc.) almost 5 years ago

Joe, Dishonest and unethical people are on the take in every industry and every profession. I'm currently dealing with one such person (attorney) in a probate transaction. I've recommended that my client get another attorney. I spoke with one of the probate attorneys I work with ... and got the wheels moving to make that happen. Ultimately, it will be up to my client.

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist, Probate Real Estate (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) almost 5 years ago

I would have handled it exactly the same way. It sounds like you didn't bad-mouth her or her services and you didn't "steer" the clients to any one competitor (who I am certain is NOT giving you a kick-back). So where's the gripe? She should blame only herself, and any official complaint would probably lead to the same result: her fault.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

I am thankful every day that we are not an "attorney state" and those we deal with...for the most part...know what they don't know !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 5 years ago

At least here in IL, we as Lenders are obligated ... as part of our Loan Estimate ... to inform our clients that they are able to shop and compare service fees for Attorneys, plus title fees and lenders fees, Joe Petrowsky.  I do so verbally too.  So if these people did just that, I'd say they were smart and lucky to have you as their advocate ... and looking-out for their bottomline ... 


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) almost 5 years ago

Joe exactly as you did. Recommend other options and let the buyers decide what is best for them. I just had a similiar situation and it saved the clients thousands and thousands of dollars. Are they happy? Of course!

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, CRS, Broker, Instructor, 602-380-4886 (HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Joe Petrowsky,

You did exactly what I thought you would do.  You protected your clients. 

Good job!

Posted by Bruce Brockmeier, Coached By Crouch (Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS®) almost 5 years ago

Great job Joe you did your job which was protect and educate your client. They made the right decision and your prevented an autorney taking advantange of the situation.

Have A Wonderful Blessed Day!!!


Posted by IRMA Beltran, Your Real Estate Agent 4 Life Always there 4 You! (Century 21 M & M and Associates-Turlock homes Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

You don't need any advice on this one, you did it just right.  Congrats.

Posted by David Alan Baker Laveen & South Phoenix Realtor, Your local Expert (Keller Williams Realty Phoenix) almost 5 years ago

We use attorneys here and this subject comes up often.  I am in a position to refer attorneys to my clients and provide a list with several names - and those are priced fairly.

Attorneys will get paid at closing from the title company so the upfront fee need not be outrageous.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Consumers are free to use who they want to. I would have advised the same for my client if they were being charged substantially more for the same quality service they could get elsewhere for less. In my state, we have escrow offices instead of attorneys, and we do just fine without them. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) almost 5 years ago


Looks like your clients did the right thing, they got another attorney.  By bad mouthing you, it just shows how stupid she is in my opinion.  We dealt with attorneys on a regular basis when it came to leasing, and the best ones did not inflate their fees.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) almost 5 years ago

Joe, Under the new rules you not only have a moral and ethical reason to look out for your borrower, you have a mandated fiduciary responsibility to do so.  If this attorney is crying over this one deal lost, maybe they don't have to much business in the first place.  Well done.  Borrowers come first.

Posted by David A. Weaver, 24 years helping folks finance their dreams. (Peoples Bank & Trust Co.) almost 5 years ago

I'd have given them some names and advised them to do some comparison shopping with reputable attorneys/title agencies that I'm familiar with.  I may have called the attorney and tried to figure out why the pricing was so high/what we could do about that.

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) almost 5 years ago

I don't know what I would have done but I know for certain I would not want that lawyer telling our mutual clients that my Commission was too high. If the lawyer was an out and out crook, I would have pointed out my suspicions, but otherwise, I just tell people to shop for services. Maybe this lawyer was worth that fee for some reason or maybe she was a crook, I dunno. Whatever, you did what you thought was best, Joe, and nobody can complain about that. Well, except her.

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) almost 5 years ago

You probably did the right thing. 

Never mess around with laywers who are out there milking their consulting fees-third party consultant.  

In CA most esquires have broker licenses. They may be practicing law. Their own offers are often not clean and low.   

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) almost 5 years ago

Joe, you didn't do anything wrong except to offer a client some good service and look out for their best interests. 

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 5 years ago

I think you did the right thing, Joe. Those are outlandish fees. In my area that fee would be about $250. That's it. 

Posted by Debbie Laity, Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO (Cedaredge Land Company) almost 5 years ago


I can't imagine a way of handling it better. You informed your clients, provided an option of alternative attorneys, allowed them to shop and compare and make the choice they wanted. 

This attorney was free to suggest that he charges more due to using better ink, or deeper research or has a nicer office to maintain.  That's up to him. I believe you handled it well. 

Posted by Dan Tabit (Keller Williams Bellevue) almost 5 years ago

I think you did the right thing too! And I'm glad I have escrow companies instead. 

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) almost 5 years ago

Joe, you are right those fees are much higher than Attorneys I work with.  I would also have suggested talk to other Attorneys before making a decision. 

As far as the complaint the Attorney has no grounds for one, especially with the Banking Commission.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) almost 5 years ago

Joe- you did the right thing.  You suggested that the buyers at least check out the fees of others.  You did not say anything negative about the attorney.  

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 5 years ago

The bottom line is, if you hadn't asked them to shop for fees, I feel you wouldn't have been protecting your Clients.

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Joe, you definitely were looking out for your clients. I would have also given them 3 names to select an attorney (that was less expensive).

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate almost 5 years ago

You did a good job Joe. You always have such interesting stories of our real life in Real Estate.

Posted by Noah Seidenberg, Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917 (Coldwell Banker) almost 5 years ago

Joe Petrowsky well, like you, I would love to save money for my clients, too! Why not?

And knowing you, you always would have best interest of your client.

You did nothing wrong!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) almost 5 years ago

Joe when I read this post my blood started boiling... here in CA we use Escrow Officers and they do not stick their nose into the deal the are "neutral" it is the buyer's agent and the seller's agent that give advice and recommendations not the neutral escrow officer.... just sayin, Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Joe.  Let her file a complaint or even better a suit and put me on the jury.  

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) almost 5 years ago

You have to represent your client and when asked an opinion not be afraid to say it. Hope it all blows over. Who needs it.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) almost 5 years ago

You did what was best for your client. That's what we're all supposed to be doing; it's not best for a buyer to pay twice as much for something unless they are getting twice as much for their money. 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) almost 5 years ago

My response would be simply to tell the attorney that, "based upon my vast experience, the price quoted was high for a routine service and I owe it to my client to make them aware."

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

A lot of attorneys are simply bullies. Most of them huff and puff but in the end would rather settle a deal. People can file complaints all they want for any matter they want, but the majority of those go nowhere unless there was an acutal violation. Sounds like you handled this matter the way it should have been handled.

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Joe, at one point in my mortgage career, I had a similar situation with a pricy attorney, and chose not to directly question costs (he was related to the wife-applicant), but I explained the need for his resume and insured closing letter. Since he was not approved, I offered to contact him and discuss needed documentation. I used fees from an approved attorney, and suggested he review fee structure. It turned out real estate was not his area of expertise, and he knew the attorney I had referenced. He referred them to the other attorney. He did the right thing, and I didn't have to knock on her relative. I have worked with some very good and reasonable attorneys and some who fumbled more than a football player on a rainy day. Divorce litigation on another deal had he and I working together briefly, as I needed copies of decree and settlement agreement on an applicant.

Posted by Fred Cope, Looking For Homes With A Smile (Reliant Realty in Nashville, TN) almost 5 years ago

I would have done exactly what you did, well done!

Posted by Mike Frazier, Northwest Tennessee Realtor (Carousel Realty of Dyer County) almost 5 years ago

Hello Joe Petrowsky 

As always, you gave your client the right advice!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) almost 5 years ago

Whats Black and Brown and looks good on a Attorneys back? A Doberman. Pretty much sums it up.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max By The Sea) almost 5 years ago

Sounds like the attorney was exploiting the naivete of first-time buyers. Glad to hear that you were there to help them keep their costs in line.

Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) almost 5 years ago

You did it right by giving more than 1 name for them to check out an make a decision.

Posted by Rob D. Shepherd, Principal Broker GRI, SRES (Windermere/lane county) almost 5 years ago

Joe Petrowsky -Well done. Excellent post. Great job protecting your clients.



Posted by Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP (Borgida & Company P. C., CPA's) almost 5 years ago

These are difficult situations. However, I think it is fair to advise clients when they are being grossly overcharged.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 5 years ago

You did the right thing in staying within the guidelines of offering at least three options for your clients. Sometimes attorneys will throw you under a bus and then try to represent the bus company. I believe in fair wages for services provided. I also believe in freedom of speach; something all attorneys should understand.

Posted by Keith Kenner, Real Estate Lake Chatuge Realtor Northeast Georgia (Chatuge Land Co.) almost 5 years ago

That's a tough one. You try not to take it personally but some people know how to get under your skin. I think you handled it as as professionally as possible.

Posted by Paul McFadden, Pest Control, Seattle, WA. (Paratex) almost 5 years ago

Hey, Joe!

I included this post in today's "Last Week's Favorites".  And have a fun Thanksgiving.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

I really enjoyed your post!  So glad that Patricia highlighted it this week!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) almost 5 years ago

Hi Joe, 

I think you did right by your clients. Nice work. 

Giving the 3 alternate attorney options was perfect and then it is up to your client to make their preferred choice. You set a great stage. 

That disgruntled lawyer is obviously swimming in business considering how much time she has to go after you -- for a 'non issue'.

Keep up the great work you do! 

Posted by Paul Weir (RE/MAX Gold) almost 5 years ago

If this attorney wanted to match the fees they could've gotten elsewhere, she could have maintained the business.  That's what I would've asked her when she called for my head.  Would she accept what other attorneys were offering?  That way, she shoots herself in the foot and you aren't the bad guy.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) almost 5 years ago

Good job Joe, first time home buyers need a little direction.  I'm sure you're not the only one that this attorney says nice things about.

Posted by Mark Daly (Group One Mortgage) almost 5 years ago

Joe - the whole basis is RESPA, she can't refuse to do business with you, you can't refuse to do business with her and none of us can tell a consumer who they must use. You handled it properly but I understand your frustration - I had a seller I was working with go to an attorney to help with a short sale and she said she ONLY works with Realtor "X" and that wasn't me - I didn't know that attorney and she didn't know me and by the way, she acted illegally - I didn't file a complaint with the state bar but always wished I had - this attorney who doesn't like you is unethical.

Posted by Susan Jacobsen, 20 Years Providing WOW Real Estate Service (The Alliance Group Realty) almost 5 years ago

Nice part about this county..... attorneys are rarely used, everything falls to title 

Posted by Jack Gerbehy almost 5 years ago

I think that each individual buyer needs to do their own due diligence.  If this attorney is upset with you because you suggested that they shop around, you did nothing wrong.  Given your experience with the numbers, you could recommend that they check out the competition.  I would bet that you won't see an actual complaint, she just won't be your biggest fan.  Good luck.

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) almost 5 years ago

It is NOT up to me to decide what an attorney thinks  they are worth Joe Petrowsky but I can provide my clients with a price list of area attorneys and let them make their own choice, which I do.   If the overpriced attorney doesn't want to be realistic, that is their choice and they will have to live with it.

Posted by DEANNA C. SMITH CERTIFIED MOBILE NOTARY, Highest Ranked Certified Mobile Notary in Virginia (Certified Mobile Notary Signing Agent) almost 5 years ago

You did the right thing.  She has to charge that because she's making up for all the clients she doesn't have who do their due diligence.  Next!

Posted by Valerie Crowell, Broker Associate (Keller Williams) almost 5 years ago