Yeah, this has nothing to do with real estate but I like to also keep people informed about important financial matters and this is one of them. First some background: In case I’ve never mentioned it before Bank Of America is the worst. Apparently I’m not alone in this belief because all you have to do is Google “hate Bank of America” and you get 37,000,000 results.
We never actually opened an account with Bank of America but our Lasalle Bank business accounts got acquired by them several years ago and the switching costs are just too high to deal with. Maybe if we get pissed off enough we will change someday. My partner keeps threatening to move our real estate scrow account somewhere else.
Here is just a sample of what is wrong with Bank of America:
- All their branches are always understaffed
- The branches never answer the phone so you can’t get location specific information – like whether or not certain people are available
- Their personnel are not trained very well and give you that deer-in-the-headlights look when you try to do anything they haven’t seen 10,000 times before.
- You can’t get through to customer service without having your account number handy
- They only provide paper escrow account statements
And now there is yet another huge reason to hate Bank of America. They no longer do signature guarantees. You can click that link for a definition of a signature guarantee but basically you need this whenever you try to transfer securities and I’m sure there are other circumstances I’ve needed it for in the past that I can’t remember off hand.
The problem is that this is a fundamental banking service to which you must absolutely have access and you can’t just walk into any bank and get this done. In order to provide a signature guarantee the bank must have an account for you on file. And obviously you are not going to open an account on the day you need a signature guarantee. Therefore, since you never know when you are going to need this service, you must have an account with a bank that provides this service.
So if your only bank accounts are with Bank of America then you are screwed. Fortunately, I have relationships with other financial institutions so I’m going to be OK.
Incidentally, from talking to various other bankers it sounds like the government regulations may have recently gotten a lot tighter around signature guarantees and I will bet that this is behind Bank of America’s decision to drop the service. So, the government may be partially to blame here. What else is new?
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he’s the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.