A transfer may be made without writing, in every case in which a writing is not expressly required by statute.
Section Ten Hundred and Fifty-three. A transfer in writing is called a grant, or conveyance, or bill of sale. The term “grant,” in this and the next two Articles, includes all these instruments, unless it is specially applied to real property.
(Amended by Code Amendments 1873-74, Ch. 612.)
A grant takes effect, so as to vest the interest intended to be transferred, only upon its delivery by the grantor.
A grant duly executed is presumed to have been delivered at its date.
A grant cannot be delivered to the grantee conditionally. Delivery to him, or to his agent as such, is necessarily absolute, and the instrument takes effect thereupon, discharged of any condition on which the delivery was made.
A grant may be deposited by the grantor with a third person, to be delivered on performance of a condition, and, on delivery by the depositary, it will take effect. While in the possession of the third person, and subject to condition, it is called an escrow.
(a) It shall be the obligation of a buyer and seller who enter into a contract to purchase and sell real property to ensure that all funds deposited into an escrow account are returned to the person who deposited the funds or who is otherwise entitled to the funds under the contract, if the purchase of the property is not completed by the date set forth in the contract for the close of escrow or any duly executed extension thereof.
(b) Any buyer or seller who fails to execute any document required by the escrow holder to release funds on deposit in an escrow account as provided in subdivision (a) within 30 days following a written demand for the return of funds deposited in escrow by the other party shall be liable to the person making the deposit for all of the following:
(1) The amount of the funds deposited in escrow not held in good faith to resolve a good faith dispute.
(2) Damages of treble the amount of the funds deposited in escrow not held to resolve a good faith dispute, but liability under this paragraph shall not be less than one hundred dollars ($100) or more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(3) Reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in any action to enforce this section.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), there shall be no cause of action under this section, and no party to a contract to purchase and sell real property shall be liable, for failure to return funds deposited in an escrow account by a buyer or seller, if the funds are withheld in order to resolve a good faith dispute between a buyer and seller. A party who is denied the return of the funds deposited in escrow is entitled to damages under this section only upon proving that there was no good faith dispute as to the right to the funds on deposit.
(d) Upon the filing of a cause of action pursuant to this section, the escrow holder shall deposit the sum in dispute, less any cancellation fee and charges incurred, with the court in which the action is filed and be discharged of further responsibility for the funds.
(e) Neither any document required by the escrow holder to release funds deposited in an escrow account nor the acceptance of funds released from escrow, by any principal to the escrow transaction, shall be deemed a cancellation or termination of the underlying contract to purchase and sell real property, unless the cancellation is specifically stated therein. If the escrow instructions constitute the only contract between the buyer and seller, no document required by the escrow holder to release funds deposited in an escrow account shall abrogate a cause of action for breach of a contractual obligation to purchase or sell real property, unless the cancellation is specifically stated therein.
(f) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Close of escrow” means the date, specified event, or performance of prescribed condition upon which the escrow agent is to deliver the subject of the escrow to the person specified in the buyer’s instructions to the escrow agent.
(2) “Good faith dispute” means a dispute in which the trier of fact finds that the party refusing to return the deposited funds had a reasonable belief of his or her legal entitlement to withhold the deposited funds. The existence of a “good faith dispute” shall be determined by the trier of fact.
(3) “Property” means real property containing one to four residential units at least one of which at the time the escrow is created is to be occupied by the buyer. The buyer’s statement as to his or her intention to occupy one of the units is conclusive for the purposes of this section.
(g) Nothing in this section restricts the ability of an escrow holder to file an interpleader action in the event of a dispute as to the proper distribution of funds deposited in an escrow account.
(Added by Stats. 1990, Ch. 13, Sec. 1.)
Except for the normal compensation of his own employees, no person acting as an escrow agent whether required to be licensed as such or not, shall pay over to any other person any commission, fee, or other consideration as compensation for referring, soliciting, handling, or servicing escrow customers or accounts.
No escrow agent shall enter into any arrangement, either of his own making or of a subsidiary nature, or through any other person having a dual capacity, or through any person having a direct or indirect interest in the escrow, or other device, permitting any fee, commission, or compensation which is contingent upon the performance of any act, condition, or instruction set forth in an escrow, to be drawn or paid, either in whole or in part, or in kind or its equivalent, prior to the actual closing and completion of the escrow.
The provisions of this section shall not be deemed to supersede, negate, or modify any of the provisions of Section 12404 of the Insurance Code.
(Added by Stats. 1967, Ch. 678.)
In an escrow transaction for the purchase or simultaneous exchange of real property, where a policy of title insurance will not be issued to the buyer or to the parties to the exchange, the following notice shall be provided in a separate document to the buyer or parties exchanging real property, which shall be signed and acknowledged by them:
“IMPORTANT: IN A PURCHASE OR EXCHANGE OF REAL PROPERTY, IT MAY BE ADVISABLE TO OBTAIN TITLE INSURANCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE CLOSE OF ESCROW SINCE THERE MAY BE PRIOR RECORDED LIENS AND ENCUMBRANCES WHICH AFFECT YOUR INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY BEING ACQUIRED. A NEW POLICY OF TITLE INSURANCE SHOULD BE OBTAINED IN ORDER TO ENSURE YOUR INTEREST IN THE PROPERTY THAT YOU ARE ACQUIRING.”
(Added by Stats. 1992, Ch. 194, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1993.)
All written escrow instructions executed by a buyer or seller, whether prepared by a person subject to Division 6 (commencing with Section 17000) of the Financial Code, or by a person exempt from that division under Section 17006 of the Financial Code, shall contain a statement in not less than 10-point type which shall include the license name and the name of the department issuing the license or authority under which the person is operating. This section shall not apply to supplemental escrow instructions or modifications to escrow instructions.
This section shall become operative on July 1, 1993.
(Added by Stats. 1992, Ch. 861, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1993. Section operative July 1, 1993, by its own provisions.)
Redelivering a grant of real property to the grantor, or canceling it, does not operate to retransfer the title.
(a) A notice of nonacceptance of a recorded deed executed by a holder of a security interest, which notice identifies the security interest, contains a legal description of the property, properly identifies the parties to the deed, the date of recordation of the deed, the county in which the project is located, and the county assessor’s parcel number of the real property referenced in the deed, may be recorded in the office of the county recorder where the real property is located.
(b) Where a trustee’s deed is invalidated by a pending bankruptcy or otherwise, recordation of a notice of rescission of the trustee’s deed, which notice properly identifies the deed of trust, the identification numbers used by the recorder or the books and pages at which the trustee’s deed and deed of trust are recorded, the names of all trustors and beneficiaries, the location of the property subject to the deed of trust, and the reason for rescission, shall restore the condition of record title to the real property described in the trustee’s deed and the existence and priority of all lienholders to the status quo prior to the recordation of the trustee’s deed upon sale. Only the trustee or beneficiary who caused the trustee’s deed to be recorded, or his or her successor in interest, may record a notice of rescission.
(Amended by Stats. 1997, Ch. 74, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1998.)
Though a grant be not actually delivered into the possession of the grantee, it is yet to be deemed constructively delivered in the following cases:
1. Where the instrument is, by the agreement of the parties at the time of execution, understood to be delivered, and under such circumstances that the grantee is entitled to immediate delivery; or,
2. Where it is delivered to a stranger for the benefit of the grantee, and his assent is shown, or may be presumed.