The San Francisco Association of Realtors recently revised its purchase agreement to add paragraph 46, which requires cash buyers to comply with Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) rules during escrow.
FinCEN is a division of the Department of Treasury, and combats money laundering. It’s been around since the 1990s. Escrow officers have been collecting the required information from cash buyers during a transaction for quite some time, but our purchase agreement only added the new paragraph in April 2019. Sellers have the option of cancelling the contract if the cash buyers don’t agree to provide the required information to escrow.
I asked one of my favorite escrow officers, Paula Siegel at Fidelity National Title, to confirm what information she requests from cash buyers during escrow. The buyer has to fill out a FinCEN form, and provide his or her name, birth date, social security number, mailing address and a copy of his or her driver’s license, says Paula.
Buyers are required by the purchase contract to provide this information within three days of the escrow officer’s request.
Purchases in a trust are exempt, as is commercial property. (But that can change, as FinCEN is constantly updating its requirements.)