The S.I. – Who Why What

updated August 21, 2012

The S.I. is the acronym for the “Statement of Information”, that one page form that many clients, for one reason or another, dislike completing. Surprisingly, the most common reason they balk is that one look at the many blanks and lines and the clients feel overwhelmed. The less common but more understandable reason is that the form asks for all sorts of personal information, including social security number, driver’s license, date of birth and residence and occupation for the last 10 years.

Whether you are an individual Buyer, Seller or a Borrower, as long as you are involved in a real estate or business purchase transaction, you will be requested to fill an S.I. out. The information that you give will actually protect you because it will differentiate you from others who have a name that is similar to yours.

Let’s say your name is “Juliana Tu”. Not a common name, right? Google it and you will find that a number of other “Juliana Tu’s” pop up. I can only hope that none of them have liens and judgments which might easily show up as my debts!

Liens, judgments and other debt filings of this nature, particularly if they are not secured to any real property, will attach directly to the individual (the “debtor”). They are filed at the County Recorders office in the State of California and indexed in the “General Index” by debtor’s name. In the processing of a transaction, the Escrow/Title Company will go through the General Index to check for filings against a particular name. If they do come up with something, they will then need to determine if that particular “Juliana Tu” is the “Juliana Tu” in the transaction (a “hit”). If I provide them with a completed S.I. they can then determine if they need to worry about this lien/judgment or they can just ignore it. This is what we call the “similar name” scenario.

It’s important to note that liens and judgments will attach to everything the debtor now owns or will own in the future. Unless it gets re-filed and extended, they remain a debt for 10 years from the original filing date. This is why the S.I. requires us to list our residences and occupations for the last 10 years. They will also pop up on your credit report and so that’s why it’s a good idea to run your credit at least once a year.

Although the liens, in particular the judgment lien form, will state the name of the debtor and has a space to insert the debtor’s social security number, driver’s license and last known address, most of the time the creditor may not have all this information. So the judgment is then filed against one “Juliana Tu”, with no other distinguishing information except perhaps the last known address. With a carefully completed S.I., the Escrow/Title Company can then determine that this is not a “hit” and eliminate this lien from consideration.

It is important that not only the S.I. be completed in detail, but also that it be done expeditiously and given to the Escrow Officer early in the game. We do not like surprises at the eleventh hour and we run the General Index early to take care of all issues at the beginning and one more time right before we close. When we have a client with a name like “Jose Rodriguez,” you can be certain that we will be looking at hundreds of filings under such a name and each one of them has to be reviewed to see if it is a “hit”. This takes time, effort, and most of all, lots and lots of patience. A last minute “hit” is a scenario that all Escrow Officers dread. Finding a lien filed at the last minute puts a screeching halt to the entire transaction.

You might ask why is a Statement of Information required from a Buyer? The answer is simple: if the Buyer is obtaining a new loan, a previously filed lien or judgment may take precedence over the new loan. What turns out to be a “First” Trust Deed loan that the Buyer is getting may end up being “second” in position. No Lender will countenance that!

The Statement of Information, like all the rest of our escrow transaction and documents, is confidential. Because of the sensitivity of the information provided, an Escrow/Title Company will not release it or any information on it to any other entity/person unless express authority is given by the client.

Do you have any questions or comments about the Statement of Information? To access a copy of this form, please click here.

Are there other subjects that you would like information on? Please let us know by leaving us a few words in our comment section below. We hope the information provided here is useful to you.