These Regulations are issued by the Virginia State Bar pursuant to Title
55, Chapter 27.3, Code of Virginia. The Act does not apply to
licensed attorneys who provide escrow, closing or settlement services
solely for public bodies, as defined in §§ 2.2-4301,
Code of Virginia; thus, such attorneys are exempt from the
registration, certification and separate fiduciary trust account
requirements set forth in these Regulations.
Chapter 27.3 of Title 55 of the Code of Virginia, and therefore
these Regulations, applies to transactions involving the purchase of or
lending on the security of real estate located in Virginia containing not
more than four residential units. In addition, effective July 1,
1999, a lay settlement agent may provide escrow, settlement and closing
services for transactions involving any real property located in Virginia,
provided the agent is registered under and in compliance with §§
55-525.17 and 55-525.18 of the Code of Virginia. Lawyer
settlement agents are not required to register under Chapter 27.3 of Title
55 of the Code of Virginia unless the transaction involves the
purchase of or lending on the security of real estate located in Virginia
containing not more than four residential dwelling units.
The following words and terms when used in these Regulations shall have
the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
Unless otherwise defined herein, all terms in these Regulations shall have
the meanings set forth in Chapter 27.3 of Title 55 of the
Code of Virginia.
“Attorney” means a person licensed as an attorney
under Chapter 39 (§§ 54.1-3900 et. seq.), of Title 54.1 of the
Code of Virginia, and who is an active member of the Virginia
State Bar in good standing under the Rules of the Virginia Supreme
- “Bar” means the Virginia State Bar.
“Board” means the Virginia Real Estate Board.
“Disciplinary Board” means the Virginia State Bar
“First dollar coverage” means an insurance policy
which obligates the company issuing the policy to pay covered claims in
their entirety, up to the policy limits, regardless of the presence of a
deductible amount to which the company may be entitled as a
reimbursement from the insured.
“SCC” means the Virginia State Corporation
“These regulations” means 15 VAC 5-80-10 et seq.,
Virginia State Bar Regulations of Attorney Real Estate Settlement
Every licensed attorney now providing or offering, or intending to provide
or offer, escrow, closing or settlement services as a settlement agent
with respect to real estate transactions in Virginia shall register with
the Bar using the registration form available from the Bar for that
purpose. Settlement agents beginning to provide or offer such services
shall register with the Bar prior to doing so. The registration
requirement in this paragraph shall not apply to attorney settlement
agents unless they provide or offer to provide escrow, settlement and
closing services for real estate subject to Chapter 27.3 of Title 55 of
the Code of Virginia, i.e., real estate containing not more than
four residential dwelling units. Thus, for example, attorneys who
handle only commercial real estate transactions are not subject to these
Every settlement agent shall thereafter reregister after notice on a
schedule established by the Bar, providing updated registration
information. Every settlement agent shall have a continuing duty to advise
the Bar of any change in name, address or other pertinent registration
data that occurs between registrations.
The fee for each registration and reregistration shall be $35 for an
attorney settlement agent. The Bar reserves the right to adjust the
fee as necessary within the statutory limit of $100. The prescribed fee
shall accompany each registration or reregistration in the form of a check
made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia.
Registration is subject to revocation or suspension if the Bar or other
appropriate licensing authority finds the settlement agent out of
compliance with Chapter 27.3 of Title 55 of the
Code of Virginia or Regulations issued thereunder.
The Bar will issue guidelines in consultation with the SCC and the Board
to assist settlement agents in avoiding and preventing the unauthorized
practice of law in connection with the furnishing of escrow, closing or
settlement services. In conformity with Chapter 27.3 of Title 55 of the
Code of Virginia, the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court, and
the Bar’s UPL opinions, these guidelines will delineate activities
which can and cannot be carried out by registered non-attorney settlement
agents in conducting settlements. The guidelines will be revised from time
to time as necessary.
The guidelines will be available on the Bar’s website and provided
by the appropriate licensing authority to each registered settlement agent
at the time of initial registration and at each reregistration. The
guidelines will also be furnished to the SCC, the Board, and all other
state and federal agencies that regulate financial institutions, as well
as to members of the general public upon request. The guidelines may be
photocopied as necessary.
The Bar will continue to receive and investigate unauthorized practice of
law complaints in the real estate settlement area, as well as in other
fields, under its unauthorized practice of law rules and procedures.
If the Bar receives complaints against nonattorney settlement agents that
do not allege the unauthorized practice of law, it will refer the
complaints to the appropriate licensing authority that has jurisdiction
over the subject of the complaint. If the complaint involves an attorney
settlement agent’s noncompliance with 15 VAC 5-80-30, the Bar will
conduct an informal investigation. If the Bar believes a violation has
occurred, it will notify the attorney settlement agent in writing. If the
apparent violation is not rectified within thirty (30) days, the Bar will
investigate the alleged violations pursuant to 15VAC5-80-50(D).