B-165594, DEC. 10, 1968

B-165594: Dec 10, 1968

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ACKERSON: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR UNDATED LETTER REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF OUR SETTLEMENT DATED OCTOBER 2. HE SUBSEQUENTLY FURNISHED A STATEMENT THAT THE SCHENECTADY COUNTY MINIMUM FEE SCHEDULE IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF REAL ESTATE IS 1 PERCENT OF THE SELLING PRICE AND THAT THE FEE INCLUDES ALL SERVICES AS OUTLINED IN THE BILL SUBMITTED TO YOU. YOU BELIEVE THE ATTORNEY'S BILL PRESENTS A BREAKDOWN OF HIS FEE AND THAT THE COST OF THE PREPARATION OF A DEED IN SCHENECTADY COUNTY IS 1 PERCENT OF THE SELLING PRICE OR $130. A COPY OF WHICH WAS FURNISHED TO YOU BY YOUR AGENCY. IT HOLDS (1) THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH COSTS HAVE NOT BEEN INCLUDED IN BROKERS' OR SIMILAR SERVICES ONLY FOR THE CUSTOMARY COSTS OF SEARCHING TITLE.

B-165594, DEC. 10, 1968

TO MR. FREDERICK G. ACKERSON:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR UNDATED LETTER REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF OUR SETTLEMENT DATED OCTOBER 2, 1968, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THE ATTORNEY'S FEE OF $130 INCIDENT TO THE SALE OF YOUR HOUSE IN SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK, IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR TRANSFER TO BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK, AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT.

YOUR ATTORNEY'S LUMP-SUM BILL INCLUDED EXAMINATION OF THE SALE AGREEMENT AND CONFERENCES WITH YOU, OBTAINING THE ABSTRACT OF TITLE AND TAX SEARCH, PREPARATION OF THE DEED, FOUR CONFERENCES WITH THE REAL ESTATE BROKER TO ARRANGE THE CLOSING DATE OF THE HOME OF THE PURCHASERS, ARRANGING THE CLOSING AT THE BANK, ATTENDANCE AT THE CLOSING AND MAKING OF ALL ADJUSTMENTS, AND FIVE CONFERENCES WITH YOU IN CONNECTION WITH THE CLOSING DATE AND MOVING. HE SUBSEQUENTLY FURNISHED A STATEMENT THAT THE SCHENECTADY COUNTY MINIMUM FEE SCHEDULE IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF REAL ESTATE IS 1 PERCENT OF THE SELLING PRICE AND THAT THE FEE INCLUDES ALL SERVICES AS OUTLINED IN THE BILL SUBMITTED TO YOU. YOU BELIEVE THE ATTORNEY'S BILL PRESENTS A BREAKDOWN OF HIS FEE AND THAT THE COST OF THE PREPARATION OF A DEED IN SCHENECTADY COUNTY IS 1 PERCENT OF THE SELLING PRICE OR $130, THE AMOUNT OF THE FEE.

OUR DECISION OF MARCH 1, 1968, B-163203, A COPY OF WHICH WAS FURNISHED TO YOU BY YOUR AGENCY, CONCERNS THE ALLOWABLE LEGAL COSTS UNDER SECTION 4.2C OF BUREAU OF THE BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. A-56. IT HOLDS (1) THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH COSTS HAVE NOT BEEN INCLUDED IN BROKERS' OR SIMILAR SERVICES ONLY FOR THE CUSTOMARY COSTS OF SEARCHING TITLE, PREPARING CONVEYANCES, ETC.; (2) THAT LEGAL SERVICES OF AN ADVISORY NATURE, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM COST OF PREPARING CONTRACTS, CONVEYANCES, ETC., MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED; AND (3) THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED WHEN THE ATTORNEY COMMINGLES THE COSTS OF ALLOWABLE SERVICES WITH THOSE OF AN ADVISORY NATURE IN A FEE BASED ON A PERCENTAGE OF THE SALES PRICE WITHOUT ALLOCATING THE COSTS OF THE VARIOUS SERVICES.

ALTHOUGH YOUR ATTORNEY LISTED THE VARIOUS SERVICES PERFORMED, HE DID NOT BREAK DOWN THE TOTAL FEE INTO SPECIFIC MONETARY AMOUNTS ALLOCABLE TO THE VARIOUS TYPES OF SERVICES. THEREFORE, WE HAVE NO MEANS OF ASCERTAINING THE COST OF PREPARATION OF A DEED WHICH WOULD BE ALLOWABLE IF THE COST COULD BE ASCERTAINED. IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR AGENCY INFORMED US IT WAS UNABLE TO OBTAIN A COST FIGURE FOR THE PREPARATION OF A DEED IN THE SCHENECTADY AREA. WITH REGARD TO YOUR CONTENTION THAT THE COST OF PREPARATION OF THE DEED WAS $130, IT IS CLEAR THAT THIS CANNOT BE SO SINCE THE PREPARATION OF THE DEED IS ONLY ONE OF SEVERAL SERVICES INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL FEE.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE THE DISALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.