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First, a little about "escrow". To finish the sale of a place, a neutral, third party (the escrow company) is engaged to assure the process will close appropriately and on time. When funds are held by a third party in a transaction between a buyer and a seller, it's in escrow. For example, in a Web auction, PayPal is the neutral third party that obtains the buyer's payment, and then sends the payment to the seller.

The escrow holder is careful to assure that all terms and conditions of the seller's and buyer's negotiated agreement are reached prior to the sale being finalized. This includes receiving payments and documents, completing required forms, and seeking out the release documents for any loans or liens that have been paid with the transaction, assuring you have a clear title to your place before the purchase price is fully paid.

These are the records that escrow agents usually look to collect:

  • Title insurance policies
  • Terms of sale and any seller-assisted financing
  • Requests for payment for various services to be paid out of escrow funds
  • Loan documents
  • Tax statements
  • Fire and other insurance policies

You're ready to close when all parts are done in escrow process. All debts and fees are collected and paid off at this time (covering expenses such as title insurance, inspections, real estate commissions). The house's title gets handed over to you and title insurance is issued per the steps of your particular escrow process.

At the close of escrow, fees are paid in an acceptable form to the escrow. I'll keep you up-to-date on what comes next.

The Escrow Holder Will:

  • Prepare escrow instructions
  • Perform a title search
  • Comply with lender's guidelines as outlined in the escrow agreement
  • Receive funds from the buyer
  • Prorate insurance, tax, interest and other payments according to guidelines
  • Record deeds and other legal documents as instructed
  • Obtain title insurance policy
  • Close escrow when all instructions of seller and buyer are complete
  • Disburse funds and finish instructions

The Escrow Holder Will Not:

  • Advise you - the escrow holder stays a neutral, third-party status
  • Dispense opinions about tax implications
The Escrow Holder Will:
The Escrow Holder Won't:
  • Prepare escrow guidelines
  • Perform a title inquiry
  • Meet the bank's guidelines as noted in the escrow agreement
  • Accept funds from the buyer
  • Prorate insurance, tax, interest and other payments according to instructions
  • Record deeds and other legal documents as instructed
  • Request title insurance policy
  • Close escrow when all instructions of seller and buyer have been met
  • Disburse monies and finalize instructions
  • Offer advice - the escrow agent has to remain an impartial, third-party status
  • Dispense opinions about the outcome of your taxes

Mortgage Escrow Account

Often, to pay recurring costs while there's a loan on the house, a Mortgage Escrow Account is created. Though most home buyers make payments via their monthly mortgage payment, Escrow Accounts are deposited into at closing as well.

Once you're at ease with the escrow process, you can be a better buyer.

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