How Does the Escrow Process Work?

One of the stages of the home buying process is escrow. This process begins when the offer is accepted and ends once the financing is approved and the buyer and seller have fulfilled their requirements. So how does it work?

A neutral third party agent of the principals—buyer, seller, lender and borrower—is designated the escrow holder. This agent assists with the transfer of ownership by ensuring that the terms of the transaction are completed including safeguarding all funds (including the buyer’s deposit) and documents.

The escrow holder keeps track of obligations of the seller or buyer. For example, if the seller is required to supply a termite inspection, the escrow holder will make sure it is fulfilled before any funds are transferred to the seller. Findings in the termite inspection report must be corrected on or before the close of escrow.

In addition, the escrow holder receives from the title company a complete ownership history of the property and any liens on record in the preliminary title report. Any discrepancies that affect the condition of the title, such as condo liens, judgments, etc., against the buyer and seller, must be addressed prior to close of escrow.

The escrow process can last any number of days depending on what is agreed upon between the buyer and the seller. To assure a timely closing, it is important that each party provide the escrow holder requested information as soon as possible. For example, a lender will not fund a new home without a homeowner’s insurance policy. Without the lender’s verification that there is insurance, the escrow process may be delayed. An unsecured source of funding, such as a personal check can also delay the process, because it takes longer for those types of funds to clear.

The escrow process is just one step towards fulfilling the dream of homeownership. Your real estate professional can provide more detail on the escrow process, as well as answer other questions you may have about home buying and selling.

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