Q. What is escrow?
A. The following is a description of what an escrow is and the role the title company plays in the real estate transaction. There is also directions on how to open an escrow.
The Title Company is a disinterested third party that collects and disburses funds in a real estate transaction in accordance with the written agreement for the sale (Offer & Acceptance) between a buyer and a seller. The Title Company receives the Offer & Acceptance signed by the seller and buyer. The earnest money from the buyer is also received at that time and escrow is then officially opened. The earnest money is deposited and an escrow number is assigned to the file.
From this point forward, any monies, documents and deeds are disbursed in accordance with the written agreement. The Escrow Officer’s primary responsibility is to comply with written instructions that have been agreed to by all parties in the transaction. A Real Estate Agent or Broker represents the principal’s to the transaction, and it is inappropriate for the Escrow Officer to act on verbal instructions.
The Title Company will issue “Escrow Instructions” stating its exact responsibilities in completing the sales transaction. It will identify all parties in the transaction and the terms under which all monies and documents will be disbursed.
The Title Company will also perform a “Title Search” to identify any parties with an interest in the property being sold as well as other considerations such as identifying any easements. At the closing they will issue a “Title Insurance Policy.” The policy will insure the buyer against any undisclosed recorded items affecting the property. A fee is charged for the policy. Title Insurance is a prudent measure taken to protect the buyer and their lender.
Once escrow is opened, the Escrow Officer will prepare the necessary documents and forward copies of the Escrow Instructions, and Addendum to the parties including the agents representing the buyer and seller. An initial review of the instructions will insure the names are correct, the right property is being sold and that all the terms of the original contract are included.
After approval of the Instructions, an appointment with the Escrow Officer is appropriate to sign the Escrow documents. It is best to have Escrow papers signed immediately as it memorializes the Escrow Officer’s duties. Escrow is not officially open until all parties have signed the Escrow Instructions.
During the Escrow period, the Escrow Officer will provide copies of the Preliminary Title Report and all Demands and Beneficiary Statements for review. Again, an immediate review may offset future issues.
When closing is near, please call the Escrow Officer to discuss an appointment. You will need to discuss the file to insure all the required items have been handled.
Please advise your Escrow Officer as to the scheduled closing date early enough to allow time for final calculations, such as updating any loan payoff. The Title Company will read the loan documents to make the calculations, the lenders costs are needed to finalize the buyers deposit and funds. Escrow can provide an estimated worksheet with the information they have, however it will not be exact and could inconvenience the parties. The Escrow Officer will provide the agents a copy of the worksheet or estimated closing statement for their review.
Funds SHOULD BE IN THE FORM OF CASH, CASHIER’S CHECK OR DIRECT WIRE INTO THE ESCROW TRUST ACCOUNT. A personal check may delay the closing until the check can be cleared.
- Are all the documents signed?
- Has the Buyer obtained their fire insurance?
- Have all the contingencies been satisfied?
- If required, has the termite inspection been completed?
- If new loan, has the Buyer been approved?
- Has the Home Warranty been ordered?
Q. How to open escrow?
A. You can open an escrow using this website. It is always advisable to set up an appointment with the Escrow Officer to meet in person to go over the transaction together.
Q. Items needed to open escrow?
- Clear copy of the fully completed, signed Offer and Acceptance.
- Copies of ALL counter offers and/or addenda.
- Note: If you have more than one counter offer, please number them at the top of the page. Provide the name, address and correct loan numbers on all existing loans. A copy of the seller’s payment coupon is the best way to insure the accuracy of the information.
- Provide the name, address and phone number of any cooperating Real Estate Agent. A business card is most helpful. Also remember to provide the amount of commission and the split.
- Provide the name, address and phone number of the Loan Officer on any new loan. Again a business card is best.
- Buyers and Sellers full names, phone numbers and current mailing address.
- Submit a completed Statement of Information (an example is located in our Public Information – Public Information – Down Load Forms section of our website)
- A copy of the Sellers Deed, Title Policy or a copy of the Property Profile you may have obtained.
- A completed Opening Checklist (an example is located in our Public Information – Down Load Forms section of our website – which is part of the Buyer’s and Seller’s packages)
Q. Escrow Instructions
A. This is a brief explanation of items found in Escrow Instructions. Be aware that all title company’s Escrow Instructions are not alike. They may not include all of these items, but may include items that we have not addressed.
Q. Escrow Number
A. This is the identifying number of your Escrow. If you have this information, it saves time when locating your file. The initials at the end of each number identify the Escrow Officer handling the transaction.
Q. Branch Address
A. The location of the office handling your Escrow.
Q. Consideration Instructions
A. Shows the earnest money, financing terms, down payment, and sales price of the contract.
A. Full names of Sellers – check for spelling to insure the names are correct.
A. Full names of Buyers – check for spelling to insure the names are correct.
Q. Legal Description
A. The full legal description will appear here, unless it is meets and bounds. Be sure the property description is correct.
Q. Street Address
A. Check for accuracy and don’t forget to include the correct city and zip code.
A. The APN is the Tax Assessors Parcel Number. Check this against your information.
Q. Title Insurance
A. The Buyers and New Lender require that they be provided with a Policy of Title Insurance, we will indicate what kind of policy is to be issued.
a. Cash or Assumptions no new loans….Owners
b. Assumptions with note to seller…Joint Protection
c. New Financing….Owners and ALTA
A. Buyers are listed again and how they have chosen to take title. If the O&A vesting is not addressed we will have Buyers execute a separate instruction.
Q. Subject to
A. This area shows items of record that will be on the Title Policy as exceptions:
1. Current Taxes…. always a lien (not always due)
2. CC & R’s
Q. Terms and Conditions
A. This area is where all the terms and conditions of the sale are found.
1. Loans to be assumed
3. New loans
4. Other requirements
Any item not handled by the Escrow Officer will be shown on an addendum such as; personal property, possession, seller warranties, etc…
Q. Signature Page
A. Sets out that both Buyer and Seller have read and agreed to the Escrow Instructions, and addresses estimated costs per their agreement.