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Escrow 101

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First, a little about "escrow". An escrow agent is hired to assure your house closes on time and the transaction goes smoothly. Escrow companies hold money for "safe-keeping" in transactions between a buyer and seller. An everyday way to think of what an escrow company does is to think of how you might use PayPal for online purchases.


The escrow holder insures that all terms and conditions of the seller's and buyer's agreement are completed prior to the sale being finished. This includes getting payments and records, finishing required forms, and getting the release documents for any loans or liens that are to be paid with the transaction, assuring you have a clear title to your home before the agreed upon price is fully paid.

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

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

Upon finishing of all portions of the escrow, closing can take place. At this time, all payments and fees for inspections, title insurance and real estate commissions are taken. The house's title gets transferred to you and title insurance begins per the steps of your individual escrow process.

The escrow agent receives a payment when the closing is complete. You'll know when it's time to submit the form of payment.

The Escrow Holder Will:
The Escrow Holder Won't:
  • Prepare escrow guidelines
  • Request title inquiry
  • Comply with the bank's guidelines as written in the escrow agreement
  • Intake funds from the buyer
  • Prorate insurance, tax, interest and other payments according to guidelines
  • Record deeds and other paperwork as instructed
  • Request title insurance policy
  • Close escrow when all instructions of seller and buyer are met
  • Disburse funds and finalize instructions
  • Offer advice - the escrow company has to remain an impartial, third-party status
  • Give insight about future tax estimations

Mortgage Escrow Account

Often, to pay recurring costs while there's a loan on the house, a Mortgage Escrow Account is created. Usually, the home buyer makes a payment at closing and also makes regular deposits through their monthly mortgage payment to fund the Escrow Account.

Once you have the ABCs of the escrow process down, you can be a informed buyer.

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