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Buyers & Sellers, FAQs

 

Buyers & Sellers

THE ESCROW PROCESS

Escrow is the involvement of an impartial party in a real estate transaction. This neutral third party acts as an intermediary between the buyer and seller and collects and remits funds and documents as instructed. 

Escrow Officers:
      

Prepare Escrow Instruction in accordance with instructions from the principals.Determine the legal ownership of the subject property through a title search.

Clears title of Liens to comply with the terms of the transaction by obtaining payoff statements and Reconveyances, as necessary.

Provides title search information to, and works closely with, Buyer’s lender.

When all terms of the transaction have been met, the legal documents are reviewed for accuracy and final funds are collected from buyer.

Documents are submitted to the County Recorder for recording and upon confirmation of recording; final statements of funds are prepared and issued to seller and buyer.

Funds are disbursed in accordance with instructions.



Escrows in California can be written performed by:

Licensed California Real Estate Brokers Governed by the Department of Real Estate
Title Companies Governed by the Insurance Commissioner
Independent Escrow Companies Governed by the Department of Business Oversight

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need an Escrow? 


Whether you are the buyer or the seller, you want assurance that no funds or property will change hands until all of the terms of the transaction have been completed with. With the increasing complexity of business, law and tax structures, it takes a trained professional to supervise the transaction. 


What types of transactions go through escrow? 

Most contracts that involve the transfer, lease or financing of real or personal property can be placed in escrow. You may be involved in escrow not only when you buy or sell a home but also when you buy a mobile home, sell a business or transfer stock in a closely held business. Prizefighters have even been known to have their purses guaranteed through an escrow depository. The buyer or seller should demand the protection of escrow for any transaction which involves a substantial investment. 


Can I get legal advice from the Escrow Officer? 

An Escrow Officer is not a legal counselor and cannot give you legal advice. Remember, the purpose of escrow is to take and comply with instructions, to carry out the mutual agreement of the parties. The Escrow Officer must remain neutral until agreement is reached. 

The transaction should not be negotiated in the escrow office nor should an Escrow Officer become involved in the negotiation. 


If I still have questions about the transaction, where can I go for answers? 

If negotiations have been conducted through a real estate agent, that person, or his/her broker, should be your primary consultant.

The role as an independent agent prohibits the Escrow Officer from answering many of your questions. However, a knowledgeable Escrow Officer whose responsibility is giving impartial service to all the parties, will refer you to the proper source for your answers. An Escrow Officer will often suggest that the customer seek the advice of legal counsel or tax consultant. 


What happens at the closing? 

When instructions of all parties to the escrow have been carried out, the closing can take place. All outstanding funds are collected at this time and all costs must be paid. Title to the property, whether real or personal, will be transferred. All specified documents are recorded or filed at this time. 


What fees must I pay at closing? 


Fees and charges are controlled by many factors and depend largely upon the type of transaction and the terms of your agreement. However, there are certain charges which are considered to be normal. These would include fees charged by a lender in connection with obtaining a new loan or in paying off the old one. They may also include recording fees, title insurance policy premium, documentary transfer taxes, prepaid taxes and insurance and escrow fees. Your Escrow Officer will provide you with an itemized statement. 

Buyer’s closing funds preferably should be in the form of a wire transfer to the Escrow Holder upon the request of the Escrow Holder. A Cashier’s check is also acceptable but may require a day or two to make sure it has cleared. DO NOT deposit a personal check into escrow for closing. This will delay the closing since these funds must be collected before the closing can take place. An out-of-town check can cause a week to ten days delay in closing. 


What is the fee for the escrow service? 


The escrow fee is normally based on the size and complexity of the transaction. Since there are so many types of escrows and every transaction is different there are no set fees. Usually the escrow fee is divided in accordance with the agreement of the parties. 


The closing is complete – now what? 


Upon closing, review the closing statements to determine that the costs were allocated in accordance with your instructions. 

Any recorded documents to which you are entitled will be mailed to you after the escrow closes by the County Recorder’s Office or Secretary of State in the case of personal property filing. 


Why is a “refundable pad” listed on my estimated closing statement?

The amount of funds required from a Buyer/Borrower for closing is based on the current information available to the Escrow Officer at the time the file is figured. If the closing date changes due to unforeseen circumstances, or charges or fees are revised the Escrow Officer will be unable to make adjustments to pay all the closing costs. A “refundable pad” or “buffer” is used in making these final adjustments and unused money is refunded to the Buyer/Borrower. 


After the Buyer signs the loan documents, when will the escrow close? 


After signing the loan documents are returned to the lender for review and the loan funding is scheduled. The Escrow Officer will be working closely with the Lender to coordinate the scheduling of these final details. Typically the escrow will close two to three days after signing of loan documents. 


When can the Buyer receive the keys and who will provide them to the Buyer? 


When the Escrow Officer confirms that the recording is completed, the Real Estate Agents are notified and keys are distributed by the Real Estate Agents in accordance with the terms of the purchase contract.