The Escrow Process
What happens after an offer is accepted?
Buying or selling a home can be full of complications and many home buyers and sellers do not fully understand the process. You need to work with a professional Realtor that will assist you and educate you every step of the way. After a buyer and a seller establish terms and conditions for the transfer of ownership, escrow will be opened. This is achieved by the Realtor providing the escrow company/officer the residential purchase agreement, any supporting documents as well as all parties contact information. Escrow is a independent third party which takes instructions based on the purchase agreement and the lender’s requirements. Their job is to see the parties in the transaction are protected and to make sure they have all the required paperwork to close the transaction. The length of an escrow varies and is determined by the terms in your residential purchase agreement. It can range from a few days for a cash deal to several months. The average length of an escrow is 45 days. The escrow officer’s duties include but are not limited to:
- Serve as a neutral agent and the liaison between all parties involved.
- Prepare wiring instructions for the earnest money deposit and prepare escrow instructions.
- Request a preliminary title search to determine the status of the title to the property.
- Comply with the lender’s requirements as specified in their instructions.
- Receive and handle purchase funds from the buyer.
- Prepare or secure deed and other documents related to escrow.
- Prorate taxes, interest, HOA fees, trash service fees and rents.
- Request HOA demand.
- Secure releases of all contingencies or other documents imposed on escrow.
- Request the deed and any other required documents.
- Prepare HUD statement. (detailed closing statement of buyer’s and seller’s credits and debits)
- Close the escrow pursuant to the instructions supplied by the seller, buyer and lender.
- Record the transaction with the County.
- Disburse funds as authorized by the instructions, including charges for title insurance, recording fees, real estate commissions and loan payoffs.
- Prepare final statements for all parties involved that account for the disposition of all funds held in the escrow account.
This is only a partial and basic list of what the escrow officer is responsible for during the escrow process. We will summarize below what to expect as a buyer and as a seller.
Congratulations, your offer was accepted and your agent will be opening escrow to handle the closing. The first thing to expect as a buyer is to furnish your earnest money deposit as indicated in the residential purchase agreement. Once the escrow officer opens the file she/he will send out wiring instructions. Once the earnest money is received a receipt will go out to all parties involved. Within a few days your opening package should be completed and will include your preliminary title report, escrow instructions and some transaction specific forms. These forms may include personal information data forms, statement of identity, affidavit of marriage, lender information, etc.
While you work with your agent on inspections and your lender on your mortgage, the escrow officer is hard at work making sure they have all of the required documents needed to close the file. When your file is ready to close you will receive a HUD-1 statement outlining your loan terms, closing costs, money due and pro-rations. You will have a required 3 days to review this statement and sign off on it. When you are ready to close you will sign all the required documents and wire your funds in. The file will be sent out to record after an audit of the file and confirmation the funds have been received. Once recorded the home is officially yours and you will receive keys to your new home.
You had an offer accepted and your Realtor has opened escrow. The escrow company will send out an opening package withing a couple days of receiving the buyer’s deposit. You will be required to provide specific documents to your escrow officer including loan information, personal data sheets, statement of identity as well as other miscellaneous documents. During the escrow process you may be required to pay upfront for a HOA demand letter. This letter shows all association account-related balances and transfer fees to be collected at closing, along with closing instructions.
As you work with your agent on inspections, disclosures and resale packages, your escrow officer is hard at work making sure they have all of the required documents needed to close the file. You may be asked for additional information/documents during this time. When your file is ready to close you will receive a HUD-1 statement outlining closing costs, money due/owed and pro-rations. You will have a required 3 days to review this statement and sign off on it. You will be required to sign a stack of paperwork. When the buyer’s funds are received and everything is signed the officer will send the file out to record. Once recorded the escrow officer will disburse the file.
The escrow process should go smoothly but there may be bumps along the way. Provide your escrow officer everything that is requested in a timely fashion. They work hard to keep schedules and time is of the essence. Work with a professional, experienced Realtor such as The Sales Team to assist you throughout the entire process. If you have any questions or if you are ready to purchase or sell a home contact us at your convenience. We look forward to working with you.
The Sales Team
*some information provided by Fidelity National Title