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Let's talk about "escrow". When you're closing on your new house, an escrow holder is used to guarantee the process will close appropriately and in a specific time frame. When payment is held by a third party in a transaction between a buyer and a seller, it's in escrow. For example, in a Web purchase, PayPal is the neutral third party that holds the buyer's cash, and then disburses the money to the seller.

The escrow agent makes sure that all terms and conditions of the seller's and buyer's agreement are completed prior to the sale being finished. This includes receiving payments and paperwork, completing required forms, and obtaining the release documents for any loans or liens that were cleared with the transaction, assuring you have a clear title to your home before the asking price is fully paid.

These are the legal documents that escrow agents usually compile:

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

Upon completion of all portions of the escrow, closing can take place. All expenses like title insurance, inspections and real estate commissions are paid. You'll then receive the title to the house and the title insurance gets dispersed as agreed upon in the escrow instructions.

When closing is finished, you'll submit a payment to the escrow company. You'll know when it's time to submit the form of payment.

The Escrow Holder Will:

  • Assemble escrow guidelines
  • Request title search
  • Comply with the bank's requirements as written in the escrow agreement
  • Accept funds from the buyer
  • Prorate interest, insurance, tax and other payments according to instructions
  • Record deeds and other paperwork as instructed
  • Request title insurance policy
  • Close escrow when all terms of agreement of seller and buyer have been finished
  • Disburse funds and finalize instructions

The Escrow Holder Won't:

  • Give advice - the escrow agent must stay at a fair, third-party status
  • Give insight about tax implications
The Escrow Holder Will:
The Escrow Holder Won't:
  • Prepare escrow guidelines
  • Petition title inquiry
  • Meet the bank's requirements as written in the escrow agreement
  • Accept funds from the buyer
  • Prorate interest, insurance, tax and other payments according to guidelines
  • Record deeds and other legal documents as instructed
  • Request title insurance policy
  • Close escrow when all terms of agreement of seller and buyer are complete
  • Disburse funds and finalize instructions
  • Advise you - the escrow company must maintain a neutral, third-party status
  • Offer opinions about tax implications

Mortgage Escrow Account

Often, to pay recurring costs while there's a loan on the house, a Mortgage Escrow Account is created. Escrow Accounts are contributed to monthly by the home buyer (who is now the homeowner), but there is also a lump sum that goes into the account at closing.

Once you're familiar with the escrow process, you can be a better buyer.

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