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How Escrow Works

Your offer's been accepted and you're in escrow. Now what?

What is Escrow?

Escrow is the neutral third party acting on behalf of the buyer and seller. Escrow compiles and processes all the elements of a real estate transaction. They prepare documents, clear title, exchange funds, process payoffs and record documents. This includes responding to lender requirements, obtaining approvals of reports and documents as required in the contract, and prorating insurance, taxes, rents and maintenance fees.

During the closing process, Escrow keeps all parties informed of the progress of the transaction. They also facilitate the signing of all documents by related parties. The purchase is officially closed when the new deed is recorded with the Bureau of Conveyances; ownership is then considered transferred from the seller to the buyer. Escrow makes the process as smooth and easy as possible by listening to customers, and clearly and effectively communicating back to all parties involved to mitigate confusion and questions. By eliminating guesswork from the transaction, Escrow makes the entire process as pleasant and error-free as possible.

What does Escrow do for me?

Escrow staff work as a neutral third party whose purpose is to follow the instructions laid out in the real estate contract and successfully close the transaction. Escrow takes direction from the real estate contract to which all parties have agreed. This includes ensuring that no money changes hands until all contingencies have been met and title is clear. Typically, the cost of escrow is divided evenly between the buyer and the seller. Escrow fees are part of the closing costs listing on the closing disclosure.

What is a mobile notary or mobile closing?

It is common in many markets for escrow companies to provide the convenience of a mobile closing. In the days before the transaction closes, both the buyer and seller will need to sign documents. A mobile notary will meet you at your home, office or another location that is convenient for you to sign these documents. This eliminates the need for the buyers and sellers to drive to the nearest escrow office.

I will be out of town for the closing. How will escrow handle this?

The first solution to this is signing a power of attorney to give the power to someone you trust to sign the closing documents on your behalf. A limited power of attorney can limit their power to sign only documents for a specific transaction. Alternatively, documents can be emailed to the buyer, and the buyer can overnight the signed originals to the escrow team a few days prior to closing.