Welcome or Register
Back to Table of Contents

The Functions of an Escrow

Buying or selling a home (or other piece of real property) usually involves the transfer of large sums of money. It is imperative that the transfer of these funds and related documents from one party to another be handled in a neutral, secure and knowledgeable manner. For the protection of buyer, seller and lender, the escrow process was developed.

As a buyer or seller, you want to be certain all conditions of sale have been met before property and money change hands. The technical definition of an escrow is a transaction where one party engaged in the sale, transfer or lease of real or personal property with another person delivers a written instrument, money or other items of value to a neutral third person, called an escrow agent or escrow holder. This third person holds the money or items for disbursement upon the happening of a specified event or the performance of a specified condition.

Simply stated, the escrow holder impartially carries out the written instructions given by the principals. This includes receiving funds and documents necessary to comply with those instructions, completing or obtaining required forms and handling final delivery of all items to the proper parties upon the successful completion of the escrow.

The escrow must be provided with the necessary information to close the transaction. This may include loan documents, tax statements, fire and other insurance policies, title insurance policies, terms of sale and any seller-assisted financing, and requests for payment for various services to be paid out of escrow funds.

If the transaction is dependent on arranging new financing, it is the buyer’s or the buyer’s agent’s responsibility to make the necessary arrangements. Documentation of the new loan agreement must be in the hands of the escrow holder before the transfer of property can take place. A real estate agent can help identify appropriate lending institutions.

When all the instructions in the escrow have been carried out, the closing can take place. At this time, all outstanding funds are collected and fees- such as title insurance premiums, real estate commissions, termite inspection charges- are paid. Title to the property is then transferred under the terms of the escrow instructions and appropriate title insurance is issued.

Payment of funds at the close of escrow should be in the form acceptable to the escrow, since out-of-town and personal checks can cause days of delay in processing the transaction.

The following items represent a typical list of what an escrow holder does and does not do:

THE ESCROW HOLDER:

  • serves as the neutral “stakeholder” and the communications link to all parties in the transaction;
  • prepares escrow instructions;
  • requests a preliminary title search to determine the present condition of title to the property;
  • requests a beneficiary’s statement if debt or obligation is to be taken over by the buyer;
  • complies with lender’s requirements, specified in the escrow agreement;
  • receives purchase funds from the buyer;
  • prepares or secures the deed or other documents related to escrow;
  • prorates taxes, interest, insurance and rents according to instructions;
  • secures releases of all contingencies or other conditions as imposed on any particular escrow;
  • records deeds and any other documents as instructed;
  • requests issuance of the title insurance policy;
  • closes escrow when all the instructions of buyer and seller have been carried out;
  • disburses funds as authorized by instructions, including charges for title insurance, recording fees, real estate commissions and loan payoffs;
  • prepares final statements for the parties accounting for the disposition of all funds deposited in escrow (these are useful in the preparation of tax returns).

THE ESCROW HOLDER DOES NOT:

  • offer legal advice;
  • negotiate the transaction;
  • offer investment advice.

Your local title company should be happy to provide additional information.

Article by CLTA

Back to Table of Contents
agent photo

Shawn Ramsey
Brokers Real Estate
1602 Forest Glen Ct.
Pantego, TX 76013
Office: 682-233-0224
Cell:    817-360-9045
Email: sramsey@dfwbre.com

Testimonials

"Shawn made buying my first home a breeze! He took the headache out of all the paperwork, the inspection process, and the endless search for the perfect house. In two weeks of working with him, we found exactly what we were looking for. He is knows the ins and outs of foreclosures. I'm thankful for the referral! " Jennifer Shoemaker
"Hey Shawn! I was just thinking about you today because I noticed it was the 23rd - its been 4 months since we've closed. I can't believe its already been that long. I don't know if I thanked you enough for everything you did for me and Josh. So, here's another "thank you." We were pretty clueless on the process because it was our first home purchase, and you made us feel so comfortable. We love our house! Our summer was sort of crazy, so we're still making it our "home." But its still wonderful even if I still have some boxes here and there. Anyways, I'll let you go because I know you're busy busy! Oh, thanks so much for the fridge! You saved us some money and shopping! Thanks again for everything!!" Julie Calahan
"We were relocating from Pennsylvania to Dallas and had a very short window in which to find a house. We selected online the houses we wanted to see prior to our arrival and Shawn arranged and mapped out three days worth of houses to view. By the time we left we had a house. While still in Pittsburgh Shawn helped us finalize our closing from a far and assisted us with finding numbers to utility companies and or anything we needed. We have moved every year for the past 5 years and this by far was the best experience yet!" Withheld
"Shawn was extremely helpful, efficient and organized. He respected our busy schedules, only requested necessary information and worked well with our schedules to assist us in finding the perfect home." Rick Ybarra
"It was a great experience. Shawn was an outstanding communicator and went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable throughout the process. He kept our best interest in mind at all times and made the purchase of our home the easiest real estate transaction we've ever had. Simply outstanding." Chris Hill
"He worked with me very well and explained how the purchase process works." Withheld
"I can't begin to tell you how FANTASTIC Shawn is! Shawn always had my best interests in mind. He never tried to force anything on me and ALWAYS told me when things weren't up to par. I grew to trust and value Shawn's opinions and expert knowledge of not only the real estate biz but also this neighborhood and the real estate market. I was totally terrified of buying a house by myself, but Shawn was there by my side from the beginning to the end and STILL called to check up on me after we closed. Explaining every step (over and over sometimes) and calming my fears... Shawn was great. Thanks for SUCH a great time Shawn. I'm almost sorry that we're done buying a house! :-) It's been a great pleasure working with you and getting to know you!" Brenda Schumacher
"There were difficult situations that popped up and Shawn was always knowledgeable and available at all times to solve the problem." Withheld
View All

ABR - Accredited Buyer RepresentativeEqual Housing OpportunityMLS membershipREALTOR® certificationYahoo® Real Estate Classifieds