What Is An Escrow?
An escrow is a process wherein the Buyer and Seller deposit written instructions, documents, and funds with a neutral third party until certain conditions are fulfilled. In a real estate transaction, the Buyer does not pay the Seller directly for the property.
The Buyer gives the funds to an escrow company who, acting as an intermediary, verifies that title to the property is clear and all written instructions in the contract have been met.
Then the company transfers the ownership of the property to the Buyer through recordation and pays the Seller. This process protects all parties involved.
The State of Arizona licenses and regulates all escrow companies. The Insurance Commissioner and the State Banking Department can inspect a company’s records at any time, providing further oversight of the company’s management and position as an impartial third party to the transaction.
In Arizona, escrow services are generally provided by a title insurance company instead of an attorney. The stability, reliability and performance of your title and escrow company are vital to protect the interests of all parties to the transaction.
How is an Escrow Opened?
Once the Buyer has completed the contract (or Purchase Agreement), and the Seller has accepted the offer, the Buyer’s Realtor® will open the escrow. The earnest money deposit and the contract are placed in escrow. As a neutral party to the transaction, First American can respond only to those written instructions agreed to mutually by all “interested” parties (Seller and Buyer).
The escrow officer orders the title commitment from our title department. Upon receiving this request, an examination begins of all historical records pertaining to your property. Barring any unusual circumstances, First American issues a commitment for title insurance indicating a clear title or items which must be cleared prior to closing. The Buyer receives a copy of the title commitment when we complete the title search.
One escrow transaction could involve over twenty individuals including Realtors®, Buyers, Sellers, attorneys, escrow officer, escrow technician, title officer, loan officer, loan processor, loan underwriter, home inspector, termite inspector, insurance agent, home warranty representative, contractor, roofer, plumber, pool service, and so on. And often one transaction depends on another.
When you consider the number of people involved in the escrow process , you can imagine the opportunities for delays and mishaps. So, much like an airline pilot can’t prevent turbulence during a flight, your experienced Realtor® and escrow team can’t prevent unforeseen problems from arising. However, they can help smooth out the bumps and get you safely through to a successful closing.