Congratulations! You’ve accepted an offer for your property and now you’re in escrow! What is escrow and how can you make the process smooth? Commonly, it is the period of time after the Buyer and Seller agree on terms and conditions (a ratified offer), until the time that the Buyer actually owns the property. In Northern California, most escrows are handled by the Escrow Department of a Title Company. This is different than Southern California where they are usually two separate companies.
Although more activity in escrow is from the Buyer’s side, the Seller’s do have some matters to address during this period. They need to make sure their property is title free of unexpected liens or encumbrances and clear up any issues that may exist. They need to work with the escrow officer to order the loan payoff(s). They need to repair and/or correct any defects specified or agreed to prior to close of escrow (like having the home tented for termites or having the local fire department test the smoke alarms for location and function). Sellers also need to schedule movers and/or final cleanup of the property prior to the closing date.
Unlike other parts of the country, in Northern California the close of escrow is usually a bit anti-climactic. Most closing documents are signed 2 days to 2 weeks prior to the actual close. If the Buyer is not taking possession that day, it really feels anti-climactic. Closing documents are usually signed individually, i.e., the buyer, and/or the Agent, and/or the Lender meet with their escrow officer separately from the sellers and/or the Seller’s Agent to sign their papers. Attorneys can also be present at the closing if the Buyer/Seller insist. Like most other areas in the process of completing a property sale, the more pre-planning you do, the smoother the process is – including escrow.
For more information about Title and Escrow, visit the link below and download the Orange Coast Title Buyer & Seller Guide.