Now that both parties have agreed on terms and conditions, the transaction now proceeds to escrow. An escrow is a deposit of funds, a deed, or other instrument by one party for the delivery to another party upon completion of a particular condition or event. The escrow holder has the obligation to safeguard the funds and/or documents while they are in the possession of the escrow holder, and to disburse funds and/or convey title when all provisions of the escrow have been complied with.
The choice of the escrow holder is normally done by agreement between the principals and many times are based on the recommendation of the principals agent. However, it is the right of the principals to use any escrow holder they choose. One note here: to insure that the consumer is afforded the best possible escrow service without compromise, referral fees paid to agents is prohibited by law.
While your transaction is in escrow you will receive documents from an escrow officer that will require your immediate attention. Any delay in responding may cause a delay in the closing of your escrow. If you should have any questions regarding your documents, promptly contact your escrow officer for an explanation. Your escrow officer is not an attorney and will not give you legal advice. The escrow officer is there to follow the instructions given by the principals in the escrow. If you need legal advice, consult a lawyer.
While the escrow holder is busy doing their part, your agent will be busy doing his. Arranging inspections and appraisals, requesting repairs, reviewing reports, and assisting the escrow holder and you by working to overcome the numerous obstacles that can occur in order to expedite the transaction. Most escrows take between 30 to 60 days depending on the release of contingencies in the escrow instructions. When all of the contingencies have been satisfied and all documentation has been signed and finalized by all the principals, your escrow will “close” and shortly thereafter you can take possession of your new home! Good luck!
The California Escrow Association (CEA) maintains an excellent website that answers more questions about the escrow process than I could possibly address here. Visit www.ceaescrow.org