Like most things, professional escrow services are something that can be accomplished with skill and convenience, or a little less gracefully. Not all escrow services are the same.
What Do Professional Escrow Services Do?
There are some basic duties that all escrows should do for your transaction.
Firstly, they serve as a neutral third party. An escrow service isn’t anyone’s representative protecting their own interests first, they protect all parties involved equally. The escrow agent cooperates with the buyer and seller, plus any real estate agents, loan officers, mortgage brokers or funding lenders, assisting in any way possible. An escrow agent’s loyalty is to the proper execution of the transaction.
Your escrow agent will also set up an escrow account, with the permission of both buyer and seller. This could be a purchase and sale (or “earnest money”) agreement or a loan application from a mortgage lender.
For each transaction, a unique set of escrow instructions is created. The escrow agent creates a document that conforms to the needs of the specific transaction. This document helps ensure that funds or property doesn’t change hands until all of the listed conditions of the transaction are complete. With an escrow your documents and financial assets are guarded in safe keeping.
If a business or property has any bills due during the escrow period, the escrow officer arranges payment. When dealing with real estate, the officer provides an accounting of the escrow transaction using a statement known as a Truth in Lending Real Estate Integrated Disclosure form (TRID).
What Does a Good Escrow NOT do?
Professional escrow services are not attorneys and cannot practice law. They cannot negotiate your transaction. They cannot tell you whether you’re getting a good price or a valuable investment. If you need legal advice, be sure to contact a lawyer.
How Can You Know If Professional Escrow Services Are Top Quality?
Answering your calls and emails is important, and doing it fast is important too. When first contacting your escrow service, how quickly do they respond? Because of the central role in your transaction that your escrow officer plays, you’ll want them to be responsive and available to you in a reasonable time frame. A fast reply time is an important feature of a quality escrow officer.
Reputation isn’t something your escrow does for you, it’s something their past customers do for them. If this company’s past customers are taking the time to describe what their experience was like, it’s worth listening to. In life, people are often fast to give negative reviews and complaints. When multiple people dedicate their time to complimenting a service provider, it’s worth listening to their thoughts.
With a complex transaction, you only want to work with someone that treats you with patience. Someone who explains anything you have questions about, and speaks to you with respect. Good communication is a large part of any interaction, but especially a large transaction. Be sure you’re comfortable with your escrow officer’s communication style.