Escrow as a Helpful Tool for Different Transactions

An escrow is a financial instrument that enables a third party to hold money on behalf of other parties to a sales contract. Documents and money are disbursed under the terms of the contract and by an escrow officer or another official or entity.

Features and Parties Involved

This can be a document, deed, money, or bond that is kept by an independent party until the terms of the agreement have been met. This is a useful instrument for borrowers, creditors, sellers, and buyers who want to ensure that the terms and instructions specified have been followed. The escrow officer prepares, signs, and delivers the instructions on behalf of the parties to the contract. They are called principals. In real estate transactions, the broker is responsible for providing the required information. The escrow is closed only after all conditions have been met.

The officer follows instructions, responds to inquiries and requests, pays bills, and handles paperwork. He or she is usually selected by the principals or by a real estate broker. This is normally an experienced and competent professional. The officer is not a lawyer, and persons who need legal advice should use the services of an attorney. By the same token, the officer is not there to interpret and explain loan agreements, title reports, and other documents. The officer only follows instructions until the transaction has been completed. The timely closing depends on the parties to the transaction. They should respond quickly to requests for information and additional documents. The principals must submit the required paperwork and deliver the funds. At closing, they receive the statements, title policies, checks, and closing papers. It may take a couple of days to complete the transaction. For example, checks can take several days to clear and in some cases – several weeks. The closing statement is an important document. It shows the funds credited or deposited to the principals’ accounts, the sales price, the cost of products and services, the payoff on liens, and other information. The principals receive an itemized statement, which outlines the financial details of the transaction. The principals should keep all paperwork, along with the closing statement, for tax purposes. Note that the fees vary because they are not regulated by the authorities. Things such as recording and lender’s charges and hazard and title insurance are included in the cost.

Escrow in Real Estate

Estate transactions usually involve a lot of paperwork and large amounts of money. The escrow ensures that the financial institution deposits the loan amount in the borrower’s account and the deed reflects ownership. The officer must collect the instructions and agreement and assign an account number to the escrow. The buyer should order a title search and title insurance. The instructions and agreement should contain provisions for repairs, funding, home inspection, appraisal, flood and home insurance, and more. There are fees to be paid and tasks to be completed before the deal can be closed. The seller, for example, is responsible for resolving any claims so that the title is cleared. Paperwork to go through includes the deed of trust, title reports, settlement sheet, rental agreement, tax statements, and inspection reports. At closing, the funds are disbursed, and the seller receives payment. The deed is recorded in the new owner’s name.

Other Types

Escrow is used in different fields, including automated banking, online commerce, and class actions. ATMs and vending machines are two examples. In online transactions, funds are held by a third party as to protect the seller and buyer. The funds are released and disbursed once both parties have confirmed the transaction. In general, it is used for international transactions and secure payments. The seller is paid only after the buyer confirms that the product or service is delivered and the inspection period expires. There are verification rules and procedures to protect buyers and sellers from fraudsters. Buyers can return a purchased item in case it is of low quality or is fraudulent. The buyer must accept the merchandise within a specified period of time, claim non-delivery, or return it.

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