Questions Answered

ESCROW

What Is Escrow? What is an escrow agent?
Your escrow agent is as a disinterested, neutral, third party that can fairly assemble and distribute the documents and funds. The escrow agent is called “disinterested” because they act strictly under guidelines set forth by the State of Washington. They don’t represent the interests of either the buyer or the seller.
Why do I need an escrow agent?
Imagine that you’re the buyer of an expensive property. The bank calls to ask if you’ve got the $50,000 ready to complete the transaction. But you know that you’re supposed to pay $70,000 to cover the bank loan AND an agreed pay off of another loan. As the buyer, it may be in your personal interest to say something like “sure…here’s your $50,000” and hope that the extra $20,000 gets lost in the paperwork somehow.
Now picture you’re the seller in the same transaction. The bank calls you to say that the buyer has provided the needed money and everything is ok. So you sign over the title to the property. Then you discover that you’re missing $20,000 AFTER you’ve given legal ownership of your property to the buyer.
You can see how this sort of thing can be a real mess. The escrow agent is the neutral party that doesn’t benefit from either side of the transaction. They get paid to insure that the whole sale is done fairly and in accordance with the law.
How does escrow work?
The escrow process follows a strict path that’s defined by law.
Who pays for escrow?
The escrow fee is typically split equally between the buyer and the seller, but other arrangements can be specified in yourPurchase and Sale Agreement. In a VA transaction, the entire cost of the escrow is paid by the seller. The escrow fee is paid when the transaction closes.

CLOSING

What is “Closing”?
Closing takes place when all the conditions of the transaction have been met and the title has been transfered to the buyer. When the property closes, the deal is done!
When will my property close?
The closing date is negotiated by the buyer and seller back when the transaction is first initiated, but many things can push back the closing date. Delays are often caused by slowdowns in the loan process, so it’s a good idea to keep in contact with your lending institution, just to make sure things are proceeding as expected.
When do I sign the closing documents?
The closing documents are typically signed about two days before the actual closing takes place. You’ll be contacted by All City Escrow to schedule the signing after all the required documents have been received from your lender.
What if I can’t make it to the signing?
If your plans change or something comes up it’s very important that you contact All City Escrow as soon as possible. Even if you’re called out of town it may be possible to complete the closing by assigning a Power of Attorney.
Is there anything I should do to make sure the transaction closes on time?
The best thing you can do is just “keep up” with the process. If you receive any requests for information please reply as soon as possible. Buyers should keep in contact with their real estate agent and their loan officer to monitor progress. Sellers should make themselves available to answer questions and complete paperwork. IMPORTANT! Your marital status must be on the Purchase and Sale Agreement. If it isn’t, you need to contact your Lender and Escrow Agent well in advance of closing.
How will I know when the transaction has actually closed?
When the actual closing completes, All City Escrow will call the Buyer, Seller, and all the Agents involved. The Title company will inform us when the actual transfer takes place.

SIGNING THE PAPERS

How much money should I bring to the signing appointment?
The completed paperwork from the Lender will provide us with the exact amount that’s required at closing. When we schedule thesigning, we will inform you of this figure so the Buyer can bring a cashier’s check.
Can I pay with a personal check or cash?
No. You have to bring a cashier’s check drawn on a Washington state bank payable to “All City Escrow Trust Account”. Alternatively, you can transfer funds electronically via bank wire. Please let us know in advance if you plan to do an electronic fund transfer so we can help with all the specifics.
What else should I bring to the signing appointment?
The closing documents need to be notarized, so you will need a valid picture identification. A current driver’s license is sufficient.
How long does the signing appointment take?
You should allow about 30 minutes to an hour if you are the Buyer, and about 15 to 30 minutes if you’re the Seller. However, more complex transactions may take a little longer.

TITLE INSURANCE

What is title insurance, and why do I need it?
Title Insurance verifies that the Seller actually owns a clear title to the property being sold. Lenders require title insurance, and buyersare wise to insist on it. You don’t want to discover later that someone else owns half your new home!
What title insurance company should I choose?
The Buyer can technically choose the title insurance company.  But your real estate agent and/or All City Escrow may suggest companies that they are familiar with. The Title Report can delay the closing if it’s not prepared properly in a timely manner, so it’s important to have a title insurance company with a proven track record.
Who pays for the title insurance?
Title insurance fees are negotiated in the purchase and sales agreement. Typically the Seller pays for the Owner’s policy and the Buyer pays for the Lender policy.

OTHER QUESTIONS

Should we continue to make loan payments on the house we’ve just sold?
Yes. Continue to make payments until you are notified by All City Escrow. Part of the escrow process is allocating the principle and interest from existing loans properly.
When do we get the keys to our new house?
The Buyer’s real estate agent will usually deliver the keys after the official closing date.
What do I do about the utilities?
The Seller will need to provide All City Escrow with account numbers from all the “lienable” utilities. The Buyer is responsible for calling and opening utility accounts for their new home.
Our new house has a leased water heater.  What happens to that?
Any leased equipment is normally paid off at closing, but the specific handling of these items will be defined in the contract when the real estate transaction is begun.