Berkeley & East Bay Area Real Estate Services For Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Oakland and Piedmont

Berkeley East Bay Realtor

The GRUBB Co. | Direct: 510.652-2133 ex. 444 | Office: 510.652.2133 | Email:

What You Need To Know About Escrow

When opening an escrow, the buyer and seller establish terms and conditions for the transfer of ownership of that property.
These terms and conditions are given to a neutral third party known as the escrow holder. The Escrow Officer, in turn has the responsibility of seeing that these terms of the escrow are carried out.

How does the Escrow Process Work?

The escrow officer takes instructions based on the terms of your purchase agreement and the lender's requirements. Other elements of the escrow include hazard and title insurance, and the grant deed from the seller to you. Escrow cannot be completed until these items have been satisfied and all parties have signed escrow documents.

What Does the Escrow Holder Do?

The escrow holder is a neutral third party that maintains the escrow and impartially oversees the escrow process, ensuring that all conditions of the sale are properly met.
Duties include:
  • prepare escrow instructions
  • request a preliminary title search to determine the status of title to the property
  • receive and handle purchase funds from the buyer
  • prepare or secure the deed and documents related to the escrow
  • prorate taxes, interest, insurance and rents
  • secure releases of all contingencies or other conditions imposed on the escrow
  • record the deed and any other documents
  • request the title insurance policy
  • close the escrow pursuant to instructions supplied by the seller, buyer and lender, if any
  • disburse funds as authorized by the instructions, including charges for title insurance, recording fees, real estate commissions and loan payoffs
  • prepare final statements for all parties involved that account for the disposition of all funds held in the escrow account
How Do I Open Escrow?

When your offer has been accepted, your real estate agent will open escrow. As soon as you execute the Purchase Agreement your initial deposit will be placed into an escrow account. Written evidence of the deposit is generally included with your copy of the sales contract. The funds will then be deposited in a separate escrow account and processed through your local bank.

What Information Will I Have to Provide?

You may be asked to complete a Statement of Identity used to identify yourself as the specific person involved in the transaction through such information as date of birth, social security number, etc.

How Long Is Escrow?

The length of an escrow is determined by the terms of the Purchase Agreement and can range from a few days to several months. The average escrow is usually 30 to 45 days.

Where Do I sign Escrow Instructions and Where?

A few days before closing your Escrow Officer or Realtor will contact you to make the appointment for you to sign your estimated closing statement, grant deed and final papers.

At Your Appointment
You will need
  • Identification - All parties - several acceptable forms of identification may be presented. One of the following must be presented at the signing in order for the signature to be notarized: a current driver's license, passport, State of California Department of Motor Vehicles ID card
  • Cashier's Check - Buyers - You will need a cashier's check or a certified check issued by a California or (your state) financial institution made payable to the Title company in the amount given to you by your Escrow Officer.
  • Lender's Requirements - Buyers - Check with you lender to make sure you have satisfied all your lender's requirements before coming to sign your papers.
  • Fire and Hazard Insurance - Buyers - You must have fire and hazard insurance in place before the lender will send money to the Title Company to fund the loan Escrow.
3070 Claremont Avenue, Berkeley CA | 1960 Mountain Blvd., Oakland CA
Direct: 510.652.2133 x444 | Email: