Surviving Escrow: A Buyer’s Guide

Starting the home buying process is always exciting – you get to see lots of cool houses and imagine your life from a totally new viewpoint. But let’s face it: being in escrow is probably one of the most stressful 30 days periods of your life. Many buyers have no idea what they are responsible for doing during escrow and are not aware of the common issues that might arise. Things don’t always go as planned during escrow, but if you follow these simple steps, you can make sure that you have done everything possible on your end to ensure an on time closing.

  1. Take your Earnest Money Deposit (typically 3% of the purchase price) to Escrow. This needs to be done within 3 days of opening escrow.
  1. Pay your lender the “appraisal deposit fee”. This is typically the only closing cost that you pay up front, and your lender cannot schedule the appraisal without it.
  1. Schedule your inspections. Most buyers’ investigation periods are 10 – 17 days, so it’s important to schedule inspections as soon as possible after escrow has opened to insure that you have time to request repairs or additional inspections.
  1. If applicable, pull permits. Permits for repairs or additions to houses are part of the public record, so you can get copies of all permits on file even though you don’t own the house yet. Many buyers like to pull the permits to get more information about the history of the house they are buying.
  1. Review and sign your escrow packet. This will usually include your preliminary title report and vesting instructions (which allow you to chose how you would like the title to reflect ownership).
  1. Provide your lender with anything and everything they ask for!!
  1. Meet with an insurance agent and provide escrow with “proof of insurability”. This needs to be taken care of before your remove your buyer’s investigation contingency.
  1. Review and sign all disclosures. The seller will provide you will information that they know about the house, and your will receive a natural hazard report that gives you information about environmental hazards (flood areas, high fire zones, ect).

Sometimes, even when you have done everything you’re supposed to, your closing is still delayed. If this happens, try and keep your cool! Your agent will be working hard to resolve any issues that are holding up closing so that you can finally get the keys to your new house. Being in escrow may not be fun, but moving into your awesome new house will quickly erase the stress of the last month!

If you have any questions about surviving escrow or the home buying process in general, feel free to contact me.

About Kari Carson

Kari Carson (BRE# 01903828) is an agent with Partners Trust in La Canada, CA. She can be reached at (818) 424-5537 and