What exactly is an escrow? 

An escrow is an independent “stakeholder” account and is the vehicle by which the interests of all parties to the transaction are protected. Your escrow is created shortly after you execute your contract to purchase your home. The escrow becomes the depository for all monies, instructions and documents pertaining to the purchase of your home. Some aspects of the purchase are not part of the escrow. For example, the buyer and the seller must decide which fixtures or personal property items are included in the purchase. Similarly, loan negotiations are between the buyer and the lender. Your real estate agent can guide you in these non-escrow matters.

How does the escrow process work? 

The escrow is a depository for all monies, instructions and documents necessary for the purchase of your home, including your funds for the down payment and your lender’s funds and documents for the new loan. The escrow officer takes instructions based on the terms of your purchase agreement and your lender’s requirements. The escrow officer can hold inspection reports and bills for work performed as required by your purchase agreement. Other elements of the escrow include hazard insurance, title insurance and the deed from the seller to you. Escrow cannot be completed until the instructions (requirements) have been satisfied, and all parties have signed escrow documents.