Escrow, Inspection and Appraisal
In Southern California an escrow company (sometimes a division of a title insurance company) is used in a sale transaction, not an attorney. It is the duty of the escrow company to maintain neutrality in the transaction, to hold the buyer’s good faith deposit and to handle the closing funds. The escrow officer will order the title insurance, and homeowner documentation if required, and prepare escrow instructions to mirror the accepted offer. He or she will be in communication with the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent and the lender to see that the terms of the offer are carried out to the satisfaction of both sides. The contract terms cannot be changed, once ratified, unless both parties agree.
Title insurance is essential so that you as the buyer can be sure that the title to the property is free and clear of encumbrances by the date of closing and that all new encumbrances are properly added to the title. Some properties are subject to restrictions which limit various activities, such as building or parking restrictions. There may be recorded easements and encroachments, which limit the rights to use your property. You will have the right to approve the title report within the contingency period.
Once your offer is accepted by the seller, you will have the option of choosing a property inspector to inspect your new home within the contingency timeframe in the contract. We will accompany you to the house for the inspection, and the inspector will give you a summary at the end of his evaluation, which will take an average of 2 to 3 hours, depending upon the size and age of the property. You will receive a full written report shortly thereafter. We can give you recommendations for qualified inspectors in the area. Once you receive the report, you may want to discuss it with us; we will prepare a repair request for you if this is necessary, for structural, code or safety related items.
To protect its investment, your lender will order an appraisal of the property. You and we will know the results of the appraisal within a few days after the appraiser’s visit. We will maintain frequent contact with your lender and keep you updated as to loan processing progress. You should expect to be signing loan documents several days before the closing date. It is important that you select a reputable lender who is easily accessible as well as efficient. We can make recommendations if you would like.
You will need to purchase homeowner insurance before your transaction can close. Your lender will require this; the insurance protects you as well as your lender and is extremely important. Again, we can make recommendations for insurance companies should you need this assistance.
We will help you through all facets of the home buying process. You may have many questions, especially if you have not bought a home in California before.
(For more information, please see “Buying a Home in Southern California” in this website.)