How To Choose An Escrow Officer

Thai Yin

The process of choosing a local escrow officer can be overwhelming. First fees will need to be compared, along with additional charges that may apply for the service being provided. These extra fees are typically admin-related and can include faxing, copying, or even bank fees. As an example, if the buyer chooses to wire money into their account, then a service fee may apply.

Choose the cheapest and most reputable service provider by looking up ratings online, as well as using price comparison sites to determine what services are offered, the extra fees charged by each, the years in business and more.

Account holders can furthermore protect themselves by looking for the following qualities in the escrow officer:

  1. The escrow officer should be unbiased – meaning that only the terms of the contract should be considered, and not the independent requests of the principals involved. As an example, the officer cannot release funds to the seller of a home during closing, if the buyer hasn’t complied with the terms of the contract, or the seller for that matter.
  2. The escrow officer is a middle man – and should be chosen based on the consensus of both the buyer and the seller. A sales or purchasing agreement should furthermore be set up during this part of the transaction to protect both the buyer and seller – as a large sum of money is usually involved.
  3. A contract should be provided – following the setup of the account, an agreement will be issued at the same time as a reference for both the buyer and seller.
  4. Attention to details – is part of the escrow officer’s main duties, since each task is time-sensitive for all parties involved. The money deposited is tied up until all the terms of the contract are met, and as a result, the escrow officer must pay careful attention to details in order to expedite the escrow process.
  5. On-time payments – if the escrow is setup to handle real estate fees like the mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance or homeowner’s association fees for example, the escrow officer must ensure that the payments are made on time. This ensures that buyers will not be subjected to expensive late payment fees. The purpose of setting up these accounts in the first place is to ease the burden of the buyer and lower the fee on annual or semi-annual bills.
  6. Release of payments – if the escrow is setup for closing on a home, the funds should be released to the seller when all the agreements are fulfilled with. In addition, the title should be released to the buyer if this is the case.
  7. Not a legal service provider – the escrow officer must in no way provide legal advice to the inquiring parties. Instead, principals should seek out a real estate attorney should questions arise.

Transparency of Payment Fees – finally, before the escrow account has been setup, the escrow officer should outline all the fees associated with their service, so that principals can price compare and measure the cheapest or most expensive service in their locality.