What is “Escrow?”

Webster defines Escrow as:
“A contract or other written agreement deposited with a third person, by whom it is to be delivered to the grantee on fulfillment of some condition…”

For a title and/or escrow company, their duty is to act as a neutral third party, they hold all documents and monies, until all of the terms and conditions in the contract have been met and the property is in title insurable condition. The transfer can then be made from the Seller to the Purchaser. Title companies do not work for the Seller or for the Purchaser. They are employed by both parties and act only upon mutually agreed upon written instructions. In Arizona, a title company, or an escrow company, rather than an attorney, serves this purpose.

Arizona does not perform “Table” closings. Title companies prepare the necessary documents, including the conveyance deed and Affidavit of Value to be signed far in advance of the actual closing date specified in the purchase contract, leaving last minute requirements such as loan documents and disclosures prepared by the lender to be signed just prior to recordation. When you arrive for signatures on lender and title company documents, it is usually the week of, or a few days prior to the recordation date referenced as the “close of escrow” on the purchase contract. In Arizona, “closing” or “close of escrow” is considered to be the recordation of all conveyance and loan documents. Some lenders may refer to “closing” as the day loan documents are signed. If you are obtaining a new loan, the signed loan package must be returned to the lender for review and subsequent funding of the loan. That process alone may take several hours or several days depending on the individual lender’s requirements. It is in your best interest to be in close contact with your REALTOR®, your lender and your title company two weeks prior to your scheduled close of escrow date to insure a timely close.

Upon the title company’s receipt of all “GOOD FUNDS” including but not limited to, Purchasers’ closing funds and loan proceeds plus the fulfillment of all conditions and contingencies, the documents are released for recording. Many title companies in Arizona, including Pioneer Title Agency, record electronically. Documents are scanned and transmitted to the County Recorder’s Office. Upon notification by the County Recorder that the documents have been recorded, all funds are disbursed and final closing packages provided to all of the parties. All closing funds must be in the form of either a Cashier’s Check or Certified Check, drawn on an Arizona banking or savings institution, or a wire transfer. Out-of-state or personal checks will not be considered “GOOD FUNDS” until the bank has been notified that the funds have cleared and are available for use. Depending on the type of check and the location of the bank or institution upon which the funds were drawn, this may be three (3) to ten (10) business days after the funds are deposited into escrow. Please plan ahead so that the necessary funds will be available at closing and the clearing of checks will not be an issue. Should you find that you have additional questions, consult your REALTOR® or Escrow Officer.