Escrow and Inspections

It might seem as though once a sale agreement has been signed that the selling process is complete. Not only is it not over yet, but some of the most complex aspects of a real estate transaction now begin. A sale agreement sets not only a purchase price for the home, but also a complex series of terms and conditions.  


When your offer has been accepted, escrow is opened and your contingency period begins. Escrow ends when title is transferred to you, and you become the new owner of the property. Escrow will usually take 30 -45 days.  This is the time that allows you to obtain financing, perform inspections and satisfy any other contingencies of your purchase agreement.


Now is the time to schedule a professional inspection of the property; it is one of the best safeguards you can take before buying. A home inspector should check (and may give you a rough price for repairs on) the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water  heater, insulation and ventilation, water source and quality, pests, foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors and roof. Keep in mind that the inspector isn’t there to tell you whether you’re getting a good deal. He or she is there to give you an educated opinion on whether the house is structurally and mechanically sound and fill you in on any repairs that  are needed. You may decide to do other inspections, such as roof, chimney/fireplace, property boundary survey, well, septic, pool/spa, arborist or mold.   


Obtaining financing might include loan approval, which will include an appraisal of the property. Also be prepared to make your down payment, which is usually due several days before the close of escrow. Keep in close communication with your lender, who will let you know when additional documents are needed to approve your loan application and fund your loan. The lender will often send an appraiser out to the property and you may pay a fee for this service. Appraisers are specialists in determining the value of properties, based on a combination of square footage measurements, building costs, and recent sales of comparable properties. When you are within two weeks of closing, double check with your lender to be sure the loan will go through smoothly and on time.   


Repairs that the seller may have agreed to do, such as termite work or other repairs are done at this time and are usually completed prior to the close of escrow.