Opening Escrow

The selection of the escrow holder is normally done by agreement between the parties to a transaction. Typically, the escrow is then opened by the real estate agent. Which agent (the “seller side” or the “buyer side”) will open the escrow is generally determined by local practice.

Escrow may be opened via telephone, email, or in person, depending upon the preference of the agent and which options are available through the escrow company. An escrow file number is assigned and the appropriate information is entered into the computer. Upon issuance of the escrow file number, the escrow officer will order a Preliminary Report from the title company selected.

The escrow officer will need some basic information in order to open and proceed with the escrow:

  • Correct street address, and parcel # if available
  • Sales price
  • Full names of all parties involved and marital status
  • Contact information for all parties
  • Existing lender name, loan number, contact information and approximate unpaid balance
  • HOA (Homeowner’s association) information, such as address and dues
  • HOA management company information (if any)
  • Commission amount and additional conditions

In general, the first item to enter the escrow is the buyer’s initial deposit. The escrow file will grow, item by item, until all of the conditions have been met and the escrow is ready to close.


A “red flag” is a signal to pay attention! The items below are some of the items which may cause delays or other problems within a transaction and must be addressed well before the closing.

  • Bankruptcies
  • Business trusts
  • Clearing liens and judgments, including child or spousal support liens
  • Encroachment or off record easements
  • Establishing fact of death–joint tenancy Family trusts
  • Foreclosures
  • Physical inspection results–Encroachment, off-record easements
  • Probates
  • Power of Attorney–Use of, proper execution Proper execution of documents
  • Proper jurats, notary seals
  • Recent construction
  • Transfers or loans involving corporations or partnerships
  • Last minute change in buyers
  • Last minute change in type of title insurance coverage