First thing to address here is that there are different functions in different parts of the country. Since I have always worked my 43+ years on the west coast I am going to address that approach. Here we deal with both Escrow companies and Title Companies. Actually they are most often, but not always, the same company with two distinct roles. I believe that escrow companies, pretty much nationwide, are very similar. The big difference is between the roles that the title company, or title company branch of the escrow/title companies play. I will not address the Midwest or east coast role as I have never been a part of any transactions in those areas but it deals more with the direct involvement of attorneys.
On the west coast, there are attorneys involved but they are on staff at the title/escrow company and their major role is in title examination and subsequent underwriting for title insurance policy that is normally done to insure safe and researched chain of title to a particular property. To buy a property without having this title search and subsequent title insurance policy is like playing Russian roulette with one of your largest assets.
But our topic here is the escrow function. I have heard escrow officers describe their role as collecting and disseminating documents and cash from buyers, sellers and usually lenders. Getting appropriate signatures and then making sure all parties get copies of those signed documents, disperse cash according to the directions of the principles and then recording appropriate deeds. The Escrow Companies are Neutral third parties that help facilitate the real estate transactions with the Realtors, Sellers, Buyers, Mortgage Brokers, Lenders and any other party that may be a part of the transaction.
Can you just imagine the lack of credibility or confidence in the correct procedure if a real escrow professional was not in the middle keeping things straight!?! We Realtors depend upon these escrow officers to keep the whole transaction held together, organized and finally tied up with a big red bow at the signing as a precursor to the actual closing (recording of the deed).
I, personally, count on my longtime favorite escrow officer Tara Riesterer with Fidelity Title in Albany to keep my head on straight. I never have to micromanage her part of the transaction. I describe myself as lazy and prone to choosing co-workers who I know will do their part of the transaction without my meddling. Tara has always done just that. AND then there is always her big smile and personal interaction with myself and my clients at the final signing. The icing on the cake!
I was recently given a good article by another great title company here in town, Ticor Title which has some Keys to a Successful Escrow Closing which you might find helpful too:
If you have any more questions on the process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!