Opinion: What you need to know for a successful real estate transaction

Real estate transactions can be complicated, especially when it comes to titles and escrow. The home-buying process involves numerous steps, documents and parties that you have to work with.

As a professional in the industry with over twenty years of experience, I know that two of the most crucial aspects of any real estate transaction are title and escrow. So why are title and escrow so important? Well, for starters, they protect everyone involved in the transaction.
Buyers, sellers and lenders all have a stake in the sale, and title and escrow ensure that everyone’s interests are protected. They also help to prevent fraud and ensure that the sale is conducted legally and ethically.

Another benefit of title and escrow is that they streamline the real estate transaction process. By having a neutral third party manage the transfer of funds and documents, the sale can be completed quickly and efficiently. This is especially important in today’s fast-paced real estate market, where time is of the essence.

What is a title in the context of real estate?

In real estate, a title is a legal document that establishes ownership of a property or asset. It serves as physical evidence of your ownership rights to the property. You can obtain a title through purchase, inheritance or other legal means. A title can take various forms and can be transferable.

What is the role of an escrow company?

The escrow company plays a critical role in any real estate transaction. They manage and oversee the entire process from the time a seller accepts an offer to the time the buyer takes possession of the property. The escrow company is responsible for securing and managing all funds, instructions, documents, down payments and insurance policies involved in the transaction. They ensure that all conditions of the sale have been met and manage the disbursement of funds at closing.

What are the typical steps involved in the title and escrow process?

Once an offer is made and the purchase agreement is completed, the escrow is opened.
Then, deposits and any other payments can be made.

The buyer must wait for bank approval, secure financing, complete inspections and perform last-minute walk-throughs to ensure all necessary documents and requirements are being processed. The title process begins, including the preparation of title commitments or preliminary reports, other documents needed at closing and the clearing of any liens or encumbrances.

Once the title process results in a clear-to-close status, the escrow company creates a schedule of fees. All the relevant documents must be signed and notarized, funds are disbursed and the documents are recorded both in the county and local recording offices. Finally, the buyer takes possession of the property and the transaction is completed.

How does a title search ensure the property is being sold without liens or encumbrances?

It involves checking all public records and the history of the property to pull all relevant information and legal documents that can help find issues, defects, liens or encumbrances. A clear title is crucial to ensure a seamless transaction, and a title search helps to address any potential issues before closing.

What are some common challenges that can arise?

One of the most common issues that can arise during the title and escrow process is the discovery of unknown liens on the property. Escrow companies can address these issues by running a title search and pulling all relevant records.

In most cases, these issues can be resolved before closing, ensuring a successful transaction.

How has technology impacted the industry?

Technology has disrupted the title and escrow industry in a positive way, making the process smoother and quicker. Compared to the old-fashioned way of doing things, technology has allowed companies to educate clients and make them more aware of how technology can help them through the process.

Why is a clear title transfer important for both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction?

Having a clear title is essential in a real estate transaction. It means that the title does not have any issues or liens and is free of ownership. It can make the entire process seamless and ensures that both the buyer and the seller have peace of mind.

In summary, title and escrow are vital components of any real estate transaction. As a real estate and title expert, it is essential to work with a reputable and experienced title and escrow company. Doing so can help ensure a smooth and successful closing process and can protect all parties involved in the transaction.

Whether you are a buyer, seller or lender, the importance of title and escrow cannot be overstated. So, when it comes to your next real estate transaction, make sure you have a trusted team of title and escrow experts by your side. Your investment depends on it.

Rachel Luna is the agency development manager at Patriot Title.

This piece was originally published in the April/May 2023 issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read the full issue, click here.