Surviving the Escrow Process

Exactly what is Escrow? There is an episode of Friends (Season 10 Episode 14 to be exact), where Chandler and Monica are buying a home and they ask Joey to come and see the home.  The conversation went like this:

Joey: “But no, it’s not close. You said it was in escrow? I couldn’t even find it on the map.”

Chandler: “No Joey, escrow is… there’s money in… it’s not the bank exactly… I don’t know what it is.” (LOL!)

So it’s not just you, “escrow” is simply confusing, until now. Not only am I a Real Estate/Mortgage Broker, I ran an escrow desk at an independent escrow company in Southern California for 10 years. That was the best thing I ever did for my career, as I gained so much knowledge. I saw the BIG PICTURE, in volume. Not just 1 or 2 deals a month, but 35-45 deals a month. Here is what I learned about the principle, process, and purpose of escrow.

First of all “escrow” is a place (the escrow office) and  escrow is a process (when you are a party to a real estate purchase agreement you are in escrow). But in order to help  you  understand, let’s briefly touch on the principle, WHY escrow?

Escrow’s purpose to help two or more parties facilitate an agreement. So as the buyer or seller in a transaction, you open escrow in order to ensure that terms of the contract are met BEFORE anyone gets the money or the property.

As the Buyer, the escrow office makes sure the title to the property is clear, all the inspections you asked for are accounted for, that the loan documents are properly completed, and the documents needed to transfer title are properly filed. You have a lot of money on the line, escrow’s job is to make sure that they process the paperwork as needed to ensure everything is in order BEFORE the seller gets your money. As the seller, they make sure the money is good funds. The check is going to be held in escrow. If the check bounces you will be informed. So until all the funds are in escrow and those funds are good, the Buyer gets nothing.

Escrow is your friend. (I forgot to add that part).

So hopefully that sheds a little light on WHY escrow. So now that just leaves WHO, WHAT, WHEN, AND WHERE.  Below is a Basic Flow Chart.

The WHO in escrow, is the buyer and the seller. Is either party you are what is referred to as the principals to the Escrow. Escrow works for you, the principal, not your agent nor your loan officer, but you and the other party. Their job is not to take either the Buyer’s side nor the Seller’s side, but to help you both facilitate your agreement. You set the terms together, you can agree to change the terms, etc. and Escrow will assure you both comply with what you have agreed to. As a side note, if you both don’t agree, Escrow is stuck and cannot proceed. They are not licensed to practice law and cannot make a decision for you, but once you compromise Escrow will draw up new terms and get you both back on track.

Now WHAT? No really, now the WHAT. The “what” is the agreement itself. Every single escrow is different. When your agent opens escrow for you, you will be assigned a number. The escrow number, the property, the buyer, the seller, the price, and terms are all unique. Escrow reads your contract and what each party agrees to, so they now what they need to collect paperwork wise to ensure that those terms are met. Then they work with all parties, both buyer and seller, both agents, the lender, title, and anyone else they need to, to complete the file. They collect documents from everywhere. Once the file is complete you are ready to close escrow.

Escrow is open WHEN the purchase agreement and any counter offers or addendums are agreed upon and  closing occurs when the file is complete and both parties are ready to close. And WHERE is simply the Escrow companies, place of business. So that does it, your first lesson in Escrow 101. Check out the list of common documents collected.

Tezra Rogers is a Real Estate Broker/Loan Officer (CA DRE #01744515/NMLS #01466173) with 17 years experience and at last count, 816 transactions under her belt . Her clients become family, and in this house there is always room for more. You may contact her at trogers@pacificbayestates.com or at the corporate office in Suisun City, CA at 707.759.4251. Follow her on IG @pacbaybroker.


Home Shopping Tips…

So you are pre-approved, now for the FUN PART…SHOPPING!

Before you just hit the streets on a mad house hunting venture, you need to do some preparing. You don’t just want to pick up the phone, call the number on a sign, and venture out by yourself. Number 1, it is unsafe.  You also may waste a lot of time looking at properties that don’t meet your search criteria or price range.  Lastly, you appear unrepresented, which gives the seller the impression of having greater bargaining leverage than you.

BASICALLY, YOU NEED A PLAN AND YOU NEED REPRESENTATION.

Find a Realtor to REPRESENT you. As the Buyer, you are not paying the Realtor for their assistance, so why not take advantage of the expert services they have to offer. And you are going to be communicating with him/her A LOT, so make sure you choose someone that is not only professional, but easy to communicate with. You need to be comfortable. If you prefer texting, choose a realtor that is comfortable texting. If you have a stringent schedule, find someone that can accommodate that.

Then you and your Realtor will help you create a House Hunting Plan.

You need to shop within your BUDGET so establish that out of the gate. Try to avoid painting a picture in your head. The homes within your budget will never live up to it. If there’s a big discrepancy between (A) what you can afford and (B) what you see in your head, you’re going to have a long and frustrating home search.

Next, make a List of NEEDS and WANTS. The truth is you will never find a house that has EVERY SINGLE thing you want. You can find a home that has most of the things you want, and possibly all of the things you need. So flexibility is important.

In establishing your list, NEEDS are deal-breakers. Focus on the things you CANNOT change. You can change carpet and paint, down the road. So indicate the things that would be hard or impossible to change such as the location, the lot, the size of the home, etc. Examples of needs list items are:

  • The number of bedrooms
  • The number of bathrooms
  • Garage Spaces
  • Size
  • Location
  • Backyard

You’re well on your way! Here are some things to keep in mind as you start to look at homes:

Take pictures with your phone or digital camera of contenders. Make sure to note the address. When you get home you can review them, and compare the details of the home to assist in the decision process.

Bring your CHECKLIST with you. Use a separate checklist for each house, so you can make notes on them.

Don’t just focus on the home. Pay attention to the neighborhood as well. Does the house back up to a busy street? Can you hear the noise inside the home? Do the neighbors take care of the their lawns? Is there any major construction planned in the area? Remember, neighborhoods affect your property values.

Focus on the things you can’t change. This includes the size of the home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the lot, the view and the location. Don’t worry about the decor — you can change all of that. Who cares if the house has ugly wallpaper and carpet? You can change those things in a couple of days, and without a huge investment. Look beyond the surface.

House-hunting tip: Schools affect property values. Homes that are located within desirable school districts generally appreciate faster than comparable homes outside of those districts. The same goes for the desirability of neighborhoods. So start researching schools and neighborhoods in the area where you want to buy. Find out which ones are the most sought after.

Let your Realtor do their job. If you see a home, contact your agent. They will investigate the property to ensure it meets your criteria, as well as the loan program.

Whenever possible don’t schedule something right after your showing. You want to be able to take your time.

Be open and honest with your Realtor, it’s NOT their house. The input helps them perform their job as they get more familiar with your style and taste.

There are usually two rounds of house-hunting visits. The first time around, you’re looking at homes you may have pre-screened online. The goal is to create a shorter list of actual contenders. The purpose of the second visit is to decide if you want to make an offer for one of the contenders.

You won’t be as excited the second time you visit. You’ll be calmer and more analytical. This is a good thing. This is how you spot things you might’ve missed the first time around.

Once, you identify a home you want to make an offer on, your Realtor will work with you to draw up the necessary paperwork to make a formal offer. Not all offers are accepted, so don’t get discouraged. It will happen and then once you have an accepted offer, its on to the ESCROW PROCESS. WHOOT!WHOOT!

Tezra Rogers is a Real Estate Broker/Loan Officer (CA DRE #01744515/NMLS #01466173) with 17 years experience and at last count, 816 transactions under her belt . Her clients become family, and in this house there is always room for more. You may contact her at trogers@pacificbayestates.com or at the corporate office in Suisun City, CA at 707.759.4251. Follow her on IG @pacbaybroker.

I WANT TO…Research the Buying Process

Whether you are a first time home buyer or a repeat buyer, purchasing a home is always a stressful process. Sometimes the thought alone deters people. But the good news is that people do it all the time, and even better news – they survive.

I am a numbers person, so if you are like me, here’s some STATS for you.

The first step in any home purchase is identifying your personal goals. What are you trying to achieve? Being a homeowner is not for everyone – finances, timing, commitment, all play a part. So identifying what your homeownership goals are and how those goals will fit into your lifestyle will help you quite a bit.

Then there is the finance part (ugh!).

Renters Spend

Homeownership can be a huge undertaking, but it can also be very beneficial from a  finance point of view. According to research, over time, renting actually COSTS MORE!!

But that being said, you are visiting this page because for the most part you have decided that homeownership may be for you. So here are the basic steps and some resources to help you. And AS ALWAYS we are here to help. We believe in educating people about Real Estate, it’s the oath we took when we became Realtors!

STEP 1: You need to be PRE-APPROVED for a home loan. The loan officer will work with you to identify the best loan programs for you by analyzing your credit, income, down payment , etc. They are licensed professionals and can assist you with the numbers portion of the deal. The loan officer will help you establish a purchase price budget for your new home as well as give you a Pre-Approval letter that you will need to begin shopping.

Heads up, the loan officer will need to collect some paperwork from you. Below is a basic list of what you will need to gather up:

  1. Current Photo ID
  2. 2 Most Recent Paystubs
  3. 2 Most Recent W-2s
  4. 2 Most Recent Tax Returns
  5. 2 Most Recent Bank Statements

Also, here a few more links that might help you finance wise:

So now that you have Pre-Approval in hand, what’s next?

STEP 2: Identify your Real Estate Agent. So what does a Buyer’s Real Estate Agent actually do? In a nut shell, their job is to represent your best interests in the negotiation process of purchasing a home. The real estate purchasing process is a lot of things; stressful, paperwork intense, legally binding, etc. The agent’s job, as the professional, is to help you through all of that.

Once you establish who will be assisting you, you get to…

STEP 3: Start shopping for your DREAM HOME!!!

Here is where we cut this article. Stay tuned for SHOPPING TIPS and what happens once you find the home you plan to lay your head each night. That’s a whole other process called the ESCROW PROCESS.:) You’ll love it.

Tezra Rogers is a Real Estate Broker/Loan Officer (CA DRE #01744515/NMLS #01466173) with 17 years experience and at last count, 816 transactions under her belt. Her clients become family, and in this house there is always room for more. You may contact her at trogers@pacificbayestates.com or at the corporate office in Suisun City, CA at 707.759.4251.  Follow her on IG @pacbaybroker.

Real People helping Real People with Real Estate!

Pacific Bay Estates CA DRE #02014188·Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pacific Bay Estates, Inc., isn’t just another group of suit and tie real estate professionals. The Broker, Tezra Rogers, has been doing real estate for over 20 years and has closed over 15,000 transactions and counting.

At Pacific Bay Estates we understand that it is our job to help you, our client, navigate through the purchasing, selling, or borrowing process. And since each one of our clients are unique, you won’t get a cookie cutter approach from us. We can customize how we view houses, list houses, apply for a loan, etc. to meet your goals and still address your time and financial needs. We are technologically advanced, often casually dressed, flexible in order to accommodate your needs, and extremely knowledgeable. Basically, we work WITH you and FOR you!!

“The goal of Pacific Bay Estates is to bridge the gap, fill in those blanks, and basically educate our clients so that they may make personal real estate decisions more confidently.” – Tezra Rogers, Broker/CEO

As an equal opportunity housing provider, Pacific Bay Estates provides housing opportunities regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, familial status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

LICENSES: CA DRE #02014188/NMLS #1588532

Prospective agents seeking more information please visit our agent portal at pacbayre.com.