Do You Get an Escrow Timeline from Your Sacramento Listing Agent?

Escrow Timeline

There are certainly pros and cons to sending an escrow timeline to my sellers, yet, I continue to do it. Because the timeline is important. Despite drawbacks. Not only do I rely on the escrow timeline to keep me on schedule but my sellers do as well. I refer to that document over and over in my digital file throughout the transaction. I also forward a PDF file to my sellers so they have the same information available to them. Further, the timeline answers all those questions about what happens after the contract ratification. What happens when we are in escrow?

I also send the escrow timeline to the buyer’s agent, just in case that agent has not hired a TC (transaction coordinator). Personally, I don’t know how any agent can get by in the Sacramento real estate business without a TC. Way back when, I initially charged my clients the TC fee in addition to the commission, but that is a practice I abruptly halted. When I look at how much I earn, I decided I earn enough. There was no need to pass on additional expenses to my sellers. That’s nickel and diming. Being cheap. I’m not a cheap agent nor a cheap person. For at least the last decade, I absorb the cost for a TC on my sellers’ behalf.

My fabulous TC sends the escrow timeline to me almost immediately upon signing the contract. It lays out the following dates:

Date of contract acceptance. You would think this is a no-brainer but it is definitely not. You would not believe how many agents do not know what constitutes the date of contract acceptance. It is the date of receipt by the party noted for delivery. Could be the buyer or the buyer’s agent. Some agents don’t fill in their name in that space either, which then means the buyer needs to acknowledge receipt.

Verification of down payment and closing costs. Often this information is included with the purchase contract but not always. Sellers are entitled to receive documentation showing the buyers have the money required to close escrow.

Buyers initial deposit due in escrow. Generally, the buyer has 3 days to deliver the deposit to escrow. Our preferred title company will send a messenger to the buyer’s agent’s office to pick it up or it can be wired directly to escrow. Buyers are encouraged to contact escrow directly for wiring information as there is so much wire fraud today.

Preliminary title report due date. This is not a due date we generally monitor because we don’t typically expect issues with a prelim. However, if a buyer or seller has a common surname, there will most likely be a requirement to complete a Statement of Information. This document asks for addresses and aliases over the past 10 years to rule out the possibility of judgments and liens found in the public records.

Seller disclosures to buyer. Some agents obtain seller disclosures upon listing, but I do not. The reason is they might be outdated by the time we go live in MLS or when the property sells. I prefer my sellers to provide the most current and up-to-date information available. I am also available for questions, and believe me, there are questions. Sellers make common TDS mistakes, for example.

Date buyer to remove inspection contingency. This is the single most important contingency release in the purchase contract. If we don’t get past this release, we aren’t moving forward. Paragraph 11 of the RPA states all homes are sold in an AS IS condition, yet even when buyers promise not to try to renegotiate, they can’t help themselves. Some knowingly enter escrow under false pretenses as well. Many listings agents, I hear, do not ask for an inspection contingency release, so when they are a buyer’s agent, they don’t understand why it is necessary. But Yoda says: necessary it is.

Date buyer to remove appraisal contingency. Knock on wood I haven’t had many issues with appraisals recently, but it is always possible to get a dingbat appraiser. It’s just one person’s opinion. Sometimes they are wrong and we get a low appraisal but it’s not often.

Date buyer to remove loan contingency. If the buyers are fully vetted upfront, the loan contingency removal should not be an issue. But many buyers are not fully vetted. They use agents-slash-mortgage brokers or they fill out a form online that gets tossed into the system without scrutiny. A competent mortgage broker usually closes escrow but competency is not always the norm in the industry. There are plenty of bad mortgage lenders to go around.

Walk through completed. This is not a date I ever hear much about as a listing agent because it’s the buyer’s final walkthrough. That can be scheduled anytime within the last 5 days before closing. Every so often I will hear from a buyer’s agent who expects all the parties to vacate the premises during the last 5 days of escrow. That’s when I explain moving early is not part of the purchase contract and the agents get ticked off.

Close of escrow. If escrow needs to be extended for any reason, sellers and buyers generally all sign an extension of time addendum. However, we do try to meet our target date. That date is “on or before” so we can close early without additional paperwork as long as all parties agree.

Hopefully you can see why this escrow timeline carries such importance. It’s doubly important that all parties agree and are made aware of these dates. So what is the downfall, you may ask? Well, ha, ha, the downfall is my sellers hold us responsible like never before. Although my TC always emails the buyer’s agent with a friendly reminder as to when the first release is due, agents might ignore that email.

You know who doesn’t forget about that contingency release due date? You’ve got it. The sellers! Since the Elizabeth Weintraub Team is always on the ball, that is not an issue for us.

Elizabeth Weintraub

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