Monday, February 6, 2012

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Escrow

First Time Homebuyer Word of the Day is Escrow

In a recent episode of the Emmy award winning television show, Cash Cab, several people with stumped by the acronym, FSBO. This is a often term often used in the real estate world to describe a person selling their home by owner (For Sale By Owner). As a REALTOR® I was a bit surprised that such a simple term I use everyday would be unknown to so many. But then it got me thinking of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.

There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next few weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:

Escrow This term can be confusing as it is used a few different ways. In some states, going into escrow is defined as the period of time after the purchase agreement is signed but prior to closing. In Minnesota we call that time period, pending, not escrow.

In Minnesota, the term escrow means funds held by a third party for a future payment. The most common time a first time buyer hear the term used is in regard to the required funds held in escrow by their mortgage company on a monthly basis to cover the taxes and property insurance for the home. This amount will be added to the monthly payment and the mortgage company will be then responsible for making the payments directly to the insurance company and the county for taxes. Putting funds into escrow is not required for all buyers. If a significant down payment is made at the time of purchase, a lender will not require funds to be placed in escrow for taxes and insurance. A buyer can then pay their insurance company and county directly.

There is another time when funds may be placed in escrow. There are some instances where essential repairs cannot be made prior to closing. In this instance, a mortgage company may allow funds to be place into the title company's escrow account on the date of closing and held there until the repairs are made. It is now rare that a mortgage company will allow this; usually only in the case of off season weather where it would be impossible to make the repair such as installation of a septic system or cement driveway in the winter. 

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm 

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