You’ve likely heard the phrase “We are in escrow!” before, but what does it mean? It is always presented as though it is positive and as though a house purchase is a done deal. Both of these things are true, but you do need to understand the process in order to be adequately prepared when the time comes.
What is Escrow?
The escrow process puts your money in the hands of a neutral third party to complete part of the necessary financial process for you to close upon your home. An escrow account is required by many lenders in order to ensure that you are prepared to cover some of your home expenses once you take possession as this protects their investment.
What is the Escrow Process?
Typically, an escrow account is opened before you actually close upon your newly purchased home and at that time you are required to start adding funds to it. Typically, the costs you will need to place into an escrow account is the insurance, property taxes and sometimes the utilities. Here is the general escrow process:
- Around closing, your mortgage lender may require you to deposit the payments to cover at least one month’s worth of funding for the required expenses. Often, lenders ask for 2-3 months of payments.
- Your money will be protected with the third party that holds onto your money as they transfer it only to the lender for the pre-determined expenses on a set schedule.
- Once you take possession of the home you will be making flat rate monthly payments to cover your expenses (property taxes, insurance, utilities) and the lender will use the funds to pay the appropriate outlets directly. Many first time home buyers find this especially simple because it helps them manage their money. Typically, property taxes would be paid on a quarterly basis in a larger lump sum. Paying monthly into an escrow means that smaller amounts of money are automatically removed from a home owner’s account, so the process is budget-friendly!