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The concept of a mortgage is quite simple. It’s basically a loan for a home wherein the property itself is used as collateral. Securing a mortgage, however, can be complex. The process may take more than a month, as several parties – from the escrow officer to the loan underwriter – work behind the scenes to put it all together. A trusted real estate agent can recommend a reputable mortgage broker or lender and help you navigate through the process.
Although it’s not the most talked-about aspect of buying a home, escrow is nonetheless a vital component of a successful transaction. Escrow is an arrangement in which a neutral third party holds onto funds and key documents involved in a home sale, and then distributes them according to the agreement between the buyers and sellers. The Escrow period begins when a seller accepts a buyer’s offer, and ends at the closing table. Purchasing a house isn’t like buying shoes; there’s a lot of money involved, a lot of steps to manage, and a lot at stake. So the buyers and sellers don’t exchange money and documents directly with one another. They do it through the escrow account. Escrow ensures accountability. Buyers want to be sure all contingencies are met (inspection, title report, secured mortgage, etc.) before the sellers cash any checks. Sellers want to make sure they receive funds before they hand over the deed.
Title insurance is a policy that protects against financial loss stemming from problems found in a property’s title, or legal ownership. As the buyer, how do you know the seller really owns the property? How can you be sure there are no liens, such as from unpaid taxes and lawsuits, or undisclosed heirs who might claim ownership? The answer lies in the title search. A good title search generally turns up these types of issues. And a good title insurance policy will protect you should they arise during your ownership.