The Escrow Process of Buying Our First Home

by Erika Torres

ee625328c6524480a449e7a0407f8da0Once we decided to make an offer on our first home and it was accepted, the next step was the actual home buying process.

Our offer was accepted on October 25, and the seller had lofty goals of closing by November 21st, due to Thanksgiving plans. Spoiler alert: That didn’t happen, but we were pretty darn close. And by most standards, our escrow process was pretty quick.

This is how escrow went while buying our first home.

How Escrow Went On Our First Home Buying Experience

At the beginning of escrow, everything was flowing smoothly. Eric and I fell into these roles unintentionally where he would communicate with the realtor, and I would communicate with the mortgage broker.

When it came time to submit all the finances for our loan, I was ready. I had all our documents scanned and filed easily. I had heard nightmares from people who had to turn in the same documents over and over to their loan officer, or were constantly being asked for obscure files. So I was prepared.

But imagine my surprise when I submitted all our paperwork on Friday, and we had official loan approval by Monday.

Why It Pays to Save Big

Over the next couple of weeks, there were only a couple of times they asked for more documentation.

For example, even though they asked for the most recent saving account statements, which was September, we had a lot more money in our account, and the loan officer wanted to know where that money came from.

I told them: “Well, there have been two pay cycles since then..that’s from our paychecks.”

It was nice to have them see how much we were able to save per month.

What is Escrow?

I never fully understood what escrow was before we bought our first home, and I’m not sure I still quite get it, but basically, it’s a mutual third party that is hired to handle all the house buying stuff and to transfer the funds and house titles between the two interested parties.

So instead of us and the seller meeting in a parking lot and we hand him money and then he hands us the title of the loan, we go through an escrow officer.

Personally, I think the parking lot idea would be a lot cheaper, but you know, escrow ensures that he doesn’t try and run away with your money instead of handing over the title of the house. So I guess that’s worth their fee…

The Escrow Process

This is the general process we went through:

  • Escrow Opens
  • Loan Process Begins
  • Inspection
  • Decide on what the Seller will fix according to the inspection, and what he will give credits for
  • Appraisal
  • Sign ALL the documents (takes about an hour)
  • Termite Inspection and Fixing
  • Loan finally goes through
  • Final Walk-Through of the House
  • Transfer of utilities and keys
  • Escrow closes

It’s a lot of steps to go through, especially during such a tight timeline and we were seriously running against the clock to try and get this all done before Thanksgiving.

Eric and I had more arguments during the final two weeks of escrow than in the past six months, so that should tell you something about how stressful this process can be…

To be continued…

Read Part I: We Bought a House! 
Read Part II: How We Decided to Buy Our First Home


marilolym@gmail.com December 10, 2014 - 9:50 am

love that you outlined the process – – i’ve been curious for awhile. i’m in the process of saving as much as possible in order to put down the largest down payment i can whenever the time comes to move out of nyc cuz lord knows i’m not buying ever in this crazy expensive city since i’m not a gazillionaire 🙂

Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 9, 2014 - 6:41 am

I never fully understood it either. They always seem to skip that part in House Hunters. 🙂

Revanche December 8, 2014 - 3:42 pm

Congrats on making it through! I was surprised by the reams of documentation required to make it through escrow, myself, and the amount of paperwork they expect you to sign at closing *without* reading it. Ours took more than an hour before I refused to just sign every page, and that was a good thing because the title company had slipped in an upsell on title insurance that was totally unnecessary and I would never have agreed to.

Jocelyn @ Bacon Payoff December 8, 2014 - 2:42 pm

Squeee! So exciting! Ok, well maybe the escrow is a bit boring but Squeeeee!!! New house!!! We have totally been house lusting and I think I’m going to shift more money into saving for a house rather than pay off my student loans earlier, so I am eagerly watching all your new house posts. Congrats again!!! 🙂


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