DOES YOUR LENDER OR REAL ESTATE AGENT ATTEND YOUR ESCROW SIGNING APPOINTMENT?
Think of this. A first time home buyer is told by their real estate agent or lender to withdraw a substantial part of their savings and to give it to a person they have never met and to sign their name on documents that would make them in debt for 30 years! How crazy is that not to have someone there with them they know and to answer any questions they may have. Unfortunately, it happens all of the time. As many of you are aware, I was an escrow officer for 30+ years. In all of those years, I can count the number of times on two hands when the Buyer’s lender or real estate agent attended the escrow signing.
The job of the escrow officer is not to inform the Buyer of all of the terms which are contained in the loan documents. That is the lender’s duty.
The job of the escrow officer is not to advise the Buyer (or the Seller) of the terms and conditions contained in the purchase agreement. That is the real estate agent’s duty.
Why then, do these two parties, who are so important to a real estate transaction, not take the time to attend the escrow signing? Well, the answer is not an easy one. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 years ago, when all of the title and escrow companies were trying to one-up their competition, someone had the great idea to take the burden off of the lender or the real estate agent to attend the escrow signing. Since that date, it is very rare to have either a lender or a real estate agent attend an escrow signing. I applaud those who do attend signings. Title and escrow companies shot themselves in the foot all those years ago.
If you have had to sign real estate loan documents recently, you saw a stack of papers about an inch or more thick. The escrow officer does his/her best to give you the basics of the loan you are agreeing to repay over the next 30 (or less) years. But let’s face it, the escrow officer does not know what terms the buyer and the lender agreed upon and cannot make any changes to the loan documents. When a buyer or borrower has a question, it is not unusual for the escrow officer to let the buyer/borrower know they must ask their lender. This answer only serves to irritate the buyer/borrower.
The same holds true for the real estate purchase agreement. The purchase agreement is prepared by the real estate agent and in some cases by an attorney. The escrow officer must use the purchase agreement as the basis for the escrow instructions. So, if questions arise about something contained in the purchase agreement, or an amendment to the purchase agreement which was never given to the escrow officer, or a verbal discussion between the Buyer, Seller and their respective agents, invariably the escrow officer will again ask the Buyer or Seller to contact their agent for clarification. Again, the Buyer or Seller becomes irritated because the escrow officer does not have the answer. If the real estate agent had attending the signing, the question could have been answered by the agent.
The time for change is needed. Ask your lender and real estate agent to attend your escrow signing. It will make you feel more comfortable, and your lender and real estate agent may gain a bigger respect for the job that the escrow officer does.
About Suzanne Tikker
Suzanne Tikker joined Haedrich & Co., Inc. with 33 years of experience as an escrow officer and 2 years as a residential lender. Her background in escrow and lending has proved to be invaluable in overseeing the complex contracts, purchase agreements, leases, and escrow transactions of the office. Suzanne is also a licensed real estate salesperson. This experience, along with her expertise and professionalism make Suzanne a valuable asset to the company and the commercial real estate clientele we serve. Suzanne is also very involved in the North State Escrow Association, as well as the Exchange Club of Redding.