Norton Network - For Homes & Loans

Common Questions

The Escrow Process

Your escrow is opened shortly after you execute the purchase agreement to sell your home.  It cannot be successfully completed until all escrow instructions have been complied with and all parties have signed escrow documents.  The length of escrow can range from a few days to several months, depending on the terms of the purchase agreement.


Often, the real estate agent opens the escrow for you.  As soon as you execute the sales agreement, the buyer’s agent will place the initial deposit into an escrow account.  At the opening of escrow, you may be asked to provide identification information such as your birth date and social security number.  This information remains confidential.


Unless the buyer is paying all cash, the next step will be for the buyer to select a lender and apply for a mortgage loan.  Your real estate agent will keep you informed of the buyer’s loan progress.

The loan(s) on your property will be paid off at the close of escrow, unless the buyer takes over your existing loan(s).  It is important that you still make your mortgage payments so that you do not damage your credit by incurring late fees.

Also, it is very important for you to provide complete information on each loan against your property as soon as possible so the escrow officer can order loan payoff demands.  The information should include the name of the lender, the lender’s address and phone number and your loan number.

If your property has a Homeowner’s Association, you may be asked to provide the name, address and phone number.


Signing Escrow Instructions

Your escrow officer or real estate agent will contact you to make an appointment to sight your escrow instructions and your grant deed.  At this time, the escrow officer will inform you of the estimated amount of proceeds you will receive from the sale of your home.

At your appointment, it is important that you bring either your valid drivers license or passport so that signatures can be notarized.

When the buyer’s loan is approved, the loan documents are sent to the escrow officer.  When the buyer has signed loan documents, the escrow officer will give them to the lender for a final review.  The review usually occurs within a few days, after which the lender advises the escrow officer that the lender is ready to fund the loan.  If all conditions of the escrow have been satisfied, the escrow officer will inform you of the date the escrow will close and will take care of the technical and financial details.

The Close of Escrow

Close of escrow signifies legal transfer of the title and occurs when your grant deed is filed with the county recorder.

Your escrow officer will prepare a final settlement statement and transfer the proceeds of the sale.

After your existing loan is paid off, your lender is required by law to issue a full reconveyance (release of their loan).  The deed of reconveyance will be recorded and the original returned to you.

Title Insurance


Title insurance, unlike other forms of insurance, such as automobile or life insurance, involves a one-time premium, which insures against previous actions resulting in a compromise of the integrity of your real estate ownership.

When your escrow closes, the title company issues a policy of title insurance to Buyer.  An additional policy insuring the new lender is often issued concurrently.


The title company conducts a thorough search and evaluation of the Public Records, looking for situations that may cloud the title to your new home, such as:

  • Are all taxes and special assessments paid?
  • Does anyone have special rights to the property that would limit your ownership?
  • Has the death of a former owner or the filing of a will affected title to the property?
  • Are there undisclosed heirs or spouses of the seller?
  • Are there any lawsuits or claims recorded against the property itself, or suits or judgments filed against the seller?


Claims that cannot be discovered by examination of the Public Records called “hidden risks” could arise long after you’ve purchased the property.

Here are just a few of the most common hidden risks that can cause a loss of title or create an encumbrance on title:
  • False impersonation of the true owner of the property
  • Forged deeds, releases or wills
  • Other types of fraud
  • Undisclosed or missing heirs
  • Instruments executed under invalid or expired power of attorney
  • Misinterpretation of wills
  • Deeds by persons of unsound mind
  • Deeds by minors
  • Deeds by persons supposedly single, but in fact married, or have registered domestic partners
  • Liens for unpaid estate, inheritance, income or gift taxes


Title insurance involves a one-time premium, paid when you close the real estate transaction.  Who will pay the premium is negotiable between the parties, but the typical breakdown is shown on the following page.


By obtaining a title policy from a reputable Title Company, you are backed by the strength and security.

Loan Process

The key to the loan process going smoothly is the initial interview.  At this time, the lender obtains all pertinent documentation so unnecessary problems and delays may be avoided.  The Realtor opens escrow with the title company at this time.

Within 24 hours of application, the lender requests a credit report, an appraisal on the new property, verifications of employment and funds to close, mortgage or landlord ratings, a preliminary title report and any other necessary supporting documentation.

Within one to two weeks, the lender begins to receive the supporting documentation.  As it comes in, the lender checks for any problems that might arise and requests any additional items needed.

Once all the necessary documentation is in, the loan processor assembles the loan package and submits it to the underwriter for approval.

All parties are notified of the approval and any loan conditions that must be cleared before the loan can close.  The loan approval is the beginning of the closing process.

Within 1 to 3 days after the loan approval, the loan documents (including the note and deed of trust) are completed and sent to the title company.  The Escrow Officer will make an appointment for the borrowers to sign the final documents.  At this time, the borrowers are told how much money (if any) they will need to bring in to close the loan. Payment is usually made by a cashier’s check.

Once all the parties have signed the loan documents, they are returned to the lender who reviews the package.  If all the forms have been properly executed, a check is issued to fund the loan.

Upon receipt of the loan funds, the title company will record the legal documents necessary to transfer the property into the buyer’s name.  At the same time, the deed of trust is recorded to show the new loan on the property.  Escrow is now officially closed and you now own your home!

Inspection Process

During the contingency period, your Realtor will order physical inspections as specified in your purchase agreement. Legislation mandates, (under civil code 1102), that the seller has the responsibility to reveal the true condition of the property on a disclosure statement.  This may help you determine what kinds of property inspections you feel are desired or necessary.  Your Realtor will help you arrange for these.

A licensed inspector will examine the property for any active infestation by wood destroying organisms. Most termite reports classify conditions as Section I or Section II.

Section I conditions are those currently causing damage to the property.  These conditions generally need to be corrected before a lender will make a loan on a home.  The seller generally pays for the inspection and any Section I repair work.

Section II conditions are those not currently causing damage but which are likely to, if left unattended. Costs for repairs are generally negotiated.

A soils engineer will perform an inspection of the soil conditions and the stability of the ground beneath the structure, as well as research past geological activity in the area.  Typically, the buyer pays for this inspection.

This inspection encompasses roof, plumbing, electrical, heating, appliances, water heater, furnace, exterior siding, and other visible features of the property.  A detailed report will be written with recommendations, often times the recommendation is to consult a specialist (such as a structural engineer).  The buyer usually pays the inspection fee.

Your Purchase Agreement will specify who is responsible for the costs of inspections and for making any needed corrections or repairs.  The cost is negotiable between the parties and should be considered carefully.  Your Realtor will advise you what is customary and prudent.