What is escrow?

So, The Swan House is finally, really ours.

The escrow process was excruciating. For those of you who may not know, escrow is the part of a legally binding transaction where a trusted third party is contracted to manage documentation and the transfer of funds between two (or more) parties of differing interests. In real estate specifically, escrow ensures

  • a contract regarding the condition, sale, and transfer of property is established and adhered to by all parties involved,
  • that funds for the purchase of said property is transferred from the buyer(s) to the seller(s), and
  • that titles and deeds (is there a difference?) are transferred to the appropriate party/parties and publicly recorded.

All of that is to say that escrow is around to make sure the sellers get what they want, the buyer gets what they want, that at the end of the day it’s all legally binding, everyone is (more or less) happy, and that it’s all a matter of public record. It’s…extraordinarily complicated. Incidentally, escrow is also the cause for the deforestation of the world’s rain forests. I’m positive our relatively short escrow period consumed several reams of paper.

There’s tons I don’t know about escrow (I was confused for most of the process, let’s be honest) and I’m sure it involves a lot more than what I’ve listed above. If you want to know more, Google it. Wikipedia isn’t entirely reliable, of course, but this wiki article helped me get some understanding of the process that caused me to lose sleep at night and time at work.

I’m told our escrow was relatively painless compared to what it might have been. There wasn’t any litigation and besides the need for a couple of extensions due to repairs that had to be done, most everything happened on schedule. The problems we did have were due to dealing with government agencies (The Swan House was a Fannie May foreclosure and our loan was funded by the USDA) and the fact that the company that did our escrow work is over 300 miles away. Escrow and Title is usually something that happens locally; it’s just easier to do business face to face. Instead, we were all communicating via e-mail with people we’d never met and who, really, could care less about our case. Their caseload priorities were established upon the nearest close date and up to the very end, we weren’t high priority at all. When we were down to the wire, trying to close, it became a mad-scramble to get things done last second because they just didn’t prepare in advance.

It felt messy. We felt like things were completely out of our control because honestly—government agencies can do whatever they want, even if that means disregarding the contract that is supposed to be legally binding. There were times we felt neglected and taken advantage of. In the end, it all worked out—we got our house, everything was paid for, and we didn’t end up spending too much more than we expected.

Don’t get me wrong. Not everything went belly up. Our real estate agent, Sue, was amazing and fought for us every step of the way (I think she might have mafia connections, actually). She explained every bit of the process to us newbs, and looked out for our best interests. Our mortgage broker, Darryl, made sure that our loan file was pristine so that the underwriters and USDA had everything they needed to establish our loan.

(I still think these people are mad for loaning us this kind of money. Mad, I tell you.)

It was all so stressful. It’s amazing how life events reveal things about who we are in truth; Joel and I learned that we suffer from temporary bipolar disorder under extreme stress. TBD. Similar to SBD…but different. We said bad words, thought bad thoughts, and honestly considered telling the bank to take their foreclosed house and shove it in a very uncomfortable place on several occasions. In the end, it all worked out and God gets the ultimate praise for it. Finally, The Swan House is in our names and we have her keys.

Time to get our DIY on.

Joel started today by replacing the locks on all the exterior doors. He did such a good job. 🙂 The doors will eventually be replaced, but at least we know we’ll be safe and sound behind our dingy, dented doors—doors that we own. It’s legit.




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