The earnest money deposit is an important part of the home buying process. It tells the seller you are a committed buyer, and it helps fund your down payment.

Like many professional agencies like engineers, doctors and lawyers, escrow firms are regulated in a variety of ways. This is a good way to keep the general public from being scammed, cheated or taken advantage of by an unscrupulous Realtor, bank, selling or buying party.

In the great state of California, every escrow company falls into one of two types: "Licensed" or "Controlled." The California Department of Business Oversight provides the imprimatur of a license to independent businesses like Sterling West Escrow, which allows the enforcement of stringent requirements enacted by the lawmakers to protect people in one of the largest financial transactions they'll ever make.

Escrow AccountWhen buying a home, there are many steps and important tasks that must be undertaken prior to finalizing the transaction. Not following the proper procedures or neglecting any requirements can have a significant impact on what could be a fairly smooth process.

Keeping track of all the procedures can be overwhelming for the layperson. Fees must be paid for various services related to the purchase, documents gathered by both buyer and seller, and funds secured from the buyer and held until they are transferred to the seller on closing day. The process is complicated and time consuming for any parties that aren’t conversant with the intricacies of a real estate deal.

Buying a HouseAnyone who has ever purchased a house is familiar with the number of documents that must be signed in order to complete the transaction and obtain the keys to the property after the escrow process is finalized (read more on how to choose a trustworthy escrow company first). First-time buyers, however, are often surprised by the amount of paperwork that is involved and may be confused about the purpose of each document. Buying a house in Los Angeles is certainly very exciting. Still, it is important to know what to expect in terms of necessary paperwork in order to be sure you are fully prepared for the process you are about to undertake.

Phishing scams are a problem in the real estate community - read what the California Escrow Association has to say about the importance of implementing preventative policies so it doesn't happen to you!

Base RatesReal estate transactions involve large sums of money and collateral property. They are subject to legislative statutes, local ordinances, case law and physical inspections. These deals usually also involve credit checks, employment verifications and asset evaluations. Needless to say, all parties involved, i.e. buyers, sellers, borrowers and lenders, must fulfill their respective contractual obligations before funds are disbursed and property is conveyed. Because of all these variables, another party is contracted to hold deposit and loan funds, releasing them only when agreed-upon duties are performed. This final player is known as the escrow agent, whose own performance is governed by the escrow agreement.

Title InsuranceAnyone considering buying a home knows it is a huge decision, especially in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the mortgage process and what it means when a real estate transaction is in escrow can be very confusing to prospective homeowners. Because of the complications and mystery surrounding the process, it is not uncommon for people buying a house to be caught with high interest rates and fees that they were previously unaware of.

When looking to buy a house, many people take out a loan. It is uncommon for people to pay for houses up front, simply because today’s housing prices are so high. When you take out a loan from the bank in order to buy a house in Los Angeles, it is so you can pay the sticker price of the house. However, the price of a house is not the only cost associated with owning property. You pay these additional costs on a monthly basis, as well as interest on the loan you took out. In the real estate world, all of your monthly mortgage costs are commonly referred to as “PITI.” Many times, funding for your PITI payment is placed in an escrow account, which the bank withdraws money from each month. Below, we break down this acronym into simpler terms so that you can understand exactly what your real-estate agent or escrow agent is referring to when they use this acronym.

Closing CostsBuying a house in Los Angeles is an expensive process. You have the large lump-sum of your down payment, the 30 year (in many cases) monthly mortgage payments you will have to make that include interest, taxes, insurance, and principal repayment AND you have the closing costs. You’ve heard of these, but what exactly contributes to these costs? Well, if you’re not sitting down, you should be. The following is a long list of hidden fees that can make up the expensive closing costs that are part of buying a home. Some are small, while others are more substantial. Whatever the case, it is important to know exactly where your money is going.

Sterling West Escrow News


Wire Fraud and Related Risk Management Issues

Wire Transfers a Target For Fraud

All the newsletters I read on a regular basis do pay off. Lately, I have been reading increasingly about wire related fraud. Because knowledge is power, I want to share what I am reading about and how we and other escrow companies are working to protect our clients. Caution: Fraud related to banking and online transmissions is constantly evolving, so this is a starting point, not an end point.