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In real estate, escrow refers to the process where one party (an escrow provider) keeps in its custody the money, deed, and important documents for a real estate transaction, releasing them once the requirements have been fulfilled by both parties. By being a neutral third party, escrow providers help protect both the buyer and the seller.


An escrow company is entrusted with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Escrow is a complicated process, and California escrow providers are regulated by state agencies. Choosing the right company to handle this part of your real estate transaction is an essential step in the process.


It is important to understand that the choice of which escrow company will handle the real estate transaction is between the buyer and seller. While an agent or broker can recommend an escrow company, the final choice is at the discretion of the buyer and seller. There are strict laws regulating escrow companies, and referral fees are prohibited.


In the end, an escrow provider’s job is to help ensure that the transaction is done properly, fairly, and that both parties are protected as much as possible.


The word escrow comes from the Old French word escroue, which meant a scrap of paper or roll of parchment. Since a deed of property ownership has been a piece of paper over the centuries, it is understandable that word evolved to describe the process of what we call escrow today.

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