Escrow Instructions and the Closing

There are a number of documents that you need to sign in order to finalize the sale of your house. The list below has been prepared by our experts to help you feel more confident with your closing.

1. Escrow instructions, if applicable

Escrow instructions are a consolidation of instructions from all parties involved in the sale that are needed to finalize the transaction. For those in California, typically your California CAR Residential Purchase Agreement is also the joint escrow instructions from the parties to escrow. Sometimes additional escrow instructions are needed to finalize the transaction. They are prepared by your Escrow Officer and signed off by you (the seller) and by the buyer.

2. Settlement statement and Closing Disclosure

The estimated ALTA settlement statement will reflect all the costs of the transaction and will show what your proceeds of the sale will be. In addition, you will also be asked to sign the Closing Disclosure: this document is regulated by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

3. Grant Deed

A Grant Deed is the document that transfers title of the property from you (the seller) to the new owner (the buyer). This document needs to be signed before a company-approved notary public, which is either your escrow officer or a Doma approved notary. You are required to supply current and valid identification to the Notary Public before you can sign the Grant Deed. Your escrow officer or real estate agent will contact you for an appointment to sign your escrow instructions and Grant Deed.

4. 593/1099-S/FIRPTA affidavit

Escrow is required by state and federal regulations to obtain additional information and forms from you. These forms may require you to seek counsel with your tax advisor or an attorney. Escrow officers are prohibited from providing you with legal advice regarding these forms.

The signing

For in-person signings, please bring one of the following forms of valid identification to your closing:

  • A current (non-expired) driver license
  • Passport
  • State ID Card

One of these forms of identification must be presented at the signing of escrow for the signature to be notarized. On occasion, funds may be insufficient to close escrow and you, the seller, will be asked to deposit money into the escrow account to complete the sale. Should this situation occur, you will need to obtain a cashier’s check made payable to the title company or secure a wire issued by your bank/credit union, in the amount indicated to you by your escrow officer.

Paying off your existing loans

To close the sale, escrow will facilitate the payoff of any existing loan(s) against the property. To ensure this is done accurately, you will need to furnish information about all existing loan(s) to your Escrow Officer and real estate agent. For each loan, please provide the name, loan number, and contact information for each loan’s lender. Your escrow officer will need this information to order the loan payoff demands so the loan(s) may be paid off correctly at the close of escrow.

Select form of escrow and closing payments

During the process of selling your property, you will be asked to fill out a property disclosure form that is required by law. In this document, you will inform the buyer of any significant facts you have about the condition of the property, including any homeowners’ association information. There will be various contingency dates in your real estate sales contract. You should be aware of these and work with your real estate agent to perform the required actions in a timely manner. Contingencies may include the buyer’s loan approval, approval of the preliminary title insurance report, and completion of structural, pest control, and other inspections.

This article is part of the Home Seller Guide.