Sellers / Buyers

Before putting your house up for sale or purchasing that dream home, take a quick look of some helpful tips in the Home Buyer and Seller section.

  • What is escrow?
  • What is Title Insurance?
  • The Buying Process
  • The Selling Process
  • Seller Usual Financial Responsibilities
  • The Mortgage Process
  • The Closing Process

What is Escrow?

An Overview of the Escrow Process
The word "escrow " is defined as follows: the state of a deed, funds, etc. put in the care of a third party until certain conditions are fulfilled. This is what takes place immediately after both the buyer and seller, assisted by a qualified Real Estate Agent, have agreed to the provisions of a contract and have signed that contract. The Real Estate Agent then takes the contract to a competent Escrow Agent and the work of transferring the title to the property begins. A complete search of public records pertaining to the subject property is made to determine if, in fact, that property has marketable title. Simultaneously, proper instruments are prepared, taxes are prorated, lenders are contacted, assumptions and/or payoffs are ordered and inspections are completed. The Escrow Officer and Real Estate Agent work together to compile all needed paperwork and funds essential to close the transaction in an orderly manner. When the closing date comes, the Escrow Officer is then ready to disburse funds to the proper parties and record the new documents of ownership. The sellers receive the funds due to them and the buyers legally own their new property, with the assurance that the title to that property is free of any defects. Peak Title gives that assurance by issuing a Title Insurance Policy.

Why do I need title insurance?

Owning real estate is one of the most precious values of freedom in this country. Get the assurance that the property you are buying will be yours. Other than your mortgage holder, no one else should have any claims or restrictions against your home.

Title insurance eliminates any risks and losses caused by faults in title from an event that occurred before you owned the property.

How does title insurance differ from other types of insurance?

Title insurance is different from other types of insurance in that it protects you, the insured, from a loss that may occur from matters or faults from the past. Other types of insurance such as auto, life or health cover you against losses that may occur in the future. Title insurance does not protect against any future faults.

Another difference is that you pay a one-time premium. A title insurance policy will protect you from risks or undiscovered interests.

There are two principal forms of title insurance:

  1. The lender's policy
  2. The homeowner's policy

What is a lender's policy?

A Lender's policy protects the mortgage holder. If there is a fault in title that results in a loss, the mortgage holder will be paid back.

What is a homeowner's policy?

A homeowner's policy protects you, the purchaser, against a loss that may occur from fault in your ownership or interest you have in the property. You should protect the equity in your new home with a title policy.

What does a homeowner's policy provide?

  • Protecting from financial loss due to demands that may be charged against the title to your home, up to the cost of the title policy.
  • Payment of legal costs if the title insurer has to defend your title against a covered claim.
  • Payment of successful claims against the title to your home covered by the policy, up to the cost of the policy.

What "hidden risks" are protected under a title policy?

  • False impersonation of the true owner of the property by the seller or other persons previously in title.
  • Forged deeds, releases and other documents.
  • Deeds by persons of unsound mind.
  • Deeds by minors
  • Invalid documents completed by an expired power of attorney
  • Invalid deeds delivered after the death of the grantor
  • Deeds by supposedly single persons but actually married
  • Fraud
  • Claims for unpaid estate inheritance and gift taxes against prior owners of your home.
  • Unrecorded easements - giving one party the right to enter another party's property
  • Undisclosed descendents of former owners of your home or the land on which it is situated

How long does my coverage last?

Once purchased, title insurance remains in effect for as long as you own your property. Title insurance adds security and peace of mind to homeownership.

How do I obtain title insurance and what does it cost?

Let the title company, attorney or agent handling the closing of your property know that you want to purchase an Owner's Title Insurance Policy. When choosing a title insurer, look for a company with experience, as well as the financial strength to protect you.

In most states, the insurance commission or some other governmental body controls the premiums for title insurance policies. You only pay the premium once. The cost depends upon the purchase price of the property, and your policy amount must be equal to the purchase price.

For an estimate of title insurance fees please contact us!

The Buying Process

  1. Select A Licensed, Qualified, Real Estate Agent
  2. Pre-Qualification By A Lending Institution
  3. Property Selection:
    • Resale
    • New Construction
  4. Offer To Purchase
  5. Present Offer To Seller:
    • Possible counter offer from Seller
    • Possible rejection from Seller
  6. Contract Acceptance By Seller:
    • Earnest Money Deposit
    • Inspection of property
    • Possible contingency after inspection
  7. Mortgage Application:
    • Credit Report
    • Appraisal of property by Lender
    • Verification of employment and financial background
  8. Underwriting:
    • Approval of mortgage application
    • Possible rejection of mortgage application
  9. Title Company:
    • Conducts Title Search on property
    • Reviews and prepares documents for close of escrow
  10. Walk-Thru
  11. Close Of Escrow
    • Signing of mortgage papers
    • Recording of documents
    • Keys - it's finally yours…CONGRATULATIONS!

Peak Title Agency for home buyers and home sellers

The Selling Process

What to expect when selling your home.

You should select a professional real estate agent to represent your needs. Once you establish a working relationship with your agent, your home is put on the market and marketed to potential buyers. Once a buyer makes an offer on your home you have three options: accept the offer, counter the offer, or reject the offer. After you accept an offer you can expect to do the following:

  • Escrow is opened and buyer deposits "earnest money" into escrow.
  • Seller submits documents and information to escrow holder, such as:
    • addresses of lien holders
    • tax receipts
    • equipment warranties
    • home warranty contracts (if any)
    • any leases and/or rental agreements
  • Seller approves and signs the escrow instructions, grant deed and other related documents required to complete the transaction.
  • Seller orders inspections, receives clearances and approves final reports and/or repairs to the property as required by the terms of the purchase and sale agreement (responsibility for inspection procedures may vary).
  • Buyer and Seller fulfill any remaining conditions specified in the contract and/or escrow instructions; approves the pay off demands and/or beneficiary's statements.
  • Buyer and Seller approve any final changes by signing amendments to the escrow instructions or contract.

Sellers Usual Financial Responsibilities

Selling Your Home: Costs and Fees

The process of selling your home involves several costs and fees. The following information is very general. Many of these items can be negotiated with the buyer. Consult your real estate professional for details.

  • Real estate commission
  • Document preparation fee for deed
  • Documentary transfer tax
  • Any city transfer/conveyance tax (according to contract)
  • Any loan fees required by buyer's lender
  • Payoff of all loans in seller's name (or existing loan balance if being assumed by buyer)
  • Interest accrued to lender being paid off, statement fees, reconveyance fees and any prepayment penalties.
  • Termite inspection (according to contract)
  • Termite work (according to contract)
  • Home warranty (according to contract)
  • Any judgments, tax liens, etc., against the seller
  • Tax proration (for any taxes unpaid at time of transfer of title)
  • Any unpaid homeowner's dues
  • Recording charges to clear all documents of record against seller
  • Any bonds or assessments (according to contract)
  • Any and all delinquent taxes
  • Notary fees
  • Escrow fees (according to contract)
  • Title insurance premium (according to contract)

The Mortgage Process

Select a licensed qualified mortgage broker, bank or lender

Mortgage Application:

  • Credit Report
  • Appraisal of property by Lender
  • Verification of employment and financial background


  • Approval of mortgage application
  • Possible rejection of mortgage application

Title Company:

  • Conducts Title Search on property
  • Order Payoff Figures
  • Reviews and prepares documents for closing, including the Settlement Statement

Close of Escrow:

  • Signing of mortgage papers
  • Payoffs
  • Recording of documents

The Closing Process

Whether you're purchasing your first home or your fifth, the day of closing should be a time of celebration. While you're busy packing, ordering phone service and scheduling movers, it's comforting to know that skilled professionals are busy working behind the scenes to make sure your closing runs smoothly.

Your first look at the settlement process may be on the day of closing, but the process itself begins much earlier. Come along for a look behind the scenes at the settlement process in action!

Once an order is received, the countdown to closing begins. Timing is essential, to make sure all the ingredients for a successful closing are in place for your arrival. When the contract or escrow agreement is received, the settlement agent will review it for completeness and accuracy. If an earnest money or deposit check is received, the settlement agent will see that it is promptly deposited into an escrow account, where the funds will remain until the time of closing.

One of the first things the settlement agent does, upon receipt of an order is to request preliminary title work. The abstractor searches and examines the title and the title agent and prepares a title commitment or other form of title evidence. This is then forwarded to the settlement agent.

Upon receipt of the title commitment, the settlement agent checks the information for completeness and accuracy and makes note of any requirements which must be satisfied. The agent compares the commitment to other documents, such as the contract and loan closing instructions, making sure all information is consistent.

While the title evidence is being prepared, the settlement agent is busy coordinating other matters. If the contract calls for a prior mortgage to be paid off, the agent will order payoff figures from the existing lender. If the buyer is assuming the loan, an assumption package will be ordered showing the current status of the loan.

While each closing is as unique as the people attending it, much of the behind-the-scenes work leading up to the closing is fairly commonplace for the skilled professionals performing it. Ordering property inspections, surveys and termite reports are typical of what's happening behind the scenes at this point in the settlement process.

The settlement agent brings any problems or discrepancies which may be discovered to the attention of the appropriate parties so that they can be corrected. It is his or her job to facilitate cooperation, coordination and compliance between all settlement service professionals involved with the transaction. Everyone working together helps make the closing a cause for celebration!

Once the preliminary work is complete and all information on the contract, loan closing documents and title commitment has been compared and complied with, the settlement agent is ready to prepare the Settlement Statement.

As closing day approaches, the settlement agent orders any updated information which might be required. Once the settlement agent is satisfied that the paperwork is in order, he or she confirms the date, time and location of the closing with all the parties involved.

The closing is where it all happens. Everything done behind-the-scenes leads up to this day. It's time to close the transaction and transfer ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. If that buyer is you, welcome to your new home!