General Schedule of events from offer acceptance to Close of Escrow

What is Escrow? The Escrow period is the period of time between an accepted offer and closed sale. An Escrow Company is a neutral 3rd party who follows the instructions of both parties laid out in the purchase contract by ordering reports, paying off the existing loans and handling and distributing the money with a full accounting to both parties.


Most escrow periods are 30 days, though they can be shorter (if cash sale) or longer

California Escrow periods are like pregnancy Due Dates; they are often delayed due to the many different people & variables involved. Buyers, make sure to get anything requested by your lender to them ASAP.

Any delay can extend the closing date and result in unhappy consequences.


Week 1

  • Buyer's or Seller's agent opens escrow with an escrow company.

  • Seller's agent changes MLS status to "Pending" or "Backup Offer Only". Backup status keeps property on public MLS results.

  • Buyer's agent or buyer submits "Earnest Money Deposit" (EMD) to escrow within 3 days of offer acceptance. Escrow deposits it into a trust account.

  • Buyer chooses inspector and schedules home inspection (usually has 17 days to inspect property & be satisfied with condition before removing inspection contingency)

  • Lender/loan officer works on getting "loan conditions" met. (May include more pay stubs, bank statements, etc. from buyer,  statements from escrow, title reports, appraisal report, etc.-could be anything. Some loans have lots of conditions & others have few)

  • Listing agent sends disclosures signed by sellers to Buyer's agent to get signed by buyers & return (time periods apply).

  • Escrow sends out escrow instructions & some other paperwork for buyer & seller to sign. This clarifies the contract & authorizes escrow to do their job in ordering loan payoff statements, title reports, etc.

  • Lender orders appraisal through an AMC (appraisal management comany).

  • Buyer scheduled Home inspection takes place. Buyers can attend the inspection or not. It's their choice. It usually takes a couple of hours for the inspector to do their job. Then, if any of the parties are there, he/she may give a summary of the findings. The inspector will then send out the written report within 24 hours to buyers and buyer's agent.  Then buyer's agent & buyer go over inspection & request repairs-if any-from seller.

Week 2

  • Appraiser goes to property and does appraisal (time frame/week depends on appraiser & lender's schedule decisions & property availability). Note: Appraisers are not home inspectors, though they may make the appraisal contingent on certain repairs.

  • Escrow is busy ordering demands, getting additional info from buyers/sellers, etc. If you are a seller in an area with a homeowner's association, you can save money by providing escrow with the full CC&Rs that were given to you when you bought your home ASAP. Otherwise, you'll probably be required to give money to escrow to order them for buyer.

  • Preliminary Title Report arrives & must be reviewed by all parties & signed off (time frame varies)

  • Any requests or questions resulting from the home inspection are addressed & resolved.

  • Contingencies for property condition, disclosures and/or appraisal, are removed in writing by buyers.

  • Buyer shops for and selects Homeowner's Insurance and lets escrow and lender know what company they'll be using so escrow can coordinate payment.

  • Appraisal received by lender.

Week 3

  • Buyer lets escrow know how they would like to hold title. Information on this here.

  • Lender should have appraisal & title report as well as other conditions met and submit for final loan approval (ALL loans are contingent on appraisal & preliminary title report)

Week 4-close of escrow (30 day escrow)

  • If you haven't let escrow know how you'd like to receive any funds due to you from the sale, now would be an excellent time to give them a call. You can have a check mailed to you, pick up your check, have the funds wired directly to your bank account, or delivered by your agent.

  • Lender submits for final Loan approval. Once loan is approved, loan officer orders "loan docs". They usually arrive at escrow by email the next day unless lender is "backed up" (remember escrow date is like a  "due date"?)

  • Buyer goes in to sign docs and bring in funds to close. This usually happens anywhere within 1-5 days before "close of escrow" (again-"due date"). It is mainly controlled by specific lender policies & escrow appointment availability.  Docs are usually signed in escrow. Sometimes docs are signed at loan officer's office or a traveling notary will go to buyer.

  • Once signed, the docs are sent back to the lender for review. Review takes 1+ days depending on lender. (Don't forget..."Due date")

  • Once signed docs are reviewed and approved, loan funding takes place. Escrow officer will call agents when funding has taken place (no, not quite closed yet...almost).

  • After funding, escrow officer will set up sale to record at county recorder's office. Though recording usually takes place in the morning, "notice of recording" is received by escrow from anywhere between 12noon-6pm.

  • Escrow calls agents and says "We have recording" At this time, the sale is considered "closed" and escrow begins the process of "dispersing funds".

  • Your agent will call you to say "congratulations" and discuss getting you your keys.

  • Listing agent will change status in MLS to "Sold/Closed Sale".

This is the general time frame and procedure of most escrows. There are activities by various parties that aren't mentioned here, and most experienced Realtors will tell you that no 2 escrows are exactly alike. That being the case, I can't guarantee that your escrow will follow this scenario. This is provided to give you a general picture of the process, but I can not offer any guarantees as to it's accuracy in your particular situation.