Who is Pickford Escrow Company? Is My Money Safe with You?

Our company was established in 1991 and is part of Home Services of America, Inc., a BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY affiliate.  We’re licensed by the Department of Business Oversight (DBO) which binds us to the most stringent guidelines in our industry.

All of our employees are approved by the DBO and subjected to background checks by the Department of Justice.  We’re regularly audited by the DBO & participate in internal financial audits by a CPA firm licensed in the State of California.

We’re also bonded by Escrow Agents’ Fidelity Corporation (EAFC) with insurance similar to that which is provided by the FDIC which protects your assets when deposited with a trusted bank.

All of these standards – and then some - provide assurance that your money is safe and that we’re fulfilling our obligation to guard money and protect your assets.

What is Escrow?

Escrow is a service which provides the public with a means of protection in the handling of funds and/or documents. Escrow enables the Buyer and Seller to transact business with each other through a neutral party, thereby minimizing their risk.

In the Escrow, all parties involved give their instructions to this neutral intermediary, the “Escrow holder” whose duty it is to assure that no funds or property will change hands until all instructions have been carried to completion.

Are All Companies Who Practice Escrow Held to the Same Standards?

No, and you may want to do some research on this

There are other licensing agencies such as the Department of Insurance and Bureau of Real Estate; none require the level of safeguarding and standards as the Department of Business Oversight (DBO). 

Many don’t require things like trust fund insurance, financial liquidity requirements, net worth requirements and background checks.  We believe these are vital to the protection of your funds and we strictly adhere to these guidelines and standards.

What Types of Transactions Go Through Escrow?

Most contracts that involve the transfer, lease, or financing of real or personal property can be placed in Escrow. You may be involved in Escrow not only when you buy or sell a home, but also when you buy a mobile home, sell a business, or transfer stock in a closely held business.

Prize fighters have even been known to have their purses guaranteed through an Escrow depository. The Buyer and Seller should demand the protection of Escrow for any transaction with a substantial investment.

Aside from Safeguarding Money, What Happens in Escrow?

Escrow acts as an impartial, neutral party.  Simply described, it’s our job to be sure certain terms of the purchase agreement have been fulfilled before we authorize the transfer of title from seller to buyer and the transfer of funds from buyer to seller. 

We collaboratively work with: seller, buyer, listing and buyer's agents, lender, homeowners association, title company, termite company, home warranty, fire insurance, and lien holders.  Funds and documents from all of these entities are deposited with escrow, reviewed and held until closing.

Why Do I Need Escrow?

Whether you are the Buyer or the Seller, you want assurance that no funds or property will change hands until all of your instructions have been followed.

As a Buyer Entering Into Escrow, What Must I Do?

If the transaction is contingent upon a new loan, it is your responsibility to arrange this loan. Your real estate Agent can be helpful in obtaining a Lender, since he or she actively participates in the real estate industry.

Who Handles the Escrow Transaction?

The Escrow Officer is a trained and experienced professional. He or she can provide you with the assistance required to close your transaction quickly and effectively. This professional person may, under the terms of the instructions, make the decision that the conditions of Escrow have been met, and then order the transfer of the affected real or personal property to the interested parties.

Many Escrow Officers proudly display their professional designations of certification and show these designations on their business cards and letterhead. The designations indicate that this person has met the high standards of education and experience required for certification by the California Escrow Association.

The Escrow Instructions Are Ready: Now What?

When the Escrow Instructions have been prepared, read them carefully to determine that they are complete and properly reflect your total agreement. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with the Escrow holder before signing. Once the instructions have been signed, they become the basis for the conduct of the Escrow.

Do I Receive Interest on the Money Held in Escrow?

No. Funds are held in a non-interest bearing account and do not earn interest while held by us in Escrow.

Can I Get Legal Advice from the Escrow Officer?

An Escrow Officer is NOT a legal counselor and cannot give you advice. Remember, the purpose of Escrow is to take, and comply with, instructions to carry out the mutual agreement of the principals. In the event of a disagreement of the parties, the Escrow Officer must remain neutral until an agreement is reached.

What Can I Do to Be Sure the Escrow Process Goes Smoothly?

You can begin by sharing with us how we can make it go more smoothly for you.  Do you like email or phone calls? Do you have multiple mailing addresses? Do you prefer to come to our office to sign documents or to work through them on your own at home?

Aside from that, watch for mailings and email from our office and do your best to respond quickly.  Much of what we do is time sensitive and delays cause more delays down the line.  Our documents should be clearly marked in the spots that need to be signed/initialed/notarized.

If you have questions on them, please be in touch!  We’re happy to help!