When you give your deposit to the real estate agent and the signed sales agreement has been signed by both the buyer and the seller, the agent may then “open” escrow.
If there is no real estate agent involved in your transaction, the escrow may be opened by either the buyer or the seller. When you first make your offer to purchase a property, you typically give a good faith deposit check.
The real estate agent will deposit this money into their company “escrow account”, to be held until the seller has signed the agreement and all the terms of the purchase have been mutually agreed upon. Escrow is not open until the good faith money is actually placed in the hands of an escrow agent. This may be a title company, an independent escrow company, an attorney, or any other authorized closing agent allowed in your state.
Upon depositing the buyer's deposit money with a closing agent, escrow may be considered to be “open” and a file number given for the escrow. An escrow officer or closing agent will be assigned to your account, and this person will follow your escrow all the way through the closing process.
The escrow agent will be your main contact at the title or closing company. Any questions in regard to your title report, escrow money, obligations under the escrow, or progress reports should be directed to this person. Although there are many steps involved in processing your escrow and several different people working on your escrow, such as searching the title, preparing the title insurance policy, processing the loan documents, your contact at the title company will remain the escrow officer.
As a party to the escrow, you are entitled to call the escrow closing agent at any time to request information or explanations.