For more information about the author, click to view their website: Amanda Spears, REALTOR
Escrow plays a crucial role in real estate,
serving as a financial safeguard for buyers throughout both the buying process
and the life of the loan.
This guide can help enhance your understanding of its basic
functions to ensure a smooth purchase and successful homeownership.
What is escrow?
This is a financial arrangement in which a neutral third
party, called an escrow agent, holds funds and assets on behalf of a buyer or
homeowner until all contractual obligations are fulfilled.
What is homebuyer escrow?
Once a buyer and seller have mutually agreed on and signed
a sales contract and a good faith deposit has been provided by the buyer, a
third-party representative, such as your real estate agent’s brokerage or a
title company assumes the responsibility of holding these funds in escrow.
These funds are securely safeguarded until all the specified contract
conditions are met. The money is then released at closing and applied toward
the buyer’s down payment.
What is homeowner escrow?
Following the completion of closing, lenders typically
mandate the establishment of an escrow account as a means to protect their
interests over the duration of the loan. This arrangement serves to guarantee
the timely payment of property taxes, homeowners insurance premiums, and
mortgage insurance premiums (a requirement if your down payment is less than 20
percent). Your lender or mortgage servicer will collect a portion of these
expenses from you every month to fund your account. This is also useful if you
have a large tax bill or insurance premiums because it can help spread out
these costs over the year.
What is a mortgage servicer?
Your mortgage servicer, or originating lender, will manage
your escrow account once you take ownership of your new home. One aspect of
this is the conduction of an annual review of your account to ensure that there
are sufficient funds in it to cover your taxes and insurance premiums for the
upcoming year and prevent an escrow shortage. They’ll then furnish you with an
escrow statement, which provides an ongoing snapshot of your account. It will
include your current escrow balance—the amount currently reserved in your
account for upcoming taxes and insurance payments—and your principal balance,
and how much you owe on the remainder of your mortgage.
Are there fees associated with having an escrow
There are two types of fees you can expect. The first is
paid during the homebuying process and is part of your closing costs. These
fees cover items such as the recording of the deed and the secure transfer of
your funds at closing. The second type is for your mortgage servicer to manage
your account. These costs can vary depending on the escrow company and your
location, so be sure to discuss them with your lender in advance of purchasing
Is my escrow money refundable if the deal falls
The answer hinges on the specifics outlined in the purchase
agreement. For instance, if there is an inspection contingency in the contract
and an issue emerges during the home inspection, you’ll be able to get your
earnest money back in full if you and the seller can’t reach an agreement on
how to proceed. Likewise, a contingency related to securing financing or
obtaining a satisfactory home appraisal gives you the right to terminate the
contract and regain your funds should there be any problem with either one.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that even contingencies come with specific
time limits. And if the purchase agreement lacks contingencies and you decide
to back out of the purchase, your earnest money will not be refunded.
To ensure you fully understand what escrow entails, speak
to Amanda Spears, REALTOR® and lender to understand the
advantages and what you can anticipate as both a buyer and future homeowner.
Want to learn more or looking for a retirement investment
or home, call Amanda Spears, REALTOR® who is a Baldwin County
Certified Specialist at 251-752-3747
Informed Decisions: Benefits of Professional Senior Living AdvicePosted: February 22, 2024 , in My Care Advisors PodcastFor older adults, few decisions carry as much weight as selecting the ideal Assisted Living Community to meet their needs. With a staggering number of nearly 31,000 Assisted Living Communities across the U.S., the task of finding the perfect match can feel daunting, overwhelming, and emotionally draining.However, enlisting the expertise of a seasoned senior living advisor can help alleviate these burdens. By partnering with a knowledgeable professional who comprehensively understands the continuum of senior care options, tailored to individual needs and preferences, you can navigate this pivotal transition with confidence. Such advisors not only ensure the quality of life for you or your loved one but also offer invaluable support throughout every step of the decision-making process. From clarifying intricate details to providing emotional reassurance, their guidance proves indispensable in securing a comfortable and fulfilling living arrangement for seniors.Click to listen to this episode:Tune in for insights and resources from Tracy Toomer, Certified Senior Advisor and Owner at CarePatrol Collin County-Central.About Tracy Toomer:Tracy Toomer is President and Owner of CarePatrol of Collin County. CarePatrol is the nations largest senior care solutions franchise in the United States. Through more than 200 offices in 35 states, local senior advisors provide a free service in helping families find quality, top-rated assisted living, independent living, memory care, and in-home care.Toomer is a seasoned business executive with more than 25 years of experience in the specialty retail, grocery, restaurant, fitness and now in senior healthcare. In recent years Toomer served as vice-president of operations for the largest Planet Fitness Franchise, with over 168 locations in 14 states. There she built an operations team of seven regional directors and grew from 69 gyms to 168 gyms through two acquisitions and organic growth.Toomer holds a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) designation awarded to qualified, multidisciplinary professionals serving older adults. Tracy is active in the senior community and brings a creditable and important voice to finding safer senior living. Each month, Tracy facilitates mental aerobics at the Wellness center for Older Adults in Plano, Texas.In 2022 Tracy earned the Compassion Ambassador Award from CarePatrol Franchises, LLC amongst her 180 Franchise peers. Her dedication to the families and those living with dementia inspired the Franchisees to do more; to contribute more for a huge segment of their client base.Tracy Toomer is a proud southern California native but currently resides in Allen, Texas with her parents and four-legged brother Bruno. Show/Episode Notes:Learn what the role of a Senior Living Advisor means and some of the services they offerDiscover how working with a Senior Living Advisor can help you navigate the complicated world of Assisted LivingHear about the importance of working with a Senior Living Advisor to avoid potential dangers or hazardsWalk away with tips and tricks from Tracy Toomers past experiences Determine some of the resources available to you and where to find them
Youve been on a waiting list for a senior living facility for years. In the meantime, your dream cruise is planned and that family reunion is around the corner...then you get the call." If youre like many downsizing Seniors the question echoing in your mind is; What do I do about the house? Here is a quick guide that can give you the confidence and structure that you need. First, take a breathyou can do this! Next, identify a trusted Realtor who has genuine experience helping Seniors. Start by looking for Realtors that have the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation. Seniors and their families need a Realtor to help navigate the maze of financial, legal, and emotional issues accompanying the sale of your memory filled home. Im a longtime SRES and still depend on this special training to help Seniors through the process. It may sound old school, but a Realtor who listens deeply and communicates with a smile, handshake, and a visit is a must. Skills like patience, planning, and guiding are critical. Invite your Realtor in as early as possible to walk through the home to learn its unique character and story! Look for a Realtor who can translate the story into a plan to market that uniqueness. Part of their role will be to help you understand how to prepare your home for the marketwhat projects to tackle, which ones to ignore, and how to not go overboard as you prepare to sell. Like all top Realtors, we have a handy list of trusted resources to help tackle agreed upon projects. Pricing should be based on reality and facts, not hopes and dreams. Location, size, and amenities are part of the equation as are market activity, market trends, and area competition. Over the years, weve developed a very customized, yet simple, tool to accurately forecast list and sale prices. All top Realtors will have something similar in their tool belt. Be comfortable asking questionsworking with a Realtor should be a collaboration, not a dictatorship. Using a professional stager and photographer is another must do in todays market. Digital marketing demands high quality, properly lit, compelling photos of an expertly staged homed so that it shines and tells its story clearly. Every Realtor handles this differently, but we believe in this concept so strongly that we provide both a stager and photographer at no cost to our listing clientsit is just too important to skip. These are the steps that lead to the For Sale signand hopefully the ability to breathe a bit easier. This article was written by Mike Julian, Managing Broker, Realty One Group Unlimited.
An excerpt from Scott Millers presentation, Florida Retirement Guide: Senior Living, Care Options, Family Choices & Future TrendsFrequently Asked Question: Are There Senior Living Communities in Florida That Have All Forms of Care in One Place?Yes, there are senior living communities that have all forms of care in one place. These communities exist on a very limited basis with a pricey model. Its called a CCRC. A CCRC is a continuing care retirement community, which means every level of care is available on one campus except the hospital. You have independent living, assisted living, memory care, and you have skilled nursing all in one environment. Those come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton, Florida is an example. Westminster is a large not-for-profit that has CCRCs all over the state of Florida. Very well run model if thats something youre considering. Some of the disadvantages to a CCRC: most of them are buy-ins, which means you have to come up with a pretty good sum of money up front to be able to get in. Now Im going to give you a sticker shock. Those buy-ins can be anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million, and more. The good ones are the not-for-profits. Be leery of for-profit CCRCs. Because if they take that money up front, you want to be sure that that money is being well-invested. That money is there to create a profit pool, to maintain that property, to invest in that property, to reinvest in its residents, but many of the for-profit companies dont do it that way. So if youre ever looking for that environment, look at the not-for-profit first and then know that youre going to be paying some money up front. Now the advantage. If you went to a Westminster community, for example, it costs you maybe $100,000 to $175,000 up front. The communities are to the nines, theyre beautiful, and their care model is incredible. Whats really nice is the money you put up front can be a declining balance back to you or your estate, and it locks in amongst the people that you would pay for as long as you live. And, its much lower than most assisted living communities. So, you could pay $150,000 up front. Theyll take away 2% of that per month. So over the course of 4 years that money goes away. If you only stay 2, half of it comes back to you. You can pay more and theyll guarantee you a 90% rate back over time. The nice part is the cost of living there which they dont call rent, they call maintenance is somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 dollars a month, all inclusive. You end up in a place where everything is covered. Try to compare the costs of living at home versus in an assisted living environment. Those figures are important when you understand the total costs that go into that particular community. Nobody really knows how much theyre actually paying at home unless they are very, very budget conscious. But, $3,000 a month to be in that environment is very inexpensive when you consider that its three meals a day, seven days a week, your utilities, all of your maintenance, all of the upkeep, anything you could imagine, and full care delivery as you age. And in these communities you can age in place, so if you have to go over to skilled nursing, you dont pay a dime. If you have to go into memory care, you dont pay a dime more. Florida CCRCs are a great option to consider if you are looking for all your senior care in one place.-Scott Miller, CEO of Florida Senior ConsultingDont wait for a crisis! Florida Senior Consulting is here to help you prepare for your retirement journey and find the best senior living communities in Florida, including CCRCs.Call us today at (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com to start your journey. The choice should be yours.
Amanda Spears is your Coastal Alabama real estate resource! She has a passion for real estate, and helping clients achieve their real estate goals through personalized, professional service that is second to none. Amanda is among the top-performing agents with Bellator Real Estate & Development, the number one real estate company on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Her professional affiliations include Baldwin REALTORS, as well as the National Association of REALTORS, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio International and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, to name a few. With a background in the medical field, marketing, human resources and event management, she is able to effectively communicate and meet the needs of her clients with commitment and integrity. Amanda has been a resident of Baldwin County, Alabama since 2004 and enjoys sharing her knowledge of the area. In her free time, Amanda assists with organizing charitable events and community projects, volunteers for school committees and attends athletic events with her two daughters. She also enjoys spending time at the beach and traveling throughout the Southeast competing in barrel racing competitions.