What is the Fastest Escrow can Close?
You’ve accepted an offer on your house and gone into escrow. How long will the home closing process take?
If you’re looking to sell your house and close the deal fast, you might be wondering how long the paperwork and legal details will take. Completing the legal process that the seller and buyer have entered into together to make the sale final is called closing escrow. Here’s a what to know about how escrow works, and how quickly it can happen.
How long does it take to close on a house?
According to ICE Mortgage Technologies, the average time to close a home purchase was 42 days as of April 2023. Of course, the time it takes to sell a house and close escrow can vary widely, and depends a lot on the kind of real estate transaction involved. A standard open-market sale, using a traditional real estate agent and with a buyer financing through a mortgage lender, can take several weeks to a few months or more. In an off-market sale, in which a buyer is paying cash and purchasing the house as-is, the escrow process timeline can be a matter of mere days to a few weeks.
What is escrow?
Escrow is a legal arrangement between the seller and buyer, overseen by a neutral third party such as an escrow officer or company or a closing attorney. Your escrow agents will hold earnest money until the transaction is complete, handle the paperwork, and arrange for all parties to sign the necessary documents to finalize the home sale. The escrow period is the time between the accepted offer and the final document signing which closes the sale. How long escrow takes depends in part of how quickly you, as the seller, want to close, as well as on any title, financing, or inspection issues that might arise.
How to open an escrow account
If you’re working with a traditional real estate agent on your home buying process, that agent will advise you on enlisting the help of an attorney who— along with the buyer’s attorney and possibly a private escrow company — will handle the details of opening escrow for you. In a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) or off-market sale, you might have to seek out a real estate attorney for assistance and manage these details yourself.
One of the benefits of selling your house off-market in the Sundae marketplace is that we handle the entire home sale process for you —including opening an escrow account promptly after you’ve accepted an offer on your house.
What can cause closing delays?
One of the most common reasons a home sale gets delayed in escrow is when home buyers are using conventional loans to finance the purchase, and they hit a snag. The buyer’s lender might find a problem with the appraisal not matching the home’s purchase price, or there might be something in the buyer’s personal finances or credit-worthiness — first-time buyers, for instance, might lack adequate credit history.
Other things that can delay closing, or even cause the pending sale to fail completely, are issues that arise during inspection that the buyers consider deal-breakers. Major problems such as foundation, roof, electrical, or plumbing issues can send buyers and sellers back to the negotiating table to revisit the buyer’s offer, or could even cause the buyer to walk away.
An off-market, as-is, all-cash deal is a way to preempt delays such as these, and could be a smart choice when you need a fast closing timeline.
What are the advantages of a fast closing?
If you’re ready to move on, speed and convenience might matter more to you than getting the highest possible dollar for your home. That is when considering an off-market, as-is, all-cash sale can be your best bet. Home buyers who have the cash on hand and can put earnest money or a buyer’s deposit down and pay the balance promptly, rather than going through the process of a mortgage application, are prepared for a fast deal.
Maybe you already have an accepted offer on a new home, and need the proceeds from your current home to finalize the deal. Maybe you have to relocate quickly for a job. Or maybe you’ve been through personal hardship such as divorce or death in the family, and need a closing date fast so you can move on. In any of those cases, an as-is sale for cash means escrow will move smoothly and quickly and can be closed in a matter of a few days to weeks.
A cash sale with Sundae: How it works from start to finish
Once a seller accepts an offer from Sundae’s market place and a purchase agreement is signed, they can expect a quick and easy path to closing. If you’re selling with Sundae, here are the steps your home sale will go through:
Opening an escrow account
At Sundae, we work with a trusted network of escrow companies and real estate closing attorneys. Once all the proper documents are signed and you are in contract with a buyer, we will contact these professionals and initiate the escrow process. The agents and attorneys will handle the necessary title search to ensure there is a clear title on the home, as well as hold the buyer’s earnest money deposit.
An escrow agent will be in touch with you to arrange for you to sign closing documents in front of a notary public, in accordance with the state and local laws that apply in your area. Since sales through Sundae are as-is, all-cash, and free of contingencies, there are none of the repair- and financing-related delays to closing escrow that can come up in a traditional sale. Since the buyer is responsible for all fees, including escrow and title fees, the seller will owe no money to Sundae.
Getting a cash advance
If you’re selling your home with Sundae, you may be eligible for up to a $10,000 cash advance once all your necessary closing documents are signed and a clear title report is received — even before your escrow closing process is finished. It’s important to note that this is an advance against final proceeds from the sale, not in addition to your sale price, and that eligibility requirements and advance amounts vary by location.
Doing the final walkthrough
As you would with any type of real estate transaction, before the sale can close there will need to be a final walkthrough. When selling with Sundae, a representative will call you to arrange this step. You will need to have vacated the property and handed over your keys before the walkthrough. With many home sales, your contract will stipulate that the house is empty before closing; with Sundae, you can leave items behind if you do not have the time to pack them. Just be sure that you have packed and removed any items you want to keep.
Closing the deal
Once all paperwork is signed, any title issues are resolved, your house is vacant and keys handed over, someone from the escrow company or a closing attorney will contact you to let you know that escrow has closed. As the seller, you have a say in the final closing date — it can happen often in as little as ten days, or you can wait up to 60 days if that works better for your situation. After the closing, you should have the proceeds of the sale in hand within about one business day.
How a traditional market sale works
While many of the steps involved in any home sale are the same and required, with a traditional sale, more time is involved than a cash, off-market sale, because of buyer financing issues, contingencies, and other factors.
Just as with a cash sale, you’ll open an escrow account after you have signed your purchase agreement and are in contract. You will likely want to hire an experienced real estate attorney to help you navigate this process.
The home buyer, or their attorney, will initiate a title search to ensure that you as the seller have a clear claim to the property. This varies by state, but may take a week or two on average. If any title issue arises, such as a lien that needs to be satisfied, you will have to address that before the sale can proceed to closing.
While you may have had a pre-sale inspection to reveal any issues that needed addressing in your home, a buyer is likely to order an inspection of their own once you are in contract and escrow. The timing on this step of the process can vary greatly depending on what the inspection reveals: Major structural or other costly issues found may lead to a renegotiating of the purchase price, demands for repairs, or even to the buyer walking away from the deal.
Handling closing costs
In a typical real estate transaction, the majority of closing costs are paid by the buyer, but some do fall to the seller. And some are negotiable. It’s a good idea to do your homework and know what to expect in terms of who pays what for closing costs, including where any “wiggle room” might be.
Satisfaction of contingencies
In a traditional open-market sale, where the buyer is obtaining financing from a mortgage lender, there may be contingencies that have to be met before receiving final approval. These can include a satisfactory appraisal, financing granted at a certain interest rate, and the sale of an existing property within a given timeline, to name a few. Discuss contingencies with your attorney and real estate agent to determine an expected timeline.
Show me the money
The home buyer, of course, will also have to demonstrate that they have (or can obtain) the necessary funds to complete the transaction, and deposit those funds into escrow, before the closing can occur.
The final walkthrough
The walkthrough is the buyer’s chance to see the house — ideally empty and clean — once more before signing the final closing documents. As the seller, you may have to demonstrate that any required repairs were done, and that no new damage or surprises have come up since the inspection took place.
Why Do Buyers and Sellers Need Escrow?
In any home sale transaction — whether all cash or with any loan type — both parties are protected by having a neutral third party oversee the escrow process. This way, any buyer’s deposit or earnest money is guaranteed and protected, all necessary documents are accounted for and signed, and any issues that arise are disclosed and addressed.
Note that if you are selling on your own, without the assistance of any agent, you are still wise to seek out a real estate attorney to guide you through the escrow process.