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What is escrow when referring to real estate transactions? Kiritsis Law Group 212 922 0005

May 13, 2021

By: John Kiritsis, Esq., CPA, MBA, MS, JD, LL.M

Generally, it refers to situations, where money and/or documents, are held by a disinterested third party on behalf of others and subject to their instructions. Escrows are vital in real estate transactions. Given the large sums involved, and potential complexities of the paperwork, it is usually mutually beneficial for a neutral third party to retain the documents and finances related to the real estate transaction, until the closing is complete. For example, a buyer is more willing to hand in his deposit money to a reliable third party than to a seller. On the other hand, a seller limits his legal exposure, if the money gets lost or misappropriated and preempts the buyer during negotiations from asserting lack of trust as the reason of not wanting to put down a deposit. Advances in technology (i.e. blockchain – a digital and openly distributed ledger) have fueled speculation about the demise of 3rd party escrow agents, as a vital party to a successful real estate transaction. In this author’s opinion, the need for independent 3rd party escrow agents, will rise dramatically, along with the kind of competencies required. The reason is that increased technology makes the potential for something to go really wrong much greater (i.e. 1,000s of deeds misfiled in the wrong county due a system glitch); also, it’s part of some humans’ nature to try and beat the system by breaking the law.

 

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