Frequently Asked Questions

Most real estate transactions in the State of California utilize the services of an escrow company. Ironically, escrow remains one of the least understood elements of the real estate process.

Because of this, buyers and sellers often place their faith in the real estate broker or lender to recommend an escrow company. What many consumers don’t realize, however, is that they are entrusting this escrow company to safeguard their funds being held in trust. In addition, it is the primary responsibility of the escrow holder to ensure that all of the necessary instructions in the real estate agreement are executed.

The responsibility to protect the consumers’ interests should not be taken lightly. The escrow holder must remain impartial during the escrow period to ensure fair representation of all parties. It is crucial that the broker, lender or consumer makes a knowledgeable and informed decision in choosing an escrow company.

All escrow companies in California can be classified into two basic categories: Licensed or Controlled. “Licensed” escrow companies are independent businesses licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight. This license regulates the procedures and practices of the companies and subjects them to stringent requirements designed to protect consumers.

“Controlled” escrow companies are non-licensed businesses that can be owned by a variety of entities, including real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, banks, savings and loans, and title insurance companies. Such companies fall under the jurisdiction of a variety of supervising agencies, with regulations and requirements that vary widely. One fact remains constant, none of the agencies have regulations as strict as those imposed on the escrow companies licensed by the Department of Business Oversight.

Although the majority of escrow companies are honest and above board, the large sums of money handled by escrow companies can entice unscrupulous individuals to abscond with the funds they are holding in trust. Unless the escrow company is bonded, there is often no safeguard assuring the return of the money to consumers.

Licensed escrow companies are consumers’ best bet for safeguarding their funds. All licensed escrow companies are required to be members of the Escrow Agents’ Fidelity Corporation, which provides fidelity coverage for member trust accounts in the amount of $5 million. This fidelity bond guarantees that, in the event of theft of trust accounts, the consumers’ funds are protected.

The stringent requirements of the Department of Business Oversight assure that every licensed escrow company has met the highest standards in the industry. Consumer protection regulations unique to licensed escrow companies include:

  • A Certification Program for all escrow officers in the company’s employ, including fingerprinting and background checks by the Department of Justice;
  • A requirement that an escrow manager with at least five years experience be on-site;
  • Financial stability requirement, including at a minimum one CPA audit a year; and, frequent surprise examinations conducted by the Department of Business Oversight;
  • Prohibiting employment of convicted felons or anyone who has been disbarred from the real estate industry;
  • Membership with the Escrow Agents’ Fidelity Corporation which provides a $5 million fidelity bond;
  • Company’s sole business is doing escrow, which requires a higher level of state regulatory requirements and oversight.

The bottom line is that a licensed escrow company is the best possible neutral third party to complete your real estate transaction. Whether searching for an escrow holder yourself or looking to recommend one to a client, a licensed escrow company gives you peace of mind.

The escrow officer’s goal is to make the closing smooth and error-free and to be an active participant in your success. Throughout the escrow process, securing timely and complete information is one of the keys to exceptional escrow service. You can be of tremendous assistance as the “information pipeline” and the escrow officer will greatly appreciate this information.

If You Are Opening the Escrow, Please Provide the Following:

  • Complete street address (Avenue, Drive, Street, Number, etc.) and parcel number if possible.
  • Full names and marital status of all sellers (initials are not enough). If a married couple is involved, the first name of the wife as well as the husband is essential, along with addresses and phone numbers.
  • Type of property: is it a rental or owner-occupied?
  • Names of any existing mortgage companies, including all lien holders and private parties, to be paid off at closing. Include the company name, loan number, address, telephone number, and approximate unpaid balance.
  • Homeowners Association name and the name and phone number of the Management Company.
  • Appropriate information and reports, such as termite report and/or completion, home protection invoice, natural hazard report invoices, etc.
  • Per the April revised California Association of Realtors® contract, sellers are required to provide the Statement of Information to their escrow holder within seven days of acceptance of the contract. Without a Statement of Information, it would be necessary for the title company to list as exceptions from coverage judgements, liens or other matters which may affect the property to be insured. Such exceptions would be unacceptable to most lenders – whose interest must also be insured, and will prohibit the close of escrow.

The Escrow Officer Will Also Need the Following From the Buyer’s Agent:

  • Full names and marital status of all buyers (initials are not enough). If a married couple is involved, the first name of the wife as well as the husband is essential, along with addresses and phone numbers.
  • How the buyer(s) wants to take the title.
  • New lender information.
  • Fire/hazard insurance information for new policy or existing policy.

After the Escrow Is Open:

  • When calling the escrow officer, have the escrow number and buyer/seller’s names handy.
  • Keep the escrow officer informed on any matters that may affect the transaction.
  • Direct your client’s questions to the proper representative, such as:
    • Real Estate Agent: Physical aspects of property, conflicts, and terms of sale.
    • Lender: Loan terms, credit report issues, etc.
    • Escrow Officer: Escrow instructions, documents and forms to be filled out.

When escrow closes, celebrate another successful transaction!

Santa Clarita Area

Cable, Internet, and Phone Services

AT&T – offering phone, Internet and cable services, as well as bundled service with AT&T Uverse.  The company offers an online link to begin service, or you can call (800) 288-2020.

DirecTV – offering English, Spanish and bundled packages.  Service can be scheduled online or by calling (800) 370-3587.

Dish Network – offering a variety of services and bundle packages.  Service can be scheduled online or by calling (888) 926-5457.

Exede – offering high-speed Internet, phone and DirecTV.

HughesNet – offering satellite Internet and phone service.

Time Warner – offering phone, Internet and cable services, as well as bundled services.  The company offers an online link to begin service, or you can call (888) 488-3368.

Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison provides electric services in Santa Clarita.  If you need to apply for new service, you can use the company’s online service or call the 24-hour customer service line at (800) 655-4555.

Street and Traffic Lights
The City contracts with Southern California Edison for maintenance and repairs of street lights on public streets and main arterials within the City and with the County of Los Angeles Public Works for maintenance and repairs to intersection street lights, which are commonly known as Highway Safety Lights, and bridge lighting (lights on or under bridges).  If you notice a street light in need of repair, Southern California Edison offers an online system to report the issue.

Southern California Gas Company

The Southern California Gas Company provides an online tool to help you start natural gas services at your home or office.

Water Services

Water services in Santa Clarita are provided by four water companies.  Find your water retailer here.  Once on the page, click on the orange button that reads “Please Click To Do Your Search” and then select “Search By Property Address.”  You’ll enter your numerical address and options will be presented if you live within the City of Santa Clarita.  Once you select your home’s address, results will appear on the left, including your property’s water purveyor.

Los Angeles County Water Works, District 36
(626) 300-3335

Newhall County Water District
(661) 259-3610

Santa Clarita Water Division
(661) 259-2737

Valencia Water Company
(661) 294-0828

Home Security

ADT Security
(877) 544-4018

Protection 1
(855) 390-1958

California Public Utilities Commission

www.cpuc.ca.gov

DirectTVDeal.com

(855) 463-7359
http://www.DirectTVDeal.com/

HughesNet

hughesnet.com

Verizon  (Telephone)

Business: (800) 483-5000
Residential: (800) 483-3000
www.verizon.com
http://internet.verizon.com/

Time Warner Cable

41551 10th Street West
Palmdale, CA 93550
(888) 892-2253
www.timewarnercable.com

LA County Water Works District

260 East Ave K-8
Lancaster, CA 93535
Maintenance/Billing 1-877-637-3661
Construction/New Meters 661-940-9270
Emergency 1-800-675-4357
www.dpw.lacounty.gov

Southern California Edison

Residential: (800) 684-8123
Commercial: (800) 990-7788
www.sce.com

Southern California Gas Company

(800) 427-2200
www.socalgas.com
Bill Assistance:
http://socalgas.com/for-your-home/assistance-programs/

Waste Management (Trash Service)

600 East Avenue F
Lancaster, CA 93535
(661) 947-7197
www.wm.com