Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 7:54 pm | Fair 56º

 
 
 

Elaine Abercrombie: What to Know About Escrow

Escrow accounts protect lenders and provide benefits for borrowers

Elaine Abercrombie
Elaine Abercrombie (Roe Anne White photo)

When you buy a home, or just make an offer, you will encounter the term “escrow account.” Like making a friendly bet and asking a third party to hold the wager money, the “escrow agent” is the neutral party that holds funds in the interest of the mortgage lender and the borrower.

When the terms of the purchase and loan agreements have been met, the money is released. When your application is approved and the loan takes effect, the lender most likely will require money for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance also to be held in escrow.

These funds are added to your monthly mortgage payment, and are disbursed when the tax and insurance bills are due.

This protects the lender by ensuring a lien isn’t placed against your property for nonpayment of taxes, and your home (their collateral) is protected against catastrophe.

But escrow also benefits borrowers by spreading the large annual payments for taxes and insurance over 12 months.

For example, if your taxes are $1,600 per year and your insurance is $800, you’re budgeting a reasonable $200 per month instead of making two big payments.

Escrow accounts do not earn interest, so if you make a large enough down payment, you may be able to avoid the monthly escrow and pay the bills directly.

Ask your Realtor and your lender about the pros and cons.

Elaine Abercrombie, a broker with Abercrombie Fine Homes at Village Properties, is president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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