Should I Become An Escrow Agent?
Escrow agents guide real estate clients through the escrow process by explaining complex details and answering questions. They meet with clients, prepare escrow instructions and settlement estimates, and they make certain that the sales agreement conforms to lender requirements.
As they manage the closing process, escrow agents are responsible for ensuring that the agreement's terms and conditions are followed. Agents might spend a lot of time working at computer screens. The job is not physically demanding, but preparing for closings and meeting deadlines might be stressful.
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|Degree Level||Varies; undergraduate degree may be preferred|
|Degree Field||Business administration, finance or a related field|
|Experience||Varies; at least 1 to 2 years of experience is common|
|Licensure and Certification||State licensure is typically required; optional professional certification is available and often preferred|
|Key Skills||Strong written and verbal communication skills, customer-service skills, ability to analyze written materials, organizational skills. Familiarity with escrow procedures and an understanding of escrow math, ability to troubleshoot any problems that may delay or prevent closing|
|Salary (2015)||$47,184 per year (Median Salary for Escrow Officers)|
Sources: Payscale.com, American Escrow Association
Step 1: Obtain Relevant Education
There is no formal degree requirement for becoming an escrow agent. However, having education and training beyond high school will offer a competitive edge in the job market. Options include pursuing an undergraduate degree in business or a related field. These degree programs include courses such as information technology, accounting, business operations and ethics. They help to prepare individuals for a career in the escrow business.
Other options include enrolling in a certificate program or training through professional organizations, such as the American Escrow Association (AEA). The AEA offers many courses, conferences and seminars to educate potential escrow agents. These introductory classes give students an introduction to the basic duties of an escrow agent. These may include instruction on how to conduct title searches, prepare final paperwork and formally witness the signing of all required legal documents.
Step 2: Obtain an Entry-Level Escrow Job
Most employers look for escrow agents with some experience working in the field. A good way to develop experience in title closing and escrow agreements is to gain an entry-level job, such as a receptionist or an escrow assistant. Receptionists typically answer phones and complete clerical duties. Escrow assistants work under supervision to review preliminary reports, gain information for escrow agreements, open title agreements, manage closing files and handle any issues that may arise after closing.
Step 3: Obtain Escrow Licensure
Most states require escrow agents to be licensed. The rules and regulations regarding licensing prerequisites and license renewals vary from state-to-state. Typically the licensing process involves passing an escrow officer or agent licensing examination and submitting a state-mandated licensing fee.
- Research requirements for maintaining licensure. States that require agents to be licensed also require that the license must be renewed periodically. These states also mandate that licensed escrow officers and agents complete a set number of continuing education hours before renewing the license.
Step 4: Obtain a Position as an Escrow Agent
After accumulating some experience in the escrow field and becoming licensed, individuals can begin looking for jobs as escrow agents. Escrow agents may work in a variety of industries, including real estate, bank loans and bulk sales. These agents will perform routine duties such as preparing escrow instructions, receiving and reviewing preliminary reports, opening the title order, calculating estimated closing costs, preparing settlement statements, disbursing funds and making sure that the transaction complies with state and federal regulations. After working for a company for an period of time, some escrow agents open their own agencies.
Step 5: Move Your Career Ahead With Certification
Obtaining certification demonstrates professional expertise and makes you a more valuable employee. Voluntary certification is available through varying organizations, including the American Escrow Association, state-run escrow associations and some title companies. The prerequisites for becoming certified vary depending on the rules of the certifying organization. Typically, the certification candidate must have some recent escrow experience and pass a certification test.