How to Start an Escrow Company

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Start an Escrow Company
Start an Escrow Company (Image: http://encinorealestatereport.files.wordpress.com)

Starting an escrow company is a fairly simple process, but there are some requirements that can get complicated. Follow these simple steps to avoid any complications.

Things You'll Need

  • Application paperwork
  • Fingerprint file
  • Surety bond

Know your state's requirements. In most states, you must satisfy a series of requirements before you will be given a license to operate your escrow business. Currently there is no formal education process necessary to obtain a license. However, there are some common, industry-related guidelines that must be followed.

Satisfy your minimum net worth requirement. Most states require new escrow companies to be financially stable. You must show liquid assets in the amount of $50,000 or higher, depending on your state's guidelines. This can include cash, stocks, bonds and equity in both real estate and automobiles.

Satisfy your state's professional season requirement. Most states require at least one principal or manager of an escrow company to have a certain amount of experience in working for an escrow company. Three to 5 years is common.

Join your state's association that oversees the conduct of escrow companies (if one exists). In some states, you must have specific professional affiliation with and membership in a legitimate network. In California, for example, this organization is the Escrow Agents Fidelity Corporation.

Get fingerprinted, which is usually done prior to sending in your application. Most police departments offer free fingerprinting services. If your law enforcement agency does charge you, it usually is a very minimal expense.

Fill out your application paperwork. Most application packages contain several documents. Some will require you to divulge personal financial information, credit history and criminal history.

Pay your application fee. Most states require each applicant to pay a nonrefundable application fee, usually in the $500 to $2,000 range. Send your application fee to your state's regulatory office along with your application packet and fingerprints.

Begin prospecting for business. Escrow companies commonly get business from attorneys, real estate agents, estate and financial planners and other members of the business community. After you have your license, begin marketing your company at networking events and in the media. Hand out your card wherever you go.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always make sure you satisfy all requirements before sending in your application. Only do business with a bank that has a reputable business banking department. Clear up all outstanding negative credit that may show up on your credit report before applying. Some states look harshly upon applicants with poor credit histories. Be prepared to be bonded. In most states, it's required to purchase a surety bond. Contact an attorney if you don't understand the application requirements. Have a thorough business plan that includes a budget. Start small, unless you know you will have a large volume of business right out of the gate.
  • Never operate as an escrow agent without a license. Transferring large amounts of money on behalf of others without a proper license can result in very stiff penalties, including prison.

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