Escrow opens when both the buyer and seller sign a Residential Purchase Agreement. The contract, along with any additional instructions, serves as instructions for the escrow officer. Escrow assures that the lender releases the home purchase funds at or about the same time that the deed is recorded to reflect new ownership. Escrow includes depositing, with a neutral third party, funds, documents and instructions necessary to complete the transfer. Because the real estate transaction involves large sums of money and reams of documentation, escrow is not always a predestined, step-by-step process, but can become a confusing end game of details, nit picking and overlapping procedures. Your escrow officer opens escrow by assigning your escrow an account number and collecting the contract and other instructions, the buyer’s deposit and perhaps additional proceeds or documents related to the transaction. Deposits are either applied to the purchase price, or returned should the deal fall through.