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Information for Canadian Buyers and Sellers of Washington Properties:
ESCROW: In Washington once a property has an accepted offer we "open escrow" with a neutral 3rd party escrow service. They are charged with safeguarding the monies put on deposit and making sure that all the paper work required transferring the property legally and fully to you is completed.
Escrow usually eliminates the need for an attorney in the transaction. While you may always consult or use an attorney it is not typically necessary for a common real estate transaction handled by an escrow company.
Deposits: Most contracts will require an earnest money deposit. This deposit will be held and credited to you at the close of escrow when the property transfers to you and the monies to the seller. You will need this money or a check payable in US Dollars for this amount when submitting your offer. Often times this check is needed to submit most offers.
Inspection Period: This is the 17 day period from acceptance of your offer that gives you time to have the property physically inspected, line up financing - if needed - and review all documents pertaining to the property. It is always recommended that you have any property you are looking to buy fully inspected.
Loans: Typically you can expect to have to put down 30% and probably more like 40% Lending programs are always evolving and the situation can change.
Utilities: I will provide you with a list of the correct utilities. About a week before we "close escrow" you can call and have the utilities set up in your name. Just let the utility company know the approximate date of transfer. As always I can help you with specific questions as the need arises.
Costs for Buyers: The bulk of the costs in a real estate transaction are borne by the seller. Your major fee will be escrow. This fee starts about $500 for the smallest purchases and goes up incrementally with the size of the purchase. If you do a cash purchase at $500,000 your total fees should be right about $1,000. You are entitled to know your approximate fees before you agree to an escrow service provider. Getting a loan will increase your costs about 2 or 3 times that. Loan fees are set by the individual lenders. You are entitled to an estimated closing costs statement prior to signing for the loan. This document should detail the exact fees you are paying for obtaining the loan.
Insurance: If you are getting a loan you will be required to provide escrow proof of sufficient insurance to protect the asset the bank is loaning on. If you are paying cash you do not have this requirement but it is highly recommended that you insure the property prior to purchasing it.