Frequently Asked Questions


Can You Explain What An Escrow Is?

The buyer and seller conduct business with each other through a neutral intermediary, your escrow company. Mutual written instructions by both parties are carried out by the escrow holder to exchange property and funds.

When Do I Open An Escrow?

As soon as you and your other party are in complete agreement, a mutually selected escrow officer should be called. Consider the professional advice of your real estate agent.

What Does The Escrow Officer Need From Me?

Along with the terms of the sale the following are a list of items that are most helpful to expedite your transaction.


  1. Recent existing lender statement(s).
  2. Current Home Owner Association documents.
  3. Recent structural pest control report (if required).


  1. Complete names & vesting
    (seek tax advice as to consequences of how you take title).
  2. Initial deposit check.
  3. Terms of financing and new lenders name.
  4. Insurance agent informationTOP

The Escrow Officer Does:

Prepare instructions and specific documents. Order all necessary payoff or assignment statements, homeowner association statements and title search. Secure releases of existing liens of record and disburses documents in accordance with mutual written instructions. Prepare all final statements for principals, accounting as to the disposition of all funds deposited with the escrow officer. Provide you with the assistance to close your transaction quickly and effectively. Escrow officers are trained, experienced professionals.

The Escrow Officer Does Not:

Act as a negotiator for the transaction or any terms thereof. Offer legal and or tax advice. Offer investment advice.

What Advice Can I Get From The Escrow Officer?

Remember, an escrow officer cannot give legal advice. The purpose of escrow is to carry out the mutual instructions of the buyer and seller. If there are any disagreements between the principals, the escrow officer remains neutral until an agreement is negotiated. The escrow officer does not become involved in the negotiations.

Who Pays The Fees & Costs?

The charges of a transaction are dependent on the type and complexity of your transaction and the terms of your agreement. Both your professional real estate agent and your escrow holder can help you determine those costs. The seller typically pays for those costs involved in assuring the buyer a clear title and the buyer typically pays for any costs involved in the financing. The escrow fees are normally paid one half each. There are exceptions to the rules, so be sure to consult your professionals for help.

Who Can Answer My Questions?

Your primary consultant should be your real estate agent / broker if the negotiations have been conducted through them. The escrow officer will often refer you to the real estate agent/broker, legal counsel, or quite possibly a tax advisor.

What Happens If The Transaction Cancels?

A cancellation agreement must be reached between the parties with mutual written instructions calling, with live signatures, for the disposition of any funds and/or documents. Payment of any charges incurred should be considered including fees and costs incurred by the lender, homeowners association, title company and escrow holder. If the parties cannot agree, a court order may be needed.TOP

What Happens At Closing?

The closing can take place when all instructions have been complied with. After all funds have been collected and costs paid, the property title can be transferred. This transfer of title is called the "recording". Recorded documents and title policies will be mailed to you after closing.

Quick Tips


For Michelle Smith: The Hallmark Team in Fullerton did a terrific job guiding me through my first escrow! Their expertise kept everything on track and on time! I request Hallmark on every offer I write.

- John G. Hancock, Realtor

For Debra Boozer: Hallmark Escrow has always been #1 in my book. Debra and her crew go over the top when it comes to customer service. Working with Hallmark Escrow for the past 18 years has been a great pleasure. When I close an escrow with an outside agent and Debra is the escrow officer, the agent always has something good to say about her performance during the transaction.

- Geri Sexton, Realtor

Linda, just wanted to say THANK YOU for all your professionalism and help in getting this escrow closed in a timely manner. The sellers were very pleased with your work....

- Gil Rivera, Broker

For Debra Boozer: From our first escrow, Debra Boozer and her dedicated team at Hallmark Escrow have impressed us with their experience, knowledge, efficiency and professionalism and years later, we would never want to work with anyone else. We love being able to track the progress of the transaction online and the realtors we work with really appreciate the service. Online, on the phone or in person, Debra and her team are always available for us. Their high level of integrity, commitment and extensive knowledge of the escrow process have become invaluable tools in our kit that we can offer to our clients. We know when we open an escrow with Hallmark Escrow that we are providing the very best for our clients by partnering with excellence.

- Anna Orlow and Laura Orlow, Realtors

For Debra Boozer: It has been my pleasure and the strength of my business to be able to assemble a team with Debra and Hallmark as my escrow company.  She and her team are diligent and incredibly effective in making sure all aspects are take care of throughout the entire transaction.  She will never quit and will work until the last second to close a deal on time and that helps me with the trust of my clients.

- Kathy Leimkuhler, Realtor

For Debra Boozer: Hallmark Escrow has been on my side since I started real estate.  Hallmark has been the best resource to keep the most challenging transactions rolling smoothly.  Debra and her staff have been instrumental in making sure I embrace short sales and guide me and the homeowners through the process.  Debra and her staff never fail to answer any queries related to escrow even when they are not the assigned escrow.  Hallmark has gone above and beyond to support me in my real estate career and I owe my success to them.

- Regina Singh, Realtor

For Michelle Smith: Knowledgeable and personable – it takes both to make a real estate agent happy! The Hallmark Fullerton office is never too busy to answer questions and find solutions and they do it with a smile and sense of humor. I can go there with absolute trust in what they say. They make my job easier and I know my clients are well taken care of.

- Mark Bernstein – Realtor

For Michelle Smith: Michelle and Ellen are a fantastic team. They are always supportive and efficient when we need their assistance. These ladies are super efficient and are always read to stop whatever they are doing to help any agent when called upon. Sometimes we are lined up in the offices and they simply handle all of us as though we are #1 at that moment. I always try to get Michelle and Ellen on all of my deals.

- Shelly Merbach – Realtor

For Michelle Smith: Let me express my gratitude and appreciation for the exceptional service put forth by Michelle Smith with Hallmark Escrow. Her professionalism, attention to detail and time sensitive awareness is flawless. I truly look forward to our next closing and will definitely refer her business in the future. I cannot thank Michelle enough for the excellent customer service!

- Rachelle R. Shell, Loan Officer

For Michelle Smith: Michelle and Ellen at Hallmark Escrow always do a fantastic job for me and my clients. They work well with my team and are very thorough and precise. I place my escrows with them whenever possible and recommend them whole-heartedly.

- Matt Switzer, Loan Rep

For Michelle Smith: I have now used Michelle, Ellen and Abby at Hallmark Escrow on 3 transactions. Their service has been outstanding. They have gracefully dealt with my most difficult client many times and always put him at ease. Their quality work has made my career much easier!

- Rob Weiss, Realtor

For Michelle Smith: I use Michelle and Ellen at Hallmark Escrow whenever I am the listing agent. I try to also use them when on the buyer’s side because I know they will get things done quickly and correctly. From my experience with outside escrow companies, I find that Michelle and Ellen are so much more knowledgeable than most. They have always given me excellent service and continually have gone above and beyond what standard service would offer including staying very late to get an escrow closed for me. When my deal is with Hallmark Escrow in Fullerton, I know I am covered and it is one less thing I worry about.

- Dana Habener, Realtor

For Michelle Smith: They are kind, professional, extremely knowledgeable and totally capable of meeting the challenges of all aspects of our complicated escrows. They always offer helpful information at our office meetings. My clients have also commented that they have been pleased with the services rendered and that always makes me look good. Thank you Michelle, Ellen and Abby for all of your hard work and for always being there when I need you.

- Agi Mezei, Realtor

For Michelle Smith: Hallmark Escrow Fullerton has always been a great help. Their knowledge base is extensive and experience level very valuable. The staff is friendly and consistent. They have handled big problems with difficult people exceedingly well. I recommend them often.

- Beau Watkins, Realtor

For Debra Boozer: Hallmark Escrow recently handled a transaction for my wife and me. We were very pleased with the service we received from Debra Boozer and her staff. They were very professional, friendly and timely in handling the matter at hand. We would not hesitate to use their services in the future.

- Douglas T. Munroe, Buyer

For Michelle Smith: Michelle and Ellen are very professional and knowledgeable escrow officers. I would recommend them any time. Thank you for all the escrows we closed together.

- Victor Mexhinsky, Realtor

For Michelle Smith: There are reasons I have followed Michelle Smith as she has moved around the escrow world here in Orange County. They are Performance, Reliability and Trust and all while maintaining the ultimate level of customer service. Starting back 25 years ago, Michelle has acquired a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with some of the most challenging, complex and problematic escrows imaginable – I know because I brought many of them to her! Michelle, thanks for all the help, hard work and patience over the years. You’re the best and I sincerely appreciate the fact that you have always exceeded my expectations and have never let me down! Cheer’s to another 25 years!

- Scott Weimer, Broker

For Michelle Smith: Hallmark Escrow took care of everything. I feel like I took advantage. Their professionalism and knowledge made my current closing go through so easy for me that I can’t wait until our next escrow. Thanks Hallmark, especially to Michelle Smith and Ellen Hale.

- Pablo Salcedo, Realtor

For Stephanie Alberts: I have been a realtor for 10 years and have used just about every escrow in town. Hallmark Escrow is truly one of the best, if not the best I have used. Hallmark does not expect your business, they earn your business. They do this with exceptional customer service to you and your clients. With Hallmark, communication is easy and challenges are tackled and conquered. I appreciate their hard work and they show me that they appreciate my continued business. I would recommend their service to anyone in the real estate business – you will not be disappointed.

- Dutch Kleindienst, Realtor

For Stephanie Alberts: We want to thank you and your team for your constant communication and professionalism. We are forever grateful!

- Lesley H., Buyer