Mortgage companies, landowners, and prospective real estate buyers usually choose to conduct business transactions through neutral third-parties called escrow companies. Escrow officers and their assistants make sure contract obligations are fulfilled, pending loans and debts are paid, and real estate titles are clean and ready to be transferred. An escrow assistant primarily handles customer service duties and basic office paperwork. With the appropriate training, he or she may be allowed to negotiate contract terms and create legal documents as well.
When a person decides to buy a new house or invest in another type of real estate property, he or she can set up a contract by working through an escrow company. An escrow assistant speaks with the new client in person or over the phone, explaining the basics of working through a contract and transferring money. He or she clarifies the sometimes confusing details about legal matters, title transfers, and insurance policies. Once the client is satisfied with the terms, the escrow assistant can review documents with a supervising officer and start working with the seller or mortgage company.
Escrow assistants also perform general secretarial duties at the office. They answer phones, set up appointments with officers, and update electronic client files. Many assistants are also in charge of payroll, scheduling, and other office management jobs. It is essential for an escrow assistant to be very detail-oriented and organized in order to ensure day-to-day operations run smoothly and that important documents and contracts can be found when they are needed.
There are no strict education or training requirements to become an escrow assistant. Most employers will hire high school graduates who are able to demonstrate strong math, communication, and computer skills. Some large escrow offices prefer to hire assistants who have completed some college work in a business specialty such as finance or paralegal studies. In addition, previous work experience in customer service positions, real estate agencies, or law firms can significantly improve a person's chances of landing an entry-level job.
New escrow assistants typically spend one to four weeks in training, participating in classroom activities and shadowing experienced assistants and officers on the job. After several weeks of supervised work, a successful escrow assistant is given more responsibilities and allowed to work independently. With continuing education and at least one year of experience, an assistant may be able to become an officer at a local escrow office.