Do you have a foreign investor or buyer looking to purchase a home in California? If the client writes a personal check drawn on a foreign bank, it may take several weeks to be able to verify that the check has actually cleared. On the other hand, deposit checks we take from a customer drawn on a U.S. bank typically clear within 3-4 days.
Wire Transfers Expedite Process
There are steps you can take to ensure the escrow closes on time by working with your buyer to understand the need for a wire transfer to expedite the closing process. When you write an offer and are presented with a check drawn on a foreign bank, write on the first page of the purchase agreement that the buyer will arrange to wire transfer the deposit to the escrow company upon acceptance of the offer. Sometimes Realtors will go so far as to actually take the check to present with the offer, but state that the check will be replaced with a wire transfer upon acceptance. Either way works. Please keep in mind, that some escrow companies may require a wire from a foreign buyer (and not accept a check at all) due to the possibilities of delay. Contact the escrow company directly to inquire what the required procedures are.
There are problems that could arise if a check drawn on a foreign bank IS deposited into escrow:
- Buyer could call his bank to put a stop-payment order on the check and escrow may not even be notified of this for 6 to 8 weeks. Our escrow officers have experienced buyers who decided against the purchase of the property and placed a stop payment on the check and then were unaware the stop-payment had been done.
- Costs are being incurred on the strength of the buyers’ earnest money deposit. If the Sellers are holding their property off the market, they deserve to be assured that the buyer has “good funds” in escrow to back up the offer they have made to purchase
- If the escrow is scheduled to close rather quickly, for example 14 days, and the initial deposit check drawn on a foreign bank is deposited into escrow, the escrow company may not be able to verify clearance of the check as a way of guaranteeing that there are “good funds” in the escrow and allowing the escrow to close.
Generally there is little resistance from the buyer to following these suggestions when the implications are explained. When a buyer is told up-front by the Realtor that any funds coming into escrow must be made by wire transfer, it conveys to the client that we are all on the same page and have the same goal: closing the escrow successfully.
Here is an example of a wire transfer request form.
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