About Five Star Escrow

At Five Star Escrow, our goal is to provide superior service to real estate agents, lenders and their clients with cutting edge technology and ongoing, timely communication. We understand that escrow is often considered a commodity and believe the only way to earn and maintain business is to put our clients first. We adhere to a strict code of ethics and pay attention to detail to ensure your real estate transaction is managed professionally and closes on time. Five Star isn’t just a name, it’s a philosophy.

Five Star Escrow is a full-service escrow company licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight. We have the infrastructure and are fully staffed to provide a full complement of escrow services. These include residential and commercial purchases, refinances and loans, REO and short sales, 1031 exchanges and bulk sales.

Join our Team?

Meet the Five Star Escrow Officers

Heather Bayes
Heather BayesBranch Manager
Rachel Andersen
Rachel AndersenEscrow Officer
Jennifer Decker
Jennifer DeckerEscrow Officer
Terra Clayborn
Terra ClaybornEscrow Officer
Cecelia Reiswitz
Cecelia ReiswitzEscrow Officer

Five Star Escrow Serivces

Managing your escrow needs with a “service first” attitude is our driving force.
Our dedicated staff is eager to assist with your escrow requirements in the following areas:

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Real estate professionals understand the important role escrow plays to make the dream of home ownership come true for their clients. Delays in closing can cause unnecessary stress for buyers and sellers and jeopardize future referral opportunities for agents. As a real estate professional, your reputation is your business and we’re committed to doing our part to enhance that in the eyes of your clients.
Residential Purchases
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Closing loan escrows requires creative problem-solving, attention to detail and constant communication with all parties involved in the transaction.

Purchase and Refinance Loans

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These challenging transactions require rapid turn times, multiple HUD revisions and an eye for detail. Five Star is the exclusive short sale partner of one of the largest short sale negotiation firms in the industry, so we understand this specialized niche and we have the bandwidth to handle volume.

Short Sales
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REO transactions present special challenges due to rigorous reporting standards and strict timelines imposed by lenders. Processing a large volume of REO escrows and meeting these high expectations is Five Star’s top priority for these important lender clients.

Real Estate Owned (REO)

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The tax law requires the use of a “qualified intermediary” when performing a 1031 tax exchange. Five Star Escrow serves as an outside third party who facilitates the Real Estate Exchange, holding the funds received from the relinquished property until the owner purchases the replacement property.

1031 Exchange
Real estate professionals understand the important role escrow plays to make the dream of home ownership come true for their clients. Delays in closing can cause unnecessary stress for buyers and sellers and jeopardize future referral opportunities for agents. As a real estate professional, your reputation is your business and we’re committed to doing our part to enhance that in the eyes of your clients.
Closing loan escrows requires creative problem-solving, attention to detail and constant communication with all parties involved in the transaction.
These challenging transactions require rapid turn times, multiple HUD revisions and an eye for detail. Five Star is the exclusive short sale partner of one of the largest short sale negotiation firms in the industry, so we understand this specialized niche and we have the bandwidth to handle volume.
REO transactions present special challenges due to rigorous reporting standards and strict timelines imposed by lenders. Processing a large volume of REO escrows and meeting these high expectations is Five Star’s top priority for these important lender clients.
The tax law requires the use of a “qualified intermediary” when performing a 1031 tax exchange. Five Star Escrow serves as an outside third party who facilitates the Real Estate Exchange, holding the funds received from the relinquished property until the owner purchases the replacement property.

Open an Escrow

Five Star Escrow makes it easy to open an escrow. Whether it’s for a Purchase or Refinance, download the form and fax or email it to us, or give us a call and one of our experienced team members will be happy to assist you.

Refinance Escrow Order Form
Purchase Escrow Order Form

What our Clients say

A very big thank you to Sarah. This past week I had a deal located at (redacted) almost fall through. Thanks to the quick thinking and hard work we were able to close on time. Many times escrow companies say they are the best, but fail to deliver when things get tough. She not only worked after hours but also over the weekend to make things happen. I’m writing this message because I’m grateful and very appreciative of her hard work….Thank you!
Dave Range, Realtor

Thank you for your service for our transaction at the Bavarian property. You have been a wonderful professional to work with and I have never found a service oriented personnel that goes extra mile to assist in every way to make the close of escrow as smooth as you could have done. I found you an incredible professional so I will continue to do business with you and your company.

Romeo Parel, Broker, Royal Integrity Realty Service

Short sale so the usual problems there, but once we got the ok from the bank Heather was on top of everything. Always very prompt to respond to email and calls and keep me well informed as to where we were and what needed to happen. Very professional and competent!

Kurt Kendall, Century 21
That was a amazing! I’m on cloud 9! For the next month Straight I will be telling everyone one that my team delivered on a 48 hour escrow. That’s how we do, that’s why we are the best. Thanks again everyone. On to the next one : )
Leon Cook, CEO, Short Sale Experts, Inc.
Jennifer, you did a great job with the escrow on Maturin and I am going to get you more of my transactions… I have encouraged the 3 agents who are hanging their licenses with me to use you as well. Great price and great service. What is better than that!
Todd Harris, Ensign Realty
Heather Bayes is the most professional escrow officer I have ever worked with. She cares about her clients and will go the extra mile in making sure she gets the job done right. All of my clients have been very happy with her.
Matt Silver, Lender

From the beginning of the transaction with Heather, the transaction has gone so smoothly and a lot has to do with Heather and her one of a kind personality. We work with many escrow agents in the industry and she is far above and capable of working with anyone if she can work with us. She always has had a wonderful attitude; efficient, diligent, professional, meticulous, pleasant and more we could not say enough about her. She is a good example for your “Five Star” name. We hope to work with her or your company again. We really appreciate her kind cooperation in getting our loan funded.

Denise Deme, Lenders Rate

I just want to take a minute to thank all of you who worked so diligently on our behalf to make the sale of our home effortless for us. I know how hard each and every one worked on our behalf and that of the buyer. It was inconceivable that it could be done as quickly as it was…and we know the only reason it happened is because everyone at Five Star worked and pushed and worked some more. Thank you so very much for never failing to return a call…never losing patience with non stop questions…you are the best and we wish we could thank each if you in person. You are super heroes to us!

Patrick and Patricia Langan, Homeowners
See More Testimonials

Documents For Your Information

The following documents are provided by Five Star Escrow as a courtesy only. We make no representation or warranty as to the enforceability or sufficiency of the documents.

Escrow 101

Escrow is a deposit of funds, a deed, or legal property from one party to another party upon completion of some condition or event. The California Escrow Law: Section 17003 of the Financial Code provides the full legal definition.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a buyer, seller, borrower or lender — it’s important to have a guarantee that property or funds will not exchange hands until all instructions in a given transaction have been completed. The escrow holder is an unbiased third party who operates by instructions mutually agreed upon by the parties to the transaction. The escrow holder is under obligation to safeguard all documents and funds and to disburse those funds when all escrow provisions have been complied with.

The escrow principals — buyer, seller, lender, borrower — cause escrow instructions to be drafted, signed, and delivered to the escrow officer. If a broker is involved, they will provide the escrow officer with the information necessary for the preparation of your escrow instructions and documents.

The escrow officer will process said escrow, in accordance with the escrow instructions, and when all conditions are met, the escrow will be “closed.”

Escrow holder duties include: following instructions given by the principals and parties to the transaction in a timely manner; handling documents and funds in accordance with the instruction; paying all bills as authorized; responding to authorized requests from the principals; closing the escrow only when all required payments are made in accordance with instructions and provide an accounting for same: the Closing or Settlement Statement.

The selection of the escrow holder is normally agreed upon by the principals. If a real estate broker is involved in the transaction, the broker may recommend an escrow holder. However, it is the right of the principals to use an escrow holder who is competent and experienced. Laws prohibit payment of referral fees which affords the consumer the best possible escrow services without compromise caused by a person receiving an illegal “kickback”.

The key to any transaction is to read and understand your escrow instructions. If you are confused by any of the documentation, consult your escrow officer for an explanation.

Your escrow officer is not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your escrow, consult your attorney. Your escrow officer will not advise you on whether or not you have a “good deal” or are doing things the right way. His or her obligation is to follow the instructions given by the principals in the escrow.

To expedite closing, check with your escrow officer to see if there are specific items you can do to assist in closing faster.

Quickly respond to any correspondence. This will assist in the timely closing of the transaction.

If you are required to deliver funds into the escrow, make sure that you provide “good” funds in the form required by the escrow officer. Company procedures differ in this regard, and there are many ways you can help at the time of closing. Do not give the escrow officer a personal check and expect the escrow to close immediately; the escrow can only close on cleared funds, and the processing of a personal check can delay closing.

If you are obtaining a new loan, your escrow officer will communicate with the lender who will need copies of the escrow instructions, the preliminary title report, and any other documents. In the processing and closing of the escrow, the escrow holder is obligated to comply with the lender’s instructions.

It has become a practice of some lenders to forward their loan documents to escrow for signing. You should be aware that these papers are lender’s documents and cannot be explained or interpreted by the escrow officer. You have the option of requesting a representative from the lender’s office to be present for explanation, or arrange to meet with your lender to sign the documents in their office.

A closing statement is an accounting, in writing, prepared at the close of escrow which sets forth the charges and credits of your account. The items shown on the statement will reflect the purchase price, the funds deposited or credited to your account, payoffs on existing encumbrances and/or liens, the costs for all services and a determination of the funds you are entitled to at the close of the escrow. When you receive your closing papers, review the closing statement; it is extremely logical and reflects the financial aspects of your transaction. If anything does not make sense to you, you should ask your escrow officer for an explanation.

Review your closing papers carefully for accuracy (there may even be a refund check hiding in there.) Your closing statement and all other escrow papers should be kept for income tax purposes. In addition, your accountant will need the information about the sale or purchase of the property. IRS and other agencies may require you to prove your costs and/or profit on the sale of any property. The closing statement will assist in this task.

Do not rely on your escrow holder retaining the escrow file so that you can “always call and get copies of the closing statement.” Some escrow holders may destroy files after the statutory retention period, usually five years, because maintaining and storing the closed files is costly. A nominal fee may be charged by your escrow holder for the retrieval of a file from storage, photocopying the requested documents and returning the file to storage.

Escrow fees are not regulated by the State. Escrow holder will charge fees that are commensurate with the costs of producing the service, the liability undertaken, and the overhead expenses which include a profit. Therefore, the fees will vary between companies and from county to county. Normally, the escrow holder will follow its minimum fee schedule, which will provide for extra charges based upon the differing elements of your escrow.

The escrow holder has no control over the costs of other services that are obtained, such as the title insurance policy, the lender’s charges, insurance, recording charges, etc. Your escrow officer can provide you with an estimate of escrow and third party fees and costs.

No escrow is opened with the intention that it will cancel, but there are occasions when a contingency cannot be met or when the parties disagree prior to closing. Some escrow holders provide for such an event by incorporating an instruction in the typed or printed General Provisions.

Ordinarily, an escrow holder will take the position that no funds on deposit can be refunded until the escrow holder is in receipt of mutual cancellation instructions signed by the principals. The escrow holder cannot normally make a determination as to who is the “rightful” party in a dispute on a cancellation and therefore will not return the funds or documents until the principals agree.
Some escrow companies charge a cancellation fee for professional services rendered. These fees can vary from company to company depending upon their policies.

If a dispute exists between the principals, the escrow holder may be forced to allow a court to decide which party is entitled to what documents or funds; this is called an Interpleader Action. Fortunately, most disputes are resolved before the Interpleader is filed, as the costs for such legal actions are extreme and are normally paid out of the funds on deposit in the escrow.

Title Insurance is usually obtained when real property is purchased. The policy of title insurance insures the owner and/or the lender of ownership of the property. There are various coverages afforded, but a basic policy insures that the buyer is the owner and that any lender shown on the policy is an “insured” lender. Many different types of extended coverages are available; for example, an ALTA policy is quite often required by institutional lender to afford them additional protection under the title insurance policy. The title policy is written after an extensive examination of the public record is made and the recording of the required documents as called for in the escrow.

The title insurance policy fee is a one-time fee that’s paid at the close of escrow. The determination of who pays for the policy is not uniform from county to county in California. In some counties, the buyer will pay while in others the seller will pay. In other counties the seller will pay for the lender’s title policy. But in almost every case, the question of who pays closing costs is a matter of agreement between the parties. Usually this agreement is based on the customary practice in your county or area. In the case of some FHA or VA transactions, the escrow officer must follow the guidelines as required by the lender and/or government.

The terms of your transaction and the resultant escrow instructions determine how the property taxes will be handled. If there is no mention of the proration of taxes, your escrow officer will not deal with any credits or charges for prorated taxes. However, if your escrow calls for a proration of taxes, there will be an item in your closing statement that will reflect either a credit or charge to your account. If the taxes are not paid (even though there has been a credit or charge against your account), the buyer is obligated to obtain a tax bill and pay the taxes. If the buyer does not have a tax bill with which to pay the taxes, you can request a bill from the Tax Collector; send a photocopy of the deed.

Supplemental Property Taxes is another concern of the buyer. Upon transfer of real property, a supplemental tax bill is generated through cooperation with the County Assessor and the County Tax Collector.

Shortly after the close of an escrow involving the conveyance of real property, the County Assessor will request information about the property from the buyer. This information assists the Assessor in determining the value of the property for taxation purposes. The escrow holder may have previously supplied some of the information at the time of the closing of the escrow, via Preliminary Change of Ownership form that should accompany each deed when it is recorded.

Perfection is sometimes difficult to achieve, especially in dealing with the complexities of the escrow. Desires, conditions, and other matters are sometimes far beyond the control of the escrow officer. It is human nature to err on occasion, but your escrow officer has the background, training, education, support, and systems in place necessary in order to accomplish the objectives of the escrow instructions.

In case you have any problems with the handling of your escrow, you should contact the escrow officer first. If your problem is not resolved, contact the management or owner of the escrow company, and if the matter requires additional attention, call the proper regulatory agency.

Contact Five Star Escrow

Please complete the form below and one of our friendly staff members will respond by the next business day.

Five Star Escrow
4719 Viewridge Ave, Suite 220
San Diego, CA 92123

Phone: (858) 386-4811

Fax: (888) 315-3652

Hours: Mon to Fri : 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

DBO Lic.# 963-2665