Business Escrow: What You Need to Know

A finger is touching the word escrow, which is surrounded by business icons.

With global supply chain disruptions, increased geopolitical tensions, and an uncertain economic outlook, risk management is once again at the forefront of business leader’s minds. Most decision makers are aware that business escrow can reduce risk during large and complex transactions but the details of how this process works are often unclear. So, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions about business escrow to help business leaders get the most from these services.

What is a business escrow agent?

An escrow agent is a neutral third party that assists in mitigating risk related to complex or lengthy transactions. These transactions can sometimes take months or years to finalize, and an escrow agent ensures that the terms of the agreement are honored by both parties.

To accomplish this, the escrow agent holds money, titles, or anything of value that will be exchanged during the transaction. Once the terms of the contract are met, the escrow agent releases these assets to their intended recipient.

Who needs business escrow?

Businesses that engage in large or complex transactions can benefit from escrow services. That’s because these transactions often create a substantial risk for both buyers and sellers, and business escrow helps to mitigate this risk.

By placing funds with a neutral third party, businesses can ensure that the contract will be honored before assets are released. Because business escrow protects both buyers and sellers, this service can increase trust and foster a good working relationship.

When is Business Escrow Useful?

Some common examples of transactions where business escrow is used include:

Real Estate Sales or Purchases

Business escrow can be particularly useful in real estate transactions because buying a piece of property can require a lengthy negotiation. Often buyers must have time to complete due diligence and acquire financing for the purchase.

By placing funds in escrow, sellers receive assurance that the buyer is able to complete the purchase once negotiations and due diligence are completed. Additionally, buyers are protected in the event that due diligence reveals previously unknown issues that could derail the purchase.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Business escrow during a merger or acquisition is similar to the process of a real estate transaction. In both cases, a significant amount of due diligence is needed. During this due diligence period, buyers are protected in case issues arise, and sellers are compensated in the event that buyers back out of the transaction.

Supplier Relationships

When ordering a large shipment from a supplier, or working with a new vendor, business escrow can help reduce risk for both parties. Buyers can be assured that the goods they order will be delivered on time and of the agreed upon quality. Sellers can be assured that payment for the goods will be available upon delivery. This can be particularly important in the current environment of supply chain delays and global uncertainty.

How does business escrow help buyers?

During negotiations for a large purchase, conditions for the sale will be set. These conditions could include a timeframe for delivery of goods and conditions for the quality of items to be purchased, or they could include a due diligence period in the case of a merger or property acquisition. Often, a deposit or upfront payment is required.

If a buyer makes an upfront payment and the deal falls apart, they could lose their investment. So, instead of paying this money directly to the seller, a business can hire an escrow agent. The escrow company will hold the required payment securely until the terms of the contract are met, then release them to the seller. If the deal goes through according to plan, the seller receives their payment, and the buyer receives their property.

On the other hand, if the seller fails to deliver, is unable to complete the transaction, or delivers goods that are not of the agreed-upon quality, the buyer’s funds are returned according to the terms of the escrow agreement. In this way, escrow protects buyers from unscrupulous sellers as well as contracts that are unable to be completed due to circumstances outside of a seller’s control.

How does escrow help sellers?

Similarly, escrow protects sellers from buyers that are unable to complete an agreed upon purchase. For vendors, large purchase orders can have long lead times, and often require significant investments of both time and money. If the intended buyer is unable or unwilling to complete the purchase when the time comes, it can leave the vendor with a supply that is unmarketable to other potential purchasers. However, when a vendor uses an escrow service, this risk is reduced or eliminated because the buyer has placed the funds for the purchase with a neutral third party who ensures that the contract terms are met.

When selling a large or valuable asset, like a business or a piece of property, there can be risk that the buyer backs out of the transaction or is unable to pay when the time comes. Escrow mitigates these risks because, when escrow is used, the buyer puts collateral up front. It is kept separate from operating expenses and held by a neutral third party, the escrow agent. So, if the purchaser becomes insolvent, or backs out of the deal, the seller can still receive payment according to the contract specifications. By using an escrow service, sellers can ensure that they are paid for their time and effort, even if the purchase contract falls through.

Are all escrow agents equal?

The level of service and benefits offered can vary greatly between escrow providers. At the American Deposit Management Co. [ADM], we believe that business escrow agents should provide top-notch service, unparalleled safety, and competitive returns.

Using proprietary fintech, we provide our clients with the highest level of safety for their escrowed cash – FDIC / NCUA insurance. Typically, this insures accounts up to $250k per ownership category at each insured institution. But with fintech, we can provide access to full FDIC / NCUA protection for any amount of business cash. We accomplish this by spreading escrowed funds across our nationwide network of banks and credit unions that compete for business deposits. This ensures that your business receives nationally competitive rates for escrow cash.

Where can I get more information about business escrow services?

For more information about business escrow at ADM, contact us today.

For more valuable information, visit our Insights page. There, you can view all of our articles about business escrow and other topics related to business cash management and banking. If you have questions, or want to discuss your business’ needs, our experienced professionals are always eager to help.

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