An escrow “opens” when the buyer and seller sign a purchase contract, execute escrow instructions and deposit these documents into escrow. An escrow “closes” when all of the conditions to the sale are fulfilled, the money is released and the documents are recorded. In between “opening” and “closing”, the transaction will be called “in escrow.” Escrows can close quickly, if the transaction happens fast. Escrows can also remain open for months, or even years, if problems develop. If some of the conditions to sale are not fulfilled, and the sale does not occur, this is often called “falling out of escrow.”
Sometimes, one sale cannot occur until another sale is completed. This will occur, for example, when the buyer does not have the money to purchase the new property, until his or her old property is sold. In this case, two escrows will be opened at the same time, and it will be a condition of one escrow closing that the other one close as well. This is sometimes called a “double escrow.” When there is a double escrow, neither escrow can close until both close.