You are going to need an escrow or settlement company to act as an "independent third party" between you and the seller.
Without having a third party involved, how do you know that when you fork over the money, you are going to get the deed? This is the type of service provided by escrow and settlement. They will hold your deposit and coordinate much of the activity that goes on during the escrow period.
It is typical for the sellers’ side to choose the escrow company, however you can discuss with your agent about negotiating on this point.
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