You are in California your law may very from ours in Illinois. For example here in Illinois let's say the property never makes it to close. In order to release the earnest monies back to appropriate parties the release of escrow form must be signed be all parties including managing broker. This does not happen at a tittle company. In some situation sometimes the attorneys do get involved if a dispute occurs to why the property didn't close. For the most part once the paper work is complete the selling managing brokers returns the funds.
Normally, yes they are signed at the title company. That said depending on how your transaction is set up if you can get your docs pre signed either via power of attorney (POA) or notarized, again why has a lot to do with it.
Hope this helps.
The closer must also follow the rules and procedures of the representative title company. Assuming there is title insurance policy being issued. There may be also two different closers in two different cities. There was a time when re-finances were closed at the dining room table.
Is this for a transaction in Illinios? Your profile has you in San Francisco, CA. Typically, they are done at the title company. Is there a loan involved?