countdown to closing

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

The contract has been signed by both buyer and seller. Now it’s the Final Countdown. Cue music. Daa! Da-da-daa!

There are several clocks that start ticking towards closing. They all start and stop at different times. Some clocks count the business days while others count the calendar days. Here’s a simple breakdown of the countdown to closing:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When selling a property, everyone wants to collect a big check. Well, maybe not an actual paper check, but lots of money. If you’re getting funds from the sale of your house, there are a couple of ways to collect your money from the title company when it closes. Just a couple.

Would you like a check or a wire? Those are your basic choices. Title companies can also transfer the funds to another transaction if you are purchasing another property. But we’re not going to pay you in real paper cash, foreign currency, with PayPal, Venmo, Bitcoin or anything else.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Home buyers often like the sense of protection they feel when getting a home warranty on the property they are buying. Until they discover their home warranty is much less effective than expected.

Seasoned and savvy buyers know that a home warranty policy offers limited coverage. They aren’t all-inclusive. In my opinion, some are kind of useless.

Why hate on home warranty companies? I order a lot of home warranty policies as part of my job. And I’ve had home warranty policies on my own properties. Seems like we all have stories of rejected claims and paltry payouts.

Most homeowners who get a home warranty policy do so at the time they purchase a home. Sometimes they negotiate for the seller to pay for a one-year policy as part of their purchase contract. That may be the best reason to get one.

“Any person can buy a home warranty in most cases,” says Julie Jones, Vice President of Real Estate Sales for Nations Home Warranty. “There are different plans and different pricing. You might get your best deal if you’re getting it at the time you are buying a home. “

Just what are home warranties and what do they cover?

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

If you’re in debt to the IRS, good old Uncle Sam may put a lien on your property. And he isn’t going to let you sell your home without paying that lien.

When someone has a federal income tax lien filed against them, the debt attaches to all of their property, which includes their homestead. Federal income tax liens (also known as IRS liens) are called Super Liens. That basically means you can be super sure they’re going to collect the money owed them when the house sells. 

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor
 
Disaster can strike a home at any time. Even the day before it’s scheduled to be sold. Be it hail, wind, fire or water, a casualty loss to property while it’s under contract can be disastrous.

But, there are remedies. The Texas real estate contract folks thought of many ‘what if’ scenarios and they’ve incorporated them in the standard sales contract. A casualty loss results from a sudden, unexpected event like a storm or fire. Casualty losses are addressed in paragraph 14 of the contract. It states that if any part of the property is damaged or destroyed by casualty loss between the time the contract is executed and the closing, the seller shall restore the property to its previous condition as soon as reasonably possible.

That sounds simple on paper but not so much in real life. Often the damage can’t be repaired prior to closing due to no fault of the seller. For example, when a hail storm hits the neighborhood two days before closing, it isn’t likely the roof will be replaced or repaired that quickly.

The seller has obligations and responsibilities for the property when it is under contract and before closing. They must make efforts to restore the property to its previous condition by the closing date. No messing around here. If the seller doesn’t comply, the seller can be in default. There are options available if the seller cannot restore the property before closing due to factors beyond the seller’s control. Note that I said, “due to factors beyond the seller’s control.”

If the seller cannot restore the property by the closing date due to factors beyond their control, the buyer has three options:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Selling the marital home. Some refer to this as the great divide. Getting divorcing spouses to agree on selling their home, an asking price, an agent, the final sales price, etc. can be difficult and stressful at best. Emotions and tensions can run high well before we add on the legal requirements of transferring title of the property.

The unfortunate, but real, scenario of legally selling a home while divorcing can combine some difficult tasks. It requires cooperation from all parties. While everyone’s situation is different, there are basically two ways to divide the property before, during, or after a divorce.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When a person dies holding real estate in their name, the property doesn’t transfer to heaven. Some people think the situation can become quite the opposite. The process can be agonizing.

The owner who has died obviously can’t sell their home after they’re dead. The property cannot be sold until their name has been removed from the title. That can be a long and often complicated process. Often the heirs aren’t prepared to deal with the months of upkeep expenses, taxes, mortgage payments, etc. that come with the property.

There are usually two situations when selling an estate property. The owner died either with or without a will to designate their wishes.

If the owner died with a will, the heirs can take immediate action. The will can be entered into probate proceedings with the county court within four years of death. A last will and testament does not automatically cause the real estate to transfer. It is just a statement of the deceased’s intent. The property must legally transfer to another person(s) or entity if it is to be sold.

An Heirship Affidavit may often be used if the will has left the property only to the direct descendants of the deceased. Sometimes, this may be a less expensive and faster process than a probate proceeding.

An Affidavit of Heirship is also required if the deceased died without a will.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

There is more than one Big D in Dallas-area real estate. These important “Big Ds” represent the circumstances that often demand that someone sell their property. I’m talking about death, divorce, downsizing, disaster, debt, and default. These difficult situations can make transferring the title to a property more complicated.

Folks don’t like to think about most of these situations, but they are a real fact of life that many homeowners must deal with. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a closer look at the challenges in buying or selling a property when it involves one of these.

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