By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Officially, a title company in Texas is referred to as Title Agent or Title Agency. They are responsible to and answer to a lot of folks – mortgage companies, real estate agents, buyers, sellers, brokers, underwriters, etc.

Most notably, they follow the Texas Department of Insurance rules and regulations meticulously. Regular audits by this department ensure it.

But what do title companies and escrow officers really do?

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Even though the services offered and fees charged by title companies across Texas are standardized, there is some variation in how they operate. Just as real estate brokerages and real estate agents vary in their operating standards and styles, so do title companies.

Title companies in Texas have three basic roles. They include completing a title search, closing the transaction (which includes preparing paperwork, managing funds, recording, etc.), and issuing title insurance. All licensed Texas title agencies perform these roles.

The basic kinds of title companies you’ll find in the Dallas area include:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) recently released the 2016 Title Agent Statistical Report. Yes, this is now the summer of 2018, so those stats are a bit dated. What can I say? It’s a government agency.

TDI licenses and oversees all title agents in Texas. Our state’s title insurance business is highly regulated and title companies are audited at least every 2 years. Every agency must account for every dime they take in and every dollar they spend.

Take a glance at this 326-page report and you can see why it could take months to compile this information. The report covers every title agency’s income, expenses, and losses. The majority of title companies on the list are Independent Agents. The others are either Affiliated Agents or Direct Operations.

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Why are title companies closed on weekends? Title expert Lydia Blair explains.

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Realtors work weekends. It’s just part of the business. The real estate industry operates seven days a week, with agents showing homes and submitting contracts any day of the week. To be successful, there isn’t an easy way around it.

So why aren’t title companies open on weekends as well? After all, the title industry revolves around real estate agents and the business they bring the title companies.

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Ever wonder who owned your property 100 years ago? Or even 200 years ago? Your house probably wasn’t there yet and there may have been different trees, but someone else likely called your land home, just like you do. We need only to look to history to reveal the roots of your home’s DNA.

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Let’s play a game I like to call “Don’t Get Sued.” We surveyed fewer than 100 escrow officers and asked them: “What is a common mistake you see on residential contracts?”

The top 8 answers are on the board. Ready with your buzzer? The survey says the 8 most common contract mistakes that could get you in trouble are:

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It’s that not-so-wonderful time of year when property tax bills start hitting our mailboxes. At the time of this writing, tax statements have been mailed in Dallas, Collin, and Tarrant Counties. Bills are being posted daily from other counties and from other taxing authorities including school districts, community colleges, cities, improvement districts, etc.

To get your statement before it arrives in the mail, simply go online and search for your county’s tax assessor. If you live in Dallas County, forget Dallascad.org. Go to the county tax assessor’s site to get an actual copy of your property tax statement.

Once the taxing authorities in your area have posted your tax bill, your taxes are considered due and payable. That typically happens in early October. In a few (but not all) areas, homeowners may get a discount for paying their taxes before the end of the year. Most homeowners actually pay their property taxes in December and January. Your 2019 property tax bill is considered delinquent if not paid by January 31, 2020. Hefty penalties and interest are charged after January 31st.

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Lower rates are coming to a title company near you! That’s big news in the real estate title business. Title insurance, like the housing market, doesn’t follow the laws of gravity. What goes up doesn’t always come down.

“This is a historic time for Texas title insurance,” Paul McNutt Vice President and General Counsel of Title Resources told a group of escrow officers last week. “Rates are going down effective for all policies after September 1. Overall, the rates are decreasing 4.9 percent.”

As a state-regulated industry, all title companies in Texas must charge the same for real estate title insurance. Every few years, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) reviews statistical data from title insurance agents and underwriters to see if a rate increase or decrease is warranted.

This rate reduction is due to several factors including the rise in real estate values, profits made over the last 5 to 10 years and increased efficiency. “It is in the best interest for every consumer to be charged reasonable rates,” McNutt explained. “This is a regulated environment with periodic review. The profits were good and therefore the rates should be decreased. This is in keeping with the regulatory terms.”

That explanation may help reduce the sting of what amounts to a pay cut to title agents.

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