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CandysDirt.com Contributor

02/12/19 9:00am

By Deb R. Brimer

Redeveloper Jim Lake can write a book about red tape. Another year has come and gone since Jim Lake Companies (JLC) purchased the historic Ambassador Hotel in 2015 to redevelop into chic apartments, and the only visible sign of progress is that the once-grand 115-year-old landmark just got another year older.

According to the Dallas Morning News, JLC initially planned to start construction around the middle of 2016 after moving through the state and federal historic landmark processes, but the Ambassador didn’t receive official designations until the end of 2018.

The only things that move slower than history are the processes for preserving it, it would seem.

Back when it was known as the Park Hotel, and as the Majestic before that, the building hosted all sorts of dignitaries and celebrities.

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02/05/19 9:45am

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When you review contracts every day, spotting mistakes can become routine. The number one mistake that most escrow officers see on real estate contracts involves blank spaces.

To be clear – contracts should always be filled in completely. There should be nothing left blank.

I’m referring to the standard Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) contract. Ninety-nine percent of real estate contracts received by title agencies are written on one of the standard TREC contracts. These are created by TREC for use in real property transactions in our state. They are frequently reviewed and are updated every few years based on feedback, requests, and legal issues.

There is a valid reason for each paragraph and blank space on these contracts. There are dozens of blank spaces on the most popular TREC contract. They all should have something on them. Some paragraphs have an option to choose from two or more boxes to check. One of the choices should be selected.

Yet, we see smart people submit final contracts that leave too much ambiguity because they are not fully completed. Obviously, most folks ensure the contract contains the proper names, address, sales price, who is paying for what, etc. But often they leave some parts of the contract incomplete.

How do we know the intention of all parties when a space is left blank? Perhaps the blank space means zero dollars. Then it should have a zero written. Or maybe it is not applicable? It should show N/A. Maybe it was accidentally missed? Or was it intentionally ignored? Even dashes in the space helps us see that the parties didn’t intend to mean something else.

If a space is blank because buyer and seller are still negotiating, then the contract should not be executed yet. Once it is executed, any changes must be made with an addendum. Changes are not allowed on the finalized contract once it is executed.

The riskiest and most overlooked blank spaces typically found on contracts include:

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01/22/19 9:45am

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Remember privacy? It’s what most Americans enjoyed a few decades ago. Today, it’s elusive and rare. It’s simple for any of us to find just about anyone with a few clicks on a keyboard.

In an effort to reduce the solicitations for carpet cleaning, bogus tax filing services, mortgage insurance scams and such, I tried to make the information on my recent home purchase a little more private. The result was somewhat effective.

How do these companies and salespeople find out you’ve purchased a property? It’s highly unlikely that they got it from the title company or real estate broker. We don’t share information with third parties unless we must. Government entities are about the only ones we disclose details.

However, property owner information is public and online in Texas. Our county tax appraisal sites allow people to search the owner of a property by property address or owner name. It’s pretty hard to make your ownership information private on those county web sites. But, I’ll explain how below:

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01/18/19 9:30am
Marie Kondo

Photo courtesy Flickr/Emily May

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to announce that Nancy Peham, a certified Certified Professional Organizer® with more than 15 years of experience under her belt has joined us as a contributor and columnist. For her first installment, we tasked her with helping us address all that stuff that didn’t bring us joy when we got our Kon Mari on.

By Nancy Peham
Special Contributor

Have you heard of Marie Kondo, the current rage in organizing gurus?  If not you’re probably living under a rock! The petite Japanese queen of “tidying up” has been the talk of the media recently due to her current Netflix mini-series.

She’s the author of “The Life-Changing Method of Tidying Up,” and “Spark Joy.”

In a nutshell, her philosophy states that if your possessions don’t spark joy in your life then you should get rid of them.

Photo courtesy KonMari.com

Among other things, Marie Kondo advocates thanking each item as you let it go.  I agree that we should all be grateful for everything we have, especially since there are so many people less fortunate right here in Dallas.  The Kon Mari method may not be for everyone, but if you’re ready to part with piles of clothing, household items, or furniture, then check out the information below.  

Here’s a list of some lesser-known, Dallas-area charities that would love to take your gently used items and help those in need.  Each one has a special mission and purpose, so choose the one that speaks to you and “spark joy” in those less fortunate. (more…)

01/15/19 9:30am

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When you buy a home, don’t you get a guarantee of clear title? Well … no.

Isn’t that why you buy a property through a title company and get title insurance? To get clear title? Not exactly.

That’s not the phrase we like to use in the title business. Those two words “clear” and “title” together. They can cause anyone within the walls of a title agency to cringe, squirm and scowl. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

I had the audacity to use the expression “clear title” in a recent Title Tip. Just pin my tail and call me a donkey. Must have been too much holiday eggnog.

So how do you get clear title to a property? You don’t.

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01/09/19 1:00pm

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

 

 

Unlike prior years, 2019 will not be full steam ahead for our area’s housing market. The predicted return to normalcy after a run of several frenzied years will be hard to characterize with a broad brush (though many will try). While more nuanced and complicated than before, there will be no shortage of opportunities and no reason why we cannot continue to be the envy of the nation.

Looking ahead, here are four things to watch in the year to come and why they matter:

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01/08/19 9:45am

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

A reader writes: “I bought a home in 2018 and my taxes are escrowed by my mortgage company. How do I get a homestead exemption to get a discount on my taxes? Do I need to repeat the process every year? How much does it save me?”

You most definitely want to know how to file for a homestead exemption for your 2019 property taxes. To get a homestead exemption, you must own and live in the property as your principal residence as of Jan. 1 of that tax year. So, if you purchased in 2018, you may apply for that exemption after Jan. 1, 2019.

A homestead exemption removes part of your home’s value from taxation, so it lowers your taxes. I don’t know the details about your home to tell you how much a homestead exemption can save on your property taxes, but it is generally about 20 percent. Given the property tax rates in Texas, it is worth the few minutes it takes.  

To qualify, your home must also be owned by you as an individual (or individuals). A corporation or other business entity doesn’t qualify for this exemption. Do not pay someone else to do this for you. It is free and you can do it online in a few minutes.

Here is a step-by-step guide for how to apply for a homestead exemption in the DFW area:

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01/08/19 9:30am
 

As inventory increased over 2018, more Realtors complained of homes lingering on the market, leading to price reductions.

By Britt Fair
Guest Columnist

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

No, I’m not trying to give everyone nightmares about high school English class or invoke the French Revolution. Rather, that’s how I would sum up the mixed feelings about DFW’s residential real estate market during the second half of 2018. Just about every statistic can be spun to match whatever sentiment a person has about the housing market.

Consider the dollar volume of home resales in North Texas: the amount of money flowing through the MLS system in 2018 was the second highest ever, behind only 2017. To many people that would appear to be a rather positive statistic, but some people look at that as the first step in the wrong direction, especially since transaction volume really fell off in the second half of the year.

Next think about inventory of homes on the market. One lament among Realtors who serve as listing agents is that inventory has been increasing over the last year, causing their listings to take significantly longer to sell than in recent years. That is true broadly, and even more so in specific neighborhoods and price points. But on the other hand, in the few years before 2018, probably the No. 1 Realtor complaint about the Dallas-Forth Worth housing market was a shortage of inventory that was making it hard for potential homebuyers to find a house to purchase. So, in many ways this increase in inventory of homes on the market could be considered a positive trend.

So which interpretation is right? Well, it all depends on your perspective. (more…)