12/03/19 9:30am

When it comes to property surveys, sometimes age is just a number. Sometimes it isn’t. Many folks think a survey is good indefinitely. Others believe a new one is required with every sale.

Age isn’t the only factor in determining if an existing survey may be used for a real estate transaction. There are many details in a survey and a survey affidavit that typically outweigh the age of the survey. The confusion arises because there is no absolute rule for the age of the survey to still be useful.

I get all manners of odd surveys from sellers. Even if the survey is new, a blurry cellphone shot of it is not acceptable for use. Neither is a 1940s mimeograph copy. Hand drawing on a neighborhood map isn’t going to work. Cut off copies are no good either.

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11/19/19 9:15am

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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11/05/19 9:30am

This one is for all the naïve buyers and sellers out there who think an escalation clause is a good idea. We’re not trying to shame you or say you’re wrong, but let’s just tell it like it is. It’s wrong for most residential contracts. That’s right, I said it.

An Escalation Clause is wording in a contract that states the potential buyer is willing to go above a certain amount. For example, a buyer may agree to pay $1,000 more than the next highest offer received by a seller.

An escalation clause is basically designed to strengthen a buyer’s offer in a multiple offer situation. In theory, it is fairly simple. The buyer offers a certain price for the property, but if the seller receives another offer that is higher, this buyer is willing to increase their offer up to a point. Escalation clauses are a tactic used by some buyers to make their offer more appealing and ensure the seller will choose their offer.  

It might sound like a good idea for a buyer trying to win in a bidding war and an even better idea for the seller looking for the highest sales price. Sellers welcome buyers willing to pay more than anyone else. So why does the Texas Association of Realtors strongly discourage the use of escalation clauses? Why are they frowned upon by so many real estate industry leaders?

Let’s dive deeper.  I’ll get my swimsuit.

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10/22/19 9:30am

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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10/08/19 9:45am

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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09/17/19 9:30am

Please take notice of the Paragraph 21 notice that is about notices and that many people fail to notice. Call it a notice, a notification, disclosure … whatever. Just don’t ignore it.

Paragraph 21 of the Texas residential real estate contract reads:

“All notices from one party to the other must be in writing and are effective when mailed to, hand-delivered at, or transmitted by fax or electronic transmission as follows:”

There is space to add the buyer and seller names, addresses, phone, fax, and email.

This all-important paragraph is often neglected or overlooked to the detriment of all parties. I’d estimate about a third of residential contracts do not have contact information for both buyer and seller in this paragraph when they are submitted to the title company. That’s a lot of potential problems.

So, what’s the big deal? Why do the buyer and seller need to disclose their email addresses and phone numbers to each other and the title company? Should their agent protect their privacy by withholding this information? So glad you asked.

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09/10/19 9:30am

How to make a buyer’s agent cringe: Ask for a 60 day seller lease back. While lease backs hold appeal for many sellers, it’s enough to make Realtors shudder at the thought of the problems that can accompany them.

A Sellers Temporary Lease allows the seller to continue living in the home after closing for a short time – anywhere from one to 90 days. It is designed to allow for delayed possession of the property by the buyer.

This temporary lease is used when a seller needs additional time after closing to relinquish the property. This may be for any number of reasons. The seller may be waiting for school to finish or need more time to move their possessions. Or they may just want to ensure the transaction actually closes and their funds are in the bank before moving out.

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09/03/19 9:30am

Many folks think condos and townhomes are like po-tay-toe and po-tah-toe. They’re pretty much the same. When actually, they’re more like potato and tomato.

Just because the property sits on the ground and looks like an attached house, doesn’t make it a townhouse. And a condominium doesn’t always look like an apartment. There are condos that look like townhomes and vice versa. The appearance or physical description is not a true verification of the type of property. 

Townhouses and condominiums have subtle but distinct differences. The defining characteristic of a property type lies in the ownership, rather than the design. What you own, what you are responsible for maintaining, and what spaces you must share differentiates condos from townhomes.

Both types of properties are attached to another residence and are part of a larger property with shared or community spaces. They both have homeowners associations with dues assessed to owners. While there is a legal definition for each, allow me to add the stipulation that these characteristics are “typical and usual.” There are always a few communities that like to create their own unique ownership rules, restrictions, and covenants.

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