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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08/27/19 9:15am

Shopping for a home is a bit like dating. Buyers, like daters, are looking for that perfect match. But just because you fall in love doesn’t mean they’ll love you back. Getting down the aisle to happily ever after can take some effort. And you may have to kiss a few frogs in search of the ideal mate.

So what happens when you need to jilt that potential lover – or seller — before your first real encounter? It’s not the love connection you thought it could be and you’ve changed your mind?

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08/13/19 9:45am

Step right up. Get your hot dogs, peanuts. Oh, wait. Wrong kind of concessions. Get your mind out of the amusement park and back to real estate.

Real estate concessions aren’t offered up in a cone or on a stick. These kinds of concessions are allowances offered by a seller to a buyer of a property. Occasionally a seller will offer an incentive to potential buyers in the MLS listing. Maybe they will include the washer and dryer or patio furniture with the sale. More often though, the buyer will request and negotiate a seller concession in the contract. They may want the piano or pool table. But usually, the buyer negotiates for some of their closing costs to be paid by the seller.

In the standard TREC residential contract, non-financial seller concessions such as furnishings or appliances are addressed by attaching a Non-Realty Items Addendum to the contract. This should always spell out exactly what is being transferred with the sale.

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08/06/19 9:30am

It’s closing day. Say cheese! All those photos of smiling faces on closing day offer proof that most folks are delighted to be closing on a home. Either they’re getting the keys to their new property or they’re getting a check for the sale.

Before the popularity of social media, most people mailed out moving announcements to let friends know they’d bought a home. Today, social media now plays a dominate role in announcing a move.

In this age of selfies and sharing, many homebuyers, sellers, and agents like to announce this kind of cheerful news with a closing photo. Just check out the social media posts on popular sites to find friends and families celebrating big events in their lives. Buying or selling a home is one of those big events.

“It’s a major milestone in your life,” says Kimberly Rote of Allie Beth Allman & Associates. She rates buying a home up there with getting married or having a baby.

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07/30/19 9:45am

It’s Homestead, Sweet Homestead in the State of Texas. Our Texas constitution can help prevent Texans from becoming homeless if they are in a financial bind. Texas homestead protection laws guard your homestead against foreclosure by judgment creditors such as credit card holders, bill collectors, or winning parties in lawsuits.

This special protection from creditors only extends to the homestead. There are a lot of legal definitions of a Texas homestead, but basically, it is a primary residence owned and lived in by a family or single adult. You can only have one homestead entitled to be exempt from seizure by claims of creditors. If the property is not a homestead, the creditor has the right to go after that property to satisfy a lien.

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