By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When it comes to Texas title insurance, there are two kinds of title policies. Most folks don’t realize it because there are so many figures and fees on their closing documents. It’s easier just to lump the title premiums together and ignore the details.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

There are several actions a buyer or seller can take to help their real estate transaction go smoothly. Here are my Top 4 July 4th Tips for keeping your closing from going kaboom:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

A hidden hazard on your property is not the kind of thing you’re going to stub your toe on. At least not the kind of hidden hazard that we’re talking about here.

In the title business, a hidden hazard is an issue that is not uncovered in a traditional search of property records. Most title companies are really good at finding potential problems in the research of deeds, maps and plats, mortgages, tax records, court records, liens, abstracts of judgement, probate and divorce actions, etc.

Issues that can be found by a typical title search are considered “discoverable.” These would be items like outstanding mortgage loans, tax liens, court judgments, utility easements, and such. Anyone with enough time, resources and expertise could likely find these things in court records and a search of the chain of title. Or they would find most of them at least. 

But even the most fastidious title search may not reveal a hidden hazard. Sometimes they are impossible to uncover until an event brings it to light.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When signing documents for a home sale or purchase, the numbers are figured to the penny and the signatures are scrutinized to the letter. Quite a volume and variety of paperwork is involved. Signatures and initials are required on deeds, disclosures, waivers, affidavits, notes, supplementary lender and title company documents, and other miscellaneous papers.

Real Estate closings involve getting “wet signatures.” That means papers are physically signed in ink, in person, by hand. Remember something called cursive writing? That’s what we’re talking about. Documents must be witnessed and signed by a notary as well.

Both buyers and sellers must sign in a very specific way. The seller’s signature must exactly match the legal name that the property is vested in. Buyer signatures must comply with their lender’s instructions.  Most signatures must match either the lender documents, the driver’s license, the recorded documents, or however the title company wants it.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When putting a contract on a property, a buyer can usually expect to write two checks to accompany their contract — an option fee check and an earnest money check. There is no strict rule about how much each of these checks must be. The amount of this up-front money is negotiable between buyer and seller. However, the amount sends a strong signal to either buyer or seller.

A buyer offering too little in either option or earnest money can indicate they are not serious or very interested in the property. Perhaps they can’t even afford it.  A demand of too much option or earnest money from the seller may send the message that they are unreasonable or mistrustful. The state of the real estate market also influences the amount of option fee and earnest money. 

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MERP

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

A CandysDirt.com reader writes “My title company is now requiring a MERP certificate from the state any time a deal involves a deceased seller, and it’s slowing closing down BIG TIME. Does anybody else have the same process with their title company, or am I on my own here?  How can I speed this up?” (more…)

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

There are lots of kinds of insurance. There’s homeowner insurance, auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance, liability insurance … You can insure just about anything of value.

“We focus mostly on property and casualty insurance,” says insurance agent Amanda Campbell of Smith Allen Insurance. But she and other insurance companies offer all kinds of insurance. “You can insurance your pet for loss, accidents, medical bills, and more.”

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Your home might be made of bricks and stones, but your property rights are more like a bundle of sticks. It might be a big bundle or a little bundle. Some sticks are larger than others. But each stick represents a right to your real estate.

In the beginning of time (or for the sake of this article, let’s say 200 years ago), a piece of land included all rights to the property along with the right to do what you want with it. Like a great big bundle of sticks.

But as time goes by, some property rights can be taken away, given away or sold. A stick might be taken out of the bundle from time to time. Some may be removed voluntarily and others may have been taken for another reason.

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