[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

Happy Holidays! It’s been a busy year in the title business. Yay!

We shared quite a variety of title and real estate related information with our readers over this past year. It ranged from the simple (Title Terms) to the more complicated concepts (like Property Rights). For folks who don’t deal with title issues every day, we hope we shed some light on a few things.

As we wind down year, let’s take a look at the most popular Title Tips in 2018. Our most talked about Title Tips this past year were:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

One of the most common mistakes and needless expenses that home sellers encounter involves the survey section of their sales contract. Despite the bold type and plain English, there are often disputes and confusion about providing a survey.

The survey section is on page 2 of the standard TREC contract. Paragraph 6C specifically addresses who will provide a survey and when it is due. Note that there are 3 options on the contract regarding the survey. One – and only one – of these options should be checked before completing the contract. The most commonly checked option is paragraph 6C (1).

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

The closing process varies and fluctuates from property to property, from state to state, from person to person. Just like homes are different, so are closings on those homes.

However, real estate closings in Texas follow a consistent outline of steps from start to finish. They don’t always follow a straight path. Some steps are rigid requirements while others are more flexible guidelines. Some of the steps take place simultaneously while other steps cannot be taken until a previous task is completed. Some steps are short and others are long and complicated.

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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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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor
 
Title companies are like the private detectives of real estate. That’s right. We’re like a combination of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. Only without the guns and fast cars. Well, maybe we’re closer to a mixture of Nancy Drew and the tech nerd in the back of your office. But we still help save you from real estate disaster.  

One of the reasons title companies are so essential is the title search they perform. A real estate title search involves collecting documents and evidence of the history of a property. The purpose is to ensure the title is clear and valid, and to answer questions regarding a particular piece of real estate prior to the transfer of the title.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) recently updated the standard residential contracts to now address policies regarding deposits of earnest monies. These changes become mandatory May 15, 2018.

On the first page of the newly updated Texas contracts, it states that “Within 3 days after the Effective Date, Buyer must deliver $___ earnest money to ___, as escrow agent, at ____.”  Previous TREC contracts did not have a deadline for delivering earnest money except to say it was due “upon execution of this contract.” Simultaneous delivery of the contract and earnest money didn’t always happen. Now it is clear.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Dear Diary,

OMG. My HOA is sooooo horrible. They’re, like, the worst ever. I mean, it’s like the mean girls of the school. I can’t even. They’re just trashing my entire experience. Like, totally! Turns out my condo isn’t warrantable. As if. And that rush fee they charged ate my swag money. Hashtag whatever.

Signed,

Throwin’ Shade Gal

Hey girl. I hear ya. But you might as well chillax, ’cause all HOAs (Home Owner Associations) are typically a hassle when you’re buying or selling a property. Seriously.

A property with mandatory HOA always adds another pile of paperwork to the transaction. And additional costs. Some more than others. You may be dealing with a Home Owners Association that governs the neighborhood where you live. Or you may be in a condominium under HOA management. These associations enforce restrictions, oversee common areas, supervise maintenance and repairs, … and generally ensure everyone follows the rules they’ve all agreed to.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

After the paperwork has been signed and you’ve been handed the keys, there are plenty more expenses involved in moving into your new home — packing supplies, connecting utilities, hiring movers, new appliances or furnishings, etc. However, there are certain costs after buying a home that new homeowners should not incur despite a barrage of letters telling them differently.

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