By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Title companies in Texas all offer the same basic services. And since title policy premiums are regulated by the state, there isn’t much difference in cost from one to the next. What makes one title company better than another? What keeps agents going back to their favorite escrow officers time after time?

I thought I’d survey a few Realtors. After all, they are the ones who usually choose which title company to send their real estate contracts.

After surveying dozens of agents and lenders, the No. 1 answer was great communication. To win their business, the title agency and closer must communicate quickly and frequently. This was at the top of the criteria for agents like Robin McCoy (Keller Williams), Chris Suwannetr (JP & Associates), Sheri Stout (Ebby Halliday), Erik Hargrave (PrimeLending), Kerry Slaughter (Keller Williams), Mary Anne Collins (eXp Realty), Vanessa Bamback (Haute City), Nichole Vilchis (Keller Williams), Kay Wood (Briggs Freeman Sothebys) and Phillip Walker (Keller Williams).

“They’re communicative with all parties and always one step ahead,” says Amy Timmerman (Local Resident Realty) about her favorite title company. “Updates, reminders, clear and prompt responses,” are what Lori Hudson (Ebby Halliday) appreciates about her preferred title agency. 

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Lake Highlands EstatesHappy Thanksgiving! Before you begin your holiday feasting, feast your eyes on our Thursday Three Hundred, a cul-de-sac cutie in Lake Highlands Estates.

The home at 9723 Lanward Cir., near Walnut Hill Lane and Plano Road, is a 4-2 with 1,934 square feet, built in 1960. It’s been recently renovated with lots of bells and whistles, including big kitchen and bathroom renovations. Lake Highlands EstatesThis home is zoned for Wallace Elementary, which earns a 7 out of 10 from GreatSchools.org. This is a big selling point for families looking in this area.

It was listed Nov. 12 by Kerry Slaughter with Paradise Slaughter Real Estate for $375,000, reduced on the 20th to $365,000.

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Casa Linda homeCasa Linda is one of East Dallas’ treasured neighborhoods. The houses in this area are generally on half-acre and larger lots, almost all built in the 1940s and 1950s, just east and south of White Rock Lake. You’ll find a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, lots of mature shade trees, winding roads, and close proximity to the Dallas Arboretum and the historic Casa Linda Plaza.

Today’s Tuesday Two Hundred is located at 1735 Crowberry Dr., near Peavy and Oates. It’s a 3-2 with 1,576 square feet and charm to spare. Casa Linda homeThis cutie was built in 1958 and is pretty inside and out, with lovely curb appeal, a well-appointed interior, and nice backyard. It’s less than two miles from White Rock Lake and offers easy access to downtown, too.

This home was listed last week by Kerry Slaughter with Paradise Slaughter Real Estate for $235,000. It went under contract in two days, so let’s take a look before this one is off the market.

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823 Lake Terrace A

Photo: Shoot2Sell

That old saying about good things coming in small packages can be hard to reconcile with the “bigger-is-better” mentality that often rules Texas real estate.

But it’s an easy fit in today’s Tuesday Two Hundred, a cozy midcentury ranchette in East Dallas at 823 Lake Terrace Dr. With 1,490 square feet and a great layout, this 2-2 packs a powerful punch in its modest footprint. It is newly listed by Kerry Slaughter at Paradise Slaughter Real Estate for $279,900.

823 Lake Terrace B

Built in 1954, this midcentury house has a remodeled kitchen and baths, refinished original hardwoods, new windows, and totally charming curb appeal. It is located near Peavy Road and E. Lake Highlands Drive, walking distance to White Rock Lake. There’s so much to like, from the open-concept floorplan to overall flow of the house.

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We had a Tuesday Two Hundred last week that was super cute and move-in ready. The Lakeland Hills midcentury-modern home at 8829 Hackney was priced right and perfectly staged by Karen Eubank.

Now, a lot of the mid-mods that hit the market as of late have sold at a crazy-fast pace. But this one was only on the market for TWO WHOLE DAYS before getting snatched up, says listing agent Kerry Paradise Slaughter. And get this, there were multiple offers!

This sale is pretty telling. One, the market for mid-mods is VERY brisk, so prepare for multiple bids. Two, homes in Lake Highlands are going to hold their value well. And most importantly, hiring an experienced stager will get your home sold!

Eubank, who was kind enough to send me a few “before” shots, tells me that when a home is staged with a sale in mind, it will catch a buyer’s eye. In this case, while the home itself was in great shape, there were several little things the buyers needed to do to make sure they got top dollar for it.

First Eubank addressed the bland entryway. By painting a wall and adding some plants, she gave the front of the house “some style and imprinted a memory on the potential buyer.”

The entryway “before”

The entryway “after”

Next, Eubank had to address the visible washer and dryer in the kitchen area.

“This was the big fix,” Eubank said. “I had them build doors to cover the washer/dryer.
No one wants to see or think about laundry.”

Additionally, Eubank said that some of the personal art could have been polarizing for a buyer, so she replaced it with something much more neutral, as well as moving a couch into the living area to replace the piano.

The kitchen and living area “before”

The living and kitchen “after”

Staging doesn’t always mean big changes, but it does help steer buyers’ eyes away from problem areas. Take, for instance, the fact that the patio was a perfect outdoor spot, but there was a terrible view of the neighbor’s fence.

“It’s a beautiful space to entertain with a potential deal killer view of the neighbor’s chain link fence and kitchen window,” Eubank said.

The patio “before”

The patio “after”

Tell us: Do you think staging is worth the investment?

This mid-mod at 8829 Hackney sits on a corner lot in Lakeland Hills.

Every time we write about a well-priced midcentury modern, they seem to get snapped up before I can call my real estate agent. That’s good news for Kerry Paradise Slaughter, who is marketing this sweet Lake Highlands mid-mod at 8829 Hackney.

And guys, this little house, all 1,619 square feet of it, is priced just right at $187,500. There are three bedrooms, two baths with the original Daltile, and a two-car garage (so rare!) on this little beauty. And check out the hardwoods and exposed brick! SWOON!

Yes, the kitchen needs some work, but look at it this way: It’s a completely blank slate! You can paint, put in granite, add a little panache with a cool backsplash, throw in some stainless appliances and voila! It’s perfect!

If the huge windows are drawing you outside, there’s plenty of outdoor living space, including a covered patio. While there isn’t a pool, there’s plenty of room in the gigantic backyard to put one in. This is a corner lot, too, so count on having tons of room to play catch out front this summer. What’s not to love?

There’s one thing you won’t need to change, and that’s the amazing job Karen Eubank has done staging this home. The paint and decor are picture perfect! This is why she needs her own reality show, people!