By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When you buy a home, don’t you get a guarantee of clear title? Well … no.

Isn’t that why you buy a property through a title company and get title insurance? To get clear title? Not exactly.

That’s not the phrase we like to use in the title business. Those two words “clear” and “title” together. They can cause anyone within the walls of a title agency to cringe, squirm and scowl. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

I had the audacity to use the expression “clear title” in a recent Title Tip. Just pin my tail and call me a donkey. Must have been too much holiday eggnog.

So how do you get clear title to a property? You don’t.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

In case you’ve been out of touch lately, we’re experiencing a federal government shutdown.

The U.S. government doesn’t shut down too often. But when it does, there is a ripple effect. Some areas feel the effects more than others. We shouldn’t feel it too much in the title business unless it continues. The longer the shutdown lasts, the more likely it is we will feel a negative impact on DFW real estate market.

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[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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Background Checks

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When buying or selling a home, get ready to reveal some private details through background checks. We’re going to pry, inspect, confirm, clarify, authenticate, and document a lot about you, your finances, and the property. Some of the surprises we unearth would shock your mother, but maybe not your banker.

Just how deep do the folks involved in your transaction probe? Well, there isn’t any kind of testing that involves getting ink on your fingers or peeing in a cup. Nor do we care about your driving record, your education level, your health, or your résumé.

But we will start with requiring your Social Security number and date of birth. We’ll also need to know your past and present marital status, and where you plan to reside after the sale.

As a seller, we’ll run a search of both your name and the property. When something unexpected pops up, like an Abstract of Judgement, a tax debt, or a couple of child support liens, we’ll tell you. This would be the time to ensure your spouse is aware of it as well.

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Today’s Title Tip is a weedy issue if you’re considering a different kind of ‘joint’ ownership. It involves getting title insurance for a property being acquired to use for marijuana-related business enterprises.

While medical or recreational use of marijuana is not legal in Texas, there are plenty of folks who think it could be some day. Lots of forward-thinking investors might look at real estate for growing, processing, or selling marijuana if it becomes legal here. Or they could be looking to buy similar property in a state where it is legal.

There are 22 states that allow legalized medical use and nine more than allow both recreational and medical use. This growing industry is attracting real estate-minded buyers. But your plans could quickly go up in smoke.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Let’s call this real estate horror film Mission Impossible – Saving the Sale. It’s the sequel to Mission Impossible – The Roof Needs Repair starring Surprised Seller and Upset Buyer. Also featuring Scrambling Realtor and Cautious Escrow Officer.

The scene opens with a pending sale on a property that needs a repair that the seller has agreed to do. However, the repairs cannot be completed before the closing. It could be hail damage to a roof that happens a couple of days before closing. Or wood floors that become damaged when a water pipe breaks just before closing day.

Whatever the scenario, there isn’t enough time to make the repair before closing day. In that case, the parties to the transaction may want to use an escrow agreement to close on time and allow the repairs to occur after closing.

Escrowing for repairs can be a somewhat complicated situation and the procedure often varies from title company to title company and lender to lender. Here’s how it usually works:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

A reader asks: “Should I make my next mortgage payment before my house closes? We are under contract and scheduled to close on the 14th of the month. “

This is a fairly common question for title companies. And the answer depends on your closing date and time.

Before closing, the title company will order a ‘payoff’ from your current mortgage company. After confirming and calculating what you owe on your current mortgage, we deduct that amount from your proceeds at closing and send that payoff amount to your lender.

For most folks their mortgage payments are due on the first of the month. And they are considered late on the 15th of the month. That kind of makes your situation a little more complicated.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

For most North Texas homeowners, the 2018 tax statements started coming out last week. You may not have received your bill in the mail, but your tax bill is out and due for payment by Jan. 31.

Simply go online and search for your county tax assessor to get your statement before it arrives in the mail. For Dallas County, you can find your statement here.

You’d think property tax bills would be fairly direct: “Here is the property address, here is the tax bill.” But these are government entities. So, let’s see how complicated it really is.

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