By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

I’d like to say there is no party in a PIP. But that’s not exactly true. Let’s just say there usually isn’t a fun party in a PIP.

In real estate, a PIP refers to Parties in Possession. And we’re not talking about a holiday party or drug possession. These kinds of parties in possession can be more agonizing than a New Year’s hangover.


By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

The annual Texas Land and Title Institute has successfully plowed through the snowy Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. Jam packed with attorneys and title professionals from across the state, this conference had an impressive Dallas contingency braving the cold.

I caught up with Chicago Title‘s Bill Woodall and Debby Moore, who are recently engaged and attended this event. These two make up the newest and best looking power couple in the title business. Bill runs two offices, serving residential and commercial closings in both Preston Center and on LBJ. Debby specializes in commercial closings. That’s a lot of title industry brain power under one roof.

We chatted about surveys, easements, encroachments, and boundary line issues. Not the typical lunch conversation for most couples. But survey techniques and standards have changed in recent years causing property line issues all over the state. And these pros deal with them daily.

(more…) presents a new feature on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the title business (and then some): deeds, the closing process, and the title company business. Why, when you buy a home in Texas, do you have to close at a title company? Can you close elsewhere? Can you shop around for title policy rates?  Who chooses the title company and why? How is the home closing business changing with the times? And what, ye gads, would happen if the title company did not pay off your mortgage as promised?  Our inquiring real estate minds have always wanted to know this stuff, so we reached out to former Realtor turned title company expert Lydia Player Blair, who will be reporting on the title business for us exclusively.

And it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. Take it away, Lydia: (more…)

Geline Spinks and Carla LaPointe

Carla LaPointe used to tote her daughter, Geline Spinks, to courthouses in the early days of her career in the title business. Today, Carla works for Geline at Community National Title, keeping the family in the business.

When I sat down with Geline Spinks and her mother, Carla LaPointe, for coffee, I had to admit to both of these women that I wasn’t exactly well-versed in what title companies do exactly. I knew that there was some research involved, that examiners looked at a property’s history of ownership before a sale could close to make sure that there were no liens and other debts that could halt the sale of a house. Just a very, very general idea.

Both Carla and Geline graciously took the time to explain what they do at Community National Title, a woman and minority-owned title company based out of Uptown. The firm, headed by Helen Epps and helmed by a team including Philip Postel and Johnny Collins, is building a staff of strong, knowledgeable title professionals. It just so happens that some of them share the same genes.

Carla has been in the title business since 1976, and started her own title research firm in 1988 when Geline was just a wee one. Carla and her husband, Pete LaPointe, would tote little Geline to courthouses as they did research. “She was an angel,” Carla said of her daughter, who often colored and drew and charmed everyone she met.

In fact, it was one of Geline’s drawings that helped prove a contentious battle over a property’s title. When a courthouse clerk was asked if she could prove that Carla and Pete had been there to discover the provenance of the land in question, she handed over one of little Geline’s artworks.

Since then, Geline has come into her own in the business, working for several title companies including Capital Title and Hexter-Fair. “I started out with the documents, just doing the research,” Geline said, but she wanted to grow into the business. “I would tell people to throw me anything, I want to learn everything.” Now she is at Community National Title, where she was recently promoted to plant manager.