Shopping for a home is a bit like dating. Buyers, like daters, are looking for that perfect match. But just because you fall in love doesn’t mean they’ll love you back. Getting down the aisle to happily ever after can take some effort. And you may have to kiss a few frogs in search of the ideal mate.

So what happens when you need to jilt that potential lover – or seller — before your first real encounter? It’s not the love connection you thought it could be and you’ve changed your mind?

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It’s closing day. Say cheese! All those photos of smiling faces on closing day offer proof that most folks are delighted to be closing on a home. Either they’re getting the keys to their new property or they’re getting a check for the sale.

Before the popularity of social media, most people mailed out moving announcements to let friends know they’d bought a home. Today, social media now plays a dominate role in announcing a move.

In this age of selfies and sharing, many homebuyers, sellers, and agents like to announce this kind of cheerful news with a closing photo. Just check out the social media posts on popular sites to find friends and families celebrating big events in their lives. Buying or selling a home is one of those big events.

“It’s a major milestone in your life,” says Kimberly Rote of Allie Beth Allman & Associates. She rates buying a home up there with getting married or having a baby.

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It’s Homestead, Sweet Homestead in the State of Texas. Our Texas constitution can help prevent Texans from becoming homeless if they are in a financial bind. Texas homestead protection laws guard your homestead against foreclosure by judgment creditors such as credit card holders, bill collectors, or winning parties in lawsuits.

This special protection from creditors only extends to the homestead. There are a lot of legal definitions of a Texas homestead, but basically, it is a primary residence owned and lived in by a family or single adult. You can only have one homestead entitled to be exempt from seizure by claims of creditors. If the property is not a homestead, the creditor has the right to go after that property to satisfy a lien.

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Imagine finding the perfect home. After weeks, maybe months, of searching, it’s just what you’ve been seeking. You get it under contract and have it inspected. After jumping through all the hoops for the mortgage, hiring movers, packing, and more, you’re ready to close. Then the seller decides they don’t want to sell it to you after all.

Wait, you say. They can’t do that. You would be right.

But what if they do it anyway? What options does a homebuyer have when a seller changes their mind? 

For the seller who changes their mind, there are consequences. For the would-be buyer, there are a couple of options.

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Option Fee and Proof of Delivery

The standard Texas residential real estate contract contains several options for buyers to terminate their contract for various reasons. While sellers may not like it, it makes sense that the person bringing the money has the most options.

The most popular option is the paragraph that requires the buyer to deliver an option fee for the right to terminate for any reason within a specified period of time. This time period is usually when the buyer will perform inspections. The option fee is payment for the buyer’s right to walk away from the contract. Whether or not they exercise that right doesn’t matter. The seller may cash an option fee check at any time and keep the option fee if the buyer terminates. Typically, the buyer gets credited for the option fee at closing when they do not terminate.

The option fee must be delivered to the seller or listing agent within three days after the effective date of the contract or the buyer may lose their rights under the option period. The crucial part of the option period is the DELIVERY of the option fee. Not receipt of the option fee. These are actually two different actions. Let me explain.

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When someone is buying a house, there is a deadline in which to deliver their earnest money to the title company. And they’d better not miss it. We don’t care if it’s too hot outside, they overslept, or the dog ate their homework. A deadline is a deadline.

A buyer has three days to deposit funds with the title company. If the third day is a Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday, then the last day to deliver it is moved to the following business day. The title company will sign a receipt of earnest money with both the date and time the funds are received.

What happens if a buyer doesn’t deliver the earnest money to the title company on time? The skies will open up and swallow them. Well, maybe not. But there are consequences.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

When selling a property, everyone wants to collect a big check. Well, maybe not an actual paper check, but lots of money. If you’re getting funds from the sale of your house, there are a couple of ways to collect your money from the title company when it closes. Just a couple.

Would you like a check or a wire? Those are your basic choices. Title companies can also transfer the funds to another transaction if you are purchasing another property. But we’re not going to pay you in real paper cash, foreign currency, with PayPal, Venmo, Bitcoin or anything else.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Home buyers often like the sense of protection they feel when getting a home warranty on the property they are buying. Until they discover their home warranty is much less effective than expected.

Seasoned and savvy buyers know that a home warranty policy offers limited coverage. They aren’t all-inclusive. In my opinion, some are kind of useless.

Why hate on home warranty companies? I order a lot of home warranty policies as part of my job. And I’ve had home warranty policies on my own properties. Seems like we all have stories of rejected claims and paltry payouts.

Most homeowners who get a home warranty policy do so at the time they purchase a home. Sometimes they negotiate for the seller to pay for a one-year policy as part of their purchase contract. That may be the best reason to get one.

“Any person can buy a home warranty in most cases,” says Julie Jones, Vice President of Real Estate Sales for Nations Home Warranty. “There are different plans and different pricing. You might get your best deal if you’re getting it at the time you are buying a home. “

Just what are home warranties and what do they cover?

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