By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

It’s easy to make the general statement that all title companies are the same. They all offer the same services, and in Texas, they all charge the same for title insurance. However, it’s like saying that all Realtors are the same, or all home inspectors or insurance companies are the same.

A closer look will reveal that there is often a difference in the level and quality of service between companies. Working with a reliable, experienced, and caring professional can make the difference between an easy, positive transaction and a nightmare experience.

Which title company you get into bed with can be like a marriage. Regardless of how it goes, you’re stuck with them for the duration of the time you own your home.

(more…)

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

A Title Plant is not a big factory that produces property titles. Nor is it a flowering bush used in real estate transactions.

A Title Plant – also called an Abstract Plant – is an operation used as the basis for delivering title insurance. The main focus is on historical records organized by county. The Texas Department of Insurance oversees title plants and states they “shall consist of fully indexed records showing all instruments of record affecting lands within the county.”

(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.

(more…)