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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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.

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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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closing

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Buying or selling a house takes time. How much time you spend closing depends on several of factors. There is a reason we call it the closing process. Many moving parts must come together before title transfers ownership. In Texas, it’s typically 21 to 45 days.

How long does it take to sign all the documents and actually transfer ownership of the property? That part of the process usually happens in a single day. The closing day is when the deed to a property is exchanged for money. The buyer deposits the money due with the title agent and signs the loan and purchase documents. The seller signs the deed and closing statements and receives money due to them. In Texas, the buyer and seller usually sign closing papers separately. Unlike some other states, not everyone sits down at the closing table at the same time.

Signing the closing documents can take anywhere from five minutes to several hours, depending on the situation. The more complicated the transaction, the more paperwork there is to endorse and the longer it can take.

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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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