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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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Officially, a title company in Texas is referred to as Title Agent or Title Agency. They are responsible to and answer to a lot of folks – mortgage companies, real estate agents, buyers, sellers, brokers, underwriters, etc.

Most notably, they follow the Texas Department of Insurance rules and regulations meticulously. Regular audits by this department ensure it.

But what do title companies and escrow officers really do?

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Even though the services offered and fees charged by title companies across Texas are standardized, there is some variation in how they operate. Just as real estate brokerages and real estate agents vary in their operating standards and styles, so do title companies.

Title companies in Texas have three basic roles. They include completing a title search, closing the transaction (which includes preparing paperwork, managing funds, recording, etc.), and issuing title insurance. All licensed Texas title agencies perform these roles.

The basic kinds of title companies you’ll find in the Dallas area include:

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ClosingClosing costs vary from state to state. And in Texas, they can vary from sale to sale. It may be surprising to see where you can and cannot save on your real estate sale or purchase.

In Texas, title insurance rates are set by the Texas Department of Insurance. The rate is based on the sales price of the property. Many buyers and sellers believe that shopping around for a title company will save them money. But, title companies must charge the rate mandated by the state.

However, there are still some ways to save on your closing. (more…)

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

We’ve all heard about the two things you can’t avoid – death and taxes. Just like there is a life cycle, there is a property tax cycle. The tax cycle is a lot easier to predict.

This life cycle of property taxes follows the same pattern every year. If you’re a Texas homeowner, your property is somewhere in this predictable rotation.

I offer you a synopsis of the tax collection cycle. Follow along with the snazzy graph I made from information from the Texas Tax Code.

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Special contributor Lydia Blair with Mary Doggett, VP of National Investors Title Insurance

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Property taxes are the talk of the town right now. Municipalities all over the Metroplex are proposing tax rate increases on top of the frequent increase in property values. This year’s tax bill may be a double whammy for our already steep homeowner taxes. If you’re thinking of avoiding those taxes, here is your warning.

“Texas is pretty efficient with collections or foreclosing because our property taxes are high,” says Mary Doggett, VP of National Investors Title Insurance.

Despite our strong homestead rights in Texas, you can lose your home if you don’t pay your property taxes. Rest assured that the taxing authorities will collect their money one way or another. There is no escaping it.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

One of the most common mistakes and needless expenses that home sellers encounter involves the survey section of their sales contract. Despite the bold type and plain English, there are often disputes and confusion about providing a survey.

The survey section is on page 2 of the standard TREC contract. Paragraph 6C specifically addresses who will provide a survey and when it is due. Note that there are 3 options on the contract regarding the survey. One – and only one – of these options should be checked before completing the contract. The most commonly checked option is paragraph 6C (1).

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

The closing process varies and fluctuates from property to property, from state to state, from person to person. Just like homes are different, so are closings on those homes.

However, real estate closings in Texas follow a consistent outline of steps from start to finish. They don’t always follow a straight path. Some steps are rigid requirements while others are more flexible guidelines. Some of the steps take place simultaneously while other steps cannot be taken until a previous task is completed. Some steps are short and others are long and complicated.

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