By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Your home might be made of bricks and stones, but your property rights are more like a bundle of sticks. It might be a big bundle or a little bundle. Some sticks are larger than others. But each stick represents a right to your real estate.

In the beginning of time (or for the sake of this article, let’s say 200 years ago), a piece of land included all rights to the property along with the right to do what you want with it. Like a great big bundle of sticks.

But as time goes by, some property rights can be taken away, given away or sold. A stick might be taken out of the bundle from time to time. Some may be removed voluntarily and others may have been taken for another reason.

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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.”

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Contracts are signed, inspections completed, movers are scheduled, and the big day is almost here. It’s full speed ahead to closing day. That’s the big day when paperwork is signed, money changes hands and the keys are handed over.

But what happens when one of the individuals can’t make it to the title company office on closing day to sign those all-important papers? It can become a big speed bump in the process. The contract stipulates a closing date and if one of the parties to the contract fails to close on time, it can become a legal issue. If handled correctly, there are solutions that can keep the deal heading in the right direction.

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With the Abstract of Judgment, the skeletons of a property’s title may come out of the closet.

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Judgment Day in the title business is when the title search comes in and the skeletons in the closet come out. These types of skeletons often come in the form of an Abstract of Judgment. Most law abiding folks aren’t familiar with an abstract of judgment or how it affects real estate. But we see it in the title business regularly.

In Texas, an Abstract of Judgement (AJ) is basically a lien that is filed on a property for an unpaid debt. First a judgment for debt is rendered and then the creditor may file an Abstract of Judgment on the debtor’s property. It is designed to prevent the transfer of that property until the judgment has been paid.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit. Grab a seat fellow Texans. You may need it when you hear about the way they finalize real estate sales in some of our fellow united states. Let’s start with a peculiar Yankee custom that’s a changin’.

A recent revision to New York property transactions stipulates that it is no longer allowable for buyers or sellers to tip to the title closer. Yes, you heard that right. The long-held tradition in the Northeast of buyers tipping the real estate closer with cash, gifts, tickets, etc., has been squashed by the New York Department of Financial Services. Anyone else getting a chuckle out of the mere thought of tipping your closer?

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor
 
Title companies are like the private detectives of real estate. That’s right. We’re like a combination of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. Only without the guns and fast cars. Well, maybe we’re closer to a mixture of Nancy Drew and the tech nerd in the back of your office. But we still help save you from real estate disaster.  

One of the reasons title companies are so essential is the title search they perform. A real estate title search involves collecting documents and evidence of the history of a property. The purpose is to ensure the title is clear and valid, and to answer questions regarding a particular piece of real estate prior to the transfer of the title.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

One of the quirks of the title industry is the roller-coaster pace of business. A week day in mid-January can be as boring as watching paint dry. The last Friday of the month in the summer feels like bungee jumping into fire.

While title companies are generally glad to close a transaction, some days are a lot more welcome than others. The last day of the month is usually the busiest time for title companies and lenders. Fridays are the fullest days of the week.

I’ve suspected that mortgage companies were pushing for these days to close out their month or week with more business. But that is probably not correct.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) recently updated the standard residential contracts to now address policies regarding deposits of earnest monies. These changes become mandatory May 15, 2018.

On the first page of the newly updated Texas contracts, it states that “Within 3 days after the Effective Date, Buyer must deliver $___ earnest money to ___, as escrow agent, at ____.”  Previous TREC contracts did not have a deadline for delivering earnest money except to say it was due “upon execution of this contract.” Simultaneous delivery of the contract and earnest money didn’t always happen. Now it is clear.

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