Watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve can be fun and exciting. But watching someone drop the ball on a real estate transaction is no fun at all.

What happens when the title company drops the ball and problems arise with your transaction? Get ready for a jaw-dropping surprise.

In Texas, the title company is not a party to the residential real estate contract. The buyers and sellers are the parties to the contract. While the title company is mentioned in the contract, their actions are made on behalf of the buyer or seller.

Let’s take a look at a few instances where the title company may drop the ball and examine the potential consequences.


Closing on a house can be frightful. But a new home is so delightful. And since we’re all set to go. Let it close, let it close, let it close.

While getting to the closing table isn’t always lively and fun, we still love to get there. There are a few potentially slippery steps from the time you put a warm signature on your sales contract to the handing over of the house keys.

Unless something pops up to put a freeze on the process, these are the basic steps most buyers and sellers will follow for closing on a residential property:


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When it comes to property surveys, sometimes age is just a number. Sometimes it isn’t. Many folks think a survey is good indefinitely. Others believe a new one is required with every sale.

Age isn’t the only factor in determining if an existing survey may be used for a real estate transaction. There are many details in a survey and a survey affidavit that typically outweigh the age of the survey. The confusion arises because there is no absolute rule for the age of the survey to still be useful.

I get all manners of odd surveys from sellers. Even if the survey is new, a blurry cellphone shot of it is not acceptable for use. Neither is a 1940s mimeograph copy. Hand drawing on a neighborhood map isn’t going to work. Cut off copies are no good either.


Ever wonder who owned your property 100 years ago? Or even 200 years ago? Your house probably wasn’t there yet and there may have been different trees, but someone else likely called your land home, just like you do. We need only to look to history to reveal the roots of your home’s DNA.


Let’s play a game I like to call “Don’t Get Sued.” We surveyed fewer than 100 escrow officers and asked them: “What is a common mistake you see on residential contracts?”

The top 8 answers are on the board. Ready with your buzzer? The survey says the 8 most common contract mistakes that could get you in trouble are:


It’s that not-so-wonderful time of year when property tax bills start hitting our mailboxes. At the time of this writing, tax statements have been mailed in Dallas, Collin, and Tarrant Counties. Bills are being posted daily from other counties and from other taxing authorities including school districts, community colleges, cities, improvement districts, etc.

To get your statement before it arrives in the mail, simply go online and search for your county’s tax assessor. If you live in Dallas County, forget Go to the county tax assessor’s site to get an actual copy of your property tax statement.

Once the taxing authorities in your area have posted your tax bill, your taxes are considered due and payable. That typically happens in early October. In a few (but not all) areas, homeowners may get a discount for paying their taxes before the end of the year. Most homeowners actually pay their property taxes in December and January. Your 2019 property tax bill is considered delinquent if not paid by January 31, 2020. Hefty penalties and interest are charged after January 31st.


Please take notice of the Paragraph 21 notice that is about notices and that many people fail to notice. Call it a notice, a notification, disclosure … whatever. Just don’t ignore it.

Paragraph 21 of the Texas residential real estate contract reads:

“All notices from one party to the other must be in writing and are effective when mailed to, hand-delivered at, or transmitted by fax or electronic transmission as follows:”

There is space to add the buyer and seller names, addresses, phone, fax, and email.

This all-important paragraph is often neglected or overlooked to the detriment of all parties. I’d estimate about a third of residential contracts do not have contact information for both buyer and seller in this paragraph when they are submitted to the title company. That’s a lot of potential problems.

So, what’s the big deal? Why do the buyer and seller need to disclose their email addresses and phone numbers to each other and the title company? Should their agent protect their privacy by withholding this information? So glad you asked.