Dec 8, 2018

The job of the Title Company in Texas

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?

Their job entails four basic responsibilities. The simplest starts with:

Search the property title. Disclosure is made to all parties regarding any encumbrances found that could affect ownership rights. The title exam is really for the benefit of the title agency so that they can issue title insurance. Not many title companies would survive if they were foolish enough to issue title insurance without a good title exam to reduce their risk of claims.

Close the transaction. Title agencies work with mortgage lenders, surveyors, HOA managements and more. They bring the parties together, ensure documents are correctly issued and signed, enforce regulations, etc. Their duties can include filing federal tax forms, cash reporting, etc.

Handle the money. They ensure all funds are good and are entrusted with securely collecting and distributing those funds. Billions of dollars a year flow through their hands in Texas alone. 

And most importantly: 

Serve as a trustworthy, impartial third party. They safeguard the public’s trust with the highest degree of ethics. They don’t represent either side of the transaction and remain neutral and fair in all dealings.

There’s one thing that title companies don’t do that most people assume is a given. Title companies don’t guarantee a clear title. It’s true. We can’t promise you the title to your property is free from all encumbrances.

Now don’t be one of those folks who becomes indignant about paying all that money for title insurance with no guarantees. Realize that title insurance is an indemnity, not a guarantee. It protects against financial loss if a claim arises.

Just like fire insurance doesn’t guarantee you’ll never have a fire. It says it will indemnify you if you have a fire. The same goes for auto insurance. If insurance was a guarantee, then we’d all get life insurance.

Title insurance, like other types of insurance, will protect you against losses covered by that insurance. Some insurance coverages are more comprehensive than others. What is covered or isn’t covered is disclosed in the title commitment prior to the closing.

The job of a title agent is both simple and complicated. To the same extent that a home purchase is both financial and emotional. No two are exactly alike.

The opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice for any particular issue or problem. [where: 75230]

Dec 1, 2018

Real Estate Apps

There are hundreds of mobile apps specifically focusing on real estate. Most are aimed at potential home buyers and sellers. Apps like Realtor.com, RealScout, and Homesnap help consumers search for properties for sale. Other apps provide neighborhood and property data like RPR Mobile and AreaPulse. Updater is an app that helps track moving tasks.

Then there are apps aimed at helping Realtors with their business. Many agents and brokerages use BackAgent, Skyslope and similar transaction management apps to help stay organized. Docusign is a popular app that gets signatures from clients on the go. Staging apps like PlanOmatic and Hutch help with marketing a property. Roomscan lets agents measure and record floor plans. The list goes on.

And there are also apps provided by title companies. Most of these are aimed at helping Realtors determine closing costs for a particular property. The really good apps allow agents to run an estimated net sheet for their clients.

A net sheet shows closing costs and title fees for a transaction. A seller’s net sheet lets them know how much they will walk away with at closing. This can be very helpful when comparing multiple offers or negotiating terms of a contract like closing date or who pays for what.

A buyer’s net sheet allows a buyer to get an estimate of their total monthly payment for a particular property in addition to how much they will need to bring to closing. In order to obtain an estimated net sheet, either party will need to know the sales price, closing date, and other terms of the contract.

One of the easiest and most popular apps for determining closing costs is run by PalmAgent. It is branded under different title company names and several area title companies offer it free to agents. This app is found via fidelityagent.com, chicagoagent.com, carlisleagent.com, lawyersagent.com, etc.

While the basic app is free from these companies, a premium version is available for less than $15. With that one-time purchase, agents can calculate renting vs. buying figures, monthly affordability, market trends, and more.

Naturally, these calculations are only estimates. For more exact figures on closing costs, contact your favorite title agent. But if you’re on the go and want a quick idea of the cost to buy or sell, these apps are a handy tool.

The opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice for any particular issue or problem. [where: 75230]

Nov 24, 2018

The Difference in Texas Title Companies

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:

Independent – These title agencies are independently owned and not a subsidiary or chain. Most have more than one location but they could consist of a one-office, mom-and-pop-style shop. Carlisle Title, Capital Title, and Allegiance Title are popular examples of locally owned and independent companies.

National Chains – These are big companies with branch operations in several locations. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, they include large companies like Old Republic and North American Title. They often run subsidiary title companies as well.

Subsidiary Title Companies – The local title agencies are owned and controlled by large chains. For example, Reunion Title and Republic Title are subsidiaries of First American Title. The parent company may or may not be heavily involved in operations and affiliated with other real estate related companies.

Fee Attorney Title Office – These are attorneys who can serve the function of examining title and handle the closing of the transaction. Some fee attorney offices operate independently (and may not be audited regularly). Others perform title services under the name of an existing title insurance company. Well-known fee attorney offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area include Stewart Title, Alamo Title, and Lawyers Title.

Some Mixture of The Above – Some sizable companies have a mixture of operations. I think of them kind of like restaurant franchises – they may be corporate owned or locally owned, affiliated or not. Chicago Title is an example of a nationally owned title company with branch offices, as well as fee attorney offices who operate under its name.

Many title companies are affiliated with other businesses such as banks, builders, mortgage lenders, insurance companies, or real estate brokerages who send them business. These include companies like LegacyTexas Title and Texas Premier Title. Most national chains have affiliations with other real estate-related companies.

All title companies have a duty to serve as a neutral third party in transactions. Regardless of the type of title company, they should always earn your business through quality service and placing the client’s interests first.

Opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. Contact an attorney or accountant to obtain advice for any issue or problem. [where: 75230]