Mar 14, 2022

Sharing Your Home Sales Price - Do or Don't?

Texas homebuyers quickly find their new mailboxes filled with solicitations and requests after their purchase. They are also overrun with appeals and demands for information regarding the purchase of their property.

In addition to the sham mortgage insurance offers and tax filing service scams are enticements to disclose the sales price of their property. Most of these communications look very official and it can be hard to decipher what is legitimate and what is not. Almost none of it is.

Texas is a non-disclosure state

In Texas, a buyer or seller is not required to disclose the sales price of a property to anyone or any entity whatsoever. Real estate sale prices are not public record.

In most states, you can look up any address through the county property tax appraiser to see the most recent sales price. The public has access to sales prices in 38 states. In some states, the public disclosure of real estate sale prices may be printed in local media or appear on the publicly recorded deed. In other ‘disclosure’ states, only governmental entities have access to the sales price.

Our state considers a property sale to be a private transaction and you have a right to keep the details away from curious folks as well as government agencies.

With whom should you share your sales price?

There is no law that says the state, county, city or appraisal districts can require you to provide your sales price. Nosy neighbors and relatives may also ask or speculate about what you paid for a property. It is nobody’s business.

You do not need to disclose the purchase price to the County Tax Office, your HOA, an appraiser, prying neighbors or anyone else. Your tax accountant is the only person with whom you should share the purchase price of a property.

Why does the County want to know?

Many Texas appraisal districts want full disclosure of real estate sales prices to help establish the taxable value. Texas has no state income tax. Our high property taxes help make up for that. Texas property taxes are assessed and paid by counties, cities, schools, appraisal districts, etc. The total property taxes average about 3% of the assessed value of the property each year. If your tax assessor has your actual sales price, they will usually base your taxes on that price.

Zestimates & Other guessers

Web sites like Zillow attempt to place a “home value” on a property based on different formulas. The estimated sales price and value posted on most web sites are inaccurate. These automated valuation models include limited information gathered from publicly recorded mortgage liens, tax assessments and geographic maps.

Their estimates do not include actual sales prices or take into account data such as negotiated concessions, repairs, closing costs, etc. that one of the parties may have paid. They do not take into account lot sizes, condition of the property, etc. Only licensed Realtors and Appraisers have access to all of this information.

Who really knows the sales price?

The buyer, seller, agents, title company and mortgage lender all know the sales price of a property. If a property is for sale in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), then the listing broker must report the sale and sales price to the MLS. The MLS collects and maintains this proprietary information.

Property owner information, not sales price, is public information. Marketing and sales companies scour county records every day and collect information on deed transfers and filing of mortgage liens. That is where they find the addresses of new homeowners to solicit. A lot of the junk mail will also come from folks who find you when you turn on your utilities. That is also public information unless you request that that the utility provider make it private.

How to reduce requests

What should you do when faced with an official request asking for the details of the sale? Ignore it. There is enough information out there about all of us already. In my opinion, no one should offer up this additional financial and personal information voluntarily.

[where: 75230]

Mar 7, 2022

When someone can’t make it to the title company on closing day to sign the necessary papers, a popular solution is to use a mobile notary. Mobile Notary services have been around a long time and are more sought-after than ever now. 

Notary services are crucial in real estate transactions. Several documents are required to be notarized in order for a property to change hands. Validating signatures and identities of signers keeps the process authentic and reduces the chance of fraud. 

Unlike signing in a traditional title office setting, a mobile notary travels to the client’s location to meet them in person.

Mobile notaries offer a convenient service.

“I can travel to your home, office, or any location you need. Those could include a business, hospital, hotel, coffee shop, or parking lot,” says Henry Eford, a Certified Loan Signing Agent. “I go to a lot of locations that your title company may not be able or willing to accommodate.”

These bonded professionals can be scheduled just about any hour of the day and many specialize in flexible, after-hours closings. The convenience and efficiency of signing documents at your preferred time and location can save the signer the hassles of traveling to a title office. A mobile notary can be there when and where you need them. The service can be provided in any state in the U.S.

Notary/Signing Agents
There is a difference between a mobile notary and a signing agent. The typical notary’s job is to witness the signature. They do not act as an escrow officer or attorney. They cannot explain the closing documents or details of a specific transaction. If a person wants some explanation of documents they are signing, they should request a signing agent.

“Loan signing agents are notaries trained in mortgage and title documents,” says Eford. “As a certified loan signing agent, I ensure that all needed signatures and initials are obtained and I travel to the signer’s location to do so. Often my services include additional duties like printing the loan document packages, and delivering the completed loan documents to the title company or lender.”

Signing agents are screened and certified to meet compliance requirements for a remote closing.

Time and Cost
A remote closing with a mobile notary must be scheduled and approved in advance by the title company. When closing documents are signed outside of the title company office, the originals must be returned to the title company for processing, funding, and finalizing the transaction. This often requires paperwork to be signed a day in advance.

In arranging and approving for someone to sign documents with a mobile notary, the title company may consider factors like security, turnaround time, efficiency, and accuracy.

Typical mobile notary/signing agent cost ranges from $85 to $400 depending on location, the experience of the notary, and additional services like printing, scanning, and delivering originals. Maximum notary fee charges are set by each state. In Texas, notaries may charge $6 for the first signature and $1 for each additional signature. They may also charge for copies, a separate travel fee, and mileage for traveling to the customer’s location.

International notaries are an entirely different challenge. These can be complicated and require a lot of time and coordination. Often the parties are better off delaying closing until the signer is back in the country.

While the fees for mobile notary services add to the transaction costs, they are often a good value when the signer considers the convenience, expenses of travel time, and deadlines.
[where: 75230]

Feb 28, 2022

HOA Resale Certificates

Resale Certificates are often a frustration when buying or selling a property with a Home Owners or Property Owners Association. They are required when selling a property that has mandatory dues or assessments paid to an HOA.

What is a Resale Certificate?

A resale certificate is actually a set of documents prepared by the HOA or the HOA’s management company. They contain disclosures and detailed information about the property and the HOA community.

While associations have their own sets of rules, some requirements are alike for all Texas transactions with mandatory associations. In Texas, the seller must provide a resale certificate to the buyer by the deadline stated in the purchase contract.

The Texas Real Estate Commission provides a standardized resale certificate form for both single family homes and condominiums.

The cost

The cost for obtaining a resale certificate in Texas is capped at $375. Since it is the seller’s responsibility to provide it, the seller typically pays this expense at the time it is ordered.

HOA management companies usually expect payment upfront before they will process an order. By Texas law, they have 10 business days (usually 14 calendar days) to deliver the resale certificate and documents once the order is placed and payment is received.

There is no restriction on rush or demand fees. If the requested information is due before 10 business days, the additional expedited or demand fees range can range from $100 to $350 on up. To avoid rush fees, allow adequate time in the contract for these documents to be delivered.

The HOA may also charge transfer fees, processing fees, account closure fees, or fees for items like common area keys. These are disclosed in the resale package.

Essential elements

When a property is part of a mandatory association, the owners must pay dues to maintain amenities, shared areas and perhaps other services. An HOA resale certificate discloses the amount and frequency of dues and assessments. It includes a financial outline of the HOA, including the budget, reserves and previously approved future special assessments or dues increases.

The rules and regulations of the association are made known in the governing documents. Restrictions and rules that owners are expected to follow are spelled out. These can often include details about landscaping, pets and animals, sign and flags, holiday decorations, parking, noise levels, rental restrictions and more. Architectural requirements and aesthetic rules such as front door color, fence design, roof materials, etc. are specified in these documents.

Association voting procedures, board member elections, etc. are explained. The common areas, maintenance, and repairs that the association is responsible for are detailed as well as the owner maintenance requirements. The Resale Certificate also discloses any lawsuits they are involved with, and other information.

Specific information about the property being sold is included in the resale package. This gives the buyer notice of any violation of the HOA rules prior to closing. This will also reveal if the current owner is behind on any dues.

Acceptance of the HOA documents

Once the resale package is disclosed, silence is considered consent. It is the buyer’s right and responsibility to review the HOA rules, restrictions, requirements, and resale certificate to ensure they are comfortable with the association’s mandates.

As stated in the contract, after receiving the HOA documents and resale certificate, the buyer has a specified number of days to terminate the contract if they don’t like what the resale certificate or other documents reveal.

The buyer’s mortgage lender will want to review the HOA information for details such as owner occupancy rates, lawsuits, and the HOA financial health. If a property doesn’t meet the lender’s criteria, they may refuse to issue a loan.

The purpose of the resale certificate is to provide transparency and protection to all parties. It ensures the buyer is informed about the community they are joining, their obligations to the HOA and the rules they are agreeing to follow. 

[where: 75230]