Property

Transfer on Death Deeds in Texas

A Disaster for Many.. Transfer on death deeds, legal in Texas since 2015, have been heralded as the latest, greatest method for keeping real property out of probate.  The goal behind them is laudable: provide a simple mechanism for transferring ownership of land to a beneficiary when the owner dies, no probate required. Four years later, how’s that working for us? Not so good. Let’s start with the form:  there isn’t one. The...

How To Buy A House in Texas

From Contract to Close Real Estate 101 In case you plan to usher out the old year and welcome in the new with a real estate transaction, here is a little heads-up on the people and terminology involved.   In Texas we sell and purchase real estate only by a written instrument.  It just isn’t enough to say “Give me $200 and the North 40 is yours.”   The document that transfers ownership in real...

Property Owner’s Association (POA) – What You Need To Know

Defense of the Red Mailbox Reining in Your POA POAs are known for sending you pseudo- friendly letters taking issue with the color of your mailbox and placement of your trash can, and distinctly unfriendly letters regarding your past-due assessments.   The best ones are run by an experienced manager hired by a board made up of reasonaA lot of seniors reside in a type of community overseen by a mandatory...

Cemetery Plot Sales and Laws

Picture yourself walking through a peaceful cemetery at dawn, light filtering through the leafy canopies of ancient oaks onto an array of crumbling carved gravestones.  In the distance you see a small mausoleum fronted, jarringly, with a white sign saying FOR SALE BY OWNER.   That’s probably not going to happen, at least in Texas where cemetery plots are controlled by a confusing mixture of state law and local rules.  When you...

Wrong Bodies and Right Laws: Courts and Legislature Speak

The courts and the legislature have been very busy.  Here are a few select recent happenings. Divorce cuts off your former spouse's right to decide what will happen to your body after your death and who gets to sit on the front row at your funeral.  This new law dovetails nicely with existing law that says divorce cuts off your beneficiary designations naming your former spouse. If you walk into the...

The Due-On-Sale Clause: Exemptions are Limited; Liability is Not

If you own a home with a mortgage, then you need to know about 12 U.S. Code Section 1701j-3. More commonly known as the Garn-St. Germain Act, this federal law contains a list of exemptions from a due-on-sale clause for the sale of residential real property. A due-on-sale clause is a tricky little provision that authorizes a lender to accelerate payment of a note if the collateral is sold without the...

Deed for Death: Texas Twist for Survivors

Texas real estate law can be pretty confusing, especially when it involves community property.  Read on for a cautionary, and all-too-common, tale. Carol and David Smith, married for 25 years, moved to Texas and bought a house.   The title company attorney initially prepared the property deed identifying them as “Carol and David Smith, husband, and wife.”  David, being a shrewd man who knew a thing or two about real estate,...

A Deed, Indeed – Words Make the Property

Let’s talk deeds, as in Warranty Deeds, Special Warranty Deeds, Deeds of Gift and Lady Bird Deeds. It can be a bit mind-numbing. A deed is the document used to transfer title to real estate in Texas. When you sell land, the typical form of the deed used is a warranty deed. There is a basic form in the Texas Property Code. This type of document gives the property with...

Buying a House in Texas – The Residential Contract

"Standard Contract". A phrase that should  strike fear into your heart. The One to Four Family Residential Contract (Resale) is a standard contract, and a great example of why you should know what you are signing BEFORE you sign it.  It's used by realtors all over the State of Texas for the sale of houses. The form was put out by the Texas Real Estate Commission (acronym TREC) Four pages back,...
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