Freedom Title

As a locally owned and operated title company, with deep roots in Denton County, Freedom Title is excited to be expanding its vast knowledge and expertise to other areas of the Metroplex. Our employees have over 300 years experience in the Title Insurance industry and our blog with showcase our knowledge and skills, our sense of humor, our lessons learned, and our commitment to service.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Important Changes to Denton County Homestead Exemption

As of September 1, 2011, there are changes to the proof of residency requirements for homeowners applying for the
property tax homestead exemption
All new applicants must provide the following documentation to qualify for the homestead exemption:

-Applications for Residential Homestead Exemption (available on most county appraisal district websites) Copy of Texas Driver’s License or Texas ID Card. The address must match the homestead address intended for the exemption. Copy of Vehicle Registration receipt. The address must match the home-stead address. Homeowners can get a copy of their registration receipt from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you do not own a vehicle, you must complete the Non-Ownership of Motor Vehicle Affidavit (found on the Homestead Exemption application), and have it notarized and attach a copy of a utility bill showing the homestead address. The Homestead Exemption will not be allowed unless all the required documents show the same homestead address.

Monday, November 21, 2011

FHA Pains!

As anyone in the real estate industry can attest, one thing it is NOT is dull!  Each day is an adventure, and occasionally an exasperating one.  I’ve read the following story several times over the past few years and it never fails to make me chuckle!

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted, if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:
"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."
Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:
(actual letter)
"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S. from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application.
For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. Ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus ' expedition.
Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it, AND the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we please have our damn loan?"
The loan was approved.

Some days I can really feel his pain, can’t you?  In the current real estate climate when every loan is so difficult to get approved I empathize with the poor guy!  And some days, all you can do is laugh. 

Kim Garite, Escrow Officer- Freedom Title Denton

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tax Exemptions-New Changes!

Freedom Title would like to update you on the changes that were effective September 1, 2011 in Denton County in regards to filing for your tax exemptions. In order to receive any tax exemption on your property you must now provide a Texas driver’s license or Texas state-issued identification card and a copy of your vehicle registration all displaying the property address for which you are filing in order to receive any exemption.

Those that do not own a vehicle will be required to submit a notarized affidavit certifying you do not own a vehicle and a current utility bill for the property in which you are applying for. Please note this applies to all tax exemptions.

Shaundra Almendarez
Escrow Officer/Office Manager
Freedom Title Highland Village

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Title Insurance???

If you or your clients have ever asked, "Why do I need title insurance?" Read on, courtesy of our Title Examiner Kellie Wood:

When I first started in the title business about 15 years ago, I was asked “Why do people need Title Insurance?” I responded with something along the lines of, "Because of death, divorce and taxes." Not only do those still apply today, but in today’s title world there has been an increase in bankruptcy and foreclosures. We do not like to see “our homeowners” lose their properties.  We like to help people realize the dream of homeownership.

As a title examiner I have seen interesting things over the years in searching a chain of title.  There was the chain that had so many deaths and passing of percentages of ownership among family trusts that I had drawn out what resembled a large ancestry tree, but it was a conveyance tree with many branches and branching off of branches. It went on and on!  I was hoping I would come up with the same end result of who was in title as the person who was keeping track for the family members. I have also seen family members convey property according to Dad’s Will (where that one sibling did not inherit under the terms of the Will) however I never found a copy of the Will in the Probate Court records (where it needs to be filed to pass title according to the terms of the Will). Since the Will was never probated all those years ago when Dad died, the property passed according to the State of Texas intestate laws. The family was not happy that the “omitted sibling” was included as one of the owners in title to the property. We have to show title according to the probate and state laws.  We really are not trying to make it difficult.  We are trying to do it right!

Divorces need to be reviewed to determine who was awarded the property and if any terms of a sale or refinance of the property will apply or any other terms that may affect the real property in our transaction with the divorced person.  Examiners also check to see if any taxes or other “involuntary” liens are filed against the property or homeowner.  These liens need to be paid off and/or released upon the sale of the property. 

In recent times we see a lot of bankruptcies and foreclosures.  The title examiners need to review the bankruptcy to determine if the property is under the control of the bankruptcy court or the property owner.  We also check to see if the lender has gone through any steps that may be necessary in the bankruptcy court in order to foreclose on a property in which the owner has filed for bankruptcy.  In these situations there are bankruptcy laws and state laws and procedures that need to be followed.  Another example in regards to foreclosures is on Home Equity Loans in Texas the lender needs to go through the court to get approval before foreclosing on a home. 

So, Why Title Insurance?  As you can see, there are many different situations that a property or homeowner could be in when someone goes to buy a piece of property.  There are many court processes and state laws to be reviewed, if needed.  We like to help people realize the dream of homeownership with a clear title to go with it!

Kellie Wood
Title Examiner