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Ask George & Chuck: Title company must be agreed upon by both parties

Q: I received a contract to sell my house, and the buyer is insisting on using a different title company than I want to use. It appears to be a deal breaker for them, and it makes me mad. Do I have to agree to their title company?

A: No, the title company needs to be agreed to by both parties. However, coverage is the same, the rates are the same, so why does it make such a big difference to you? Title companies and their escrow procedures for closings are heavily regulated, so this choice should not be a deal breaker. Go to the closing.

Q: The sales prices of the homes in my neighborhood are slowly dropping, but the appraisal district keeps raising the prices on our appraised values. When I go to protest, they just don’t listen to my comparable sales and ignore me. This just isn’t fair. When I appeal, the appraisal review board gives me the same attitude. Where can I get a fair hearing?

A: This is a political football right now. Talk to your legislator. You also can hire a lawyer and go to district court and fight it. This is expensive. There is simply no easy fix to this problem, in our opinion. There are professional tax protestors, who have a success in this procedure, so interview a few and see if they can possibly help.

Q: I’m being threatened by my homeowners association. They keep going up on their dues, then cite me for violations. They then fine me, hire lawyers to sue me, then they charge me for their fees. How can I stop this?

A: Move. They are given the authority to do this in their deed restrictions and they are exercising those rights. You knew this when you bought the property. The rules are weighted on their side and fighting them is expensive. We know it’s “the principle,” but those principles can get expensive, and you might lose. Unless they are obviously picking on you unfairly, just comply with their rules and you can save a lot of money and frustration. Life’s too short for these fights.

Q: I received a contract to sell my house and the contract requires a general warranty deed. I got title by special warranty deed. Can I give a higher warranty than I received?

A: You sure can. Be sure to pay for title insurance, then they will most likely be the defendant if there’s any failure of title. If you obtained title insurance when you bought the property, you still have coverage from that policy, too. Not to worry on this issue.

To send a question visit and select the “Ask A Question” button. Answers to questions do not contain legal advice. If you wish to obtain legal advice, consult your own attorney. George Stephens is the broker of Stephens Properties. Charles J. Jacobus, J.D. is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in residential and commercial real estate law.

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