Alamo Title Company

Home Equity Loan Information




Q: Why do you need title insurance?


Many title problems can arise to cause the complete or partial loss of your home or business property.

Won't a search of title keep problems from arising?
Even the most careful search of the public records will not find every title problem. Because some problems are hidden, your title may appear to be perfect but in fact there may be a problem that is a land mine waiting to explode.

Are all my possible losses covered by an owner policy of title insurance?
No, owner’s title insurance protects you against financial loss caused by covered title risks, subject to the terms and conditions within your policy.

Do I pay Annual Premiums?
A small, one-time premium provides you with this valuable protection.

Where can I get an Alamo Title Insurance Policy?
Before buying real estate, give us or one of our title insurance agents a call. Ask how simple it is to insure yourself against title loss.

What are some examples of problems title insurance may protects against?
To give you an idea of the types of title problems that may occur, we have compiled this list of "Land Mines" that could result in partial or complete loss of your property or an expensive lawsuit.

"LAND MINES"

  • Documents executed under duress.
  • Defective acknowledgments.
  • Deeds by minors.
  • Inadequate legal descriptions.
  • Easements established through continued use but not discovered by a survey or in the public record.
  • Mistakes in recording legal documents.
  • Mistaken reports furnished from taxing authorities.
  • Misinterpretation of wills.
  • Deed of community property recited to be separate property.
  • Errors in tax records. (For example, listing payment against wrong property account.)
  • Birth or adoption of children after date of will.
  • Falsification of records.
  • Undisclosed or missing heirs.
  • Errors in indexing of legal documents by the County.
  • Surviving children omitted from a will.
  • Deeds to or from defunct corporations.
  • Marital rights of spouse allegedly, but not legally, divorced.
  • Instruments executed under fabricated or expired powers of attorney.
  • Forged deeds, releases, etc.
  • Deeds by persons supposedly single but secretly married.
  • Deeds from persons not competent to handle their affairs.
A TITLE INSURANCE POLICY IS A CONTRACT BETWEEN YOU AND ALAMO TITLE INSURING YOU AGAINST LOSS IN THE EVENT A TITLE DEFECT OCCURS RESULTING FROM A COVERED RISK.

Q: What is tenants and lenders insurance?


What kind of title insurance protection is available for tenants and their lenders?

LEASEHOLD ENDORSEMENTS

An available but often overlooked title insurance coverage is protection for tenants and their lenders. This coverage is available through special endorsements to both the Owner Policy of Title Insurance and the Mortgagee Policy of Title Insurance.

But my landlord has an owners title policy of title insurance...
This may be true, but the title insurance protection applies to the named insured - the owner - not to his tenants. In the case of a covered title defect serious enough to cause you to be evicted from all or part of the leased premises, your only remedies would be a lawsuit under the lease or expensive business interruption insurance. Also, a lender to a tenant for the tenant’s improvements would have a lien on property to which title may have been lost.

What coverage do I have under a leasehold policy?
The leasehold policy is a standard owner or lender policy to which an endorsement covering items of loss not covered by the standard policy is added. Subject to policy provisions, losses covered up to the policy limit may include the following:

The reasonable cost of removing and relocating personal property that you have the right to remove under the terms of your lease, the cost to move the personal property an initial 25 miles, and the cost of repairing any property damage in the move. Personal property means inventory and fixtures. Rent payable to the person having title superior to the landlord. Rent which the tenant is liable to pay to the landlord after the eviction. The fair market value of any sublease. Damages the insured tenant is obligated to pay a sublessee.

How is the value of my lease and interest determined?
The value of a leasehold interest is the difference between the remaining rent to be paid and the present worth of the excess of the fair market rental, without regard for the title defect, for the remainder of the lease term, and all valid renewal options.

Who pays for the title insurance policy?
Customarily the insured pays for owner policy coverage; however, the payment of the premium is a negotiable matter. A borrower is usually required to provide the mortgagee policy to the lender as a part of the loan agreement.

Remember, your lease is only as good as your landlord’s ownership of the property. The landlord’s title policy does not protect you, your property, or your lender. In the case of a title defect serious enough to cause you to be evicted from all or part of the leased premises, a leasehold policy will help move you to a new location, help pay your rent at a new location, and protect you if you have subleased the property.

Alamo Title Insurance has been protecting owners, lenders and tenants for more than 75 years. We urge you to protect your business investment with us.

A TITLE INSURANCE POLICY IS A CONTRACT BETWEEN YOU AND US INSURING YOU AGAINST LOSS IN THE EVENT A TITLE DEFECT OCCURS RESULTING FROM A COVERED RISK.

What is the price for leasehold coverage?
In Texas, only the basic premium rate set by the Texas Department of Insurance is charged. There is no extra charge for the leasehold endorsement. A leasehold mortgagee policy can be issued simultaneously with the leasehold owner policy for a nominal charge. If an owner policy of title insurance and a leasehold owner policy are issued simultaneously, then the leasehold policy is issued at 70% of the premium for the owner policy.


Q: How can I get the most for my house?


FIRST IMPRESSIONS - SELL HOMES

Other than the price, the first impression your home makes is the most important attribute of a sale. When you place your home on the market, you will make more money if it looks its best.

Look at your house as though seeing it for the first time. Determine what need

For a list that will assist you in reviewing the attributes of your home so that it will show to its best advantage:

HOW TO START Before you spend any significant amount of money, consult your broker. The broker can tell you whether the expense will pay off in an increased sales price or a decreased selling time.

Exterior

  • Mow the lawn
  • Trim trees and shrubs
  • Weed flower beds and yard
  • Clean or repair walks, driveway, steps and porches
  • Paint trim and front of house
  • Clean and repair roof, gutters, and downspouts
  • Paint front door, mailbox, and back door
  • Repair or replace storm doors
  • Clean and repair screens and storm windows
  • Clean, paint, repair garage - throw away anything you don’t intend to keep

Interior

  • Paint, if necessary
  • Clean windows
  • Clean and polish floors
  • Make sure all light bulbs are working
  • Make sure all doors and windows are working properly
  • Make sure light switches work
  • Repair and paint cracked walls and ceilings
  • Fix dripping faucets
  • Clear clogged drains
  • Clean fireplace
  • Straighten all closets
  • Use potpourri or other pleasant smells
  • Vacuum or shampoo rugs as needed
  • Clean heating and air conditioning system, furnace, boiler, etc.
  • Throw away what you’re not going to move

Kitchen

  • Paint or polish cabinets
  • Clean ventilating hood and fan
  • Repair, clean and wax floor
  • Clear off counter tops
  • Make sure drawers work properly
  • Put appliances out of sight: stack items neatly in cabinets

    Bedrooms

    • Make beds
    • Vacuum floor

    Living Room/Den

    • Play "Middle of the road" music in the background
    • Stack newspapers/magazines
    • Clean and dust shelves and appliances, TV, and stereo

    Dining Room

    • Polish furniture

    Laundry Area

    • Remove hanging clothes
    • Put away supplies
    • Clean/polish appliances

    DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

    If you are home when a prospect arrives, relax, stay out of the way, and let your broker show your home.

    Answer questions truthfully. If you have helped your home make a good first impression by carefully going over this list, your home will sell itself.


    SELLING THIS HOME, BUYING ANOTHER If you’re selling this home, you’re probably buying another one.

    In order to protect your investment in your new home, you should protect yourself with an owner policy of title insurance. Claims against previous owners can be filed against the property and the current owner. That means you, the new buyer.

    Title problems such as fraud, forgery, missing heirs, old liens and errors in the records can endanger your investment or even cause you to lose your home.

    An owner’s title insurance policy from Alamo Title Insurance can insure you against covered risks.

    For only a small, one-time premium, the insurance coverage lasts as long as you or your heirs have an interest in the property or you have liability under warranties you may give.

    So when you buy a home or other real estate, be sure to protect your investment with an owner policy of title insurance from Alamo Title Insurance. We’ve been insuring titles for more than 75 years.

    A TITLE INSURANCE POLICY IS A CONTRACT BETWEEN YOU AND ALAMO TITLE INSURING YOU AGAINST LOSS IN THE EVENT A TITLE DEFECT OCCURS RESULTING FROM A COVERED RISK


    Q: How do Real Estate agents help sellers make money?


    PRICING
    A homeowner is usually not the best judge of the value of his or her home. There are too many emotional ties to the home for the owner to be unbiased. Also the owner knows the amount he needs or wants from the sale and may not be objective.

    Real estate brokers have the most current information about the marketplace. This information allows them to know what properties similar to yours are selling for.

    If your estimate of value is too high, some prospective buyers will consider it out of their reach. Also, frequent price reductions may cause buyers to wonder if something is wrong with the home.

    If your estimate of value is too low, you will lose money you could have had. A price which is too low may also be discouraging to buyers who are suspicious of bargain deals.

    Real estate brokers will aid you in appraising your home by pointing out that the home is in a favorable location, convenient to transportation and shopping, or has a popular design or builder.

    FINDING A BUYER
    A "For Sale by Owner" sign in your yard can have implications you may not have considered. Your doorbell may ring at any time of the day or night. You may lose a sale if you’re not home. Strangers - some just simply curious - will want to look at your home. People may ask you many personal questions about financing, settlement, reasons for selling and so forth.

    A real estate broker will screen prospective buyers in order to show your home to interested buyers with the ability to buy. Your home will be shown with advance notice to you. Plus, brokers have clients who are looking for homes like yours.

    Advertising your home is an art. Brokers know where to advertise, how often to advertise and how to word advertisements for effect. This knowledge can sell your home more quickly.

    Real estate brokers can continue selling your home, even if you are at work or out of town, by using lock boxes and other proven techniques.

    MAKING THE DEAL
    Buyers usually offer less than your asking price. Can you objectively evaluate the offer? Unless you have bought and sold several homes, you may need help in dealing with contracts.

    Your broker knows how to handle counter-offers, prices, cash down payments, settlement dates, financing, and other important details.

    Brokers have done it before, so they know what to do. Your broker will either have an answer or know where to find it.

    When it comes to real estate commissions, it is important to remember this - the more money your broker earned, the more money you made on the sale.

    BUYING REAL ESTATE
    When buying or selling real estate, brokers will probably recommend the purchase of an owner policy of title insurance, a contract that protects you against covered title risks, including liens, defects or encumbrances of the past and to insure that your home is yours. An owner’s title insurance policy may protect you against actual financial loss up to the policy limit.

    Alamo Title Insurance has been insuring titles to homes, ranches, and commercial property for more than 75 years. We urge you to protect your title with us.

    A TITLE INSURANCE POLICY IS A CONTRACT BETWEEN YOU AND ALAMO TITLE INSURING YOU AGAINST LOSS IN THE EVENT A TITLE DEFECT OCCURS RESULTING FROM A COVERED RISK.

    Many times, people try to save money by selling their homes without the aid of a real estate broker. "For Sale by Owner" often appears to be a good way to save money, but selling your home yourself could cost you time and money.

    Real estate brokers can save you valuable time by selling your home faster and can help you get the most money for your property.

    They can also help you attend to some of the many details you might not have considered.


    Q: How do you make settlements easier?


    A Settlement is:

    • Protects the parties to the transaction by having a neutral party seeing that their agreement is implemented.
    • Allows the seller to use part of the purchase money to pay his liens and to pass title to the purchaser subject only to the liens agreed to in the sales agreement.
    • Aids in the settlement of multiple property transactions.
    • Aids in a transaction involving a sale and simultaneous release.
    • Enables the real estate broker to devote more time to selling other properties by turning over to the settlement agent the time-consuming details of settlement.
    • Inspires confidence in buyers and sellers of real estate that the appropriate documents have been signed and recorded and that taxes and prior liens against the property have been paid.
    • Assures lenders that the disbursement of their loan proceeds has been property handled.
    What does the settlement agent need from the seller before closing?
    After discussing the requirements of the commitment for title insurance with the settlement agent, the seller or his attorney should make the following items available to the settlement agent:
    • Deed, other required title documents and curative documents. Please note that title companies do not prepare legal documents that are used for the parties’ benefit (such as deeds, releases, or mortgage instruments), nor are title insurance agents required to cure title defects.
    • Hazard insurance policies with proper endorsements and assignments attached (when existing policies are to be assigned) as required by the lender.
    • Payoff statements from the holder of existing liens.
    • All unrecorded releases of liens or discharges of mortgages in his possession.
    • The most current paid real estate tax statements and receipts.
    • A statement showing the amount of real estate commissions to be paid out of the settlement and to whom payable.
    • An agreed division of charges for title premiums, recording fees and settlement charges.
    • Copy of the earnest money contract, fully executed and dated; also, any bill of sale covering personal property or required property condition disclosures.
    What does the settlement agent need from the buyer before closing?
    The Purchaser and his attorney should make the following available to the settlement agent to expedite closing:
    • Required funds in the form of a certified check, cashier’s check or wire transfer instructions.
    • Required hazard insurance policies (when not taking over existing policies).
    • Other documents required by the earnest money contract.
    What does the settlement agent need from the lender before closing?
    The Lender should provide to the settlement agent written closing instructions describing the lender’s requirements for insurance in connection with the closing and funding, including:
    • Hazard insurance requirements.
    • Special provisions required to be in mortgagee policies.
    • Payment of service charges and mortgage costs.
    • Any other matters relating to the settlement.
    What is the duty of the settlement agent's role to the parties? A settlement or escrow agent is a neutral third party who disburses funds in accordance with the agreement of the parties.

    Why Alamo's Title Insurance Agents are your best choice.
    Many attorneys, lenders, developers, home builders and real estate brokers close their real estate transactions through our title insurance agents. The simple reason for their decision: It’s easier for them and safer for you.

    A TITLE INSURANCE POLICY IS A CONTRACT BETWEEN YOU AND ALAMO TITLE INSURING YOU AGAINST LOSS IN THE EVENT A TITLE DEFECT OCCURS RESULTING FROM A COVERED RISK


    Q: What is a Homestead? and other Property Facts.


    What is the significance of a Texas Homestead?
    Homestead essentially means a protection afforded the owner of a primary residence, business or lived on rural property, which prevents the forced sale of the property to satisfy debts of the owner.

    How much of my property is considered Homestead?
    The homestead protection is limited to one acre in an urban area and 200 acres in a rural area (100 acres if single). You may have both residential and a business homestead in an urban area and the one acre can be an accumulation of both. You cannot have an urban and a rural homestead simultaneously.

    May I borrow against my Homestead?
    You can only borrow against your homestead and create a valid lien which can be foreclosed against the homestead for non-payment of:

    • Purchase Money
    • Home Improvements Loan
    • Payment of Taxes
    • Owelty Liens
    • Federal Tax Liens
    What documents are required to improve my Homestead?
    If you wish to borrow money to improve, repair, or add-on to your homestead, you must execute (both husband and wife) a Builder’s and Mechanic’s Lien Contract with the contractor who will provide the work and supplies prior to any work being performed and the instrument must be recorded at the County Clerk’s office.

    What is community property?
    Community property means if you buy property while married, it will be presumed to be jointly owned by you and your spouse. However, there are ways separate property can be acquired during marriage.

    What is separate property?
    Separate property is property acquired before marriage, or acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance.