Wire fraud is on the rise!!

                     Did you know that wire fraud is on the rise?

Wire fraud If you receive an email that appears to come from the title company and it contains wiring instructions, or if you’re an agent and your CLIENTS receive an email containing wiring instructions that appears to come from you or the title company, call our office at 713-529-8800 to verify that the wiring instructions are legitimate.

           Let’s work together to combat wire fraud and protect everyone from potential financial loss.

Zipform Plus CE Class

Zipform Plus is the empowerment tool for real estate professional that wish to accomplish more in less time. This hands on interactive class explains how to obtain digital signatures, create templates, set up notifications, and tasks, and more.

Space is limited! Please RSVP to Letty Nehls at letty@lairdlaw.net

FB_Zipform-01, Letty Nehls, The Laird Law Firm, Fidelity National Title, 1512 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77008, Title company, Houston Heights

Survey Exception

Survey Exception

An owner’s title policy is written the same way as most insurance policies, it provides you coverage limited by certain exceptions and exclusions.  Among these exceptions is one that states; “We do not cover loss, costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses resulting from any discrepancies, conflicts, or shortages in area or boundary lines, or any encroachments or protrusions, or any overlapping of improvements.”   In other words, the policy does not insure against boundary issues or that the improvements on your land, or your neighbors, do not cross the property line or any building set-back or easements.  The Texas Department of Insurance does allow this exception to be modified to provide additional coverage to the buyer after the title company reviews an accurate survey of the property.  If the buyer elects to amend the standard exception, the title company will review the survey and may make specific exceptions based on what is shown on the survey.  Beyond those specific exceptions, the normal exception will be changed to read: “We do not cover loss, costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses resulting from shortages in area .”  Shortages in area is a reference to the mathematical term area, or the actual size of the property.  Other issues, such as boundary lines, encroachments or protrusions that are not specifically excepted to, will then be covered by the owner title policy.

In residential transactions, the cost for the additional coverage is 5% of the base policy premium for the owner title policy.  In commercial transactions, the cost is 10% of the base policy premium for the owner title policy.  I typically advise residential buyers that they should purchase the additional coverage.  The cost is nominal, a couple of hundred dollars or less on most transactions, and you never know what issues you may have with your new neighbors.  On commercial transactions, it really depends on the scenario because the cost can run into the thousands of dollars.

If you would like to use a knowledgeable title company conveniently located in the Heights, please give us a call.

Fidelity National Title, 1512 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77008 (713) 529-8800.



What is FIRPTA and how does it affect the Buyer in a Real Estate Transaction

FIRPTA is an acronym for the Foreign Investments in Real Property Tax Act.  FIRPTA is a U.S. tax statute that imposes tax on foreign persons, defined as nonresident non-citizen individuals and corporations, disposing of real property in the United States.  In order to ensure collection, the statute places the burden of verifying the applicability of FIRPTA on the buyers, as well as withholding and remitting the required funds, and creates a lien against the real property to secure the payment of any amount due. Real property transactions with a value of $300,000.00 or less which will be the principal residence of the purchaser are exempt from FIRPTA withholding.

Because the statute secures the payment of any requited withholding as a lien against the property being purchased, buyers should verify whether the transaction is exempt from FIRPTA and, if not, whether the seller is a foreign person under the statute.  The escrow agent or title company handling the transaction may request verification from the seller as part of their processing of the transaction, or as a courtesy to the parties, but the ultimate responsibility is on the purchaser.  Typically the title company will assist in the event withholding is required by deducting the funds from the seller’s proceeds and remitting them to the IRS.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a prosperous new year filled with health, joy and success.

Thank you for being a valued part of our business. We truly appreciate the opportunity to serve you and look forward to a successful partnership in the coming year.

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!

Do I Really Need a New Survey?


Do I Really Need a New Survey?

When someone buys a home, the question always comes up as to whether they would like to have a new survey of the property or use an existing one provided by the Seller.  To make an informed decision, the potential buyer should understand that a survey is drawing that shows the boundaries of a property, as well as any improvements, easements, building set back lines and other features relevant to the owner’s use of the property.  With that understanding, and assuming that the seller does in fact have an existing survey, there are several questions that the potential buyer should ask.

  1. Does the seller’s existing survey accurately depict the property? The potential buyer has been to the property and should be able to look at an existing survey and determine if the drawing looks the same as the property looked in person.  Google maps can also be a good way to compare an aerial view of the property to the survey.  If there is a variance what is shown on the existing survey and what is actually on the property, a new survey should be ordered.
  2. How old is the existing survey? As long as there have been no changes to the improvements, easements or building set back lines, title companies will typically accept surveys that are less than 10 years old (and even older if you ask nicely).  However, there have been huge advances in the technology used by surveyors, such as GPS, which allow for much more accurate measurements.  It is not unusual for us to see a platted 50’ X 100’ lot actually be slightly smaller or larger using modern technology.
  3. Is the surveyor who performed the existing survey still in business? Surveyors are licensed by the State and carry Errors and Omissions Insurance to cover them in the event of a mistake.  Most surveys contain language that they are only certified to the purchaser and title company shown on the face of the survey, but the knowledge that the surveyor is still in business or at least available in the event of an issue can be important.


Assuming the existing survey is accurate and acceptable to the title company, Realtors that we deal with are split on whether they advise their clients to have a new survey performed.  The primary reason to use an existing survey is to save money.  The price range for residential surveys is currently between $350.00 and $550.00.  While this may appear to be a substantial amount, when one considers that the purchase of a home is probably the largest investment they will make during their lifetime, the cost is actually minimal.  Potential buyers should also keep in mind that a new survey will be certified by the RPLS for that buyer, giving the buyer additional protection in the event of a boundary dispute.

If you would like to use a knowledgeable title company conveniently located in the Heights, please give us a call.  Fidelity National Title, 1512 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77008 (713) 529-8800.