Tax Prorations

Each year the County Appraisal District (CAD) assigns each property an appraised value for real property tax purposes.  This appraised value is typically issued in March or April, and the property owner is given a period of time in which to protest the appraised value.  Each jurisdiction (County, City, School District, MUD, etc.) that has taxing authority over a property determines the tax rate for that jurisdiction.  The tax owed for each property is calculated by multiplying the tax rates by the appraised value, subject to any applicable exemptions that may apply to the property or owner.  Tax bills in Texas are issued at the end of the tax year, so the 2017 tax bill will be issued after October 1, 2017 and be due by January 31, 2018.

Taxing jurisdictions will not accept payment of taxes if a bill has not yet been issued.  When a property is sold mid-year, in order to minimize any post-closing issues in the proper division of the annual tax bill, your title company will prorate the taxes as of the closing date and credit the party who will actually, or has already, paid the bill while debiting the other party.  If no tax bill has been issued for the current year, the proration done at closing is an estimate.  Most contracts provide that either party may require the other to correct the prorations based on the actual bill when received.

In situations where there is new construction on a property, or renovation of existing improvements, and the CAD has not yet proposed an appraised value for the current year, calculation of the tax amount can be particularly difficult.  The appraised value issued by the CAD is supposed to reflect the appraised value as of January 1 of the current year.  For properties under construction, the state of the improvements as of January 1 may be difficult to determine.  This often requires the that the title company rely on the parties to provide an estimate of the value as of January 1, with the understanding that the parties will adjust the prorations based on the actual bill when received.  Buyers in this situations should also be aware that the tax appraisal, and bill, for the subsequent year may increase dramatically.

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.

Multiple Owners

When property is owned by multiple persons or entities, all those with an ownership interest must join in the sale of the property in order to convey clear title to the purchaser.  The most common scenario with multiple persons in title is property owned by spouses.  Both spouses must sign the deed to transfer the property.

Another scenario that is not uncommon is property that has been inherited by the heirs of the record title owner.  All devises under the Will, or if the deceased owner had no Will, all heirs at law, must execute the deed to transfer clear title to the property.  If one or more persons is unable to cooperate, or refuses to do so, the sale cannot move forward unless a lawsuit is filed to force the sale of the property.  A lawsuit to force the sale of property when not all parties are in agreement is called a Partition.

In a suit for Partition, the Court is asked to first determine if the property is able to be divided among the heirs.  For properties that are large, division of the property into smaller pieces may be possible.  For residential properties, the Court will typically decide that the property is not a candidate for division and order that the property as a whole be sold and the proceeds split among the heirs.  The court will appoint an appraiser to determine the value of the property and a receiver to handle the sale of the property.  The costs associated with both the appraiser and receiver will be deducted from the sale proceeds before the proceeds are distributed to the heirs.

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 a Subordination Agreement?

            Liens against property (such as mortgage liens, tax liens, judgment liens, etc.) in Texas are given priority either by statute or by filing date.  The general rule of priority is “first in time, first in line.”  Statutory provisions may give some liens, such as tax liens or purchase money liens, special priority.  Occasionally, a lien holder who is in a better position may agree to take a position behind a new lien holder.   This agreement is called a Subordination Agreement.  The Subordination Agreement sets out each of the liens involved in the agreement, as well as a description of the property that is collateral for both liens and the consideration that the subordinating lender accepted in order to complete the agreement. 

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


Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

In Texas, when two or more people jointly own a piece of real estate, there is a presumption that the ownership is in the form of a tenancy-in-common.  When one joint owner under a tenancy-in-common dies, that owner’s interest in the property passes to that owner’s heirs or devisees.  The Texas Estates Code does allow that when a piece of real estate is owned by two or more people, the owners may agree in writing that when an owner dies, his or her interest passes to the surviving owner or owners.  The only limitation on title passing to the other owner is that the surviving owner must survive the deceased owner by at least 120 hours.

Establishing a Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship is a relatively easy process. If the joint owners know that they want to hold title to the property with the Right of Survivorship, they can ask that the deed that conveys title to them include language to that effect.  An example for a married couple would be “John Doe and wife, Jane Doe, as joint owners with rights of survivorship as provided by Texas Estates Code section 112.051, and not as tenants-in-common.”  For non-spouses an example might look like John Doe and Jane Doe, as joint owners with rights of survivorship as provided by Texas Estates Code section 111.001, and not as tenants-in-common.”  Because the statute indicates that the joint owners must “agree in writing,” it is suggested that the joint owners also sign the deed indicating that they agree and accept the terms stated in the deed.

For property that is already owned by joint owners as tenants-in-common, those owners may execute a separate written agreement that the property is held as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. The agreement should contain similar language to the examples above as part of the agreement, and should be signed by the joint owners before a Notary Public.  While the statute does not require the agreement to be recorded, recording the agreement in the Real Property Records is the most efficient way to establish that the agreement exists.

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

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


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

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