Commercial Litigation & Business Law Attorney Houston, TX

Blog

Category Archives: Real Estate Law

What Is a Quitclaim Deed and When Would I Need One?

Real Estate Attorneys Houston, TX

Image courtesy of Jimmy Joe

You may encounter a situation where you need to transfer a property without going through a sales process or when you know the sellers involved. A quitclaim deed gives you a way to move your ownership interest quickly to another person, such as a family member. Typical scenarios involving this type of deed include parents gifting their children a house, one-half of a divorced couple getting rid of their interest, a new spouse getting added to the deed or when an estate goes to an heir after a death. You need to understand the real estate law basics concerning a quitclaim deed before you decide on using it instead of other property deeds.

Differences From Other Deeds

All deeds help a grantor move property ownership to the grantee, but they take different approaches to the process. The most common type you see in real estate is called the warranty deed, which you use in a typical house buying process. This deed confirms the grantor is the legal owner of the property and that no liens exist on the title. Title insurance and a title search give you the reassurance that no one else can claim this property after you gain ownership.

The quitclaim does not give you the same protection, which is why most people avoid using this document unless you already know the grantee. Quitclaims don’t take as long to process since you skip the insurance and search, but you also don’t get any confirmation that the grantor actually holds ownership. You could end up in a situation where someone else has a title claim, and you didn’t get anything conveyed with the deed.

Quitclaim deeds also function as a way to fix title defects without going through an extended process. Add signatures, correct the legal description of your property or make other small changes using this type of deed.

Quitclaim Deed Process in Houston, Texas

If you decide that a quitclaim deed is the right choice for your property transaction, you must go through a specific process to record this deed in Houston, Texas. The first step is creating a quitclaim document that lists the grantor, grantee, the description of the property in this transaction and a statement that the grantor conveys any property rights to the listed grantee. The names and addresses of both parties should be listed on this document.

Once this document is witnessed by two people and signed, you take it to the Harris County Clerk’s Office to record it. While you don’t need to transfer money to execute the quitclaim deed, you do need to pay for the recording. Determine which party is going to handle this cost before the transfer. The first page of the quitclaim deed costs $16, while any subsequent pages add $4 per page onto the price.

Harris County’s courthouse does not offer a standardized document for quitclaim deeds. While you can find templates online, you may forget to add critical details that could cause additional recording costs or legal trouble down the road. Consider reaching out to professionals with a background in real estate law to help you with this process. A quitclaim deed offers you an inexpensive and fast way to work with grantors and grantees you already know, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need help from people experienced with this type of document.
Real Estate Attorneys Houston, TX

Mortgage Loan Fraud: 5 Red Flags to Look Out For

Real Estate Attorneys Houston, TX

Image courtesy of Cafe Credit

Owning your own home is an integral part of the American dream, but it doesn’t always work out as well in real life. If you’re having trouble making your mortgage payments or are facing foreclosure, you’ve likely wondered about refinancing or loan modification options. While there are some organizations that can provide legitimate help, there are also many scam companies operating around the country, including in the Houston, Texas, area. Read on to discover five major warning signs that indicate you’re dealing with possible mortgage loan fraud.

  1. It sounds too good to be true.

Any time a company starts making unrealistic promises about what it can do, beware. Unscrupulous companies may guarantee they can stop foreclosure proceedings on your home or grant a loan modification, but this is usually part of the scam to get you hooked. Real loan modification companies won’t make any promises or guarantees.

  1. You have to pay a fee.

If you’re talking to someone about your mortgage, and they want you to pay upfront, it’s likely a scam. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Mortgage Assistance Relief Service (MARS) Rule, this is actually against the law. A company cannot charge or collect any monies in advance for services related to refinancing, modifying or reinstating your mortgage, and this includes charging to talk with your lender on your behalf. The only exception to this is for attorneys who meet specific requirements, and they must put the money directly into a client trust account.

  1. You found out about it through some type of advertising.

If the company or person found you instead of the other way around, it’s best to pass. This includes offers in magazines, newspapers, online postings and any other kind of advertisements as well as unsolicited phone calls and mailings. Companies that use this tactic often try to get you to provide personal information prematurely. To protect yourself, never provide identifying information, including bank account numbers, to anybody you didn’t contact or haven’t verified is a legitimate business.

  1. You have to sign over your title or sign a contract.

Pressuring you into signing over the title to your home is one of the main ways scam companies trick you. This is because signing over the title does not automatically stop the foreclosure. These companies/agents often also try to get you to sign the paperwork quickly without reading it over or understanding it thoroughly. They may assure you that it’s just the “usual” stuff or tell you that “It’s no big deal.” However, any time you sign a document, you are taking a chance. To make sure you’re covered, have an attorney or legitimate housing counselor look over the paperwork before you sign.

  1. You have to stop or redirect your payments.

If a company tells you to stop paying your mortgage, run away quickly. Not making your payments does not make it easier to get a modification or refinancing and can do serious long-term damage to your credit. A reputable company will also never ask you to make your mortgage payments to them instead.

Think you’ve already been the victim of mortgage fraud? The first step is to report the possible scam to the proper state and federal agencies. You’ll also want to talk to a knowledgeable real estate lawyer to help you get more information on your options moving forward.

Susan J. Taylor is a Houston-based commercial litigation and business law attorney. She began practicing law in Texas in 1985 with a primary concentration in business, real estate, and commercial litigation. Ms. Taylor is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. For expert help with commercial litigation, business or real estate law issues, please contact The Taylor Law Group for a consultation.

This entry was posted in Real Estate Law and tagged mortgage fraud on by admin.

When is a Deed Effective in Texas

Some of the disputes related to Texas real estate require a determination of WHEN an interest in real property was transferred. Many lawsuits have been fought over the determination of exactly when the title was conveyed. The resolution of that issue can have tremendous implications.

Under Texas law, a conveyance of an interest in real property must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be in writing
  2. Be signed by the grantor, and
  3. Be delivered to the grantee.

There is no requirement that a deed be recorded to make it effective. This is because, in the state of Texas, a deed does not have to be recorded to convey title. It is not the act of filing or recording a deed that conveys title, but rather, a conveyance is effective and title is conveyed when a signed deed has been delivered to the grantee.

What constitutes “delivery” of a deed is a question of law for the Court to decide. Whether there has been a delivery of a deed may in fact be a question that will be determined by a jury.

In general there are two factors that determine whether “delivery” has occurred. They are: 1) the deed must be delivered to the control of the grantee, and 2) the grantor must intend the deed to become effective as a conveyance of real property. In the end, the question of whether a deed has been delivered is primarily one of the grantor’s intent. The intent of the grantor is determined by examining all the facts and circumstances preceding, attending, and following the execution of the deed.

Litigating the effective date of a conveyance, and trying to prove that a deed’s effective date pre-dates the date of recording are complex legal issues. The facts and circumstances surrounding the execution and delivery of every deed can be very different. If you have a lawsuit that requires a determination of the actual delivery date of a deed, you need to contact an attorney that has experience in litigating title to real estate.

Susan J. Taylor is a Houston-based commercial litigation and business law attorney. She began practicing law in Texas in 1985 with a primary concentration in business, real estate, and commercial litigation and bankruptcy. Ms. Taylor is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. For expert help with commercial litigation or business law issues, please contact The Taylor Law Group for a consultation.

Creation of Easements by Express Grant

Commercial Litigation & Business Law Attorney Houston, TX

A Gas Line Easement

by Houston Commercial Litigation & Business Law Attorney Susan J. Taylor

An easement by express grant is an interest in land which subject to the Statute of Frauds in Texas. What that means is that an easement by express grant must follow the normal formalities of real estate instruments: it must be written, it must be properly subscribed by the party to be charged, it must show the grantor’s intent, and it must furnish a proper property description of the land to be conveyed.

Because an easement is an interest in land, the document creating the easement must be in writing, except where the easement arises by implication, estoppel, or prescription. The writings must meet the rules applicable to the conveyance of fee simple title. A transfer of land that states that it “dedicates” the land does not, as a matter of law, convey the fee simple.

The creation of an express easement contemplates a future use consistent with the grant, enabling the easement owner to carry out the object for which the easement was granted. An easement may be granted or reserved in a deed of trust. All co-tenants must join in creation of an easement; otherwise, the easement may not bind a successor who acquires full title.

The grantor in a deed of the dominant estate reserves an easement unto himself or herself to access to a contiguous parcel of land. For example, the owner of a tract of land may be willing to sell his frontage, but he or she will reserve and retain an easement across the parcel conveyed to access the remaining property. A reservation must identify the person(s) to whom it is made. A reservation in favor of a stranger to a conveyance in inoperative and cannot function as a conveyance.

Express easements should be artfully drafted. Further, if express easements are shown to be running across property that you are about to purchase, you will need to consult an attorney to determine how it affects your ownership.

Susan J. Taylor is a Houston-based commercial litigation and business law attorney. She began practicing law in Texas in 1985 with a primary concentration in business, real estate, and commercial litigation and bankruptcy. Ms. Taylor is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. For expert help with commercial litigation or business law issues, please contact The Taylor Law Group for a consultation.

This entry was posted in Real Estate Law and tagged easements, real estate on by admin.