A Home Seller s Guide

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A Home




Table of ConTenTs

Getting Ready ... 2

Pricing to sell ... 5

showing Your Home ... 5

negotiation ... 6

about starTex Title Company ... 7

Why Title Insurance ... 7

from Contract to Closing ... 8

seller’s Helpful Hints ... 9

Reviewing the settlement statement ... 9

Prorations ... 11

Homestead law in Texas ... 12

Community Property laws ... 12

starTex Title locations ... 13

Moving ... 15

Helpful Phone numbers ... 18

Helpful links ... 19

Glossary ... 20

notes ... 24

The information herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, no investigation has been made to determine the accuracy of such information. No person or entity should rely on the accuracy of these materials without conducting a thorough, independent investigation of same. StarTex Title Company, its officers, agents and employees have no liability, expressed or implied, relating to these materials.


GettinG Ready

advanced preparation is the key to making the selling process smoother and more ef-ficient. before you put your home on the market, there are a few steps you should take to make sure it is ready to be seen by prospective buyers.

Perform a Self-inspection

• Walk through the home and ask yourself, “Would I buy this home?”

• Try to remove any emotion and sentimentality you may have for the home and look at it objectively.

• Make a list of things you’d like to repair/change.

• Don’t make major changes that will cost more to do than you will get for them. • Prioritize the list in relation to when the house is going on the market. (Projects

that require numerous resources such as contractors, remodelers, etc., should be first.)

• Prepare a timetable to have all repairs/changes made and stick to it!

Repair and Cleaning Checklist

a clean, neat home that looks nice and maximizes space will sell faster and at a higher price. Keep in mind, a small investment in time and/or money could make your home much more attractive to buyers.


q Replace peeling and chipped paint with new paint (choose a color that sets the home apart, but doesn’t clash with the rest of the neighborhood).

q Clear gutters and downspouts.

q Make sure there is good exterior lighting and all walkway lights are in working order.

q Inspect and clean the chimney.

q Repair and replace any damaged or missing roof shingles. q Paint or stain worn areas on wood decks.

q Remove grass growing in concrete cracks. q Clean grease and oil stains from the driveway.

q Clean all fencing; make sure it is secure, with no missing slats or posts.


q Mow and trim grass; re-sod to make all areas look even. q be sure to water the grass on a regular basis.

q Prune any overgrowth.

q Remove or replace any dead or diseased trees, shrubs or plants. q Weed flower beds.


fRonT DooR q Polish hardware.

q apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to get rid of nicks and scratches. q Clean storm door.

q Make sure the doorbell operates correctly.

q Make sure there are no squeaks when the door is opened and closed.


q Clean all windows inside and out.

q add a fresh coat of paint to trim and sills if needed. q Make sure all windows open and close easily. q Replace any cracked window panes or broken sills. q Replace any window screens with tears or holes.


q Clean floors and any rugs in entry.

q Downsize clutter in every closet to make them appear spacious. q Check to make sure lighting works properly.

lIvInG/DInInG/faMIlY RooMs q add a fresh coat of paint if necessary. q Repair cracks and holes in ceilings and walls. q Make sure all wallpaper is secure.

q Repaint any worn or chipped woodwork.

q Clean draperies and blinds; make sure they open and close easily. q steam-clean carpets; clean any other flooring.

q Position the furniture to showcase the size and shape of the room.

q Remove and replace any attached items, such as chandeliers and draperies, that you will be taking with you in the move.

q Put away toys, hobby supplies and additional clutter.


q Make sure countertops and sinks are clean and stain free. q fix dripping faucets.

q organize pantry and cupboards so they appear clean, neat and spacious. q Make sure the refrigerator and freezer are defrosted and odor free.



q Repair leaky faucets.

q Remove grout and soap stains from tile.

q Replace any missing or cracked tiles or grout. Caulk all joints.

q Check all fixtures, including heat lamps and exhaust fans, and make sure they are all in working order.

q Install a new shower curtain.

q Hide all supplies and clutter like toilet paper, shampoo bottles, cleansers and magazines.


q Repair cracks in ceiling and walls. q apply fresh paint if necessary. q Make sure wallpaper is secure.

q Clean draperies and blinds; make sure they open and close easily. q Put away clothes, toys and other clutter.

q neatly make all beds.


q Plant flowers to brighten walkways and enrich the entry. Hide or remove any indoor plants that are brown or losing their leaves.

q Remove all fixer cars, campers and boats from the property.

q The first thing people notice is the garage door. If yours needs to be replaced, replace it with a sectional garage door with some interesting windows that make it stand out.

q Removing clutter is key. some sellers even rent a storage space to house some of their furniture, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.

q You can spruce up a kitchen by simply replacing cabinet knobs and drawer pulls.

Sinks, tubs, showers and counter tops should be clean and free of stains.


PRiCinG it to Sell

now that your house is ready to be put on the market, it is vital that it is priced so that it sells at, or close to, your asking price and so that it sells quickly. Houses are a market commodity that should therefore be priced at market value. a common definition of market value is “What a ready, willing buyer will pay, at a price a seller will accept.” In order to determine the market value of your home, your Realtor will do a CMa, or Competitive Market analysis, of your home. The CMa compares your home to other houses in the area in terms of square footage, amenities, condition and relative age. You may want to provide your Realtor with a list of items about the property that you feel are major advantages. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

When Setting the Price, Keep in Mind:

• The asking price is not the same as an appraisal price. an appraisal value is what the lender will loan someone who wants to buy your home. It may not reflect the market value of the home.

• list price is not permanent. It may change and you should be prepared for nego-tiation.

• overpricing will make your home sell more slowly, causing you to spend money to keep it in “selling condition” for a longer amount of time.

• Interest rates may also contribute to the price set on your home.

• location is a large factor in figuring out a realistic price for your home. The same home in a different neighborhood would have a different price.

• You can make the price a little bit higher, but add that you will pay closing costs or give an allowance to the buyer for fixing the roof, etc.

• It is also important to be clear on what exactly is included in the sales price. any exclusion (such as removable fixtures, decorative lighting, draperies, appliances, etc.) should always be written into the contract.

ShoWinG youR hoMe

It’s true what they say about first impressions; they really are important. now that your Realtor is actively marketing your home and will soon be bringing potential buyers to view it, the home should be ready to show at all times. In addition to the steps you’ve already taken to get your home ready to be put on the market, here are some extra tips to help ensure that your home makes the best possible impression at showing.

General tips for Showing your home

• Make the home welcoming and inviting by keeping it clean and tidy. • Have everyone in the home make their bed every morning.

• as soon as you are finished with dishes, place them in the dishwasher or stack them neatly in the sink.


• once again, keep the home clutter-free. buyers won’t purchase a home they can’t see. Get rid of anything you don’t need or use.

• eliminate bad smells by bathing your pets, cleaning out cat litter boxes frequently, shampooing the carpets, dry cleaning your drapes, emptying trash and ash trays often and refraining from cooking fish and other strong-smelling foods.

• Introduce good smells such as flowers, potpourri and air fresheners. baking a frozen pie is another clever tactic some sellers use to make the home seem cozy and inviting.

• let plenty of light in. brightness improves a home’s atmosphere. • Make sure the temperature is comfortable.

• You may want to set the dining room table to display a homey environment. • Hiring a cleaning service once a week will make it easier to keep the house in

“show condition”.

• During a showing, you may want to leave so that the buyers will feel free to ask the Realtor any candid questions they may have.

• be courteous, but don’t force conversation.

• Turn off radios and televisions; they can be distracting. • Keep pets out of the way.

• Don’t apologize for the condition of the home. If there is a problem, pointing it out will only emphasize it.

1-Minute Checklist

Your Realtor has called and will be arriving in 15 minutes to show your home. Here is a quick checklist to make sure you’re ready.

q Pick up debris (newspapers, clothes, etc.). q Turn on lights and open curtains.

q Tidy the kitchen: __counter tops __dishes __take out trash q Tidy the bathrooms: __flush toilets __shine fixtures __hang towels neatly

__empty trash __wipe counters q Make beds.

q Close garage door and turn on garage lights.

q Make sure outside walkway and entry porch are clear of debris.


Your Realtor is an expert at negotiation. He/she will work closely with you and the potential buyer to make sure you sell your home for as close to your asking price as possible.


home inspections

once a buyer has decided to make an offer on your home, it will usually be contin-gent upon a professional inspection of the entire property. The inspector will check and make sure all of the home’s general systems are working properly and report any items that need to be repaired. If major problems are found, your Realtor will help negotiate through them.

about S


aRtex title CoMPany

from it’s early beginnings in 1999 with an asset purchase of Rosenberg Title to thirteen branch offices later, the starTex tradition continues with unparalleled people-oriented service. over the years, starTex continued to defy the odds, surviving as an indepen-dent in a predominantly publicly traded industry. starTex’s success can be accredited to the experienced professional employees whose personal service and client relationships balance the impersonal necessities of paper within the contract to close title process. With the underwriting of stewart Title Guaranty Corporation, starTex is able to provide its customers with the valued service they have come to appreciate as well as added resources to be able to allow for expansion and advanced presence across Houston. for almost a decade, starTex Title Company has provided a variety of customers, resi-dential and commercial, with the experience and confident knowledge of the contract to closing process. since its inception, personal service has always been a starTex trade-mark. Real estate professionals, lenders and brokers with transactions of all types and sizes continue to benefit from the professional expertise and one-to-one relationship provided by each starTex employee.

Why title inSuRanCe

The state of Texas regulates the sale of title insurance, such that the premiums are based on the sale price of the property and the premiums may not be discounted by the title companies. Most sellers view the title insurance premium as an unnecessary cost of sale, which benefits the buyer only. In fact, providing title insurance to the buyer is equally important to the seller.

Transfer of real estate in the state of Texas must be evidenced by a “deed”. Types of deeds include: quit claim deeds, special warranty deeds and general warranty deeds, are a few of the most common. The TReC Contract forms require the seller to provide the buyer a “general warranty deed”. This type of deed is a unilateral contract, evidencing seller’s warranty of title to the buyer. The warranty period goes all the way back to the Texas land grants in the 1840’s. In the event a “cloud on title” surfaces at the time of the buyer’s future sale, the buyer has the legal right to sue the seller for breach of warranty of title to the property. Title insurance shifts the risk of liability from the seller to the title insurance company. sellers benefit considerably when providing title insurance to buyers.


FRoM ContRaCt to CloSinG


bstractor does a

title Sear

ch* abstract Plant & tax department


Commitment to issue title insurance Closer

Receipted Companytitle Contract


Company applicationloan Process Gegins**

Credit history appraisal Verification of employment (current & Previous) Verification of Sufficient Funds to Close information Gathered and Packaged

loan Submitted for approval

loan approved

everyone Wants to Close

lender Sends Closing instructions


title Company Receives Closing instructions From lender Preparation of documents*** Closing & Funding

*title SeaRCh inCludeS

• search History of Property – owners of Records, liens

• Clouds on Title – Documents filed by legal Description

• search of buyer and seller – liens, lawsuits, Divorces, Probates, Documents filed by Person’s name, no Property Description

**loan aPPliCation PRoCeSS inCludeS

• vrification of buyer’s Income – stability – Credit – assets to close

• Confirmation of Property’s value (The appraisal)

***PRePaRation oF doCuMentS inCludeS

1. survey†

2. Papers ordered: Warranty Deed, note, Deed of Trust, Release of lien†

3. Insurance endorsement 4. Termite Report

†some lenders order and send with Closing Instructions to the Title Company


SelleR’S helPFul hintS

Please Provide Closing officer with the Following:

existing lien holder(s): as soon as possible, please provide your starTex Title closing officer with the name of your existing lien holder(s), along with their ad-dress and phone number. We will also need the loan numbers.

Social Security numbers: We will need the social security number of all owners of the property for tax reporting and because the lender may require social security numbers for payoff information.

using an existing Survey: If the buyers and sellers have agreed to use an existing survey at closing, starTex Title must review the survey prior to closing and receive verification from the sellers that no improvements have been made since the date of the survey.

identification: Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license or other form of official picture ID to the closing.

Wiring information: Upon funding of the transaction, we will be glad to wire your proceeds into your account. Please provide us with your wiring information if you choose to have your funds wired.

avoiding Common Closing delays:

• Don’t forget to bring the termite certificate to closing.

• all bills for inspections, repairs, or other items to be paid at closing must be provided to us prior to the actual closing.

• If you will not be present at closing to sign documents and you intend to use a Power of attorney, you must provide the original Power of attorney to your closing officer at starTex Title prior to closing for approval and recording of the document. (The lender will also need to approve the Power of attorney). on the day of closing, we will need a contact number in order to reach you to verify that you are alive and well and have not revoked the Power of attorney.

• If you are unable to attend the closing and will sign the papers by express mail, please provide starTex Title with the forwarding address including zip code. also provide us with a contact number in case we need to reach you. You will need to sign the papers in front of a notary. We will provide you with a return express mail packet. Please send the closing papers back to us the same day you receive them, after they have been signed and notarized.

ReVieWinG the SettleMent StateMent

let’s take a look at the HUD-1 settlement statement that ResPa officially endorses for all transactions: new loans, assumptions,all-cash, owner finance, etc.



• The first page summarizes the entire financial transaction. The left half of the page is devoted to the buyer. The top portion covers the charges the buyer is facing. The sales price of the subject property is first, followed by closing costs and pro rata taxes (if the closing takes place during the 4th quarter). The bottom portion covers buyer credits: earnest money, new loan amounts and any taxes. • The right side of the first page is devoted to the seller and is a reversal of the buyer’s

side. The top covers credits: the sales price and any pro rata tax credit. The bottom portion covers charges: closing costs,mortgage payoffs, pro rata taxes, repairs, etc. • Page two is simply a detailed breakdown of all buyer and seller closing costs,

as summarized on page one. The buyer’s information is in the left column, the seller’s in the right.

• The HUD-1 is usually the first document discussed during a real estate closing. Your escrow officer will review this document with you at closing.


Proration is defined as the act of dividing property taxes, interest, insurance premiums, rental income, etc., between buyer and seller proportionately to time of use or the date of closing. In a typical sale/purchase closing, the item most routinely prorated is the ad valorem taxes for that year. since ad valorem taxes are paid at the end of the year in which they are due (they can be paid as early as october 1st or as late as January 31st of the next calendar year without penalty in most Texas counties), any closing taking place before october 1st will generally show a charge to the seller from January 1st to the closing date and a credit to the buyer for the same period. Unless negotiated other-wise, this allows the seller to pay taxes for the time that he or she actually had owner-ship, use and enjoyment of the property. around october 1st, tax notices will be sent to the new owners for the year. They will be expected to pay taxes (usually through their mortgage company escrow account) for the full year. Taking into account the credit that they received at closing, the new owners actually pay taxes only for the time dur-ing which they had ownership, use and enjoyment of the property. Title companies use the best information available when prorating taxes prior to october 1st (when official figures are released by the tax authorities). This best-available information is usually the tax amount paid for the prior year.

In closings that occur after official tax figures are released (generally october 1st), title companies will normally charge each party their pro rata tax amount and pay the tax-ing authorities directly. This allows title companies to insure that taxes have been paid when issuing their mortgagee title policies.

loan assumptions usually involve several prorations, such as taxes, interest and escrow accounts. Most hazard insurance companies do not allow existing policies to be as-sumed. Consequently, the buyers must provide and pay for a new policy at the closing. The seller can cancel his or her policy after the closing and receive a refund of the



unearned premium directly from their local insurance agent.

a loan assumption closing involving prorations is usually handled in the following manner. The escrow account is pur-chased by the buyer and credited to the seller. The account must be “sufficient” at the time of transfer (any shortages must be col-lected from the seller and added to the existing balance). Unless negotiated otherwise, the tax proration is handled in the same way. Interest on the mortgage must also be prorated at the time of closing. since interest is paid in arrears (a May payment cov-ers april interest), the buyer is usually credited with the interest from the first of the month in which the closing occurs to the closing date; the seller is charged with this same amount. for example, if a closing occurs May 21st, the buyer’s first payment will be due June 1st. The June payment covers interest for the month of May, so the buyer is reimbursed for the time the seller still had ownership and use of the property (from May 1st to May 21st).

This discussion assumes that the buyer will take possession of the property at closing. obviously, if a buyer is allowed to take possession of the property prior to the actual closing, the contract should reflect this fact and stipulate whether or not the proration date is changed accordingly. Whenever the contract contains specific requirements regarding prorations, the title company will follow the instructions of the contract.

hoMeStead laW in texaS

The “residential homestead” refers to the lot or parcel of land upon which the resi-dence of the family or single adult is located and anything which is a part of that land is subject to the homestead exemption laws of the state of Texas. Those laws primarily provide for the security of a family’s home, shelter, and earning of a livelihood free from the claims of all creditors, save and except the holders of purchase money liens, home equity liens, and liens for improvements, taxes, and federal tax liens.

CoMMunity PRoPeRty laWS

texas is a Community Property State

Community property may be defined as all property acquired by either spouse dur-ing marriage, except that which is the separate property of either. separate property may be defined as “all property owned or claimed by either spouse before marriage and also that was acquired afterward by gift, devise or descent.” exactly what consti-tutes separate property is a question of fact, as property acquired during marriage is generally presumed to be community property. Therefore, for the purpose of insur-ing title, should one spouse claim property to be separate in nature, that spouse must be able to prove it.



StaRtex title loCationS

starTex Title Company has thirteen locations in Houston and its surrounding areas. With offices reaching from sugar land to spring, starTex Title conveniently serves buyers and sellers throughout the entire city and beyond.

Corporate office

10350 Richmond av., ste. 200 Houston, Tx 77042 Phone: 713-343-9700

fax: 713-343-9701

title information Services

14090 southwest freeway, ste. 250 sugar land, Tx 77478

Phone: 281-340-7800 fax: 281-340-7878


9555 W. sam Houston Pkwy. ste. 326 Houston, Tx 77099 Phone: 713-271-36090

fax: 713-271-0204

Clear lake / naSa

1400 nasa Pkwy. ste. D nassau bay, Tx 77058 Phone: 281-333-2887 fax: 281-333-8942


26321 northwest fwy., ste. 600 Cypress, Tx 77429 Phone: 281-373-0878

fax: 281-373-0761


1177 West loop south, ste. 1475 Houston, Tx 77027 Phone: 713-418-6000 fax: 713-418-6001 & 6002

inner loop

3700 buffalo speedway, ste. 400 Houston, Tx 77098 Phone: 713-418-7000

fax: 713-418-7001


23930 Westheimer Pkwy. ste. 101 Katy, Tx 77494 Phone: 281-395-5000 fax: 281-395-5007 Memorial 12522 Memorial Dr. Houston, Tx 77024 Phone: 713-464-1320 fax: 713-464-1321 northwest

8711 Hwy 6 north, ste. 100 Houston, Tx 77095 Phone: 281-656-3700

fax: 281-656-3701

deer Park / Pasadena

6021 fairmont Pkwy. ste. 160 Pasadena, Tx 77505 Phone: 281-998-8987 fax: 281-998-9827 Richmond / Rosenberg 503 fM 359, ste. 140 Richmond, Tx 77406 Phone: 281-762-3333 fax: 281-762-3334 Spring / Cypress

18425 Champion forest Dr., ste. 120 spring, Tx 77379

Phone: 832-249-7800 fax: 832-249-7895

Sugar land

14090 southwest fwy., ste. 150 sugar land, Tx 77478

Phone: 281-340-7800 fax: 281-340-7878

Fee attorney offices

2100 West loop south, ste. 1150 Houston, Tx 77027 Phone: 713-979-1010




Moving is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. In order to alleviate as much of that stress as possible, you should start early (as soon as you decide to sell your house) and follow a time table.

Choosing a Mover

If you decide not to do the move yourself, you’ll need to choose a mover. some local resources for this are located on page 19. Here are a few additional tips for choosing a moving company:

• spend as little as possible, but also make sure you are choosing movers with the right equipment and experience.

• ask for references. • Get estimates in writing.

• be aware that you can get discounts depending on your profession and other organizations you may belong to.

• Confirm mover credentials. Movers should be licensed and bonded, and employees should have workmans compensation insurance.

Moving Countdown

8 WeeKs befoRe THe Move

q If you’re moving yourself, get estimates and be sure to reserve a truck. q If you’re using a moving company, get estimates and pick one.

q Draw a floorplan of your new house and try to decide what furniture will stay and what will go.

q Use up things that can’t be moved.

6 WeeKs befoRe THe Move

q Have a discussion with your mover, getting everything in writing, about costs, insurance, packing,loading, delivery and the claims procedure.

q Make an inventory of your possessions. Decide what can be sold and what can be given away to a charity of your choosing.

q Get copies of records from doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, etc. q Make arrangements to transfer your children’s school records.

4 WeeKs befoRe THe Move

q If you are having the movers pack for you, arrange for this to happen a day or two before they begin loading the truck.

q If necessary, arrange for storage.

q Clean or repair any furniture, curtains or carpets that need it. q Hold a garage sale.



q If you are moving yourself, figure out how many boxes you need.

q If you are moving yourself, figure out what size truck you will need by calculat-ing the cubic feet of the boxes plus large furniture pieces.

3 WeeKs befoRe THe Move q assemble packing materials:

__nylon packing string and rope __furniture pads __Packing tape __Crumpled newspaper __bubble wrap __scissors __styrofoam “peanuts” __Utility knife __boxes __large self-stick labels __felt-tip markers

q begin packing items that you won’t need.

q arrange to cancel utilities and services at your old home and have them installed at your new home.

q Make travel and hotel reservations.

q organize car license, registration, and insurance.

2 WeeKs befoRe THe Move

q arrange to transfer all bank accounts to new branches. q Make any special arrangements to move pets.

q Inform current long-distance phone company of the date of your move, and make arrangements for telephone service at your new home.

q Have your car checked and serviced for the trip.

q Cancel any direct deposit and/or payment arrangements on bank accounts you are closing.

q Cancel delivery services.

q send in change of address form to the Post office.

q Change your address with any magazine subscriptions you have. q send a change of address notice to your friends and family.

1 WeeK befoRe THe Move

q Transfer all medical prescriptions to a pharmacy near your new home. q If you have small children, you may want to make arrangements for a babysitter while you’re packing or moving.

q Return library books and video tapes.

2 oR 3 DaYs befoRe THe Move q Defrost your refrigerator and freezer. q Have your movers pack your shipment.

q arrange to have payment ready for the driver on moving day. q set aside valuables and legal papers to go with you, not in the van.



q Pack clothing and toiletries to go with you; take extra in case of delay. q Pack your first-day handy items box (see Delivery Day) to go with you.

MovInG DaY

q Do-it-yourself movers should pick up the truck as early as possible. q Make a list of every item and box loaded into the truck.

q let the mover know how to reach you.

q before you sign the mover’s agreement, read the conditions. Keep it in a safe place until your goods are delivered, charges are paid, and all claims are settled. q Check to make sure you have turned off the water and that no leave-behind

ap-pliances are running in your old house. q Inspect attic and garage.

q lock all doors and windows.

DelIveRY DaY

q assemble first-day handy items:

__scissors __Coffee cups __Paper plates __soap __Masking tape __Trash bags __shelf liner __Utility knife __snacks __Tea kettle __Toilet paper __Pencils and paper __bath towels __Toiletries kit __drinks __local phone book q Check off all boxes and items as they come off the truck.

q Install new locks.

q Make sure utilities are connected. q Unpack kids’ toys.

q be on hand to answer questions, pay the driver, give directions, take care of any last-minute problems and examine your goods.

Children and Moving

• It helps to involve the child in the move by allowing them to help pack and explaining the reasons for the move and the positive aspects of the new home and neighborhood.

• Help older children say good-bye by allowing them to have a “going away” get-together with their friends. You may even want to help them create a scrapbook.

• be aware of activities and programs in the new school system.

• Make the move fun by focusing on the positive and allowing the children to create labels for their own boxes.

• If you’re making a long-distance move, make sure the children are comfortable and that they have plenty of food, drinks and activities to keep them busy and entertained during the trip.



helPFul Phone nuMbeRS

Moving is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. In order to allevi-ate as much of that stress as possible, you should start early (as soon as you decide to sell your house) and follow a time table.

EmErgEncy HElp - 911

non-emergency houston Service help line

(Traffic signals & signs, potholes, broken curbs, water leaks, etc.)

be sure to request a reference number.

3-1-1 or 713-837-0311

City of Houston – Public Works City of Houston – Public Utilities City of Houston – solid Waste City of Houston – Curbs & Ditch City of Houston – Code violations & neighborhood Protection

(all of the above) 3-1-1 or 713-837-0311 www.houstontx.gov

harris County Public library 713-749-9000

houston independent School district 713-892-6000

houston Public library 713-247-2222

united States Post office 713-226-3495

drivers license

(Texas Department of Public safety)

713-681-1761 Center Point (gas)


Reliant energy (electric)

713-207-7777 time Warner Cable

713-462-9000 SbC (telephone) 1-800-464-7928 (new service) 1-800-246-8464 (repair) MetRo

(light Rail/bus schedules & Routing)


MetRo Police dispatch

(concerns along the rail/bus stops & Hov)

713-224-CoPs (2677) houston Police department


713-884-3131 Central hPd Station 713-247-4400

South Central hPd Station


harris County Sheriff’s department 713-221-6000 Crime Stoppers 713-222-8477 Social Security administration 713-653-4700

internal Ravenue Service 713-892-6000

City hall 713-247-1000 Mayor bill White mayor@cityofhouston.net



helPFul linKS

http://www.reliableremodeler.com tips on minor repairs and remodeling http://www.txdps.state.tx.us

texas department of Public Safety

http://www.improvenet.com/ext/paths//index.html have contractors in your area bid on your job http://g.moving.com/Moving_and_Planning/Quotes/ compare movers in the houston area


get competitive price quotes from movers in any areas http://www.moving.bz

find storage in houston http://www.hcpl.net

find resources at the harris County Public library https://moversguide.usps.com/?referral=uSPS u.S. Postal Service official Change of address form




adJuStable-Rate MoRtGaGe (aRM)

a loan with an interest rate that changes periodically in keeping with a current index, like one-year treasury bills. Typically, aRMs can’t jump more than 2 percentage points per year or 6 points above the starting rate.

adJuStable-Rate MoRtGaGe (aRM)

aloan with an interest rate that changes periodically in keeping with a current index, like one-year treasury bills.Typically, aRMs can’t jump more than 2 percentage points per year or 6 points above the starting rate.


a payment plan which enables the borrower to reduce his debt gradually through monthly payments of principal.

aPPRaiSed Value

an estimate of the value of the property offered as security for a home loan. This appraisal is done for financial lending purposes and may not reflect the actual market value.

bRidGinG FinanCe

a short-term loan, usually at a higher rate of interest, taken out by people who have bought a house while waiting for theirs tobe sold, or when a normal mortgage and their savings fall below the asking price.

CaVeat eMPtoR

latin for “let the buyer beware”. This puts the burden onto the buyer to be satisfied with the item before purchasing the property.

CeRtiFiCate oF title

legal proof of ownership of a property carrying the owner’s name and other information.


Chattels are personal property. There are 2 types: Real chattels are buildings and fixtures; personal chattels are clothes, furniture, etc.

ConVentional MoRtGaGe

a mortgage loan not insured by HUD or guaranteed by the veterans’ administration. It is subject to condition established by the lending institution and state statutes. The mortgage rates may vary with different institutions and between states. (each state havarious interest limits.)

CRedit RePoRt

a report on the past ability of a loan applicant to pay installment payments in a timely manner.


fee payable to real estate agent for selling the property by the person authorizing the sale; usually a percentage of the sales price.

ContRaCt oF Sale

Written agreement setting out the terms and conditions of a property sale.



1 dePoSit

Usually 10% of the purchase price of a property placed in trust as evidence of intention to buy. nonrefund-able after exchange of contract, the deposit goes towards the purchase price when the sale goes through.

doCuMent PRePaRation Fee

a charge by an attorney for preparing legal documents for a transaction.

eaRneSt Money

The deposit money given to the seller or his agent by the potential buyer upon the signing of the agree-ment of sale to show that he or she is serious about buying the house. If the sale goes through, the earnest money is applied against the down payment. If the sale does not gthrough, the earnest money will be forfeited or lost unless the binder or offer to purchase expressly provides that it is refundable.

enCRoaChMent: When a building overhangs someone else’s property, or a fence is built over the dividing line between two properties.


an easement, mortgage or other liability on a property which impedes its use or transfer.


The difference between the market value of the property and any loans that are outstanding on the property.


any item that is specifically not included in the sale, e.g. an above ground pool, garden shed, etc.


funds paid by one party to another (the escrow agent) to hold until the occurrence of a specified event, after which the funds are released to a designated individual.

Flat inteReSt Rate

an interest rate that is based on the original amount of the mortgage for the whole term of the loan.

Fixed-Rate MoRtGaGe

a loan that carries an unchangeable interest rate over its entire term -- typically a period of 15-30 years.


an owner’s interest in land where the property and the land on which it stands both belong to their owner indefinitely.

hoMeoWneR’S inSuRanCe

Protects the property and contents in case of damage or loss; must be for at least the loan amount or for 80% of thevalue of the improvements, whichever is greater.


lights, curtains, blinds, ceiling fans, air-conditioning units, flyscreens, Tv antenna, dishwasher, range hood, stove, fixed cupboards clothes hoist or any other removable item that the vendor has agreed will be included in the sale.


a charge paid for borrowing money.

inteReSt-only loan



an examination of property for various reasons such as termite inspections; inspection to see if re-quired repairs were made before funds are received, etc.


list of items included with a property for sale; usually furniture, furnishings and other removable items.


The purchase of an asset, such as real estate, with the ultimate goal of producing capital gain on the resale of the asset.

Joint tenantS

Joint Tenancy is the equal holding of property by two or more persons. If one person dies, their share passes to the survivors.

land tax

value-based levy applied to some property (exemptions include principal place of residence).


Your outstanding debts or what you owe.


a claim by one person on the property of another as security for money owed. such claims may include obligations not met or satisfied judgments, unpaid taxes, materials or labor.

liMited title

form or Torrens Title which applies to a property before it has been adequately surveyed.

loan aPPliCation Fee

Paid to the lender at time of application: check with lender for amount.

loan diSCount

The points a lender charges; may be paid by either buyer or seller on conventional loans; number of points fluctuates with mortgage money market.

MaintenanCe Fee

Charged by the homeowner’s association as set out in the subdivision restrictions.

MatuRity date

The last day of the term of the home loan agreement. The home loan must then be paid in full or the home loan agreement must be renewed.


legal agreement on the terms and conditions of a loan for the purpose of buying real estate. (a mort-gagee lends the money to a mortgagor, the borrower).

MoRtGaGee’S title PoliCy

Required by the lender to insure that the lender has a valid lien; does not protect the buyer.

MultiPle liStinG

system of selling the property through many agents. The buyer pays only one commission. This goes to the agent who lists the property on an official multiple listing form for other agents (if the agent sells the property), or is shared between the first agent and the agent that actually finds the buyer.


oFFeR to PuRChaSe

a formal legal agreement which offers a specified price for a specified property. The offer may be firm (no condition attached) or conditional (certain conditions apply).

oPtion to buy

legal agreement giving the buyer the right to purchase property at a certain time and price. option fee, usually one percent of the price, is payable and forfeited if the buyer does not go through with the transaction.

oRiGination Fee

a fee the buyer pays the lender to originate a new loan.

oWneR’S title PoliCy

Insures that the buyer has title to the property.


abbreviation for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, all of which are lumped together in your monthly mortgage payment.

PointS: a one-time only fee you pay up front to your lender, sometimes in exchange for a slightly lower mortgage rate. one point equals one percen of the total amount you plan to borrow.


The actual amount of money that has been borrowed to buy a property.

PRiVate MoRtGaGe inSuRanCe (PMi)

Insurance against a loss by a lender (mortgagee) in the event of default by a borrower (mortgagor).

RealtoR FeeS

an amount paid to the Realtor as compensation for his/her services.

ReCoRdinG FeeS

Charged by the County Clerk to record documents in the public records.


Certified copy of deed restrictions required by lender.


Completion of sale when balance of contract price is paid to the vendor and the buyer is legally en-titled to take possession of the property.


Confirms lot size and identifies any encroachments or restriction violations.

title inSuRanCe

Protects lenders and homeowners against loss of their interest in property due to legal defects in title.

title SeaRCh

The process of examining the land title to ensure the vendor has the right to sell and therefore transfer ownership. a title search details the names of the owners and other information about the property such as encumbrances or caveats on the title.