Marital Property after a Divorce/Texas

No one plans for a divorce when they get married and no one has ever said “wouldn’t it be great to get divorced”. Regretfully, divorce does happen.  When it does, even under the best of circumstances, your life is turned upside down.     

 

How is marital property divided in Texas

Marital Property after a Divorce/Texas

Texas is a “community Property” state as respects marital property division after a petition for divorce. 

The statute states “Community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during marriage.”  This can be found under Texas Family Code 3.002.  Notably and most important is that property acquired prior to marriage is retained.  

In Texas, the court has wide latitude in dividing community property.  All that is required is that it’s actions are “just and right”.  Unfortunately, there is no standard or definition for “Just and right”.   The rulings can vary by presiding judge  and by county where it is filed.  Of course, both parties can appeal a divorce court’s property division order however the cost of doing so may be prohibitive in time and expense. 

Keep in mind that in a divorce, neither side is a winner.  The youngest children are likely the most vulnerable.  

It is possible for couples to prevent the courts from dividing marital assets by performing Asset Protection Planning.  

It is highly recommended that both parties seek and engage their own divorce attorneys and that they attempt to cooperatively work to settle issues with the end goal of minimizing attorney expenses and the emotional cost of these proceedings. 

I am a Real Estate Broker and Certified Mediator but i am not an attorney and I cannot provide advice, opinion or direction.

My job is to work with my divorcing client to get the most amount of money when selling; finding a suitable home or rental for my client and negotiating the contracts.   My goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible given the many issues already facing my client during this very difficult time.  

Contact me at your convenience.  Let’s talk with no obligation.  My only goal is to earn your trust and help you navigate through the process knowing that your interests are first and foremost.  

 

INTERMEDIARY RELATIONSHIPS & DUAL AGENCY

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Brokers, in a real estate transaction, can act as dual agents or Intermediary (a term utilized by Texas Real Estate Commission). This information is specific to the State of Texas as each State has different laws.

The “Information About Brokerage Services” form, which must be initialed by seller, buyer, landlord or tenant prior to any substantive conversations with a client, sets out the meaning and responsibilities of Brokerage Services.  

Several conditions must be met to act as intermediary inclusive of obtaining “written agreement of each party to the transaction” to act as intermediary;  the broker is required to treat both parties impartially and fairly; and broker may assign a different license holder to each party to provide opinion and advice to seller or buyer. 

What this means to you, the consumer? 

First, a definition – a Broker is responsible for all acts of sales agents that they sponsor.  Sales Agents (Realtors) are sponsored by a broker and work with the client on behalf of the broker. 

If both parties utilize the same agent in a transaction; neither party can be privy to opinion or advice.  The agent provides only factual information to both parties and must remain impartial to both sides.  The value of representation by a brokerage firm may be diminished substantially by taking this action. 

 It is recommended that prior to accepting Intermediary Representation, that the consumer be aware of the pitfalls in doing so.  

 

TRACT BUILDERS vs. CUSTOM BUILDERS

keysFor those interested in building a new home, you have two options.

Tract Builders are also known as Production Builders.  They can be regional or national companies and will likely build in master plan communities partnering with land developers who are responsible for subdividing land, paving streets and providing utilities.  Tract Builders will often offer various floor plans with different elevations and may charge a premium for larger lots or more desirable lots.  Some Tract Builders can provide changes to the floor plan but typically changes allowed are minor.  

The good news about Tract Builders is that they buy products and services at a massive scale saving you money and as their building process is efficient, the home can be completed in less time. Moreover, as a Broker, we are able to negotiate a better financial deal than the consumer as well as act as buffer, provide good information and represent your interest.  There is never a charge for these services as most Tract Builders work well with Real Estate Professionals and welcome the opportunity. 

Custom Builders may have their own lots or can build on a lot you have purchased.  While they offer flexibility in design and the final product; your responsibility as buyer is more complex.  Zoning, Deed Restrictions, utility availability, and special covenants, homeowner association by laws and restrictions are your responsibility and must be adhered to such as architectural features, building materials etc…  

Building a Custom Home can also more expensive and may take longer to finish as their system may not be automated.  You will need to get a mortgage from which draws are made by the Custom Builder at periodic times.  You will also need to make sure that documentation that all sub contractors were paid so as to preclude mechanics liens on your home.

Whatever you choose to go with, one of the most important first steps is to make sure that the builder is solvent and that they have a history of building homes and honoring warranties which are typically one year from completion. 

Some builders (both Tract and Custom), especially smaller ones, are privately held and will not provide financial information. Buyer beware.  Your Real Estate Professional will have good information on the builder and can research their reliability giving you more solid footing.  

This is a very brief explanation and not inclusive of all information regarding these options or others that may be available.  

 

BROKER, REALTOR, AGENT – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

broker agentBrokers, Realtors and Real Estate agents are often confused.  The distinction is an important one. 

All three designations are required to be licensed by their respective State of licensing.  This post will be specific to the State of Texas as each state may have different requirements.

A Broker may own a Brokerage firm and sponsor both real estate agents and Realtors within their firm.  The Broker oversees the work of their sponsored agents and Realtors and is ultimately responsible for their actions.  They typically carry Errors and Omissions insurance in the case of negligence or misrepresentation by agents and Realtors.  A Broker is required to have more training and pass more stringent testing of their knowledge base as well as provide evidence that they have not committed acts unbecoming of their position.  They are held to a higher standard and usually handle the more technical aspects of a transaction.  They are bound by a code of ethics, and must be experts in their fields and provide advice and direction to their agents and Realtors and clients.

Real estate agent is an industry professional  who serves as the facilitator of real estate transactions. They are ultimately responsible to bring buyers and sellers together and are paid a commission which is usually a percentage of the sale price.  They report directly to their sponsoring Broker.

Realtor, refers to a real estate agent that is also a  member of the realtors’ association. They too report directly to their sponsoring Broker.

This is a brief summary of the differences.  Should you need more information, please contact my office. 

 

 

Now that you know some of the key differences, read on to find out what each professional does, their qualifications, and their place in the real estate industry.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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PROTECTING YOUR IDENTITY & PERSONAL INFORMATION

Scammers are eager to take advantage of the money you saved and your good credit.  There are steps you can take to protect yourself:

     – Review your credit reports frequently, be certain that the information is both correct and that no one has opened an account in your name.

     – Place a credit freeze in place to ensure that no new credit can be opened in your name without your consent and acknowledgment.

     – Do not carry your Social Security Card with you.  If asked to provide the number, decline to do so unless you are absolutely certain that the person taking the information is legitimate.  

     – The IRS, mortgage companies, Social Security, Computer Companies etc… never contact you by phone directly.  Provide no information, hang up and block caller.

     – Vendors that come to your home, for example, to do roof replacement etc… often request payment ahead of providing the work for supplies etc… Not all, but some, will never return after cashing your check.  Roofers, for example, will also tell you that they are licensed.  There are no licences for roofers. 

     – Check the credentials of your financial adviser at brokercheck@finra.org 

     – Check the status of your real estate professional at trec.org

     – Make sure that your Wi-Fi is password protected.

     – Pay special attention to passwords and keep a record of user name and password 

     – Ensure that computers are running with latest generation virus protection and that the vendor provides continued updates.  Virus protection should be set to run daily at a specific time, usually when you are not likely to be using your computer.

     – Get a safe deposit box for valuable and for important papers such as title to your home, car etc.

This information is not a complete list of what needs to be done but it is a good start. 

 

 

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