Every state and metropolitan area has its own rules for homebuyers and sellers, and El Paso is no exception. Consider these buyer and seller laws as you search for the perfect home in El Paso.
What must sellers disclose? Texas law requires sellers to disclose known defects in any home they market for sale. Sellers are required to use an official seller’s disclosure notice, which asks about material defects and malfunctions, water penetration, easements, structural issues and an array of other information that could affect the quality and resale value of the property. Both the buyer and seller are required to sign the property disclosure form to prove all known defects have been reported and the information has been considered by both parties.
How does foreclosure work? When you fail to keep up with your housing payments or keep your mortgage up to date, your lender may choose to foreclose on your home — or repossess it on the basis of nonpayment. In the state of Texas, foreclosures may be judicial or non-judicial, although most are non-judicial. Whereas judicial foreclosures are handled by the courts and executed following a lawsuit, non-judicial foreclosures don’t have to go through court. Either way, foreclosure sales are required to be filed with the El Paso County Clerk and posted at least 21 days before the proposed foreclosure is set to take place.
How is property divided in divorce? Texas is one of nine community property states. This means that property gained by a married couple is equally owned by both spouses, no matter how the items or property were acquired during the union, and thus will be divided equally in the event of divorce. This includes real estate purchased during a marriage, and Texas state code makes it clear that “property possessed by either spouse during or on dissolution of marriage is presumed to be community property.” There are some exceptions, however. For example, Texas law allows individuals to record and keep separate some property they own in the county where the property is located.
Does a lawyer need to be present during a home closing? Some states require a lawyer to be present during any home closing. However, Texas is an escrow state, meaning a title or escrow agent can assist with the closing and help both the buyer and seller complete the transaction. The escrow or title agent gathers all official closing documents, examines them for accuracy and ensures the sale goes through without a hitch.
Texas does not impose any real estate transfer taxes, which can be a significant savings for homebuyers. For some context, other states that don’t have any real estate transfer taxes include Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
While the amount will vary depending on the value of your home, median property taxes in El Paso County in 2019 were $2,126 on a house worth $101,800. That’s a rate of 2.09%, which is one of the highest in the country, according to Tax-Rates.org. The statewide median tax rate is 1.81%, or $2,275 on a home valued at $125,800.
There are a handful of property tax exemptions available to homeowners in the El Paso, Texas, area. The first one is a homestead exemption, the amount of which varies by school district in El Paso. Additional exemptions may be available to homeowners over the age of 65 and surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty. Disabled veterans or their surviving spouses may also qualify for exemptions that can vary in amount depending on the level of disability noted. Finally, persons with certain disabilities may also qualify if they receive federal benefits under the Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance program.
For more details on El Paso’s property tax exemptions, go here.
Conforming loan limits
In 2019, the conforming loan limit across El Paso County is $484,350, up from $453,100 in 2018. This is the conforming loan limit in most parts of the U.S.
Conforming loan limits are lending standards that dictate how much you can borrow for your loan in order to be sold to government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Loans that exceed these limits are known as jumbo loans, which tend to carry higher interest rates.