Friday, August 28, 2015

Closing Agent Misses $86K+ Water Lien, Leaving Recent Homebuyer Without H2O; Title Company Owner Agrees To Put Up Family Of Five In Local Motel Until Mess Is Cleared Up

In Forney, Texas, WFAA-TV Channel 8 reports:
  • A family of five is living without water inside their new home after the title company missed a huge lien against the property before they bought it. "One day without water, OK. But we're going on day four now," said Chris Smith, homeowner.

    Kaufman County Municipal Utility District No. 6 initially started new service for the Smiths, but realized a lien existed on the property, shut off their water this week and even took the meter out of the ground.

    "I said 'how much is the lien?' I'm thinking maybe a few hundred dollars, I'll pay it and try to figure it out," Smith said, recalling his visit to the water department.

    The amount is astounding. "$86,000? That can't be right," said Rossana Smith, Chris's wife. "It seems so impossible." The lien is for $86,438.62 – much of it is late fees and penalties over the last three years from the previous owners.

    The home was a foreclosure. The Smiths bought it at auction this summer. But the biggest question remains for the title company.

    Heartland Title in Southlake did the title work for the transaction. The lien was filed in June. The Smith's closed in August. How did Heartland Title miss that?

    Matthew Farris, the CEO of Heartland Title, would not interview with News 8 for this story. But he said he is still looking into what went wrong. Farris also called that $86,000 lien by the utility company excessive and said he asked the utility to resume service during his internal investigation.

    Farris also agreed to put the Smith family up in a local motel until everything gets worked out.

    Chris uses a five-gallon bucket and a neighbor's hose to get water across the street to his house. "We really try to use paper plates, cups and stuff so we don't have to do this," said Rossana as she scooped out water to wash dishes.

    They use the buckets to fill up toilets and empty Ozarka bottles are everywhere.

    The Smiths paid $1,324 for a title insurance policy to protect them against just such a scenario. But they're still awaiting it to pay off so they can settle in.

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