Op-Ed: It's time to move into the 21st century

BY ROBERT MORALES

County commissioners on Monday heard from John Martin, president of Lone Star Title Company in El Paso, who wants to open a title company in Van Horn. According to Mr. Martin, the company would assume all costs associated with gathering and scanning the thousands of real property records in the county clerk’s office.

As a real estate broker, the timing for opening a new title company in Culberson County is a welcomed commodity. But it goes beyond that — banks would also welcome having a local title company when making home loans, home improvement loans and equity loans.

The fact that Lone Star is willing to make a commitment in Van Horn speaks volumes about why there should not be any controversy about a company wanting to do business here. There is no reason for our county officials to wait or do a feasibility study. Those are only stalling tactics.These tactics have been employed in the past and we’ve squandered away business opportunities.
The selling of real estate involves many steps to complete a transaction – even when it involves a cash deal. One of those steps includes a title policy that the seller provides to the buyer to ensure that the title conveyed from seller to buyer is a “clear,” meaning that the title is free of all encumbrances. 

The fact that Culberson County has no title company means that a title policy must be ordered from another city, such as Midland, Pecos or El Paso. Because a title cannot be researched quickly, it generally adds several weeks to the closing date, which is generally unacceptable to the buyer and the seller.

Besides having access to computerized electronic records, perhaps an even more significant reason to have a title company locally is that appraisers depend on “comparable sales” to complete an appraisal. Without having the ability to use “comps,” as they are called in the industry, most appraisers shy away from coming to Van Horn. That leaves the buyer with very few choices of appraisers, not to mention a much more expensive fee, and a long waiting period that could be as much as six weeks.

This is a no-brainer. Commissioners should act immediately to do whatever it takes to accommodate Lone Star Title Company. There is no cost to the county, and the benefits of having a title company situated in Culberson County far outweigh any inconveniences that may occur during the procurement of records.