Business entity vs. DBA: What’s the difference?

Many people think a business entity is the same thing as a DBA, which stands for “doing business as.” In fact, they have different meanings and purposes.

A business entity is a type of business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), and partnership. Each structure has different legal implications and determines what kind of taxes you have to file.

Helpful business entity resources

A DBA is the name under which a company does business. It’s not the legal name of the company. In Texas, if you conduct business under a specific name—like Welcome, Y’all Realty—but your business entity’s legal name is Jane Doe Real Estate Services, LLC, the law requires you to register Welcome, Y’all Realty with the Texas secretary of state. You must also submit this information to TREC using the Notice of DBA or Assumed Name for Broker’s License form (DBA-2).

Helpful DBA resources

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2 ways to manage your contacts more effectively

Poor contact management could mean you’re missing out on sales. Here are two ways to make sure you’re capturing all the potential of your contacts:

Keep contact information in one place. Collect names, phone numbers, mailing addresses, emails, and other information spread across multiple email inboxes, text messages, and your handwritten notes. Put all of this information into a single database.

Outline a process and follow through. As with any set of data, you should keep your contact database uniform and free of errors. Create a checklist for adding contacts, including what information you’re most interested in collecting and how to follow up if you don’t get it the first time around. Also account for how you will update contacts and track changes you’ve made.

Find three more tips in the September/October issue of Texas REALTOR® magazine.

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Texas condo and townhome sales top $5.4 billion

Condos and townhomes were one of the fastest growing segments of the Texas housing market in 2017. According to the Texas Condominium Sales Report released by the Texas Association of REALTORS®, the condo and townhome market exceeded $5.4 billion in sales between August 2016 and July 2017. Condo sales grew 8.6% and townhome sales grew 5.1% during this time period.

“The Texas condominium market has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the housing market this year,” said Vicki Fullerton, chairman of the Texas Association of REALTORS®. “These property types are increasingly preferred among many Texas homebuyers, as they often are less expensive to purchase, require less upkeep and provide closer access to their work, schools and essential services.”

Sales prices for condos and townhomes also grew. The year-to-date median sales price as of July 2017 for condos was $179,900, an annual increase of 9%. Townhomes saw an 8.5% increase in the same period, to $226,675. The inventory for condos and townhomes statewide was 4.9 months as of July 2017, and condos and townhomes spent an average of 61 and 54 days on the market, respectively, during the first seven months of 2017.

“Rapid population growth across the state has turned cities surrounding our major metro areas into job and development hubs, creating a need for condominium and townhome development outside of urban centers that did not exist before,” said Jim Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “As this growth continues over the next decade, higher density options such as condominiums and townhomes will be essential to maintaining affordability in our cities.”

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Two REALTORS® appointed to Texas Real Estate Comission

Governor Greg Abbott appointed two broker members to the Texas Real Estate Commission for terms expiring in January 2023: Jan Fite Miller of Kemp and DeLora Wilkinson of Cypress. Their first meeting with the commission will be in November.

Read more about these two REALTORS® on TREC’s website.

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What information can landlords require when asked to waive pet policies or fees?

When tenants want their landlord to waive a prohibition on pets or pet-related fees for their assistance or emotional support animal, can the landlord request a doctor’s note supporting the tenants’ request?

The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to evaluate a tenant’s accommodation request to possess an assistance or emotional support animal on the property. If a tenant’s disability is not readily apparent, a landlord may ask the tenant to submit reliable documentation of the disability and the disability-related need for an assistance or emotional support animal.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has found that documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional is sufficient if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal will provide disability-related assistance or emotional support. However, a landlord may not request information concerning the severity of the disability or require the tenant to provide access to medical records.

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It’s called the seller’s disclosure for a reason

Want to avoid trouble with the Seller’s Disclosure Notice and learn how damage from a natural disaster can affect it? Watch latest Texas REALTOR® Magazine Minute.

Additional resources for contract issues in the wake of Hurricane Harvey are available in the September/October issue of Texas REALTOR® magazine.

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Drive now, text later

You are no longer allowed to use your smartphone to read, write, or send messages while driving in Texas. Violators of this law, which went into effect in September, face a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $25 to $99, with penalties of up to $200 for repeat offenders.

Are there exceptions?

If your vehicle is stopped, you can text and email. And while you’re driving, you can use your device for navigating, summoning emergency help, checking traffic and road conditions, and playing music.

What about talking on a phone?

The new law doesn’t prohibit talking on a hand-held phone (i.e, without Bluetooth) while driving. Therefore, talking on a hand-held phone remains legal unless your local ordinances prohibit or restrict such activity.

You can read the full text of the law on the Texas Legislature’s website.

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