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Please help, Jafo. Or anybody else who understands how Texas real estate law works. Having been in the real estate business since 1974, I know how real estate operates in many states, but Texas is still a mystery since things are done so differently . . .

A childhood friend of mine lives in Austin and is planning to buy the home/mobile home combo next door to her. She lives in Elgin, some podunk town about 30 miles south of town.

Her neighbor wants to move back to Virginia, so he's offering to sell his property to my friend. Now, my friend has never owned real estate in her life, but she does have a friend who's in real estate, whatever that means, who is trying to advise her.

I suggested she draw up a contract, check with the licensing authorities who regulate mobile homes to make sure the owner has title, obtain title insurance, get a home inspection and structure the payments long-term, figuring in flood, ins. and taxes.

Today she says her agent (who she's not paying) has suggested she draw a letter of intent. She claims that's as good as a purchase contract. So now I'm having reservations.

Her agent also told her to draw up a "lease purchase." My friend can't find a lease purchase at any stationery store. I don't know what she's talking about. Is that a land contract type arrangement where the purchaser receives equitable title?

And her agent said my friend does not need to buy title insurance because she's buying this property under a lease purchase.

I'd send my friend to a lawyer, but she doesn't have any money. She lives in a mobile home herself, about six-feet wide, paying $400 a month. She works on the weekends as a clown at the local flea market blowing up balloons in the shapes of animals for children. I couldn't make up anything this bizarre. Her reasoning to buy the place next door is it's bigger, she'd begin to build equity (over the past 10 years, she's figured she's paid her landlord $48,000 and has nothing to show for it), and she says she can afford monthly payments plus the insurance, flood and taxes.

This place comes with a couple acres, fronts a major road, is part mobile home and part stick house, a 3 bedroom at $71,000. Which seems a bit pricey to me, but I'm not about to comment on this type of property in an area where I'm not licensed and I've visited once.

Any thoughts on this?

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