November 21, 2018
The Confusion Over “Deed” and “Title”
We have found, through the years, that there is considerable confusion on the part of both buyers and sellers of property as to the difference between the deed on a property and its title. And yet it’s very important that the parties to a real estate transaction be aware of the distinctions between these two interconnected terms of art.
To put it in the most conceptual of lights: it’s a matter of the concrete versus the abstract. (And no, this is not meant to refer to an “abstract of title” here—that’s another element of the process altogether, one which we perform professionally at Topouzis & Associates, P.C.—on which more below.) To put it a bit more specifically: the deed to a parcel of property is an actual, printed, physical document, which is meant to prove that its bearer has legal ownership rights over that parcel. A deed can be conveyed from one person to another, and (as long as it is properly conveyed, and signed by both buyer and seller), legal ownership of the property rights pass with it. Title, the more “abstract” of the terms, is a legal concept which means, basically, the very quality of ownership which passes along with the deed. One who has title in a property has the legal possession of property rights over it, whether they can locate the physical deed or not.
In other words, when one person conveys the deed to a property, they are officially passing the title to that property. But just because someone holds the deed to a property does not mean that the title has passed perfectly. Deeds may have been made in error at any point in the history of a property’s ownership. That’s where the closing attorney comes in; and that’s us. At Topouzis & Associates, P.C., we perform title searches to ensure that there are no liens or defects—in other words, that the seller in fact owns the title that they are attempting to pass forward via the deed. We also perform title curative services, and provide “abstracts of title”—which we mentioned parenthetically above—which are a separate set of documents that must be created by an attorney, in which we provide a professional opinion that the title is indeed clear of defect.
Finally, the deed to a property needs to be recorded with a county records office or a courthouse (depending on jurisdiction), so that the transfer of title can be observed officially.
If you’re looking to pass title on a property in Pensacola, Florida; Providence, Rhode Island; Duxbury, Massachusetts, or any other city in one of these three states, give us a call. Here at Topouzis & Associates, P.C., we’re experienced at title searches and title curative services, and we are supported in supplying title insurance by numerous underwriters. We’ll put our vast experience to work for you, ensuring clear sailing through the closing process and beyond.