The Moor You Know Episode 1 – Real Estate Title
What is a real estate “title”? Is it the same thing as a deed?
Often people put their deed in a safe deposit box and think it represents their title. But, real estate is not like a vehicle. With a car, title is represented by a piece of paper or, in recent years, an electronic title. That piece of paper is critical. With a deed, not so much. A deed is an instrument of transfer. Once the deed has been delivered to the person receiving title and it has been recorded, the deed becomes meaningless. The “title” is an abstract thing. Saying I own the property is synonymous with saying I have title to the property. Let’s take an example, Cousin Bob deeds Cousin Susie’s property. However, Cousin Bob never owned the property. Aunt Sally owned it. Susie’s deed is meaningless as it didn’t “convey” title.
Did a seller just hand you the deed to a piece of property? Stop!
In less than 2 minutes, I’ll explain why you really need TITLE and how title is DIFFERENT from a deed.
Let me quickly explain why you really need TITLE and how title is DIFFERENT from a deed.
First, let’s break down title.Title is a concept, not a piece of paper. It represents the rights YOU have when you own a piece of property. Titles can be transferred from one person to another, meaning the OWNERSHIP of that property can be transferred.
Title can be transferred in a number of ways, such as through:
- A deed
- A will
- An inheritance
This is important!
Now here’s why you shouldn’t accept the deed to a property without first PROVING the seller has title. A deed is simply a transfer statement, kind of like that receipt you get from your bank when you transfer money… with… a few extra requirements.
- Persona transferring
- Two Witnesses
In Florida, a deed requires a signature from the person transferring the property and two witnesses along with a notary. Then, it must be delivered to the person receiving title and recorded, which officially transfers title. After that, the deed itself has no meaning.
Here’s why this can be an issue. A deed ONLY transfers title when the person signing the deed also OWNS the property.
So, if Cousin Bob deeds a property to Cousin Sally, the deed means nothing because Aunt Mary actually owns it, according to title. Things get even more complicated because Mary filed for bankruptcy!
So, before you buy a piece of property, work with a real estate lawyer to make sure that the deed is being issued by the property’s true owner.
A good lawyer can keep you in the clear.