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Deed vs Title: Understanding the Differences

Monday, April 5, 2021

The time has come. You are finally going to become homeowners! Before everything is concluded, you are likely to hear two words pop up in conversation quite regularly.

Deeds and titles. Not being familiar with them could lead to confusion and much worse could call into question your ownership long after you have signed off on your property. 

So, what are they and what are the differences between a deed vs title?

Keep on reading to find out. 

What is a Deed?

A deed is a physical document that provides evidence that you are the legal owner of a property. It will include the property details as well as the signatures of both the seller and eventually you, the new owner. 

Another term for them is the vehicle of the property interest transfer, highlighting its role as a means to transfer ownership of a property. 

There are various types of deeds available (General Warranty Deed, Special Warranty Deeds, etc), which include different levels of culpability on the part of the person selling should some dispute their right to sell.

In most states, once this transfer is made it needs to put on public record in either a court or assessor's office. However, if under further investigation it is found that the deeds have complications on the side of the paperwork it does not invalidate ownership, it may just mean that documentation will have to be refiled. 

What is a Title?

A title is essentially your right to the ownership of a property. It is a legal term for a very simple but abstract concept, that because you are the owner you have the right to the full use of the property.

You can have partial interest, meaning that you share ownership with another party or full ownership, but both mean that you have the right to access and manage the property as you see fit. The only difference would be that if you hold partial ownership you can only transfer what is legally yours.

To better understand the idea of a title vs deed, think of the deed as the physical document that confirms the existence of title, much as in the same way a wedding ring and certificate solidifies the abstract concept of the titles attained after a marriage.  

Deed vs Title: Why Do We Need Them? 

Before buying a property a title search may be carried out on the behalf of the buyer. Why?

The reason is that unfortunately just because the person is in possession of the property, it does not automatically signify that they are the legal owners. The existence of deeds and titles is a clear way of making sure that all is above board in the important business of property ownership.

Title searches happen prior to purchase to avoid complications for the new owners, as others (such as a lien taken out by the contractors or a distant relative) may claim to have some stake in said property. Title insurance is also useful in such future potential situations. 

Property Transfer Made Easy

Regardless if you are a buyer or seller, it pays to be familiar with the differences between a deed vs title. We hope after reading our brief explanation you feel confident when hearing these words during what will always be a critical moment in your life. 

We at Heartland Absrtract pride ourselves on being able to assist both buyers and sellers in achieving their goals in a smooth and efficient fashion. 

Please contact us if you live in Philadelphia and want to know more about what we can do for you. 

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