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House Deed vs Title: What’s the Difference?

Monday, November 7, 2022

When you begin searching for a home to buy, you will undoubtedly run into some real estate jargon you're unfamiliar with. Some of these terms are for your real estate agent and attorney to worry about. However, there are a couple of key terms that buyers and sellers need to know yet often get confused about: the title and the deed. 

What's the difference between a house deed vs. title? Read this guide to learn about the difference between a house deed and title. 

House Title vs. Deed: Primary Differences 

Before we dive into specifics, it's crucial to understand the main difference between a house title and a deed. While both documents signify ownership rights, a deed is a physical document, whereas a title is a concept. The deed lays out your legal right to own a piece of property. 

On the other hand, a title refers to the legal ownership of something (in this case, a house). 

What is a Title? 

You've likely come across the word "title" when purchasing a car, as it can refer to the legal owner of any type of good. For example, when you lease a car, the leasing company owns the title to the vehicle. If you were to pay off the lease, the car's title becomes yours. 

The same concept applies to the real estate industry. Holding the title to a house means you have ownership control, legal rights, and responsibility over that house. 

Individuals, partnerships, corporations, and organizations can all hold titles to particular goods. When shopping for a home, you'll likely come across the terms "title search" and "title insurance."

Title searches uncover limitations and issues with a property, such as liens or easements. Title insurance can protect buyers from potential title issues. While title insurance isn't always mandatory, it's always a good idea. 

What is a Deed? 

The deed is the physical, legal document that transfers rights of property ownership (or transfers the title) from the seller to the buyer. The person selling the property signs the deed to officially move legal ownership to the buyer. 

If you ever need to prove that you own a home, you can pull up the deed to verify. To find the deed, you can conduct a title search. There are several different deeds to know about, including the general warranty deed, special warranty deed, and quit claims deed. 

Mortgage companies prepare general warranty deeds to guarantee that the seller is the full property owner and has the right to transfer ownership. Special warranty deeds are usually used in commercial real estate rather than residential real estate, and quit claims deeds need to be used when transferring property without exchanging money. 

House Deed vs. Title: Understanding the Jargon 

Knowing the difference between a house deed vs. title can make your home search a little less confusing. Additionally, your real estate agent and attorney can help explain any confusing terms. 

And check out this guide to learn what you need to do before placing an offer on a home! 



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