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What's the Difference between a Title and a Deed?

February 16, 2018

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A Homeowner in Miami, FloridaRealtors and lawyers have highly specialized procedures, and they talk about them with jargon that escapes most people. If you are planning to buy or sell property, we highly advise you to look for expert assistance from a title and escrow company in Miami like Key Title & Escrow. However, we still encourage prospective buyers and sellers to learn about some of the confusing terms they will have to handle over the course of the buying/selling process. Two such terms are title and deed, which are often confused as one and the same, even though they are not. This post will give you a rough definition of both terms as well as some details about the differences between them.

What Is a Title?

Generally speaking, a title is proof of ownership over property, no matter what type of property it is. The title defines the terms of ownership, or in other words, the rights the owner has and the extent of those rights. The title is related to the expression "to have title," which is simply to have legal rights to a property. However, a person who holds a title might not have full rights to a property. For example, an owner might be entitled to living on a specific piece of land but cannot lease it or build on it.

The title is not a physical document, but rather a status that is represented by a compilation of all the property's legal records over an extended period of time and listed on a certified title abstract, which is not available in public records. Since a title is not a physical document by definition, you may be wondering how a title can be ascertained. Titles can be proved with a series of documents—like deeds, liens, mortgages, releases—that certify all the events and legal records throughout the history of a property and define its current status.

Miami Title and Escrow Company, Key Title and Escrow Assisting a Buyer During a ClosingBuying and selling a property is a serious matter that can have consequences when the status of the property's title is not researched. For example, one problem that you can have is finding liens—unpaid debt from previous owners—on the property you wish to buy. Even if a previous owner did a quitclaim deed on a property (resigned their rights to the property), they may still hold liens on it. That is why it is vital that prospective property buyers evaluate the status of a property before purchasing it. They must search every document that is on file with the county or city to make sure that the property is clear. This research process is called a property title search. Companies like Key Title & Escrow and individuals can conduct property title searches. However, going with the experts is the best way to get complete information and thorough research. In short, title searches are important because they are the only way to find out the overall legal status of a property and prove that it is clear of liens before proceeding with the purchase.

What Is a Deed?

Deeds are written statements of property. They are the only means by which property can be legally transferred, and this transfer usually happens between two individuals: the grantor (the "original" owner of the property) and the grantee (the person buying the property and receiving ownership rights). Deeds contain the names of the grantor and the grantee, a description of the property, and the signature of the person who is transferring the property. Deeds are not directly connected to or influence any other documents.

Deeds must be duly notarized and filed, and sometimes require witnesses. Without this procedure, which is done by a notary, a deed is not legally binding. The grantor must record the deed with the land records office in the county where the property is located. The office will keep a copy, while the grantor will retain the original. A qualified real estate attorney must be consulted in order to guarantee that everything about the deed is in order. Once you hold the deed, you can prove legal ownership of the property.

Differences between a Title and a Deed

In one sentence: a title is legal ownership in an abstract sense, but the deed is a statement of legal ownership in written form. Here is a table with a summary of the differences between a deed and a title:
We hope that we have answered your questions about the differences between a title and a deed. Key Title & Escrow can guide you and offer you title and escrow services throughout the state of Florida. We can help you swiftly close any real estate transaction. Just call (305) 235-4571 or fill out our contact form to get our help. Our representatives will be happy to answer any questions you have. Subscribe to our newsletter if you wish to receive periodic updates on real estate and escrows. You can also find us on Facebook as Key Title & Escrow, and follow us on Twitter @KeyTitle_Escrow.
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