Deeds and Titles: What’s the Difference?

November 11, 2021
By James White

Anyone who has purchased real estate can attest to the fact that it is an education, beginning with vocabulary lessons! Escrow, amortization, listings, and zoning – there’s so much to learn and understand, which is why it is often recommended to work with a real estate agent who can guide you through the unchartered waters of homeownership. In this article, we’re going to explain the difference two very important terms from the legal side of the purchase: the deed and the title.

What’s the difference?

This is not a chicken versus egg scenario! One document always comes before the other. In deed versus title, the deed comes first.

The deed to a piece of property is a physical document that legally transfers ownership from one party (the grantor) to another (the grantee). It will outline details about the property, including its boundaries, and is signed by the grantor and grantee in front of a notary public who can confirm their identities. There are many more nuances to the various types of deeds available, so be sure to read all the way through!

A title, however, is not a physical document. The title is the concept that someone is the rightful and legal owner of the property. It includes a full suite of rights (which may vary by state, county, or municipality) – to occupy the home, modify it, use the land, and even sell the property to someone else.

In almost all real estate transactions that involve a lender, or a mortgage, you’ll learn another phrase for your vocabulary: title insurance. What is it? Do you need to go with your title? The short answer is that yes, you will almost certainly need title insurance if you are purchasing property using financing, like a mortgage, through a lender.

Title insurance is a one-time purchase that protects you as the homeowner and the financial institution who holds the mortgage from any legal complications that arise if the title is found to have defects. A title insurance provider will complete a thorough title search to make sure the title is clean from issues, which may include liens or back taxes owed, ownership by another party, or a contested will.

Okay, but there’s more than one kind of deed…

If you’ve taken a peek at our website, quickdeeds.com, you’ll no doubt have noticed there’s more than one kind of deed to choose from. If you’re not sure which one to choose, here’s a brief summary that can help you narrow down your options. (If you’re still not sure after you read through it, email us at hello@quickdeeds.com for guidance!)

Quitclaim Deed: A quitclaim deed is a legal instrument that is used to transfer interest in real property. The entity or individual transferring its rights is called the grantor, and when all requirements are met, a quit claim deed transfers any interest the grantor has in the property to a recipient, called the grantee. Because this type of deed offers no warranty to the grantee, it is most commonly used when property is being transferred from one family members to another or when it is being transferred into a living trust.

Correction Deed: A deed becomes part of the public record once it has been filed and it cannot be altered. To amend the record, a correction deed can be used to correct minor mistakes, such as misspellings and omissions, or to correct obvious errors in the property description by recording updated information on what was originally recorded with inaccurate data or records.

Warranty Deed: A warranty deed is a type of deed where the grantor guarantees that he or she holds clear title to a piece of real estate and has a right to sell it to the grantee and usually includes titles insurance. This is by far the preferred choice of lenders and is the most commonly used deed for real estate transactions when money is changing hands (as opposed to just a transfer of ownership). A warranty deed offers the buyer protection against future claims that may come up against the title.

Ladybird Deed: Nicknamed for its use by President Lyndon B. Johnson who transferred property in this manner to his wife, Lady Bird. A ladybird – or enhanced life estate deed – will pass ownership of the property automatically upon the grantor’s death without any further action needed. This type of deed is a common tool used by estate planners and can allow the property to bypass probate and can even assist with Medicaid eligibility for long-term care.

Grant Deed: A grant deed is a legal document that is used for making some types of property transfers in certain states and regions. A transferor, or “grantee,” signs it to indicate they’ve been given ownership rights with respect to an item being transferred from someone else – the original owner(s). This document also comes with a guarantee that there are no claims or liens on the title.

Affidavit of Deed: An affidavit of deed is a sworn legal statement made in front of a notary attesting to a matter relating to the deed of ownership, typically for property. These documents are filed with county courthouses who maintaining property records in order keep these accurate and up-to date. Essentially, this document confirms that the grantee – or new owner – has received and accepted the deed, thereby protecting the grantor from any future claims of ownership.

Now you’re an expert on deeds and titles! If your real estate journey is just getting started, as a buyer, seller, or even selling one home to buy another, QuickDeeds.com is your one stop shop for efficient, affordable, and accurate documentation. Our attorney services are provided by the team at Easler Law, where we recognize how important the little details are. If we can be of service, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at hellow@quickdeeds.com.

The information on this page may have changed since we first published it. We give great legal advice, but this page (and the rest of our site) is for informational use only and is no substitute for actual legal advice. If you’d like to establish an attorney-client relationship, reach out to us and we’ll tell you how we can make it official. Sending us an email or reading this page alone doesn’t mean we represent you.