Deed vs. Title: What's the Difference? Terms Home Buyers Need to Know

Deed vs. title: What's the difference? Most people use these real estate terms interchangeably, but there's a significant difference between the two—a distinction that's important for owners and for buyers ready to purchase a home. So before you sign up for a mortgage, let's look at what distinguishes deed from title.

Deed vs. title: The difference between these 2 real estate terms
A deed is a legal document used to confirm or convey the ownership rights to a property. A deed or property deed must be a physical document signed by both the buyer and the grantor or seller.

Title, however, is the legal way of saying you have property ownership. The title (or property title) is not a document, but a concept that says you have the rights to use that property.

What Is Title Insurance? Peace of Mind When Buying a Home
So when you buy a property, you will receive the deed, a document that proves you have ownership. That deed is an official document that says you have title to the real estate.

How to get the deed and take title of a property
To get the deed and "take title," or legally own the property, your lender will perform a title search of the public record. This ensures that the grantor or seller has the legal right to transfer ownership of the property to you as owner, and that there are no liens, personal property disputes, or claim possessions against it.

If everything is clear, then at closing, the grantor or seller will transfer the title to you, and you have legal ownership of the real estate.

The title or escrow company will then ensure that the deed is recorded with the county assessor's office or courthouse, depending on where you live. You'll generally get a notification a few weeks after closing that your deed has been recorded.

If you don't, check with the professional who did your closing and ensure that the paperwork and other legal documents have been filed. At that point, you have the deed and title to the real estate, and the property is all yours.

What is title insurance?
Even with all of the due diligence a title company does before a real estate closing, there are rare instances when title problems can pop up later (e.g., missed liens and other legal issues that can be very costly to resolve). To protect against any financial loss, two types of title insurance exist: owner's title insurance and lender's title insurance.

Unlike other types of insurance that protect the policyholder from events that may happen in the future, an owner’s title policy protects the buyer from events that have happened in the past that may jeopardize their financial interest, such as title defects from fraud or paperwork errors, issues with foreclosure, an unknown encumbrance, unpaid liens against the property, or claims that someone else (perhaps an heir) has possession, is the real, legal property owner.

On the other hand, when you secure a mortgage, your lender or bank will require that you purchase lender's title insurance to protect the lender's real estate investment in case any title problems arise.

Lender's title insurance essentially protects the lender's interest in your property, which is typically until your mortgage is paid off.

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