Real estate deeds transfer a grantor's (owner) property rights to a grantee (buyer/recipient). Recording the deed provides an official record of the change in ownership. Details about this transfer are available to the general public through the local office responsible for maintaining land records.
Not filing or recording a completed, signed, and notarized deed means that officially, the transfer never happened. Instead, the original grantor still appears as the owner of record for the property, opening them up to potential liabilities, such as delinquent property taxes or nuisance complaints. This works against the grantee, too, because they cannot declare the property as an asset if it's not titled in their name.
Real property transactions become part of the chain of title (ownership history) for each parcel. Promptly recording deeds helps to maintain what is called a "clear chain of title," meaning that there is an obvious sequence of owners. This also protects future owners because they can reasonably expect no claims against the title from others with a potential interest in the property.
Gaps or inconsistencies in the history cause a "clouded title." This makes the property more difficult to sell or mortgage because title companies are often reluctant to issue title insurance policies in cases they view as risky. When a title company checks a title to ensure that it is legitimate and unencumbered, occasionally a "cloud" will show up. A cloud is any sort of gap or irregularity in the chain of title. Items like unreleased liens, claims, or encumbrances, prior deeds that with invalid signatures, or numerous other errors, can all lead to clouded titles.
A quiet title action is one common solution to a cloud caused by questions of ownership. For example, while researching a property, a title company finds a person showing a 5% ownership. He never signed any deeds transferring his interest, despite the real estate changing hands several times. They contact him, find out that he was paid for his share in an earlier transaction, and didn't know he was still listed as an owner.
In this situation, because there is no need for any money to change hands, this problem is easy to resolve with a quitclaim deed. The prior owner signs it, releasing his rights to the property, and the title company records it. Once the deed becomes part of the official record, this cloud disappears from the title. Even though this example offers a relatively simple solution, recording a complete and accurate deed in the first place would have prevented it from happening.
Generally, a deed is considered to be recorded when it is duly acknowledged or verified and deposited in the recorder's office with the proper officer and marked with the local intake notations. The recorder is responsible for numbering the instrument in the order in which it is deposited, including the year, month, day, hour, and minute of its reception, and indicating at whose request it was filed for record. The contents of the document are transferred to the appropriate book or image of records upon the page or pursuant to the number endorsed on the document, and the original document is returned to the party who left it for recording.
The recorder indexes all recorded documents in alphabetical order according to the names of the grantors and grantees or mortgagors or mortgagees, which terms include holders of beneficial interests in and trustors/borrowers of deeds of trusts, and the name or nature of the document. The documents are also indexed by date of recording and the recording reference.
So, everyone benefits from timely recording of real estate deeds. Up-to-date information protects all those involved with the present transfer, and the clear chain of title makes future sales and purchases less complicated. Please contact an attorney with questions about recording deeds or any other issue related to real property.
November 6, 2017, Deeds.com - Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed, you should always confirm this information with the proper agency prior to acting. The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date.