Title versus deed – what’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2021 | Real Estate Law |

Buying or selling a house for the first time involves a learning curve. Many times, people use the words title and deed interchangeably, but are they the same?

A title is a legal concept of ownership rights, and a deed is a physical document that declares ownership of a property. These two sound similar but just think of the title as being like a title of a book. One can own a book (deed), but the title can’t be physically placed in a person’s hand.

Different types of deeds

There are generally three types of deeds:

  • General warranty deed: A general warranty deed is important to sellers and buyers as it protects both by assuring that the seller has a clear title that is their sole property. This establishes the seller’s right to sell as well as testifying that the seller is not aware of any issues with the property that would cause problems.
  • Special warranty deed: This type of deed is usually used for commercial properties and not home purchases. It is similar to the general warranty deed but is only valid for the time that the seller has owned the property.
  • Quitclaim deed: This type of deed is usually used when the property is changing hands but money is not, such as when parents transfer property to children. It is not the selling of the property but a transfer of ownership.

Depending on the particulars of the real estate transaction, one of the above deeds may be an option. Every transaction is unique and calls for different considerations.

What is a title?

A title is the legal right to own and sell the property. Properties, vehicles and other types of property come with a title. When a property is purchased, the title is transferred into the new owner’s name along with the deed.

When buying or selling a property, it can be beneficial to have guidance and a professional that is  experienced in real estate laws in Pennsylvania.