Record and Check Your Deed

errors on a deedIt probably goes without saying, that the most important document when closing a sale on real property is the deed. The deed transfers ownership and is evidence that you have the legal right to the property after the transaction has closed. What truly makes this document official is the legal filing of the deed at the Recorder’s Office in the county in which the property is located. This filing is referred to as “recording” the deed. The filing of the deed is important to prove ownership. It is always important to check your deed for errors and to record the deed. It is not wise to keep an unrecorded deed lying around your home or even in a safe. Some deeds must be recorded prior to the death of the person conveying the property or the deed is not valid. Other problems with ownership can arise years after deeds were signed, if they have not been properly recorded.  In Arizona the County Recorder where the property is located should have a record of such an important document.

Problems with Deeds containing errors – or being unrecorded.

The two worst problems with deeds are: (1) a deed that is not recorded; or (2) a deed that contains an error when it is recorded. Correcting a problem may be a very costly – or it may be an “easy fix” with minimal expense; everything depends on circumstances and when the problem is discovered. Be vigilant when purchasing real property! With the bulk of paperwork put in front of you when you are closing on a purchase, this can take effort and determination. It is a rare occurrence but there have been incidents where a title agent or even a county agent has failed to record a deed properly either through inadvertence or some other unexplained reason.

Failure to record a deed can be detrimental to the new homeowner’s legal status and may not be discovered until the owner attempts to sell the property or refinance the mortgage. The best way to avoid this issue is to be sure you receive the original recorded deed within a few weeks after a transaction has concluded.  As the new owner the original deed belongs to you after it is recorded and the County Recorder or the title company handling the transaction should mail the original document to you.  If you discover that your deed has not been recorded for any reason, you should promptly contact the title company or lender overseeing the transaction to request that the deed be recorded. If you and the seller have handled the purchase and sale between yourselves, be extra cautious! A private sale should at least have an extra pair of eyes on it to ensure that both parties are accomplishing what they intend – and those eyes should be those of a professional with experience in real estate.

If the deed contains errors, the problem can often be corrected fairly simply. However, errors are best corrected earlier than later, and how easy or difficult a correction may be will depend on the type of error and sometimes the availability of persons involved in the transfer and conveyance of the real property. Fortunately, title insurance will cover major errors and the expense of correcting those errors when a title company has handled the transaction. If you do find an error, be sure to contact the title company, the title insurer or a legal professional to assist you with a correction.