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Sandy Gadow

Sandy Gadow, a featured guest on CNN's "Open House," and a speaker on national radio as the escrow expert and has more than 25 years experience in escrow, title and real estate. A  mortgage broker and real estate sales associate, Sandy is a member of the American Land Title Association, the National Association of Realtors, and on the advisory council for the Escrow Career Center. She is the author of The Complete Guide to Your Real Estate Closing and a guest contributor to Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying your First Home. She specializes in assisting the American as well as international client. If you have questions for Sandy see our Ask Sandy page. Here are a few recent articles.

Must I Record My Deed?

Your deed is considered complete once it has been signed, sealed and delivered. Recording the deed is not required by law in order for the transfer from the seller to the buyer to take place. However, in order for you to be covered to protect yourself from future claims on the title, you should record the deed. This should be done simultaneously with the closing or as soon after the close of escrow as possible.

Normally the escrow closing agent will see to it that the deed is recorded on the day of closing. You need not be inconvenienced with taking the deed to the court house for proper recording in the county official records. Recording the deed at closing protects you from any other party stepping forward and recording a document, such as a judgment, in it's place. The seller could technically record another deed if yours has not been recorded.

To record a deed yourself you need only to take the deed to the appropriate recording office in your area. The recorder will then index and transcribe the deed in the public records and it will be available for anyone to see. "Constructive notice" is said to be given once the deed is recorded.

The deed becomes part of the property's chain of title. If anyone were to look up your property, your name would show up as the official owner. You want to be sure that your name and address is correct on the deed, as your real estate tax bills will be sent to the name and address listed at the recorder's office. If the address or your name was incorrectly listed, you could possibly never receive the property tax bills or any notices.

Only written documents affecting an interest in property may be recorded and the appropriate fee must be paid to the county recorder's office in the county in which the property is located. The document must be acknowledged by an authorized person, such as a judge or notary public. The acknowledgment will verify the identity of the person signing the document, but will not make any statement or guarantee as to the validity of the document itself.

In some states, whenever a deed is recorded, the buyer must also sign a Preliminary Change In ownership Report. These reports are used by the assessor to determine which properties are exempt from property tax. In most states, transfer taxes must be paid when a deed is recorded. Depending on your area, the tax will vary, but will be generally based on a rate per $1,000.00. For example, it may be $1.10 per $1,000.00 of value or consideration or the price paid for the property. These charges are typically paid by the seller.

Related Question

What constitutes a valid deed?

Although each state may have it's own requirements for a valid deed, generally all deeds, whether a Grant Deed, Warranty Deed or Quitclaim Deed must have the following components in order to be valid:

  1. The Deed must be in writing and contain a legal description sufficient to determine the property being conveyed.
  2. There must be operative words of conveyance (such as, "I, ____ hereby grant to_____"
  3. The parties must be named and identified as "Grantor" or "Grantee."
    The parties must be competent to grant and capable to receive title. The grantor name or names should be the same as in the existing title in order to convey "Constructive notice"
  4. If there was a change in the name after acquisition, both names should be set out, such as: "Shelley B. Smith, who acquired title as Shelley Bradford Smith."
  5. Must be signed by all parties making the conveyance, being signed exactly as the names appear in the body of the deed.
  6. Must be delivered with the intent to pass title immediately.
  7. Must be accepted by the grantee.

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All information is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified.