If My Name is on the Deed, Do I Own the Property? Find Out Who Holds the Title to Your House

Who Holds The Title To Your House

If it starts with: “Ahhh, funny story . . .”, it usually won’t be a funny story. Especially if the conversation is about who actually owns your house.

In retail, when you hand over your money, you get a receipt. In real estate, you get a property deed. And when the seller signs that deed, that means it’s your house, right?

Well, typically, yes. See, there’s this thing called a house title—a lesser-known real estate evil that refers to the rights to the property. No, it’s not an actual document, but it is a very real legal term. And if it’s discovered that someone else holds title to your property (even if you’re on the deed), all of your legal rights to the property could be forfeited.

In this article, we’ll lay it all out for you—the good, the bad, and the strange of property ownership in Texas.

If Your Name Is On The Deed, You Hold Title to the Property

Unlike a car title, a house title isn’t an actual document. It’s a theoretical contract that gives you very real rights to the property.

Taking title usually entitles you to stay in the house, host a barbecue, install flooring, or whatever else you want (unless you have an HOA, of course), and it usually comes as a package deal with your house deed.

This package deal includes five separate rights you can claim to the property:

  1. Right of possession
  2. Right of control
  3. Right of enjoyment
  4. Right of disposition
  5. Right of exclusion

Now, because Texas always has to be the exception to the rule—if you have a mortgage, you have something called a “deed of trust.” A deed of trust is an agreement between you and the lender to have a neutral third party (the trustee) hold ownership of the property until the debt is paid off.

Don’t worry, you’re still named in this document. Therefore, you still hold ownership and title to the property, meaning you can still enjoy these five freedoms, unless . . .

There Could Be Hiccups in Your Title That Could Cause Big Problems for You

When you buy a new couch, you don’t have to wonder how much debt the sofa is in. You can pay for it in cash, get the receipt, and go home. An heir to an inherited couch likely won’t get back to you, saying they are the couch’s legal owner. But owning property isn’t so simple.

Here are five title issues we see that could sweep your house right from under your feet.

Unclear Property Lines

If a portion of your property is on public land or the property lines aren’t clearly defined, a neighbor or public entity could potentially claim ownership of a portion of your property. This is one reason it’s essential that you get a survey of your property before your transaction goes through.

Liens on the Property

If there are unpaid debts or taxes on your property, those are your debts now, and if they’re not cleared, the lienholder could take ownership of your property. 

Errors in Public Records

Clerical errors like missing or incorrect information in your deed could leave you in the lurch. These errors will need to be corrected and the deed refiled before you can close on your home.

Forgery and Fraud

Your deed could actually be fake or at least contain fraudulent information. There could be an undocumented immigrant named on the document, someone posing as the seller, or a minor. Each of these things could void your ownership.

Missing Heirs

Although it sounds like something from a fairytale, people coming back and claiming rights to the property is a very real phenomenon. People inherit property all the time. Family members who are contesting a Will or weren’t able to be found at the time of death could show up and claim rights to your new home.

Protect Your Investment: Hire the Real Estate Pros from Titus Law Firm Today

Is the title of your house something you really want to be left second-guessing about?

We didn’t think so.

Before you seal the deal on your dream home, have an experienced real estate attorney research the title and deeds to the property to ensure no liens or defects could derail your ownership.

Whether this is your first or fifth property purchase, it’s a big deal that you can’t afford to overlook. Contact our real estate attorneys at Titus Law Firm today.

Author Bio

Eddison S. Titus

Eddison S. Titus is the Founder of The Titus Law Firm, a Houston estate planning, business law, and real estate law firm he founded in 2016. He has successfully represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including will and trust creation, probate, real estate transactions, business formation, business and contract disputes, and business succession planning.

Eddison received his Juris Doctor from the Charlotte School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

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