The availability of online databases and services certainly can streamline your house deed search. However, there is more to it than logging on and plugging in a few words. You need to know what you are looking at, and what to do if the information you need is not online.
Take a look at what a deed is, the various types you may run across in your search, and how to perform your search.
Why Search Home Deeds in Texas
People search for home deeds for several reasons. Here in Texas, where the Wild West is part of history, it can be exciting to trace a property deed all the way back to sovereignty. You can use a deed search as part of your genealogy research or learn more about the home you live in. Even if your home is relatively modern, you may find a few surprises at the county courthouse or online.
Home deeds tell you who used to own the property, plus you can find out whether they were married, how often the property has been sold, and various stories that play out in the land record.
What Is a Deed?
A deed is not the same as a title. A title is nothing more than a concept referring to legal ownership of a piece of property or a home. The deed is the physical document that contains all the legal information about the house. It is used to convey the title from the seller (grantee) to the buyer (grantor).
A deed contains essential information.
- A legal description of the property or real estate under consideration.
- The names of all parties involved in the ownership of the property.
- The signature of the person transferring the real estate.
The primary purpose of a deed is to show everyone that you have the title to the property.
Almost all states require the deed to be notarized and filed at the county courthouse in the county where the property is located. Some states also require the deed to be witnessed, which can be performed by the notary. Other names for the agency housing the documents are county recorder, land registry, and register of deeds.
Types of House Deeds in Texas
The most common deed transferring title in home sales is the General Warranty Deed.
- A general warranty deed offers the most protection for the property buyer.
- It shows you have a clear title and the right to sell the property. No one else has the right.
- You are stating that you have no knowledge of any issues that might occur with the title for the life of the property.
- It is a promise of a good title with no encumbrances such as easements or liens.
If it turns out that the promises made upon transfer of a general warranty deed are false, the grantee agrees to compensate the grantor. A Special Warranty Deed is available if you can only guarantee the title during the time of your ownership; otherwise, it is just like a General Warranty Deed.
A Grant Deed transfers an interest in ownership as well as guaranteeing you have a clear title with no encumbrances or other issues. However, unlike the warranty deed, a grant deed does not warrant that you will defend the title against others who appear to have a claim after the sale is complete.
A Quitclaim Deed offers the least amount of protection for the buyer. It’s commonly used when gifting property. There is no guarantee the seller has the right to sell the property. A quitclaim deed is used when it is not clear who has title rights.
Other deed types include corrective deeds, and bargain and sale deeds (for foreclosures). Deeds may also turn up with affidavits of correction or a scrivener’s affidavit.
Terms to Know When You Find Home Deeds
Aside from the various types of deeds, you need to understand some of the parlance you find in the documents.
- Tenants in common- means there is more than one owner, and each can have an unequal share of the ownership. Each tenant can will their share of the property to someone else.
- Joint tenants- own the property in equal shares. Shares automatically pass to the other co-owners upon the death of an owner.
- Tenants by the entirety- also known as community property, it is a form of spousal property ownership in which it cannot be sold unless both partners consent.
- A trust deed, or deed of trust- a mortgage that transfers title to a trustee as security for a loan. The title is transferred to the borrower when the loan is paid.
- Abstract of title- a document with facts relating to the property title. It is a condensed property abstract that shows the property’s legal history and chain of ownership. It may contain a summary of the original grant and any encumbrances.
Now that you have an idea of what you are looking at, here is how to perform your deed search.
Where to Find Home Deeds Online and Offline
An offline home deed search may take a little travel because you will need to go to the county courthouse in the county where the property is located and the land records kept. Before you go, you need to identify the name of the current property owner because you cannot search the physical files, or even some of the records in the local database, with the address.
You can find the name by searching local property tax records, which can be searched by address. You can also find out who owned the property directly before the current owner. The property tax record may give you a book and page number. Book and page number is the information you need to find the deed at the courthouse.
If you search a name and nothing comes up, try alternate spellings. Misspellings are common errors in land records, particularly handwritten records from the long past.
Searching online house records has never been easier. If you use a service like CourthouseDirect.com, you have access to all the property records in the state. You don’t need to travel to county courthouses or mess around with dusty old books.
Often you can use different types of information to find a deed. You can search by grantor or grantee, by address, or by APN, the Assessor’s Parcel Number.
Searching home deeds, whether you are researching the history of your family or an ancestral home, is an exciting way to visit the past. During your search, you may find errors to correct or a secret marriage nobody knew about.
Make your deed search easier by using CourthouseDirect.com. We have a powerful search engine and access to multiple databases where you can find almost any deed in the Great State of Texas.