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Deed vs. Title: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
A deed is a legal document conveying property rights, while a title represents ownership and rights to a property.

Key Differences

A deed is a physical document, formally known as an "instrument," that transfers ownership from one party to another. On the other hand, a title is an abstract concept signifying a person's legal ownership and right to a piece of property.
When you buy a property, the seller signs a deed, which is then recorded, transferring ownership to you. A title, in contrast, is the legal right you acquire to own, use, and dispose of the property as you see fit.
For property transactions, the deed serves as evidence of the transfer of ownership. Title, however, refers to the culmination of rights that come with property ownership, including possession, control, exclusion, and enjoyment.
Deeds need specific elements like a grantor and grantee, description of the property, and consideration. Titles, being conceptual, aren't documented in the same way, but rather established through a chain of ownership and rights.
While deeds can be reviewed and held physically, titles are often validated through title searches, ensuring there are no liens or disputes attached to the property's ownership.

Comparison Chart


Physical document.
Abstract concept.


Evidence of transfer of ownership.
Legal ownership and rights to a property.


Through signatures and recording.
Through title searches.


Can be defective or improperly drafted.
Can have liens, disputes, or challenges.

Multiple Forms

Comes in various forms (warranty deed, quitclaim deed, etc.)
Does not vary in form but can be partial or complete

Deed and Title Definitions


A deed serves as a legal proof of property transfer.
The attorney prepared the deed for the sale of the estate.


A title can be a formal designation of status or rank.
He holds the title of Director of Operations in the company.


A deed is a written instrument transferring ownership of property.
The deed confirmed Maria's purchase of the house.


A title is a claim to ownership that's recognized and can be legally defended.
The book's title was registered under her name.


A deed is a signed and usually sealed legal paper.
The old deed had been kept in the family's safe for decades.


A title confirms the legitimacy of ownership.
The house's title was clear, with no liens attached.


A deed is a formal document used to grant rights.
The land was transferred to him through a deed.


A title represents legal ownership of an asset or property.
After the final payment, the car's title was transferred to Jake.


A deed indicates the terms under which property is owned.
Make sure you read the deed carefully before signing.


A title signifies a person's right to possession and use.
The title search revealed no claims against the property.


Something that is carried out; an act or action.


An identifying name given to a book, play, film, musical composition, or other work.


Can a property have multiple deeds?

Yes, a property can have multiple deeds if it has been sold or transferred multiple times.

How is a title defined?

A title represents legal ownership and rights to a property or asset.

What is a deed?

A deed is a legal document that transfers ownership of property from one party to another.

Are there different types of deeds?

Yes, including warranty deeds, quitclaim deeds, and special purpose deeds.

Can titles have issues?

Yes, titles can have liens, easements, or other disputes affecting ownership.

Does holding a deed mean you have the title?

Holding a deed means you have evidence of transfer, but title confirms legal ownership.

Can a property be sold without a clear title?

It can be sold, but issues with the title can complicate the sale and transfer process.

Who usually prepares the deed in a property sale?

Often, an attorney or title company prepares the deed.

Is a deed permanent?

Once recorded, a deed becomes a permanent part of public record, evidencing the transfer.

What's a title insurance?

Title insurance protects against defects or issues with a property's title.

Who holds the title in a financed property purchase?

Often, the lender holds the title until the loan is fully paid off.

Can a title be split?

Yes, one can have partial titles reflecting shared ownership or specific rights.

Can a title be lost?

Physical title documents can be lost, but legal ownership in public records remains intact.

How can one ensure a clear title?

Through a title search, which checks for liens, disputes, or other issues with ownership.

What happens if a deed is defective?

A defective deed can cause problems in establishing clear title and may need rectification.

How is title transferred?

Title is transferred through the execution and recording of a deed.

Can deeds be challenged?

Yes, deeds can be challenged if they're believed to be fraudulent or improperly executed.

How are deeds verified?

Deeds are typically verified by notaries and then recorded in public records.

Why might a title search be necessary?

To ensure that the title is clear and free from any potential issues or claims.

Is a deed necessary for all property transfers?

Typically, yes. Deeds provide legal evidence of property transfers.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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