What is Title?

By Greg George

Spokane, Washington, January 7, 2019. “Title” to land can be defined as the different legal rights that come under what we usually describe as “ownership” of land. For example, “title” can include the right to possess land, the right to build on land, the right to exclude others from land, and the right to sell land.

Title to land can be affected in any number of ways. In many cases, title to land is affected by documents filed at the County Auditor’s Office. These documents can include easement agreements, homeowner’s association rules, shared-well agreements, and more. Further, title to land can be affected by the previous deeds where the land has been transferred from one person to another. The deeds to a property going back through the years are often called the “chain of title.”

The historical record of deeds to a property may be incomplete. For example, the title record may show a deed from A to B and then from C to D, but not a deed from B to C. In that case, there is a “gap” in the chain of title. Such a “gap” may affect who can claim legal ownership of the property today.

Title insurance can cover some—but by no means all—potential title risks when someone is buying a property. Bristol George recommends that all land buyers have potential title risks reviewed before closing the purchase.

Note: This post is not legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Different sets of facts will likely lead to different legal conclusions. If you need assistance with real property matters, call Bristol George, PLLC at 866-511-1500 for a forty-five minute, no charge consultation to see if we can help.

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