By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD
"Title" refers to the ownership of an asset, for example real estate. If real property is owned by two people as "joint tenants" then title or ownership is held by both of them. Title for real estate is specified in the legal document called a "deed" which is "recorded" or officially filed in a public record (e.g., with the county clerk). If you are buying real estate you will, depending on where in the country you are located (customs vary) have a title company and/or real estate attorney, review the history of the ownership of the property, any possible claims (liens, judgments, etc.) affecting the property, etc. The goal of these reviews and the report or listing generated, often called a "title report" is to assure that you have "clear title" to the property. While there can be legal nuances to what is good title, clear title, marketable title, in simplistic terms clear title provides you with complete ownership of the property that is free from legal questions and claims. In most instances property may have some impact on title, such as a utility easement, etc. that does not affect the ability to use or sell the property.
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