What Documents Can Prove Land Ownership?

by Marie Huntington

There are several documents that can prove land ownership. Most real property documents that create ownership in individuals are available at the county recorder’s office. Lenders, creditors and other third parties also record documents, such as mortgage notes and mechanic’s liens, which create liens against properties. These documents are also available as public record at the recorder’s office.

Warranty Deed

The actual deed to the property shows the name of the current owner and a description of the property. The deed will be signed by the previous owner or grantor of the property. There are different types of property deeds. The most common type of deed is a general warranty deed, which shows that the grantor transferred clear title to the current owner. A quitclaim deed also proves the existence of land ownership, but the current owner may only possess a limited form of ownership in the property. When an individual uses a quitclaim deed to transfer property, the new owner only receives whatever interest the prior owner had in the property.

Recorder's Office

When a person acquires an ownership interest in land, they should record the deed and other property ownership documents at the county recorder’s office where the property is located to provide notice to the public. When you record the deed, you provide constructive notice to anyone who is interested in discovering the current owner of a particular parcel of land as well as the chain of title of prior owners. A properly recorded deed becomes public record, and you can purchase copies of a recorded deed at the county recorder’s office to demonstrate proof of land ownership.

Deed of Trust

Some states require lenders to execute a deed of trust when a borrower purchases a property using a mortgage. The property deed is transferred in the name of a trustee, which is usually a title company, until the borrower pays off the mortgage debt. Once the property owner pays the mortgage debt, title transfers to that owner. The borrower can get a copy of the deed of trust to prove his intent to acquire land ownership eventually, even though the borrower will not acquire legal title to the property until the mortgage debt is paid. A copy of the deed of trust is also available at the county recorder's office.

Mortgage Note

A mortgage note is a document created by lenders in some states to secure a mortgage debt. Unlike a deed of trust, the property owner acquires title to the property during the closing process. The seller will also transfer the deed to the purchaser at closing instead executing a deed of trust. In addition to using the property deed to prove land ownership, the mortgage note also indicates that the borrower owns a property that includes a mortgage lien.

Satisfaction of Mortgage Letter

When the mortgage borrower completes the payment obligations under a mortgage, the lender must tender a satisfaction of mortgage letter to the borrower. This letter may also be used to prove land ownership. You can also use a satisfaction of mortgage letter to demonstrate that you own clear title to the property.

About the Author

Marie Huntington has been a legal and business writer since 2002 with articles appearing on various websites. She also provides travel-related content online and holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas Cooley Law School.

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