Deed vs Title

by Nate Hoffelder

A web designer by day, Nate has a lot of experience in writing about tech and marketing, but only a little experience in remodeling a house. This blog chronicles the lessons Nate learns while fixing up a duplex in Clendenin, WV.

November 1, 2022

When you have a few hours free, can you please do me a favor and Google “What’s the Difference Between a Title and a Deed?”.

The tl;dr answer to that question is that a deed says who bought and sold a property, while a title tells you who owns it. These two documents don’t always agree.

The inspiration for my request was an article I was reading about a house in Detroit.

After a two-year period, the house was supposed to go in my name. The deed did – the document that gives me the right to own the property. But this is different from a title, as mortgage companies will describe it, because a deed is a document while a title is a legal framework, a set of conditions that confer uncontestable ownership of a property. The title didn’t change hands.

I discovered this when I put the house on the market, two and a half years after I had moved into it. That was when my title agency informed me that the title to the house was still in Tomeka Langford’s name.

I found 52 Tomeka Langfords on Facebook, and soon gave up any attempt to make direct contact. After all, I was told the legal process from here was straightforward – it even has a name. My title agency suggested a law firm,, that specializes in quieting titles. For a set price ($1,200 back in 2018) and in lightning speed (90 to 180 days), clients are guaranteed a squeaky-clean title and uncontestable ownership of a property.

The reason this matters to me is that I bought the Clendenin House from someone who bought it in a tax auction. I have a quit claim deed which says I bought the property, and that sale has been recorded with the county, but I do not necessary have _title_ to the property. I won’t have a clean title until after I consult with a firm like

If you are going to get into buying property in tax sales, you’re going to need to get familiar with this issue.

This blog was launched in order to share one newbie home buyer’s experience in buying and remodeling a wreck of a house.

Like the house itself, this blog is a work in progress.

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