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Unrecorded Deed


An unrecorded deed refers to a legal document transferring ownership of a property that hasn’t been officially registered with the appropriate record keeping authority, typically a county clerk’s office. While the deed might still be valid between the parties involved, it could cause legal issues with future sales, as there would be no public record of the transaction. This might also bring about potential disputes over the property’s ownership.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Unrecorded Deed” is: “ʌn-ri-kawr-did deed”.

Key Takeaways

<ol> <li>An unrecorded deed is legally valid: An unrecorded deed refers to a deed that has been signed and delivered to the buyer but is not registered in the public records. This deed is still legally binding and conveys ownership rights to the new owner. Regardless of whether it’s recorded or not, the deed forms a contract between the seller and the buyer.</li> <li>Risk of potential problems: While unrecorded deeds are valid, they can potentially cause problems in the future. Since they aren’t documented in the public records, future sellers might unintentionally sell the property that’s already been sold. It can also pose a risk for the new owner, as they might be unaware of any liens or claims on the property.</li> <li>Proving ownership can be difficult: If disputes or conflicts arise, the owner with the unrecorded deed may face challenges in proving their ownership as there’s no public record of their purchase. Taking the step to record the deed can provide proof of ownership and protect against any potential issues.</li></ol>


An unrecorded deed is significant in business and finance because it potentially affects the comprehensibility and security of property ownership. When a deed is unrecorded, it means that the transfer of property ownership has not been officially documented in public records, posing the risk of disputes or complications in future transactions concerning the property. An unrecorded deed doesn’t offer the same legal protections or proof of ownership as a recorded deed, which could result in claims from other parties or a lack of transparency about the property’s rightful owner. Therefore, for peace of mind and better protection from legal issues, it is crucial to record deeds promptly after a property transaction.


An unrecorded deed plays a significant role in property transactions, especially in situations where privacy in ownership is desired or when a property is being transferred as a surprise gift. This is a legal instrument that transfers the ownership, or a portion of it, of a real property but is not officially recorded with an authorized governing entity, such as a county clerk or recorder’s office. The person receiving the property holds the unrecorded deed, and it will not be part of the public records unless it gets recorded. However, it’s important to remember that the unrecorded deed is legally binding; thus it does affect the actual ownership situation.Although an unrecorded deed can serve specific purposes, as mentioned above, it brings about risks. An unrecorded deed can lead to conflicts and discrepancies down the line as the wider public is not aware of the change in ownership – this lack of transparency could attract potential issues concerning title disputes or claims. To demonstrate, in the event that the grantor (the person transferring the property) decides to sell off the same property to another individual, and this deed gets recorded, there might be a dispute as to who owns the property legally. Because of these risks, it is highly recommended to record the deed unless there is a specific reason for not doing so.


1. Undisclosed Property Sales: Imagine a case where Mr. A sells his property to Ms. B. This is a private transaction and they decide not to record the deed to save on transfer taxes or for some other reason. However, if Ms. B later sells the property to Mr. C, who searches the record and finds the title still in Mr. A’s name, a serious legal issue can arise. This is a real-world example of an unrecorded deed.2. Family Land Transfer: Consider a case where a parent transfers their property to their child as a gift, but fails to record the deed. If the parent passes away, potential issues can arise when other potential heirs come into the picture. These issues might include disputes over property ownership, inheritance sharing and potential legal disputes.3. Property Acquisition by a Business: A business may acquire a property as part of an expansion strategy. If the deed to this acquired property is not recorded, it may lead to questions around its ownership, especially in cases where the business falls into bankruptcy or faces other financial challenges. Other businesses or creditors may not recognize the ownership of the property if the deed is unrecorded, leading to potential legal disputes.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Unrecorded Deed?

An Unrecorded Deed refers to a property deed that is signed and delivered to the new owner without being officially recorded with an entity such as a county clerk or government agency.

What are the risks of an Unrecorded Deed?

Risks associated with an Unrecorded Deed include a lack of public notice regarding the transfer of ownership, potential claims from creditors, and difficulties in establishing clear property title.

Why would someone use an Unrecorded Deed?

Some may choose to use an Unrecorded Deed to maintain privacy around their property ownership. However, given the risks, it’s generally not advised.

How does an Unrecorded Deed impact future sales of the property?

As the deed is unrecorded, future buyers or real estate title companies may not have clear evidence of the property’s ownership chain, which can create complications during a subsequent sale.

Can an Unrecorded Deed be recorded later?

Yes, an Unrecorded Deed can be recorded at any time after the transaction, but it’s important to note that any issues arising between the time of sale and recording could lead to potential legal complications.

Is an Unrecorded Deed legally binding?

In most jurisdictions, an Unrecorded Deed is still legally binding between the parties involved in the transaction. However, without recording, the transfer won’t be constructively noticed by the public and may not be effective against third parties.

How can I protect myself against any risk associated with an Unrecorded Deed?

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to conduct a full title search before purchasing property, even if you’re receiving the property through an unrecorded deed. Consider purchasing title insurance for added protection. It’s also recommended to consult with a real estate attorney or professional.

Related Finance Terms

  • Title Search: A process carried out before the purchase of a property to check for any unrecorded deeds or liens.
  • Quitclaim Deed: A type of deed often used for unrecorded transfers, typically between family members, where the grantor provides no warranties against title defects.
  • Chain of Title: The sequential documentation of property ownership tracing the title back to the original owner, often disrupted by an unrecorded deed.
  • Cloud on Title: A situation caused by an unrecorded deed where the ownership of the property is unclear or disputed, hindering its sale or transfer.
  • Equitable Title: A form of ownership obtained when a deed is not officially recorded but the possession or use of the property has effectively been transferred.

Sources for More Information

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