Can an recorded deed take precedence over an unrecorded deed?

I paid off my dad’s house and did a total remodel with an addition of another room and bathroom. He deeded the house to me 4 months ago but I never filed with courts. He then turned around and deeded the house to my sister last month and she filed her deed.

Asked on November 29, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

All states require that people transferring real property to record the deed with the appropriate government office, typically the county clerk. The purpose of the recording requirement is to allow members of the public, as well as taxing authorities and lenders, to know who owns which property. So basically, recording a deed puts everyone on notice that ownership to the property has been transferred. As a practical matter, failure to record a deed means that the old owner remains the owner of record which in turn means that if you are the new owner, you risk having the old owner sell/transfer the property again out from under you. Bottom line, an unrecorded deed may not protect the parties against actions of third parties (although it is valid and enforceable between the parties themselves). So in your case, if your father had tried not to take the property back from you, you would have an enforceable claim to the property. However, since you did not record your interest, your father was free to later transfer the property to a 3rd party, your sister who protected her rights by recording the deed. As specific law may vary from state-to-state, you should consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area who can best advise you further.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor


All states require that people transferring real property to record the deed with the appropriate government office, typically the county clerk. The purpose of the recording requirement is to allow members of the public, as well as taxing authorities and lenders, to know who owns which property. So basically, recording a deed puts everyone on notice that ownership to the property has been transferred. As a practical matter, failure to record a deed means that the old owner remains the owner of record which in turn means that if you are the new owner, you risk having the old owner sell/transfer the property again out from under you. Bottom line, an unrecorded deed may not protect the parties against actions of third parties (although it is valid and enforceable between the parties themselves). So in your case, if your father had tried not to take the property back from you, you would have an enforceable claim to the property. However, since you did not record your interest, your father was free to later transfer the property to a 3rd party, your sister who protected her rights by recording the deed. As specific law may vary from state-to-state, you should consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area who can best advise you further.


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