Q, We purchased a home in Englewood last April. We paid
the home off a few months ago. Will Sarasota County send
us the deed to our home or do we need to request it?
A. When you bought your house there was a brand new
original deed created just for you, which after closing was
forwarded by the closing company to the county. In essence
the county only borrows that deed so they can photograph
it and record it in the county records, then they return the
original to you within (approximately) six weeks or so of
the original purchase. Usually people put the deed away
and most folks forget where. Sometimes it’s someplace safe,
sometimes not, but fortunately the county keeps a copy.
Unlike cars, where the bank holds the title, with a house you
get to hold the deed. With a car, the lender holds the title until
it is fully paid off, and then after the very last payment, they
will send you the title (this keeps you from selling the car
while you still owe money on it).
Deeds to homes are always the property of and held by
the homeowner. If you can't find your deed, you can look it
up on line or request a true copy from the county. You
mentioned that once you paid off the mortgage nobody sent
you your deed. And nobody will, but since you have paid
off the mortgage, look for or ask the mortgage company for
a formal "release" of the mortgage. It’s a document they must
send to you.
You may find--even years from now--that a credit agency will
have bad data and think you still owe money on this very mortgage,
and you may need to send a copy of the aforementioned release
to them to prove the mortgage has been long paid off--so don't
lose it. On a happier note, getting a release qualifies you to host
a "mortgage burning party" in which you and your closest friends
can celebrate your newly found financial independence.
When you read a copy of your deed, you'll see it has surprisingly
simple contents. In a nutshell you will see the date, your name as
the buyer and who sold the property to you, and the legal description
of the parcel (which may be as simple as a town, lot and block, or
can be more complicated). It will be signed by the seller and
stamped by the county regarding transfer taxes paid and where it
is filed (Book and Page). Since there is only ever one original copy
if it's lost you can ask the county for a copy. Usually for a fee the
county will provide you a copy and certify it as a true and legal
copy. You can also download a copy for free, but while the
downloaded copy looks the same, it does not qualify as a legal copy.
One last suggestion for you and all homeowners, if there has been
a change in your life that might affect your deed, say a divorce or
a death of one of the owners, or even an event like a new spouse;
take time to make the appropriate changes to your deed. You will
want a lawyer to handle this effort and it will result in a new
original deed, so go back and read from the top of this document.
But when you need the newly corrected document, there is never
enough time to get it done, so review your deed as often as you
review your will or trust.
Dane Hahn is a real estate professional serving clients from
Sarasota Realty Associates in Venice, Florida. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 941-681-0312. See him
on the web at www.danesellsflorida.com