The Texas Recording Statute

Recording a Deed in Texas

Recording in General

Some people mistakenly believe that merely having a signed deed is evidence of clear ownership of real property and all that is needed to enforce your claim. Although the process has evolved over time and may vary from state to state, the overwhelming majority of states, if not all of them, stress the importance of actually recording a signed deed with the appropriate county clerk. In absence of a controlling statute, the common law approach used to provide that the first person to record a deed usually had the strongest claim to real property. Many states have passed statutes that supplement or completely modify the common law approach. The three main types of recording statutes are race, notice, and a combination race-notice method. A race statute is the most similar to the common law rule and offers protection to the buyer that records their deed first in a situation where the same property has been deeded to multiple parties. A notice statute offers protection to a buyer that records their deed without actual or constructive knowledge of an unrecorded deed. The hybrid race-notice approach protects subsequent buyers of real property given that they bought the property for value, had no notice of a prior conveyance, and records their deed first.

The Texas Recording Statute

Texas has a notice statute. Section 13.001 of the Texas Property Code describes the legal effect of recording, or not recording a deed:

VALIDITY OF UNRECORDED INSTRUMENT. (a) A conveyance of real property or an interest in real property or a mortgage or deed of trust is void as to a creditor or to a subsequent purchaser for a valuable consideration without notice unless the instrument has been acknowledged, sworn to, or proved and filed for record as required by law.

(b) The unrecorded instrument is binding on a party to the instrument, on the party's heirs, and on a subsequent purchaser who does not pay a valuable consideration or who has notice of the instrument.

(c) This section does not apply to a financing statement, a security agreement filed as a financing statement, or a continuation statement filed for record under the Business & Commerce Code.

Section 13.002. further clarifies that a properly recorded instrument serves as notice to all persons.

General Considerations

Note, the Texas statute does offer some protection to property owners with an unrecorded instrument by binding the parties to the deed and other purchases who do not pay “good and valuable consideration”. While there may be various ways to go about clearing the chain of title in the event that an unrecorded deed causes a conflict with a title company or other subsequent buyer/grantee, the solutions are typically costly, time consuming, and may not guarantee your claim to ownership depending on the facts of the situation. However, the statute also makes it clear that the best way to put the world on notice of your claim to property and to avoid having to find a solution after the fact is to have the deed recorded. Consider no real estate transaction fully complete until the deed has been both signed and recorded.

Navigating the complexities of real estate transactions can be difficult. An experienced real estate attorney can help.

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