Not all real estate deeds are created equally. Formatting can vary from attorney to attorney, or even from individual to individual if you decide to draft the deed yourself. Generally speaking, a valid Texas deed must include all of the following: the names of the grantor and grantee involved in the transaction, their intent to convey the property, a sufficient description of the property to be conveyed, and it finally must be signed by the grantor and delivered to the grantee.
A hotly contested topic over the years surrounded the definition of a “sufficient” description of the property. Most real estate lawyers will probably agree that when drafting a deed to transfer property, they will accept nothing but the full legal description of the property describing the neighborhood, lot, section, and/or block. However, does this mean if you do not have the legal description, you don’t have a valid deed?
What is considered a “sufficient description” of property?
It has been held that a “property description is sufficient if the writing furnishes within itself, or by reference to some other existing writing, the means or data by which the particular land to be conveyed may be identified with reasonable certainty.” AIC Mgmt. v. Crews, 246 S.W.3d 640, 645 (Tex. 2008).
What is considered “reasonably certain?”
So long as it is possible by any “reasonable rules of construction, to ascertain from the description, aided by extrinsic evidence,” what property the party intends to convey, the property has been identified with reasonable certainty and the property description is sufficient. Teledyne Isotopes, Inc. v. Bravenec, 640 S.W.2d 387, 389 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1982, writ ref'd n.r.e.).
An example of how far this definition could stretch comes from a 1937 Texas case wherein a property described as “Mrs. Keltn’s farm in Haskell County” was considered a valid legal description so long as the evidence showed that Mrs. Kelton only owned one farm in that county at the time. Sanderson v. Sanderson, 130 Tex. 264, 109 S.W.2d 744, 746, 748 (1937).
In 1998, it was held that “every presumption should be indulged to reach the conclusion that some interest should be passed by a deed. Templeton v. Dreiss, 961 S.W.2d 645, 657 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 1998, pet. denied). However, it is also important to note that just because the title has validly transferred to the new owner notwithstanding a vague description like the one above, there could be other potential issues that may arise later like a title company refusing to insure title for a property description of which they do not approve. If you are considering drafting your own deed, are unsure of the property description on a deed that pertains to you, or perhaps want to correct a property description on a current deed, it is important that you contact an experienced real estate attorney for assistance.
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