Title Holder

What is a title holder?

Updated April 25, 2022

In its simplest form in the real estate realm, a title holder is a person, group, company or other entity that holds the ownership of a property or grouped properties under the laws of a given county, state and/or country.

A real estate title is a legal tenet that makes it clear the holder is the sole and clear owner of a property. However, it is an abstract concept and not a physical document—unlike in automotive sales in which the selling party physically executes or signs over the title to the purchaser and new owner. In real estate transactions, the deed is the proper document that indicates legal transfer of ownership.

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When buyer and seller close on a home, the property deed is signed over by the seller to the buyer (grantee) and seller (grantor) of the property as a key part of the transfer of the real estate asset. As a result, the deed includes the title. When the deed is signed over after a home purchase, the title passes over with it without the need for further legal steps.

The title holder is the person, group, company or entity that holds the ownership of a property or group of properties.. Credit: Tierra Mallorca/Unsplash

In the home purchase closing process, the title must transfer from seller to buyer via an escrow or title company. In any home purchase, that company runs a public records search to make certain the title of the property is legal and legitimate with a clear chain of ownership. That confirmation assures all parties that the home in question belongs to the title holder, clearing the legal right to sell it.

There are multiple legal ways for an entity to serve as a title holder.

  • Community Property: Also known as Marital Property, this guarantees two married adults can buy real estate while married to own equal shares. Either spouse can dispose (see “Disposition” below) or transfer the share of ownership to another party.
  • Joint Tenancy: Two or more family members, friends or business partners hold equal shares in a property. Under joint tenant ownership rights, decisions involving selling or renovating the property must be legally and anonymously determined.
  • Sole Ownership: One individual holds all ownership rights.
  • Tenancy By The Entirety: Reserved for married couples, this ownership form views a couple as a single entity with shared property rights. If one spouse dies, the survivor takes possession.
  • Tenancy in Common: A status different from joint tenancy as tenants in common hold the title individually for their share of a home or other property and can dispose of their ownership when and how they choose.
  • Trust: Sometimes called a living trust, this status enables the title holder or “trustor” to keep ownership rights over a property until the trustor dies. Then, a trustee assumes control of the home.

The Title Holder possesses multiple rights to the property in question:

  • Control: The Title Holder has the legal right to use the property in any way—as long as those uses are otherwise legal. In some cases, such as zoning laws for historic properties or agreements signed as part of a community’s homeowners association, additional regulations or restrictions come into play.
  • Disposition: The Title Holder can legally sell or rent the property. It is possible to rent all or part of the property. However, a total sale is possible only if the title holder owns the property entirely. If the owner still owes on the mortgage, the loan amount must be paid off before any disposition can take place. Also, if there’s any tax lien on a property, disposition cannot take place.
  • Exclusion: The Title Holder has the right to exclude anyone from entering the property. Search warrants and utility company requests can override exclusion.

The term can also appear as the single word “titleholder” when applied in legal terminology to the owner of securities.