Kiritsis & Associates


What is a certificate of title? Kiritsis Law Group 212 922 0005

May 13, 2021

By: John Kiritsis, Esq., CPA, MBA, MS, JD, LL.M

In modern times, certificates of title are rarely used in most jurisdictions. Basically, they are a written opinion (often by an attorney) stating the property’s status of title. In real estate transactions, a certificate of title is not a guarantee of a free and clear title, because of one or more of the following 3 reasons: (1) unrecorded activity like missing liens and/or encumbrances; (2) incorrected recorded activity (i.e. wrong property description) and (3) unknown fraudulent activity (i.e. equity stripping). In this author’s opinion, technology seems to have failed to make deed delivery faster, quicker or better; rather technology seems to have made it easier to calculate the weighted risks between paying out insurance claims and their costs of insuring them. Going deeper into the 3 reasons that a certificate of title does NOT guarantee a free and clear title, is as follows: 1) The title examiner is highly unlikely to discover something that was not recorded. 2) A recorded document may be repeating the mistake of a previously recorded document, and 3) A competent and experienced criminal, will always try to get away with breaking the law, and many times he/she will be able to get away with it.


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