good (clear, marketable) title – legal and equitable title free from litigation, palpable defects, and grave doubts, not dependent upon any question of fact, and fairly deductible of record, with no outstanding interest, lien, encumbrance, or claim that could defeat or impair the interest; a person of reasonable prudence and intelligence, guided by competent legal advice, would  be willing to pay fair market value

     This page is continued from Property >>>> Ownership >>>> Title:


clear title:

1. A title free from any encumbrances, burdens, or other limitations.  

2. See marketable title. — aka good title. [1]

1. Good title; a legal and equitable title to land free from litigation, grave doubts, and palpable defects. Veselka v Forres (Tex Civ App) 283 SW 303, 306; a title free from material defects; a merchantable or marketable title. 30 Am J2d Exch § 23. [2]

1. Good title; marketable title; title to land or other property that is free from doubts or defects.
     See good and valid. [3]

good title:

1. A title that is legally valid or effective.  

2. See clear title (1).

3. See marketable title. [1]

1. A valid title and a marketable title. 55 Am J1st V & P § 166.

Not merely a title which is valid in fact, but a marketable title which can again be sold to a reasonable purchaser, or mortgaged to a person of reasonable prudence as security for the loan of money. Moore v Williams, 115, NY 586, 22 NE 233.

A title free from litigation, palpable defects, and grave doubts, and fairly deductible of record. Reynolds v Borel, 86 Cal 538, 25 P 67. [2]

1. Valid and marketable title. [3]

     Excerpt from Chapman W. Maupin’s Marketable Title to Real Estate 1-2 (2d ed. 1907):

     “A good title consists in the rightful ownership of the property and in the rightful possession thereof, together with the appropriate legal evidence of rightful ownership.  The rightful owner of an estate may be in the rightful possession thereof, but unless he is supplied with the documentary evidence of title, where he holds by purchase, or can prove his right by the testimony of witnesses or other instruments of evidence, where he holds as heir, that is, by descent, his title cannot be said to be good.  Sir William Blackstone declares that a perfect title consists in the union of the possession, the right of the possession and the right of property in one and the same person.  This is true in a general sense, but the definition scarcely embraces all the elements of a good title, as that term is employed between vendor and purchaser.  A purchaser in possession who has paid the whole purchase money, but who has not received a conveyance, may be said to have the possession, the right of possession and the right of property, but not having received a deed, the indispensable evidence of legal title in such a case, his title cannot be said to be good.”  [4]

marketable title:

1. A title that a reasonable buyer would accept because it appears to lack any defect and to cover the entire property that the seller has purported to sell; a title that enables a purchaser to hold property in peace during the period of ownership and to have it accepted by a later purchaser who employs the same standards of acceptability. — aka good title; merchantable title; clear title. [1]

1. A title good as a matter of law, its validity not being dependent upon the determination of any question of fact. Wurzweiler v Cox, 138 Or 110, 5 P2d 699; First Nat. Bank of St. Johnsbury v Laperie, 117 Vt 144, 86 A2d 635, 30 ALR2d 958.

A title that a person of reasonable prudence and intelligence, guided by competent legal advice, will be willing to take and pay for according to the fair value of the land. Campbell v Doherty, 53 NM 280, 206 P2d 1145, 9 ALR2d 699.

A title not subject to such reasonable doubt as will create a just apprehension of its validity in the mind of a reasonable, prudent and intelligent person. Campbell v Doherty, 53 NM 280, 206 P2d 1145, 9 ALR2d 699.

A title free from reasonable doubt both as to matters of law and fact, at law and in equity; a title which a reasonable purchaser, well informed as to the facts and their legal bearings, willing and ready to perform his contract, would, in the exercise of that prudence which businessmen ordinary bring to bear upon such transactions, be willing to accept and ought to accept. Robinson v Bressler, 122 Neb 461, 240 NW 564, 90 ALR 600.

Such ownership as enables and insures to the owner the peaceable enjoyment and control of the land as against all others. Barnard v Brown, 112 Mich 452, 70 NW 1038.

A title free from liens or encumbrances, and dependent for its validity on no doubtful questions of law or fact — a title either of record, or, if dependent upon facts extrinsic to the record, dependent upon facts sure to be easily accessible at all times in the future to a vendee, should his title at any time be attacked. Anno: 57 ALR 1284.

A title which the purchaser of real estate under a contract is impliedly bound to accept in the absence of a provision requiring a particular kind of title. Anno: 46 ALR2d 547. [2]

1. A title free from encumbrances for which a person of reasonable prudence and intelligence, who is well informed as to the facts and their legal significance, would be willing to pay fair market value.  Property to which the owner has marketable title is salable property.
     See clear title; good title; legal title; record title.
     Compare bad title; unmarketable title. [3]

merchantable title – A marketable title.  A title which a reasonably prudent man would accept in the ordinary course of business after being fully apprised of the facts and the law applicable thereto. Holiday v Arthur, 241 Iowa 1193, 44 NW2d 717, 24 ALR2d 1302; Campbell v Doherty, 53 NM 280, 206 P2d 1145, 9 ALR2d 699. [2]

1. A marketable title. [3]

     Excerpt from Paul E. Basye’s Clearing Land Titles 5 371, at 539 (1953):

     “One definition of a marketable title which has been put forward repeatedly is one free from all reasonable doubt.  Stated another way, a marketable title is one which does not contain any manner of defect or outstanding interest or claim which may conceivably operate to defeat or impair the interest which is bargained for and is intended to be conveyed. This negative concept of marketability has become an implied invitation for courts to declare titles unmarketable if an examiner has entertained any doubt whatever with respect to them. The digests attest the painful truth that claims of a bygone era cling like barnacles to land titles and encumber them long after they should have been scraped clean. . . . We need to replace this negative approach by a positive one which will make the marketability of titles depend solely upon their state during some recent interval of time rather than upon their entire history.” [5]

Assessing a Title – Is it Good?

#1: To Have Good (Marketable, Clear) Title,
One Must Have the Following:

legal title – evidences apparent ownership but not necessarily full and complete title or a beneficial interest; must be marketable to be considered legally sufficient.

equitable title – indicates a beneficial interest in property, recognized as ownership in equity, but not legal title, that gives the holder the right to have the legal title transferred to him.

  • beneficial interest – a right or expectancy of value, worth, or use in property one does not own.(i.e a trust or estate) as opposed to legal title; a beneficiary’s interest.

#2: A Good Title Cannot Have
Any of the Following:

encumbrance – any property right (claim or liability) that is not ownership interest (e.g.. lien, mortgage, easement), attached to real property (or the title or record thereof), that may lessen its value.

outstanding interest – all or part of a legal or equitable claim to or right in property; a share, claim, or title.

lien – a legal right or proprietary interest a creditor retains in property until the debt &/or duty that it secures is satisfied.



Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Paul E. Basye’s Clearing Land Titles 5 371, at 539 (1953)

[5]: Paul E. Basye’s Clearing Land Titles 5 371, at 539 (1953)


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