Color of Title

"Color of title" is a phrase used in real estate to refer to title that may have the appearance of good and valid title to property, but in actuality, there is either no title or a vital defect in the title that makes it ineffective. Thus, by law, color of title fails to establish ownership in land. Color of title may also be referred to as "apparent title" because on its face it appears to support a valid claim of title.


 Some examples of color of title situations:

  • Buyer purchasing real estate thinks he is obtaining a valid title to the property. Later, it turns out that the previous owner’s title had been defective. Thus, the buyer’s title is defective as well.
  • Execution of a deed that was defective or in question (e.g. forged deed).
  • Two or more persons received separate deeds to the same parcel of real estate.

What is the Significance of Having Color of Title?

Usually color of title occurs in the form of a writing, which can act as evidence of a good faith effort to obtain valid title. This piece of evidence may be significant in instances where a claim to an interest in real estate occurs by way of adverse possession or by an easement by prescription, and the state requires color of title.  

Do I Need to Consult an Attorney?

If you believe that you do not have good title to your property, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney who can advise you of the laws of your state and may provide further assurances or possible claims you may have (such as a quiet title action).