DeedFinancial Dictionary -> Mortgages -> Deed
The person named on the deed is the legal owner of the property and must abide by the agreements on the deed. Disputes over land and planning permission between neighbors is usually settled by referring to the deed document.
Before buying a property or land it is important to see the deed of the house, and there is nothing wrong with insisting to see the original copy or having it over looked by your lawyer or somebody with legal knowledge to check all is well.
Some points to take note of are that the title of the deed is in fact the person selling it to you and that there is nobody else involved. If somebody is selling the house on their behalf of if a spouse is also on the deed but not involved in the dealings you should ask to get confirmation or see other legal documents that grant the person to make the sale.
It would also be worth checking if the deed grants usage of the land to anyone else, such as entry and exit access or a public footpath in rural areas.
In the US a house deed is registered with the "recorder of deeds" to make it a recognized and valid form of ownership. If it is not registered it may still stand, but may not be accepted under legal issues until it becomes registered.
You should never sign over the deed of a house to anyone until you fully intend the transaction to take place. For example sometimes a parent may want to put the deed of a house in the child's name long before they pass on for security reasons, but if any unforeseen circumstances occur with the child when they are older and the house is needed for collateral the parent will be kicked out because the house is legally not theirs.