The Importance of a Reasonably Certain Property Description in Deeds and the Statute of Frauds

Generally, for a real estate transaction to be valid, the agreement must be in writing. This requirement is known as the statute of frauds. To satisfy the statute of frauds, a reasonably certain legal description of the real property is essential.

This article will discuss the importance of a reasonably certain legal description in deeds and the legal requirement that real estate transactions be in writing, a requirement known as the statute of frauds.

WHAT IS LEGALLY SUFFICIENT?

To meet the statute of frauds, a deed must be “(1) in writing; and (2) signed by the person to be charged with the promise or agreement or by someone lawfully authorized to sign for him.” Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. Section 26.01(a)(1)–(2). Thus, a court will only enforce a deed that is in writing and signed by the seller/grantor of the property.

Additionally, to meet the statute of frauds, the land must be described with reasonable certainty. A property can be identified with reasonable certainty if it identifies the general area of the land and “contains information regarding the size, shape, and boundaries.” SeeReiland v. Patrick Thomas Props., Inc., 213 S.W.3d 431, 437 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, pet. denied). As long as, a party familiar with the locality can identify the premises with reasonable certainty, the legal description is sufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds.

REFERENCES TO OTHER DOCUMENTS WITHIN THE DEED

What about circumstances where a deed references other real property instruments? Where a map, plat, plan or survey of the premises conveyed is adequately referred to in a deed, it is usually to be considered as a part of the latter instrument and construed in connection therewith. The courses, distances, or other particulars which appear on such map, plat, plan or survey, are as a general rule to be considered as the true, or part of the true, description of the land conveyed. See, Templeton v. Dreiss, 961 S.W.2d 645, 657 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1998, pet. denied).

When determining the sufficiency of a property’s legal description, a court will construe the deed and the references of other real property instruments within a deed as one document. The referenced documents will be part of the overall sufficiency of the legal description.

ENSURING THE VALIDITY OF YOUR DEED

To ensure a valid conveyance of real property, it is essential to get your agreement in writing and to describe the premises sufficiently in the document. Without satisfying these requirements under the statute of frauds, a court will not enforce your real estate transaction, and you risk the loss of your rights under the deed, including the loss of ownership and any money paid or promised.

If you need to engage counsel regarding your real estate transaction, our firm can help. We are a Houston-based real estate transactions and litigation law practice, and we are proud to provide legal support in Texas.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Jessica Chan

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