The Death of a Deed: Can a Security Interest in Property Expire?

Real Estate Law

If you own a home, you need to understand a bit about mortgages and how they work in your state.

You also need to understand whether a security interest in real property can expire.

Mortgages in Brief

Very briefly, a “mortgage” is the contract (i.e., the “promissory note”) between a borrower and a lender (most often for purchase money) that creates a lien on real property.

Some states use the mortgage to create the lien on the property.

Other states, like Georgia, use a deed of trust or security deed to create the lien.

In today’s post we are going to touch on security deeds in Georgia: what they are and whether or not they can expire.

An Introduction to Security Deeds

Depending on the state you live in, the deed that secures your home loan can be known as a:

  • Security Deed
  • Loan Deed
  • Warranty Deed
  • Deed to Secure a Debt

Regardless of the name (we’ll use “security deed”), when you borrow money (from a bank or private lender) to purchase a home, you give the lender a deed in exchange for the money. This deed, (the security deed) is secured by the real property purchased.

The security deed given to the lender transfers legal title from the borrower (you) to the lender. The borrower (you) retains only equitable title to the property until all of the money borrowed (plus interest) has been paid back. Of course, the borrower also retains exclusive possession of the property as well as the right of redemption until he/she either pays off the loan in its entirety or defaults on the loan.

Georgia uses security deeds to secure loans on real property.

Can a Security Deed Expire?

In Georgia, the answer is yes.

According to statute, security deeds expire seven (7) years “from the maturity of the debt or debts or the maturity of the last installment thereof as stated or fixed in the record of the conveyance…”. The statute further provides that if no maturity date exists in the deed, the security deed will expire after seven (7) years.

If a security deed expires, the lender loses his lien on the property because title will automatically revert to the borrower.

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