Race Statute Law and Legal Definition

The vast majority of states in the United States employ a system of recording legal instruments that affect the title of real estate as the exclusive means for publicly documenting land titles and interests. This system differs significantly from land registrations systems, such as the Torrens System that have been adopted in a few states. The principal difference is that the recording system does not determine who owns the title or interest involved. That determination is ultimately made through litigation in the courts. What the system does do is to provide framework for determining whom the law will protect with relation to those titles and interests when a dispute arises.

Under a race/notice statute, a subsequent purchaser for value wins if (1) at the time of conveyance, that subsequent purchaser had no actual or constructive notice of the prior conveyance, and (2) the subsequent purchaser records before the prior purchaser. In short, a subsequent purchaser in good faith wins only if he or she records before the prior purchaser does.