CRC (Cleared of Racial Covenants) Verified™ is an initiative sponsored by Federal Title & Escrow Company and Habitat for Humanity to assist homeowners in removing racial and ethnic covenants from their property title records. A portion of the covenant search fees help support Habitat for Humanity in its mission to build strength, stability, self-reliance, and affordable housing.
Since the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court ruling and later the 1968 Fair Housing Act, racially restrictive covenants have been illegal and unenforceable. Unfortunately, however, many homeowners are unaware that their property title records may still bear the stain and ugliness of those covenants.
Remove racial covenants today by taking advantage of recent Maryland and Virginia laws to make your home and community a welcoming place to people of color and diverse religious or ethnic backgrounds.
We first need to search your property title records. Most of the racial and ethnic covenants are found in earlier recorded instruments beginning in the 1920s. Unfortunately, most of these records are not available for review without physically searching and accessing from the archived public records. Federal Title employs professional title examiners to search your public archived records and retrieve images of any offending racial and ethnic covenants.
If our examiners determine that your property title is clear and not burdened by the covenants, we will issue you an attorney-certified CRC Verified™ Certificate (view Sample Certificate) that states your property is cleared of racial covenants and reflects that you have taken action to enhance the values of your community, while also financially supporting the mission of Habitat for Humanity.
If your property title is burdened by racial covenants, you will be presented with an image of the offending covenant, and we will provide you with next steps should you wish to clear the covenants from your property title records. Upon completion of Federal Title’s covenant clearing process, you will be issued an attorney-certified CRC Verified™ Certificate like that described above.
Do it yourself at no cost! In only two steps, you can clear racist restrictions from your own property title record:
1st Step: Using Maryland’s online property database, search your property title history for racial and ethnic covenants. (Note: Conduct a complete chain of title since most racial covenants are not recited in modern vesting deeds)
2nd Step: If you discover a racially restrictive covenant, complete and file this Maryland intake form with your county clerk’s office.
Help support Habitat for Humanity and let us do it for you.
Questions? Email CRC@federaltitle.com
“When I read an article about racial and ethnic covenants, I knew I wanted to take action. After spending several days trying to find the records and several more days trying to complete and record the right paperwork with the courthouse clerk’s office, I finally decided to call Federal Title & Escrow Company. Federal Title handled the whole process for me and provided an attorney-certified document confirming that I have removed the covenants from my property records.”
“Federal Title and Habitat for Humanity must be commended for providing this service to homeowners. I thought I could do this myself but couldn’t find any of the records online. Within two weeks of contacting Federal Title, I had my property title cleared of all racial covenants.”
“I couldn’t believe that the house I bought might have had a racist past, but after using Federal Title’s CRC Verified service, they were able to confirm that my property was free from any racial covenants and their attorney signed and issued a verification certificate to keep with my property records.”
A. Documents that accompany a deed through the chain of title, from homeowner to homeowner, that contain descriptive, brutal and generally racist language about who is not allowed to occupy or purchase the property in a sale.
While racially restrictive housing covenants are no longer enforced, they have remained in the public land title record. In the wake of a summer of racially driven protests in 2020, lawmakers and homeowners around the country have sought to remove racist housing covenants.
The covenants typically mandated who could purchase homes in certain neighborhoods and would discriminate against black homebuyers to less desirable areas in town with lower rates of appreciation.
Studies show this practice is a key contributor to the wealth disparity in America because real estate is generally the biggest driver of personal wealth for most Americans.
A: Unfortunately, no. Most title companies and attorneys omit the offending language from today’s vesting deeds because they are legally unenforceable. However, because covenants “run with the land,” your property title record could still reflect, and be burdened by, these racist covenants. The only way to determine their existence is through a covenant search of the public records specific to your property.
A. Houses all over America have deeds that contain racially restrictive housing covenants. Many homeowners are taking on the endeavor because they want their property title records to more accurately reflect both the values of their community and their personal values.
One Maryland homeowner recently explained it this way: “If someone spraypainted offensive language or racial slurs on the side of my house, I would immediately hire professional cleaners to remove the offensive graffiti.”
A. If your home is within a lot that was created or part of a development between 1920-1950 , the chances are high that your property deed contains a racially restrictive housing covenant. Even if your home was built after 1950, the land (or lot) which it occupies is part of your property title record and could contain the covenants.
A. The process is labor intensive and requires specific knowledge in regards to the searching of the records and the preparing and filing of the required paperwork. The first step involves reviewing the land records to determine if your property is burdened by a racial covenant. This is not a simple online search, but instead requires a professional title examiner to manually search the public archived records in person at the county land records office. Additionally, if your property is burdened, specific paperwork needs to be completed and filed, in order for the offending language to be cleared.
A. While both Maryland and Virginia have enacted laws allowing for homeowners to clear their property titles from these racial covenants, these laws require the homeowners to take the necessary steps for the removal. The state cannot do it on your behalf.
A. Yes, often the racially restrictive covenant was added by the developer, as a means of restricting the entire neighborhood. Consequently, if your property is part of a development and your property is burdened by the racially restrictive covenant, it is likely that the entire neighborhood is burdened as well. However, each deed is different, and the only way to know for certain is to have your specific property history searched.
A. Yes, if you are considering purchasing a property, you can still have the records checked for racially restrictive housing covenants. Since we will be performing a title search on the property, if you then select to use Federal Title as the settlement company, Federal Title will already have the search completed, and will credit the $150 cost of the search back to you as part of the real estate closing. Further, if you discover that the property is burdened by racial covenants and choose to have the covenant cleared and select to use Federal Title as the settlement company, Federal Title will have it cleared as part of the closing process and provide the service at a discounted rate.
A. Yes, if you are considering selling a property, we can check for and clear any racially restrictive housing covenants. We will issue an attorney signed verification certificate which states that you have taken the necessary steps to remove any racial and ethnic covenants from your property records. Future buyers and their real estate agents can take comfort in knowing that they are purchasing a property free from the ugly manifestations of the past.
To order a search for racial and ethnic covenants affecting your property title records, click the Covenant Search button below.
Note: The search fee is $150.00, a portion of which will benefit and help support Habitat for Humanity. Within approximately 5 days, we will complete our search and inform you as to whether your property title is or is not burdened by racial covenants.