As the name implies, a grant deed is a document wherein an owner grants title to real property to another person. In a grant deed, the party granting the property is called the “grantor”, while the recipient is called the “grantee”. Grant deeds are perhaps the most common form of deed used for selling property.
There are a few main promises contained in every grant deed:
- The grantor is the true owner of the property
- The grantor has not previously transferred ownership to a different party than the buyer
- There are no defects or obstructions (“encumbrances”) in the title that haven’t previously been disclosed to the grantee, such as a lien
Grant deeds usually cover the transfer of property in whole, although they can sometimes cover partial transfers of property interests (such as a portion of plot of land).
There are many, many types of deeds that are used to address property interests. Grant deeds can be much different from these common types of deeds:
- General Warranty Deeds: Some jurisdictions use the terms “grant deed” and “general warranty deed”. However, general warranty deeds are typically much broader than grant deeds and can cover transfers not involving sales.
- Special Warranty Deeds: Special warranty deeds only guarantee those rights and warranties that are specifically listed in the document. Thus, they can be either more or less inclusive than a grant deed, depending on the parties’ needs.
- Quitclaim Deeds: These are sometimes used in place of a grant deed, but are typically used where one party is giving up their ownership of property rather than selling it to a buyer. They don’t always guarantee that the property is free of liens.
Thus, you may need to check state or local laws to determine how they classify deeds to property. This is important, because one type of deed may be preferable over another depending on the nature of the property and the type of transaction involved.
Requirements for a valid grant deed may be different from region to region, but a valid grant deed must usually contain:
- Legal names and contact information of the grantor(s) and grantee(s)
- A statement describing the property (the property should be identifiable based on this description)
- A description of the terms of the transfer
- Signatures of the parties
Also, the grant deed needs to be delivered and accepted to be valid. For example, the deed will not be valid if the grant deed was never delivered to the grantee. And while it’s usually not required, it is a good idea to have the deed documents officially notarized, in order to prevent instances of fraud.
If there is a title defect or some sort of encumbrance on the property, the grantee might be able to recover damages for any losses they incurred.
For example, if there was outstanding debt on the property, and the seller didn’t inform the buyer, it could affect the sales price. The buyer might then be able sue to recover the difference in sales price. Alternatively, they might even be able to file a breach of contract claim, since the seller generally has a duty to disclose such information to the grantee.
On the other hand, damages are usually limited to those defects that weren’t disclosed to the buyer. If the property had some sort of unfavorable condition when sold, and the buyer knew about it, they are usually “assuming the risk”. In that case, the amount of damages they can recover might be limited or even prohibited by the court.
Whether you are the grantor creating the deed, or a grantee receiving the property, it is in your best interest to work with a real estate lawyer. That way, you will be informed of your rights and duties in relation to the transfer. Your lawyer can be on hand to help you draft or review the deed documents. Hiring an real estate attorney before negotiations begin can also prevent disputes in the long run.