Real estate deeds are a type of written document transferring ownership (title) of real property from one person to another. A deed needs to contain very specific information in order to be legally valid. This can include:

  • The parties to the real estate transaction;
  • A full description of the property involved (the description needs to be detailed enough to identify it); and
  • Important dates and locations related to the transaction

Also, the deed needs to be officially accepted and delivered to the other party in order to be valid. While not actually a requirement for a valid deed in most states, it is extremely useful to have a deed transfer recorded in the appropriate county with the county recorder. 

What are the Main Types of Real Estate Deeds?

There are many different types of real estate deeds, but there are two main types that are very common. The first type is a warranty deed, which guarantees a clear title for the transferee. In a warranty deed, there is no question that the grantor has authority to transfer title, because no liens or other debts exist on the property. 

The second type of real estate deed is known as a quit claim deed. In contrast to warranty deeds, quit claim deeds do not make guarantees or warranties of a clear title to the property. As such, they are generally made between parties who trust each other, such as family members. Quit claim deeds are often used when property is not sold at a price, such as when the property is transferred to an heir when the owner dies. 

What Does “Deed Review” Mean?

Deed review” is the process of looking over a real estate deed and researching its background to ensure that it is a valid legal document. Deed reviews are often necessary in cases where title to the property is under dispute, or where a revision needs to be made to the deed documents. 

Deed reviews are typically performed by real estate lawyers because real estate agents can sometimes be motivated by sales figures and other elements.

How are Real Estate Deed Disputes Handled?

Real estate deed disputes are usually handled by a combination of deed review and title searches with the county recorder’s office. A lawyer will usually be responsible for conducting the title search in order to determine which parties legally possessed the property in the past. A title search should also reveal the chain of how the property was transferred in the past. This alone can often resolve disputes over who previously owned the property.

Once the title is cleared, a deed review may be necessary to analyze and understand the exact details of the deed. For example, if there is a dispute over the location of a piece of property, then a deed review can help resolve this because the deed should describe the property’s location in detail. Also, deed reviews can help resolve any issues regarding the identity of key parties to the legal transfer and transaction.

How Can Real Estate Deed Conflicts be Prevented?

Again, recording a deed with the appropriate county office is the best way to not only resolve disputes over the property, but also to prevent potential conflicts from occurring. Many real estate deed conflicts arise because there might be a gap in the ownership chain (for instance, if a previous owner failed to record that they received the property). Thus, recording a transfer of a deed can help keep the chain of ownership intact and will clearly state who owns the property. 

Another way to prevent real estate deed conflicts is to have a clearly written agreement between the buyer and seller regarding the property. The transfer agreement should contain important contract terms, such as the price of the sale, date of transfer, the parties involved, and other important and relevant information. This can act as additional documentation to besides any records kept at the recorder’s office.

Are There Any Legal Remedies for Real Estate Deed Disputes?

Disputes over deeds can result in a number of legal remedies. These will vary depending on the exact nature of the transaction, the type of property involved, and state real estate laws. Legal remedies can include monetary damages for economic losses, and court orders containing instructions regarding the transfer of the property.

In some cases, if there is an issue such as a boundary dispute, the court might issue an equitable remedy, which usually consists of a court order requiring one of the parties to take certain actions (such as moving a fence or structure that is encroaching on a neighbor’s property). 

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Real Estate Deed Issues?

Real estate deeds are a highly important aspect of the transfer and maintenance of real property. You may need to contact a real estate lawyer in your area if you have any questions regarding a deed. A real estate lawyer in your area can help you with the legal aspects of deeds, as well as represent you in court if you need to file a lawsuit. Your attorney can provide legal guidance and can perform essential tasks such as a deed review.