Deeds are legal documents which are used to transfer the ownership of a piece of real property from one individual to another. The deed document will typically describe the exact location of the piece of property.

The deed will also include the names of the current owners of the property as well as the names of the new owner. There are numerous different types of deeds which may be used to transfer ownership of property from one individual to another.

Every deed must be signed by the individual who is transferring the property to the new owner of the property. In addition, the signature must be notarized to show that the transfer of ownership is valid.

A deed of title, also called a title deed, is the legal document which transfers the title of a piece of real property from one individual to another. With a deed of title, full ownership in the piece of property is transferred to the new owner.

In the majority of cases, this type of transfer occurs during a traditional real estate sale. The title, however, may be transferred by other methods. For example, if an individual gifts the piece of real property to another individual.

Usually, a deed of title is classified as a general warranty deed. This type of deed allows a current owner to guarantee that they hold clear title to the piece of real estate.

With this type of deed, the owner not only guarantees that they received a clear title from the previous owner but also guarantees that there are no other individuals who retain an interest in the property.

General warranty deeds are used for the majority of real estate deed transfers because they provide the most protections of any type of deed. General warranty deeds may also be called grant deeds in some states.

What are the Types of Deeds?

There are several different types of deeds which are available and the requirements for those deeds vary by jurisdiction. The specific states which govern deeds in the state in which the property is located must be followed in order to create a valid deed.

In general, the most common types of deeds include:

  • Quit claim deeds, which transfer to the grantee any and all of the legal rights the grantor has in the real property. A quit claim deed makes no warranties about the extent of the grantor’s interest in the parcel of real property;
  • Grant deeds, which transfers to the grantee all or part of the legal rights the grantor has in the real property. a grantor deed implies certain warranties, including:
    that the property has not been transferred to someone else; and
    that the property is free from any liens placed on the property by the grantor;
  • General warranty deeds, which transfer to the grantee all of the legal rights the grantor has in the parcel of real property and explicitly warranties that the grantor has good title to the property;
  • Special warranty deeds, which transfer to the grantee all of the legal rights the grantor has in the real property but warranties only what the deed specifically states is warranted;
  • Trust deeds, which are written instruments that transfer property to a trustee in order to secure an obligation such as a mortgage or a promissory note. The trustee has the power to sell the property if there is a default on the obligation; and
  • Fiduciary deeds, which are used to transfer property when the grantor is a fiduciary. Fiduciary deeds typically only provide a warranty that the fiduciary is acting in their appointed capacity and within their allotted authority. Examples of fiduciaries may include:
    • a trustee;
    • a guardian;
    • a conservator; or
    • an executor acting in their official capacity.

What is a Special Warranty Deed?

Special warranty deeds are types of deeds where an individual who owns the property, called the grantor, guarantees that the title is clear during the period during which the grantor owned the property only. The individual selling the property does not guarantee against any defects in the title which may have existed prior to their ownership.

Special warranty deeds often use language including, “by, through or under the grantor but not otherwise.”

What Exactly Does a Special Warranty Deed Cover?

Special warranty deeds guarantee that the grantor has done nothing, either by act or omission, during the time which they held title to the property which would impair the future owner’s title in the property.

Although general warranty deeds afford the most protection, as noted above, special warranty deeds provide more protection than quit claim deeds, discussed below.

What is a Quit Claim Deed?

Quit claim deeds are types of deeds in which a grantor transfers all the interests they have in the property with no warranties or promises regarding the title to the grantee, or new owner. With a quit claim deed, a grantor conveys whatever interest they have in the property even if there is debt attached to the property.

Quitclaim deeds meet the following requirements:

  • It must be in writing;
  • It must describe the property being transferred; and
  • It must list the names of the grantor and grantee.

In many cases, local governments use quitclaim deeds when they are selling a foreclosed property. In addition, quitclaim deeds are often used by individuals who are transferring property to a living trust.

What are Some Key Points Concerning Quit Claim Deeds?

There are several key points an individual should be aware of concerning quit claim deeds, including:

  • They are often used to clear up defects in a title;
  • They are commonly used to transfer property between individuals who are well-known to each other, such as family members or divorcing spouses; and
  • The buyer assumes all the risks.

What if There is a Dispute Regarding the Deed of Title?

One of the more common disputes which arises related to a deed of title is determining who the previous owner of a property was. This type of a dispute may stall a pending sale and it may also result in a lawsuit.

If this type of dispute arises, it will most likely be necessary to conduct a search of the title deed records so that all of the parties involved can view the chain of title. The chain of title is the history of the passing of title from the original owner of the property to the present owner.

A chain of title ca be established by various documents, which include but are not limited to:

  • Deeds to the property;
  • Foreclosure documents;
  • Documents from judgments of distribution; and,
  • Death certificates from joint tenants and other relevant parties.

Reviewing the chain of title is an important step in clarifying who is actually entitled to ownership of the property in question. A dispute of title may be stressful and complex, so it is important to ensure that the chain of title is clear to help avoid disputes in the future.

Should I Consult With an Attorney Before Purchasing Real Estate?

It is essential to consult with a real estate attorney prior to purchasing any real estate. Purchasing real property is a significant investment, possibly the largest investment an individual will make during their lifetime.

Your attorney will advise you regarding the real estate laws in your state as well as any specific requirements. They will help ensure that the process runs smoothly and offer additional assurances, such as title insurance, which may provide you with further protections during your purchase.