Property deeds are legal instruments used to transfer title of real estate from one person to another. A deed has the names of the seller and buyer and a legal description of the property. There are certain words used in a deed that signify the transfer of property, such as transfer, grant, convey, and assign. All these words indicate that a seller is transferring title to the buyer.
There are the common types of deeds: general warranty deed, special warranty deed, and quitclaim deed. Other jurisdictions may have other types of deeds, such as a grant deed, tax deed, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, and trust deed.
General Warranty Deed
A general warranty deed is commonly used to transfer title. In a general warranty deed, the seller makes certain warranties, or guarantees, regarding the title of the property. The seller guarantees that he is transferring good title to the buyer, that the title is free from encumbrances (other than those disclosed), that the buyer has a right to possession of the property against all others, and that the seller will defend against any defects in the title, including those incurred prior to or during the seller's possession of the property.
Special Warranty Deed
A special warranty deed is similar to a general warranty deed but provides for less extensive warranties. A seller granting a special warranty deed will only defend against those defects in the title incurred while the property was in the seller's possession.
Quit Claim Deed
A quit claim deed provides no warranties for defect in title. The seller only transfers an interest in the property to the buyer. It is usually used to correct errors in a title.
A grant deed is used in some jurisdictions to transfer title. There are two guarantees in a grant deed: the seller has not transferred title to anyone else and that there are no encumbrances upon the property other than those disclosed by the seller. A grant deed does not need to be recorded or notarized, but sellers often have a deed notarized and buyers often record their deed.
Other Types of Deeds
A buyer obtains a tax deed when the former owner is unable to pay back property taxes and the property is sold to satisfy the tax indebtedness.
A trust deed transfers property to a trustee so that a mortgage or note may be secured. If the mortgage goes into default, a trust deed gives a trustee the right to sell the property associated with the trust deed.
Notarizing and Recording a Deed
Most jurisdictions allow for a deed to be notarized by the seller and recorded by the buyer. Recording gives notice to all other potential buyers that the property has been sold. This is known as "constructive notice." The buyer records the deed in the county in which the property is located. The Recorder's Office or Register of Deeds in the county courthouse commonly records deeds.
The transfer of real property is formally recognized in a deed. The most commonly used deed is the general warranty deed, which protects the buyer from any defects in the title. A special warranty deed only protects the buyer against defects incurred during the seller's possession. A quit claim deed conveys no warranties and is mostly used to correct errors in the title.
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