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Understanding a Real Estate Deed

June 22, 2017 General

Real Estate Deed

If you are buying or selling real property, your agent has probably talked to you about “conveying a deed.” There are a number of different types of deeds—warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds are the two most common. What is a deed and how do you determine which is appropriate for your transaction?

A deed is simply a legal document that transfers ownership—right to possession and enjoyment—to land. The deed provides a legal description of real estate, and identifies who is buying and who is selling the property. At a minimum, it must be signed by the person who seeks to transfer or convey ownership.

The most common type of deed is the warranty deed. A warranty deed provides legal assurances that person passing the title knows of no liens or encumbrances, or any adverse claims to the property. If such claims arise, the seller must typically compensate the buyer for any losses. The warranty deed may also make representations about other aspects of the property, such as zoning eligibility, the presence of mineral or other rights, and any potential environmental issues.

In many instances, a seller will transfer ownership through what is known as a “quitclaim” deed. Unlike a warranty deed, a quitclaim deed makes no guarantees that the person transferring it has free and clear title. Quitclaim deeds are common when there’s a known “cloud” on the title—the transferor knows that someone else has made an adverse claim to the property, and is conveying the property with that lien or encumbrance attached. Quitclaim deeds are frequently used by family members conveying property, as well as in divorce proceedings. A quitclaim deed can also be used by the person holding the lien to release any claim to the property.

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