A deed is an unassuming and usually short piece of paper that has a big legal impact. A deed transfers an ownership interest in real property, and no real estate transaction where ownership transfers is finished until the deed is delivered to the buyer. A deed must include the names of the buyer and seller and the property’s legal description. The deed is signed by the person transferring the property and may make that person responsible to the buyer for other claims against or conditions on the property. A knowledgeable real estate attorney can review the deed to ensure that it is accurate and properly executed.
A deed for property must always be in writing, and it must follow state laws for property transactions. Different states may require different deed language, forms or even paper sizes, so it’s important to make sure the rules of the jurisdiction in which the property is located are followed. Even if not strictly required, it is a good idea to record a deed to make the change in ownership a public record.
Types of Deeds
There are many varieties of deeds. Two of the most common are quit claim and warranty deeds. A quit claim deed lets the transferor give away whatever rights he or she has to the property, but a quit claim deed does not guarantee the extent of the interest transferred. Quit claim deeds are common in divorces when one spouse grants his or her rights in real estate from the marriage over to the other spouse.
A warranty transfers ownership and explicitly promises the buyer that the seller has good title to the property. A warranty deed offers the greatest protection for buyers because a seller must warrant good title to the property, with no liens and encumbrances not disclosed in the deed. The seller also agrees to defend against any defects found in the deed. A special warranty deed is similar to a general warranty deed, but contains only the covenant and guarantee against claims that may arise only during the time the seller was the legal owner of the property.
When buying or selling real estate, the choice of deed defines exactly what the buyer is getting for his or her money or the seller is agreeing to give. Each type of deed includes different rights, guarantees and legal protections. Contact a real estate attorney to determine which type of deed is most appropriate for your situation.
Recording the Deed
The new deed should be recorded in the appropriate office, usually the land records office in the county where the property is located. This office may be called, among other names, the recorder’s office, the land registry office or the register of deeds.
The broker or closer may handle recording, but parties to the transaction should make sure that this important step takes place, regardless of who handles it. The purpose of recording the deed is to give notice to the world that the buyer now has an ownership interest in the property. Recording also creates a chronological chain of title so the history of ownership can be researched.
Speak to a Real Estate Lawyer
In real estate transactions, the form and type of deed are critical. An experienced real estate attorney can analyze the circumstances surrounding your transaction, determine your needs and review the content of the deed to ensure that the transfer is valid and appropriate.
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